Data Warehouse naming standards

At Indiana University, the naming conventions detailed below apply to Data Warehouse applications, system names, and abbreviations. To request a new application name, system name, or abbreviation, use the EDSS Support Form; under "Application", select Naming.

On this page:

Introduction and overview

  • Business names:

    A business name is an English phrase with a specific construction and length that describes a single data object (e.g., table, column name, etc.). Each business name comprises one or more prime words, optional modifying words, and one class word. It cannot exceed 100 characters in length. Systems developers assist end users in the construction of meaningful business names.

    Business names should meet the following guidelines:

    • Singular for nouns and present tense for verbs
    • As meaningful as possible
    • Self-documenting
    • Easily distinguishable

    Abbreviations are not used in business names with few exceptions. One reason to do so is to limit the length of a business name, and then only if the abbreviation is for a universally known acronym or abbreviation such as IRS.

  • Class words:

    The class word is the highest level of qualification and the most important word in a business name. The class word is always the last word of a business name. It must be a noun identifying the general purpose of the data object. Data object types TABLE, VIEW, FACT_TABLE, etc., are also class words. Example class words for columns are NUMBER, NAME, TEXT, and CODE. A class word list is maintained in the naming repository. A class "word" may be a phrase like SQUARE_FEET or FACT_TABLE.

    The class word list is carefully constructed and seldom extended, but entries can be added if there is a compelling reason to do so based on changes in the data environment.

  • Prime words:

    A prime word can be a single word, or a phrase such as CAPITAL_ASSET. It is the most important modifier of the class word. It identifies the application area, major data category, table, or view, depending on the data object being named. Approximately 300 prime words are available to categorize institutional data. Some example prime words are ACCOUNT, COURSE, FINANCE, ORGANIZATION, SECTION, and STUDENT.

  • Modifying words:

    Modifying words are used to add important business information to a business name. Thus, addition of the modifying word PHONE to the business name CUSTOMER_NUMBER forms CUSTOMER_PHONE_NUMBER. Similarly, addition of the modifying word LAST to the business name STUDENT_NAME forms STUDENT_LAST_NAME. Modifying words can be any word or phrase needed to adequately describe a data object.

    Occasionally a data object clearly belongs to more than one data category. In such cases, the business name should include multiple prime words. For example, the data element GRADE refers to the score received by a STUDENT (prime word #1) for work completed in COURSE (prime word #2). The modifier GRADE describes neither COURSE nor STUDENT, but the relationship between STUDENT and COURSE. Thus, an appropriate business name would be STUDENT_COURSE_GRADE, where STUDENT and COURSE are prime words modifying the GRADE class word.

  • Technical names:

    The Name Validation and Generation (NVG) process produces technical names by applying standard abbreviations to business names. The length of technical names must not exceed 30 characters for column names and 27 characters for object names. Based on the use of compound word phrases and abbreviations, the Naming Administrator and the developer can reduce the generated length of the technical name to conform to the length restriction.

  • Adding prime words and class words:

    Additional prime and class words can be requested from the EDSS Naming Administrator. When justified by the nature of the data being stored, prime words and class words can be added to the Naming database in keeping with the characteristics and meaning of these naming components.


There are several types of tables: for example, move tables, fact tables, and dimension tables. All tables have the same formatting requirements for the business name and the same length requirement for the generated technical name.

Types of tables

The Naming application recognizes the following types of tables. The CLASS_WORD identifies the table type and is shown with the technical name abbreviation:


Length of table name

The maximum Oracle table name length is 30. The generated technical name for a table must be 27 characters or less to reserve space for index names built from the table technical name. This requirement exists in the EDSS Data Warehouse since the original complete technical table name must be present in the names of indexes for the table.

Following are examples of a table business name, a maximum-length generated technical name, and associated index names:

Business name
Generated technical table name, length=27
PUR_PO_RSTRC_MTRL_STATHST_TI1 Index name, length=29
PUR_PO_RSTRC_MTRL_STATHST_TI10 Index name, length=30
PUR_PO_RSTRC_MTRL_STATHST_TI29 Index name, length=30

Formatting requirements

Table names should follow the format: APPLICATION_NAME, MODIFIER words or phrases, CLASS_WORD. For example:


Dimensions and fact tables

  • Conformed dimensions should be named using SH (Shared) as the application code.
  • The SH dimensions should only contain those data that can be truly shared amongst several sources/systems, based on the definition of a conformed dimension: a dimension that has exactly the same meaning and content when being referred to from different fact tables.
  • Naming should be based on the content of the data, not whether the data are shared. However, as dimensional modeling has already been employed for several areas, the SH prefix shall remain. The second qualifier of the dimension name should follow the module (application code) areas that currently exist, for example:
    SR Student Records
    IR Institutional Research
    FA Financial Aid
    SF Student Financials
    HRS Human Resources
    GL General Ledger
  • If a dimension is not conformed, but shared between two or more modules, then the module area cited in the naming standard should be the originating module. For example, SH_TSTSCR_CD_DM should be renamed SH_ADM_TSTSCR_CD_DM, as test scores originate with admissions, although test scores are also used and referenced by SR.
  • These names will be supplemented by required metadata providing descriptions of data elements to help users in finding the most appropriate data elements to suit their needs.
  • There should be no SH_FT tables, as fact tables should go in module areas. We should use the recommended format: _[MODIFIER words or phrases, CLASS_WORD]_FT
  • Dimensions are not developed to be published in the IUIE. Views will be developed to sit on top of the base dimensions, and they could feasibly be published in the IUIE as control tables for the purpose of:
    • applying security for end-user consumption, thus being published in IUIE
    • increased usability from naming nomenclature


The Naming application recognizes two types of views. The CLASS_WORD identifies the view type and is shown with the technical name abbreviation:


Length of view names

The generated technical view name is limited to 27 characters or less as for generated table names.

Formatting requirements

View names should follow the format: APPLICATION_NAME, MODIFIER words or phrases, CLASS_WORD. For example:



Class words for column names

A column name may end with any class word that does not represent a table, view or file as described above. Examples of valid CLASS_WORDS for columns are NUMBER, TEXT, ADDRESS, KEY, INDICATOR.

Length of column names

The generated technical column name is limited to 30 characters or less.

Formatting requirements

Column names should follow the format: PRIME_WORD, MODIFIER words or phrases, CLASS_WORD (Note: PRIME_WORD can be in any position except the last word). For example:


Summary charts

Type of name First word or phrase Subsequent words or phrases Last word or phrase
Business name class word Generated abbreviation

Getting help

If you have questions about naming standards or need assistance with naming, use the EDSS Support Form; under "Application", select Naming.

This is document bctf in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2016-06-23 00:00:00.

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