My personal Everest: Databases

I’ve had an interesting year so far, both at and outside of my work (for those of you who don’t know, I’m an IT Technician at an architectural firm). I think I’ll start with a small part of what’s been happening at work.

The bulk of my work so far this year has been working with databases, I still am. At the beginning of the year I had no knowledge in the subject whatsoever, and it was a daunting prospect to say the least. I had heard that databasing is quite a complicated area to get into, so I imagined it as my own personal Everest to climb. It was worrying as I like to go into a task with at least some prior knowledge, even if it is just a basic understanding of the subject in question, but I had no idea how to begin this particular task…I agreed to do it anyway. Eek, what had I gotten myself into?!

Image courtesy of Google Images.

My boss asked me to create a brand new database from scratch, this database was to include a table with all of our clients details and important information stored in it. But it wasn’t going to be a standalone table, there were going to be other tables which would link to fields within this one, which makes it a relational database. Everyone would be using it on a near daily basis, so I couldn’t get it wrong, the end product would HAVE to be functional, as bug-free as possible and user friendly.

Image courtesy of Google Images.

I started researching some of the basics of databasing, how different databasing software worked and looked up some of the technical  jargon used in the world of databases. When my boss had decided on some back-end software (when he did decide, it was rather out of the blue, he hadn’t mentioned this particular piece of software before that point), I began my journey up the mountain. Oh gosh, I forgot my trekking boots…I opened the back end software and found the resulting screen quite confusing at first, but then I realised it had been split into different sections used for different tasks. It still looked daunting, but not quite as bad.

So to cut a long part of this story short, I spent around a month or so sorting out the backend of the software, running into many different problems, which I overcame one by one after a lot of huffing, thinking I wouldn’t ever finish it and mulling over quitting that task. My boss wouldn’t let me give up on the task, which I’m actually grateful for. I’m the sort of person who likes to solve problems and try not to let anything beat me. I’ve come out of this a lot more knowledgeable and have gained experience in a whole new section of IT, so a huge thanks to my boss. After a few weeks I had begun the get the hang of it all and actually knew a lot more than I realised. It was only when my boss asked me about things and got me to ‘define the problem to find a solution’ did I realise how much I had taken in. So after that long haul I finally got the back end up and running as it should be, success! Or so I thought…

I got to work in finding some front end software which people could  easily use. I figured that it might be easier to use software which is already installed on our computers, it’s quite difficult to get around everyones PCs here without disturbing their work unless you do overtime to get the job in question done so this just seemed the most efficient option. I thought that this might make any future integrating easier as well (mail merges or letter templates using the database as a source etc). After a week or so I began to see that this software would take a LOT of tweaking to get it to work in the way which we wanted. I had not anticipated this software to cause so many problems for me. Again, I began to think the task would never end.

Image courtesy of Google Images

 

Anyway, I  think that this is a good enough point as any to stop myself from writing too much waffle, or babbling on too much and tell you that after a few weeks of tweaking and working out how the two pieces of software should work together everything worked out! Woohoo!! Two months or so of working on this and we now have our new database up and running, everyone is getting to grips with how it works and all seems well for now *touch wood*, I don’t want to jinx it! I can now create a database quite easily using this software. Right, that’s enough of database stuff now, I’m off to get some coffee or something…

Drink victory coffee mug
Image courtesy of Google Images

 

I climbed my personal Everest, and you can too! The feeling of achievement is amazing.

Define the problem and the solution will come.

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