A data warehouse project will usually involve many pieces of software.
These can be broken into two categories – architectural software and supporting tools. The architectural software will include the database, ETL tool, reporting tools, etc. but in this post I am going to look at the supporting tools we use.
I should say from the outset that by choice we have a shared Linux server and that the team like to use Apple Macs rather than Microsoft Windows machines and so our tools reflect the platforms we use. We often work inside organisations that are completely Microsoft Windows-based and so we are careful not to work in any way that would preclude interoperability with our clients environments.
On the server we need to have the following features
- Version Control System
- Ticketing System
To support this we use Subversion (also known as SVN) for version control and Trac which provides the ticketing and wiki functionality, both are open source projects and so are free. We configure them using our Project Services guidelines. Trac requires a server side database for which we normally use MySQL and phpMyAdmin to manage the MySQL database.
There are some hosted services that are quite useful
- SurveyMonkey allows quick and easy surveys, often used for prioritising deliveries, etc.
On our desktops we have a range of software
- Black Pixels Versions (US$59) – a graphical user interface for SVN (OS X comes with a free command line version but we like the easy graphical interface)
- CA Technologies ErWin, Embarcadero ER/Studio or Sybase PowerDesigner – Data modelling tools usually defined by client standards
- Emtec ZOC (£55.12) – an easy to use SSH/Telnet Client and Terminal Emulator that we can use to connect to most servers
- MacroMates TextMate (€45.63) – an amazing text editor that is really easy to use, features multiple programming language support, etc.
- Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Project, Visio) – simply because you need it to work with client documentation
- mSevenSoftware mSecure (Desktop £14.01, iPhone £6.99) – Password Manager – essential for maintaining a list of all the passwords etc.
- Parallels (£64.99) or VMWare Fusion (£39.99) – Windows Virtual Machine manager enables us to run any Windows software if required
- RStudio (Free) – a graphical interface for the R statistics package
- Skype (Free) – Chat, Voice and Video conferencing
- SQuirreL SQL Client (Free) – a graphical SQL client that can connect to most databases