Test Datasets
To support the testing and demonstration of database projects, we need a standard suite of data to test against. Ideally we want the data in the following format:
  • Access
  • MS SQL Server
  • MySQL
  • Excel and csv/fixed width (for ODBC)

A History of the Northwind Database

The Microsoft 'Northwind' database was created to fit the bill, as it provides realistic data with extensive use of Unicode in the form of non-English characters. The only disadvantage is that the schema is very simple, lacking many quite common database table configurations, so for testing of some desired features it is necessary to add some tables to the database.
We are interested only in a basic set of test data to put an appication through its paces - load testing is beyond our scope.

Microsoft has gradually enhanced Northwind (and recently deprecated it, although it is quite forward-compatible). I define two versions of the database:

Northwind Basic

This is the simple database released for Access 95-2003. The schema is as follows:
Northwind Schema
The Access 97 and 2000 versions are no longer downloadable from Microsoft, although I note that CNet still has thr Access 2000 version available.
The Access 2000 format version is distributed with later versions of office (in [Office Path]\OFFICE[10/11]\SAMPLES\).
Here are both 97 and 2000 versions:

Northwind Plus

This version was enhanced with a few extra tables and released as part of MS SQL Server. The schema is here
It was released only as an MSSQL script and .mdf file at Northwind and pubs Sample Databases for SQL Server 2000.

This is the most widely used dataset and it we use it as our standard test dataset.
Below are an Access 2000 database with the same schema as the above MSSQL Northwind (with some additional columns and tables as used for testing by the now dormant SubSonic ORM project), a cleaned up version of the MySQL and MSSQL scripts from the subsonic project, and flat file versions of the data:

Other Northwind Variants

To complete the picture, a new version of Northwind with a schema quite different to the earlier versions has been released with Office 2007.
A picture of the Schema is here.
To get a copy of this Northwind Database, follow these steps:
  1. Open Access 2007 - the 'Getting Started' screen should appear
  2. Under 'From Microsoft Office Online' at the left, select 'Sample'
  3. You should see the Northwind 2007 template. Click it, enter a name for the new database at right, clicke Create and you're in business

Other Databases for Testing

The currently supported MSSQL 2005 and 2008 demo database is AdventureWorks.
It's designed to showcase a lot of the features of these newer versions.

If you're looking for reandom data for testing - try Redgate's SQL Data Generator !

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