Tuesday 22 August 2023

It took a while, but the NMD Viewer is online again. To the relief of many, as NMD Foundation received a large number of e-mails asking when the new viewer would come online. The new viewer has a different layout, but the actual content is not much different from the old one. So why did it have to take so long?

Arent-Jan de Haan, Jara Schulz and Wei Wei, the NMD data managers who supervised the project, are aware that it took a long time but also know that there was no other way. The major changes are not immediately visible but are in the structure and construction of the database.

“Het heeft inderdaad lang geduurd, maar daar zijn een aantal verklaringen voor”, zegt Jara. “Het feitelijke probleem lag niet bij de oude viewer, maar bij de database zelf. Het oude datamodel was bijvoorbeeld achterhaald. Daarom zijn we begonnen met de vraag te stellen hoe het datamodel eruit zou moeten zien vanuit het huidige en het toekomstige gebruik. Na consultatie met experts hebben we samen met onze nieuwe IT-leverancier Fluxility uit Zoetermeer een nieuw datamodel opgesteld. Fluxility heeft de nodige kennis en ervaring om een database zodanig op te bouwen dat je er ook in de toekomst flexibel mee kan omgaan. De gehele database migratie heeft vervolgens veel tijd gekost, maar hun expertise en advies zijn erg belangrijk geweest.” 

"The old database was like a haystack, says Arent-Jan. "All the straws were scattered here and there in a huge haystack. Now it's more like a beehive, where everything is arranged on a clear grid. The database was set up based on the needs of the time. Developments in the market put different demands on the database. We could not make full use of the data entered. So it was also difficult to connect new applications to the database."

Based on the new data model, the database itself has also been renewed. The structure is more modular. It allows the data to be accessed in more ways than before. Moreover, there are more possibilities for careful management of the data. In the traffic between the database and the calculation tools, it is now more possible to check the correctness of the exchange. 

That the new viewer does not currently provide much new information compared to the old viewer is a point of criticism for the data managers that will be superseded by time. "The new viewer is now at the same level as the old one, but now with capabilities for the future," says Wei Wei. "We are convinced that we have now established a good foundation that we can build on."

"Yet there is already a significant visible difference," reports Arent-Jan. "The term 'product cards (in Dutch)' was dropped with the old viewer. The viewer now shows over 3,000 'environmental declarations'. This conversion is not due to the development of the new database, but coincides fine. The intention of the new term is to increase the recognisability and functionality of the environmental declaration. The same applies to the database and the viewer. The more recognisable, the more functional. The recognisability ensures that users understand the product and its application faster." 

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