Our Toolbox – Essential Software

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.

Server Software

On the server we need to have the following features

  • Wiki
  • 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.

If we are going to be doing any R statistical analysis then we also put the server edition of RStudio following these installation instructions.

Hosted Tools

There are some hosted services that are quite useful

  • SurveyMonkey allows quick and easy surveys, often used for prioritising deliveries, etc.

Desktop Software

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 ErWinEmbarcadero 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

Emerging Technologies

  • Tadpole (blog) – a new SQL interface similar to SQuirreL SQL, in chinese, but it useful for creating an Entity Relationship Diagram from an existing database

3 thoughts on “Our Toolbox – Essential Software

  1. Thanks for sharing the way you organize your work. In fact I have most of the software you have here in the list, but I also have Comindware task management system which is a supporting tool for the whole team to be up to date with all the changes in the office.

  2. Hi, I’m the “Tadpole for db Tools” owner. I live in Seoul, South Korea.
    This project is an open source project and covered by

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