Data Validation Via Data Surf

imageIf you’re a developer like me, you’ve probably at some point had to validate data. Validation is often a tedious and boring job that can involve checking individual records and data values in multiple tables. It’s not fun but its a necessary part of our job after all. Recently I’ve discovered the Data Surf feature of DBA xPress which is part of the Pragmatic Workbench DBA toolset.

Data Surf enables me to begin browsing a database beginning with a single table or even a single record. Using that table or record as a start point, I can navigate to other tables related to my initial selection. I can specify that I’d like to view parent or child records of my selected row in a related table, which makes validating data a snap. So I’d like to show you how we can accomplish that.

I’ll begin by selecting the Data Surf feature from the Pragmatic Workbench.


Next I specify the SQL Server and Database I’d like to begin surfing. For this example I’ll start with my trust Adventure Works Data Warehouse.


Then I’ll select which table I’d like to begin my surf. Reseller Sales it is. You’ll notice if you hover your mouse over the name of the table, you can view the columns with their data types that exist in the table.


I can also optionally specify a specific search criteria. If I’d like to view certain records associated with a product, I can do that. This is a very nice feature for data validation.


Now I can see my surf’s starting point. I have a quick view of the records in the table as well as a row count.


If I click one of the records in the table , some options appear. On the left side of the screen, I can see related parent tables as well as child tables. In the case of the FactResellerSales, there happen to be no related child tables.


In the margin, if I click the dbo.DimEmployee table, I can now see the relationship between DimEmployee and FactResellerSales. I can also see the related Employee record based on the record I had initially highlighted in FactResellerSales. Because I had selected a record with an EmployeeKey of 285, when I click DimEmployee I see the record(s) with EmployeeKey 285. Also, by selecting the DimEmployee table, my related child and parent tables on the left have changed.


If I click on the DimSalesTerritory table, I can now see the relationship between DimSalesTerritory and DimEmployee. In the record viewer, I also see the DimSalesTerritory record(s) related to the DimEmployee record with EmployeeKey 285.


There’s also some other nice features available with Data Surf. I can customize the colors of the nodes in my diagram in order to produce a simple and easy to view ERD.

And once you’re done surfing, validating, etc, you can easily save your diagram as an image.


All in all, Data Surf is a very simple and easy to use tool that I can see as being very beneficial to the average developer. As a BI developer, I spend most of my time designing data warehouse solutions and having Data Surf in my back pocket is great. Download the free trial at and check out Data Surf.


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