Database application evolution: a transformational approach

Jean-Marc Hick, Jean-Luc Hainaut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Abstract. While recent data management technologies, such as object oriented techniques, address the problem of database schema evolution, standard information systems currently in use raise challenging evolution problems. This paper examines database evolution from the developer point of view. It shows how requirements changes are propagated to database schemas, to data and to programs through a general strategy. This strategy requires the documentation of database design. When absent, such documentation has to be rebuilt through reverse engineering techniques. Our approach, called DB-MAIN, relies on a generic database model and on transformational paradigm that states that database engineering processes can be modeled by schema transformations. Indeed, a transformation provides both structural and instance mappings that formally define how to modify database structures and contents. We describe both the complete and a simplified approaches, and compare their merits and drawbacks. We then analyze the problem of program modification and describe a CASE tool that can assist developers in their task of system evolution. We illustrate our approach with Biomaze, a biochemical knowledge-based the database of which is rapidly evolving.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-558
Number of pages25
JournalData & Knowledge Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • History
  • CASE tools
  • Schema transformation
  • Reverse engineering
  • Evolution
  • Database conversion


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  • Evolution: Evolution

    Cleve, A.


    Project: Research Axis

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