Relational database design

Relational database design

Over nine years ago, early 2014, I published a video course on Pluralsight. The subject: relational database design. My expectation back then was that there would be some interest in this topic, but not really much.

Success story

I was wrong. The number of viewers was high right from the start, and has continued to be high all through the years. This course attracted an average of almost 6,000 viewers per year, with almost 15,000 hours per year of view time. Those numbers far exceeded any expectation I had ever had. And what’s more, the numbers are not declining … especially since 2019, both number of viewers and number of hours watched have increased immensely!

This obviously made me very happy. I have always been a strong supporter of solid database design. I believe that every database should be created based on a fully normalized model. There may be reasons to denormalize before implementation, but denormalization is done after normalization. The normalization step can never be skipped. That is why I was very happy when Pluralsight gave me an opportunity to write and record a course on relational database design, where I cover all the steps from requirements gathering, modelling, until normalizing the initial model. All explained in simple language and illustrated with easy to follow examples. And that is also why I am so happy to see how popular this course was, and still is.


For that reason, I was quite unhappy when I received an email, last week, to inform me that this course would be retired, effective March 29 of this year. I am at this time still in an email exchange with Pluralsight to see if I can convince them to change their minds. But I am not at all convinced that this will succeed.

For the record, the course is not retired because its content is outdated, or because Pluralsight received bad customer feedback. The reasons that were given to me were that this course is retired “due to its age, outdated branding, and length”. Age … well, it’s nine years old indeed, but I would argue that it is still relevant – the art of relational database design and normalization has not changed in the past nine years, or in the past thirty years for that matter. The branding argument I get, my course does still show an old Pluralsight logo instead of the new logo that they switched to many years ago. And the length … well, it is long indeed. Seven and a half hours total. Pluralsight currently aims for courses of one to two hours length, which is indeed quite a bit shorter.

Are these reasons sufficient to retire a still highly popular course? I don’t know. It seems that, at least for Pluralsight, they are. Which is a bummer, because now this contest won’t be as easily accessible anymore to Pluralsight subscribers as it used to be. And I personally still consider it very relevant content that I want to be accessible to as many people as possible.

Still available

It’s not all bad news, though. Retiring a course does not mean that it gets removed from the course library. It only means that it is harder to find.

A retired course will not show up in the search results … unless you select the “show retired results” in the search results page. So if you do select that option, you should still be able to find my course by searching. Also, any Pluralsight subscriber who has created their own channel and included my relational database design course will continue to see that course in their channel, until they remove it.

Or, perhaps the easiest way, everyone can navigate directly to this course by simply clicking this direct link.

So if you feel you could use some extra information on how to design and normalize a relational database, or if you have friends or co-workers who would benefit from learning more about this subject, then do not hesitate to direct them to my course. Especially if they already own a Pluralsight subscription. Yes, seven and a half hours is a long watch. But you don’t need to sit through all of it in a single session. You can pause the course whenever you want, and resume watching later.


I am personally disappointed that Pluralsight decided to retire this course. Especially because, as far as I can tell, they currently do not have any other course in their library that covers this important subject. But at least it is still available for viewing if you know how to search for it. I hope this post helps many people find my course!

The final lap
Back home, but still a long way to go

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey good to see you back Hugo! I’ve been waiting for another status post for how you’ve been doing!

    I agree, database design doesn’t get “old”, it’s been the same for forever. Shame Pluralsight would retire it for that reason.

    Good to know it won’t be completely gone though. But people really need to see it in search results 😀

    I don’t think 2 hours would be enough time to cover everything, even if you were to make a new “modernized” version of the course!

  • This course is useful, we often tend to forget fundamentals in terms of design.


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