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(Contact Info: larry at larryblakeley dot com)
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In early 1998 I checked out a book from the The Dallas Public Library titled "Database Design for Mere Mortals: A Hands-On Guide to Relational Database Design," Michael J. Hernandez http://www.datatexcg.com/index.html, Addison-Wesley Professional; 1st Edition (December 19, 1996) ISBN: 0201694719; 440 pages.
I spent several months studying the design of database tables and then set about creating an oil and gas management database system based on the design recommendations set out in this book. I have never regretted the time spent on this stage of database creation, nor of implementing Michael Hernandez's recommendations.
Mr. Hernandez has now written a 2nd Edition (March 5, 2003) ISBN: 0201752840; 672 pages.
I highly recommend following Mr. Hernandez's recommendations since I personally have had virtually no problems with the design of the oil and gas database management system. I have used this database system for over 6 years now and have accounted for well over tens of thousands of data input and millions of dollars of revenue and expenses.
Here is a copy of his paper titled, "Database Design Tips." http://www.larryblakeley.com/products/data_creation/database_design_michael_hernandez1997.djvu