Thursday, April 2, 2009

Getting a clue to TrackVia many-to-many relation

As it turned out it’s really quite a task for vendors to handle many-to-many relation properly. Here comes the turn of TrackVia to show what it’s capable of. So, I am going to use the same example with students and courses, like in TeamDesk testing.

This is the table for students I created:

And another one for the list of all courses:

It’s also necessary to create the table to register courses the student attended:

I’d like to test few features of the product. Specifically, how is organized view/edit data. Secondly, to check how to build a report based on the info stored in 3 different tables.

It won’t be out of place to mention in TrackVia the user can edit/view only through "Student Course" table and this is how edit looks:

Apart from that there is no way to build a report on information from different tables.

Having played with it enough I asked TrackVia support team to clear up things. This is what Matt Strenz, TrackVia Customer Support Engineer said about ways to edit/view data:

"The set up you have in your account is one way to do this if you wanted to have no limit on the number of students in a course or the number of courses a student takes. If you do have a set limit, like 8 courses per student, then you could just have 8 different "link to parent" records that all go to the courses database in the Student record. This would allow you to add a course directly from the student record but you would need additional fields for each course in the student record to store their grade."

There are also following options to build a report:

"We set up a view in your Student Course database that returns all the USA student records and displays this in statistics mode to show you the most popular course. Currently this would have to be done for each country…"

This is the look of the report:

Even though things are not that good with many-to-many function in TrackVia right now, there are some plans for the future:

"The enhancements we have planned for the nearest future are "group-by/subtotals" feature and the ability to show all child records from a parent and add a child record from a parent which will make your many-to-many Student Course database basically hidden from view as the users would be able to add a Student record from the Course database and vice-versa. We hope to have both of these enhancements live within the next couple months."

Well, I am always ready to give TrackVia another chance to demonstrate the implementation of the enhancements.

Unfortunately, on this stage TrackVia capability to handle many-to-many relation is very limited. Especially if you are going to build reports on linked data from different tables.

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