It was the intersection before my own house!
System Documentation is needed in case you get hit by the big red bus…
I’m a SQL Developer, and it’s really not easy to pick up what goes on, what is used where, what the code is used for, why the code was written as it is. Before I started there 2 years ago, it was all done by one really smart guys for 8 years but there was no documentation. Now that’s me. The business would be in trouble if I wasn’t around.
Any suggestions on how to make it easy/easier?
So you were crossing the road by the shortest safe path?
I was on the correct side of the street, the driver drove into my path. This was on my own street, 200 meters from my front door. He turned into my street from the side street but because he cut the corner he hit me. Admittedly my headlight wasn’t too bright (my normal one was used on the weekend so I had it packed it elsewhere) and he reckons some tree foliage may have obscured his vision. But, he shouldn’t be driving cutting corners.
Anyway, all ok, and I’m lucky to not have broken anything, except the unicycle wheel.
Me too. I work in a small credit union where we have just three staff in our core IT team. I am assistant network admin as well but have the role of the data specialist. The network admin is a superhero who can provide insights to any aspect of our network. The third staff member is focused on configuration, documentation and training for the web based user interface to our core system.
As a developer it is like heaven because I have total admin power across the entire network and everything in it plus instant direct access to the other stakeholders including the superhero. I have seen stories from so many developers who are almost suffocated and begging for their network admins to cooperate. That is not my burden and it is anything but frustrating or boring.
It is a wonderfully diverse environment with the core system being a Universe database running on IBM AIX (a *nix environment). Universe goes back to the beginning of computing with its roots in PIC. Everything is stored as text in up to a three tiered record with “Attributes”, “MultiValues” and “SubValues” as one did back when every byte had to count.
Universe extracts to MS SQL each night into the most ab-normal database you would ever encounter. I build reports based on this but it doesn’t bring out everything I need from the main system.
So I set up an ODBC connection into Universe. This is awesome. It uses what it calls “Dynamic Normalisation” extracting the multi-tiered structure into tables on the fly and lets me get hold of what doesn’t get exported in the SQL extract. I have set it up as a Linked Server in SQL Server with Views that let me get hold of anything
Most of the reports come out in Excel tables based on connections to Stored Procedures and Views on SQL Server. Lots of VBA to configure the reports. I also build Apps in MS Access.
This year I started writing CLR functions for SQL Server. Oh wow, what it facilitates. The learning curve is surprisingly easy for anyone with C, VB.NET or even VBA programming experience.
I have built couple of web based viewers in ASP and some VB.NET apps.
Challenges everywhere but the opportunity to meet them. I love it.
I don’t have that problem with my lights.
Now you’re talking my language. I’m been involved with Pick systems since 1986. Pick doesn’t exist any more, but it’s the original “SQL” database using the ACCESS interface. Even the emulations are becoming scarce now. Our current system is jBase, and nice balance of Linux and Pick/Universe etc. Love those multi-valued, hashed databases. Lightening fast to code and develop. Our core systems are still green screen and keyboard based, but most activity is via B2B interfaces, web access and my area mobile apps. People of the other end have no idea the programs behind them started over 30 years ago, and the OS is based on a system created 50 years ago.
My wife is very supportive! She really likes it if I try something new and always tries to stimulate me to search for new challenges. She is the best!:)
Good stuff! I love to get things working, takes problem solving ability and it’s so fulfilling to get something working!
I have 3 people in my small IT team too. Me, “Finance Data Engineer”, the System Admin and the Tester. We’ve just had a restructure so we have some BAs joining us… we’ll see how it goes.
There’s a wider team behind us though for the hardware, infrastructure, compliance, security etc.
Anyway, prior to this job I was working for a teeny tiny banking organisation you may have heard of… it’s called “CBA”… I was a Report Developer at CBA using SSRS, Teradata and SQL Server. Great people there and I had the best manager.
CBA has really great processes for System development, testing to finally deployment. My current company though… I came to a place where things where done on the fly, no separated test system… Now it’s heaps better (I got the separated test system put in).
Anyway, I like what I do, I like where I work (and… we are in a fully refurbished office from Monday!), I like what my company does (Mental health) and the people I work with are, on the whole, good to work with. Everybody in IT is encouraged to work flexibly too. We are pretty blessed. Not everything is perfect, but life would be boring if it was?
I only hope you were not responsible for the AML compliance system at CBA. Could be worse though, AML at Wespac.
Next week it is NAB’s turn at mea culpa.
Small is good. I actually wrote our original AML monitoring system.
Very soon after I got some very good lights from Aldi. Super bright. And I bought a helmet from EBay that has a very bright light at the front, lights at the sides and at the rear! Easy recharging via USB. Ok, the helmet doesn’t have Australian standards label on it, but the lights are good and it is a very well made helmet.
