> don't do it until you absolutely have to
I disagree with this. When designing a database application the structure and relationship of the data is a fundamental. Making it a development afterthought can lead to some big time structural problems as you get hit with new demands on data tooled for code with completly different goals. This would be a lot like advising someone new to object oriented programming not to worry about the relationship between the objects until after they've got all of functionality of the methods worked out so that they can get a clearer picture of how they need to work together.
It's usually not hard to tell applications that have been designed in this manner: Flatfilesque table designs. Lot's of duplication of data to meet specific code needs. No abstraction in the data models. Most of the time you can tell the difficulty of refactoring an application simply by looking at its database schema.
When designing any database application, the first question I ask is what is the information that I need and what is the bast way that I can store it? Once I have those relational models in place things like Classes and their relationships just seem to flow out of it. This approach may be slower in terms of initial development, but you'll avoid a lot of major headaches down the road. It's a lot easier to fix bad code with good data than it is to fix bad data with good code.
People interested in database design should check out the writings of Ralph Kimball.
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