One of the first blogs I started reading was Sig Rinde’s Forthcoming, and I have been following the progress of his do-anything software (Thingamy) ever since. Both Hugh and his friend Hamish have met up with Sig (sometimes being the other side of the world has its drawbacks!), and Hamish, an SAP consultant/guru, seemed fairly interested.
Finally today Sig and I caught up via Skype, and I was able to see Thingamy for myself. I have had a play on Sig’s tagging experiment, which admirably demonstrated the use of tags instead of the normal file/folder hierarchical paradigm (and tagging is a prominent feature of Thingamy), so I was looking forward to this.
Sig walked me through a demo using a bike factory example, and it (albeit a little rough in the ‘looks’ department) worked well enough to show the thinking behind it. If you’ve read any of Sig’s posts, you’ll know he’s not big on hierarchies or organisational silos, and he’s practicing what he preaches in Thingamy. It defines classes, objects and workflows that ‘use’ and interact with those objects. The idea seems to be to start with small, simple building blocks and then assemble them into larger and more complex workflows and ‘super-objects’.
No particular surprises there for anyone familiar with object-oriented design/programming. The interesting part for me is the OO database, and Sig’s insistence that all data is held ONLY at the greatest level of detail. What this means is that if you want to see (for example) the current balance of a particular ledger account, there is no "current period" record, no opening balance for ‘this’ period, no summarised reporting data – you calculate from the very first record forward.
Now I actually like this model, and have tried in the past to implement it myself in a relational database, but ten years data accumulation and millions of records tends to find the performance limits of all the RDBMS’s I’ve come across, and data gets summarised for performance reasons. Of course, as soon as you do that you make some fairly inflexible decisions about how you can report on your data … I will be interested to see how the Thingamy database scales with millions of records.
We were running on Sig’s laptop – I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a download to play at my leisure … hurry up Sig!