This is it, just over $70:
Is the big red bus white before you get hit?
Writing documentation makes you expendable. I’m glad we don’t have time to write it. That is why I could keep my job even, when choosing to move back to my own country. Not only did I want to move back because I wanted to live closer to my family, but because I had only just learned to ride uni in Denmark, I was so sick of all the hills and longed for the flat Netherlands. Unfortunately I now live in the one place of NL where it is quite hilly still. Oh well, I’ve become a lot better and now they are a good workout.
I’m thinking documentation is hard, and over time databases grow, new tables, views, stored procs get added. Things get forgotten about. The database systems I’ve inherited, most of it doesn’t have explanation either. As my company never had separated test and prod systems and it was all done by one smart guy (who stored all the knowledge in his head and nowhere else), i’m sure there are many unnecessary legacy objects in databases too. I suppose if the business doesn’t force you to document it’s potentially a ticking time bomb for the company.
I’ve had to learn a lot quickly in this role and I’m generally comfortable with what I encounter at work now, but there are just so many existing objects in the databases (and whole databases for that matter) that I do not know why they are there. And if I don’t know, no one knows.
Anyway, way back in the early and mid 2000’s I was working for Amex. With the GFC I was made redundant. In my small team, I was the technical one. I struck up an agreement that if they needed me to do something, Amex would engage me as an Independent contractor with contracting rates. That worked well.
Denmark and The Netherlands are awesome countries to ride in… probably the best in the world. I was amazed to see in Denmark the roundabouts have separated bike lanes too… that’s brilliant.
Well, Pick Systems no longer exists as Pick Systems (it’s been through Tiger Logic, Raining Data, it’s currently Rocket Software). And native Pick no longer exists (as far as I know - support for AP ended in 1999), but flavours like D3 and mvBase are still going strong.
Guess what I do for a living
Shush! Yes, I did that. I commented out that crucial code… Plus wrote a routine that puts all partial cents (From savings account interest calculations) into my own personal accounts… Due to this code I wrote I’m a… drumroll please… A Trillionaire
I think small banking institutions fly under the radar and was subject to less scrutiny, but I don’t know for sure. I would think that the Big 4 spent a lot of money defending their cases at the Royal Commission. Employed top legal talent to argue their cases.
** In case any readers do not understand emoticons, I had nothing to do with the ATM code used at CBA nor did I apply any cent rounding code for personal or business gain (but I heard/read about that growing up)! Anyway, I was kidding on both counts
There are at least three of here who work with Pick derivatives?
My first wife (we were in our 20s) was supportive. We had various hobbies and gave each other space to do these things. I did Morris dancing and unicycling; she played flute and went sailing.
My second wife knew I unicycled before we met. We met through a dating website. The first time she saw me ride a unicycle, she thought it was cool. Since then, we’ve done a couple of rides with her on 2 wheels and me on 1, but it was a bit of a mismatch. She had a brief go at riding unicycle, but had a nasty fall and lost her nerve. Both her sons (now my stepsons) taught themselves to ride, and we now sometimes ride together.
I’m not a world relationships expert, but I think couples have to respect each other’s different interests and hobbies. However, hobbies have to take second place to domestic and family duties.
Document. Setonix mentioned how not documenting is job security, but isn’t that kind of selfish and anti-company? Anyway, it probably reflects that he hasn’t been “that guy” that has to take over a non-documented system that’s not easy to figure out…
But if you want to be sneaky, you can create your documentation in your own personal code, where it doesn’t make sense to the casual observer. Then, if the need arises for someone else to know all your secrets and you aren’t leaving the company, you can easily convert it for easier reading.
Denmark has hills???
100% agree. If domestic and family duties are thought of as secondary, especially if you have children, this is going to lead to relationship damage.
Supportive! I already new she was (my first unicycle was a Christmas present from her, admittedly at my request), but she proved it last week by agreeing I go to Unicon in France next summer! No questions asked except I arrange childcare with my mum for my eldest daughter after the school holidays start.
The stars had already aligned when a group of friends invited me for a weeks mountain biking in the French Alps, the same week as the start of Unicon. This is too good an opportunity to miss, I thought - first half of the week on two wheels, second half I can catch the start of Unicon, the XC and maybe the DH, and share accomodation close enough to Grenoble to be viable.
Anyway, the only stumbling block for many men to a plan like this could often be ‘the wife’, but in my case apparently not (maybe because I don’t call her ‘the wife’ ) : )
PS the observant among you will notice this is my first post - I have been lurking for a long time - sorry - but finally joined up and looking forard to getting to know you all!
Question. Where are you? Emu’s are Australian, and Grenoble is far away…