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I have written the following sentence, but I am dissatisfied with its construction. In particular, the that joining the two parts of the sentence reads somewhat awkwardly. Can anyone suggest a better construction for this sentence which preserves the meaning intact? Thanks in advance.

The database layout is sufficiently similar across source data formats that we can write a single SQL query to export each output data format.

A brief background follows. The source data is imported into the database. Then the output data is exported from the database. The point of the sentence is that there is essentially the same database layout for all import formats, so it suffices to have one function for each export format. On the other hand, if the database layout depended on the import format, then one would have to have a function that depended on both the database layout and the export format. Note that "essentially the same database layout" is vague, so I'd prefer not to use that in the actual sentence. I'm just writing that in a attempt to elaborate. "Sufficiently similar" or something like that better captures the meaning, I think.

UPDATE: I've gone with

The database export functions need not depend on the source format, since the database layout is sufficiently independent from the source format. Therefore the data export for each output format can be implemented as a single SQL query.

based on Standback's answer. I put the "sufficiently independent" in the second clause, because it seemed more natural in this case. I'm not sure if there is any rule to say which way around it should go. The repetition of "source format" is a little awkward, but no big deal. I think this is an improvement on my original formulation. Thanks to Standback and the others who replied.

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3 Answers

Because all source formats share a sufficiently-similar database layout, we only need a single SQL query to export that shared layout to a given output data format. Writing a separate export query for each pair of input and output formats is not necessary.

I have chosen to start the new wording with because, to emphasise that the first part of the sentence is the reason for the second part.

The comma between the two parts helps to visually separate the two parts.

Finally, the extra sentence adds redundancy to clarify the intended meaning.

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Thanks for the answer. Can one hypenate sufficiently-similar in this fashion? –  Faheem Mitha Sep 19 '11 at 11:08
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According to Wikipedia, most style guides recommend against hyphenating an adverb-adjective pair as I have done. –  Stuart Cook Sep 19 '11 at 11:15
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The database layout is sufficiently similar across source data formats that we can write a single SQL query to export each output data format.

The data structure of the database will allow the use of a single SQL query to access the data for output and reports.

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I'm afraid this omits important information - it's not the structure that allows it, it's the fact that the structure remains relatively consistent no matter what the input format is. –  Standback Sep 19 '11 at 20:13
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Here's a simple reformulation which breaks you out of the structure you dislike:

Since the database layout is sufficiently similar across all source data formats, we can write a single SQL query to export each output data format.

You could also rephrase for clarity, if you feel the original isn't clear enough. This probably requires some expansion, to make sure to get in all the details and reasoning that you consider both (a) crucial and (b) not necessarily obvious to the reader.

Since the database layout is sufficiently independent from the source data format, our export format need not rely on the original source format. Therefore, the implementation of each export format requires only a single SQL query.

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Nice reformulation and expansion, thanks. Just FYI, you seem to be using the term "export format" synonymously with the SQL query. I don't use that term here, but "format" means the format (as in structure) of data files, and I've used it in the case of source data files, and output data files. This is different from a SQL query, which is a function. One could perhaps use the term "export query" or "export function". –  Faheem Mitha Sep 20 '11 at 2:41
    
@FaheemMitha: Glad you liked :) Obviously you can correct the terminology - and if you'd like to correct my phrasing to something more accurate, the "suggest an edit" option is at your service :D –  Standback Sep 20 '11 at 2:53
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