Friday, December 02, 2005

Speaking of work…

It’s time for a little ‘Code Talk’ again, maybe I should say “rant”, before I settle in to a more festive mood as we head towards the holidays.

It’s Visual Studio.Net (or DotNet, as we call it) and specifically VB.Net that’s got me thinking at the moment. More to the point, making complicated SQL calls, from VB.Net to SQL server for example.

Those of you who are also programmers know that we ‘coders’ tend to adopt a particular style and when we’re forced to deviate from that style can have trouble reading even our own code

I am currently making some changes to the Cisco Call Reporting Application I wrote. The changes are intended to more accurately extract Inbound and OutBound calls. It involves several tables, across a couple of databases. (as well as the fact that the Cisco Inbound/Outbound indicator is NOT a reliable indicator!!)

One of the remaining issues (as I see it) in truly opening up the vistas between disparate data sources and any particular language, is letting the compiler handle some of the translations in the background. It would make the process faster and allow the code to be far more readable.

If a person attempting to work with this application down the line, is not a fairly good SQL programmer, but an excellent VB programmer, they may have some trouble following some of the syntax in the SQL statements.

I’d much prefer to be able to establish a remote view into the database, and then treat it as though the data in the view is native to the language/environment. Barring that, the ability to query a dataset that’s been extracted from the SQL server would allow, again a more native approach. One other approach would to provide a mechanism for actually executing a stored procedure, locally, and have the resulting data returned to the application.

Since none of those methods are available, we’re relegated to constructing long strings often concatenated with embedded parameters that construct a final, preformatted, acceptable SQL statement. I remember quite fondly when the bookshelf nearest my keyboard would contain one or two reference books. Today, it’s three shelves, and a small stack on the desk of those I use most frequently.

I write code, in three separate languages and utilize at least three different application interfaces, everyday, and have for close to twenty years. You’d think, that after all this time, and all the ‘improvements’ that have been made along the way, it would have become simpler somehow. It hasn’t, in fact the opposite has occurred.

We have environments so complex, languages so rich in features, properties, methods, classes, overloads, etc… etc… that every programmer has 5 to 10 foot of shelving dedicated to reference materials… and they’re all ‘dogeared’ from frequent (often daily) use.

DotNet, when it slide into the limelight in 2002, was purported to be the ultimate environment, that code from many languages could be integrated, merged and seamlessly tied into an application. Well that hasn’t happened (in my opinion) on a practical scale. Yes, it can be done, but it’s not exactly smooth, or seamless.

Visual Studio.Net 2005 has just been released, I’ve not yet had a chance to dive into it, but, I can assure you, the first thing I’m going to do is look for the ability to ‘sub query’ a local dataset!!

Anyone else have thoughts on Dotnet? If so, what’s your biggest beef? What do you like most about it? What’s highest on your wish list? Have you seen VS.Net 2005? Is that item you want in there?

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No_Newz said...

It sounds very frustrating, then again, you know me and code. I hope you nail down the dotnet or the dotted line thingy soon. ;)
Hey, guess what?! It's my blog's birthday tomorrow. I'll be 1 year old. Please stop by for a slice of cake. :)
Have a great weekend!
Lois Lane

Bill said...

Lois - Happy birthday to you and your blog!! I'll be by for that piece of cake... right after I get the Christmas lights up!!

Nailing down DotNet.. well that's an ongoing process.. I suppose I'm going to have to look into the new version!

Spirit Of Owl said...

I have to agree. When I was a teen geek I could program without ever referring to a textbook. Now, my wife despairs at the shelf space, and cost, allocated to my books. Not only are they dog-eared, they're outdated within a couple of years.

Reusable intelligent code? Self programming design applications? Rapid project development environments? What the hell were they all talking about back then???

Now, we make thuddingly heavy applications generated by increasingly heavy duty development languages and environments, with more and more reliance on pre-compiled and proprietary libraries.

Patooey to "reusable code" being good for programmers, that was never the intention. Except of course for the libraries you write yourself, it only ties applications more and more into environments, in the process making programming itself more and more difficult and time consuming and complex... and ultimately frustrating because the programmer is actually becoming more and more restricted whilst projects demand more and more flexibility.

More and more I'm realising that I seem to be using the phrase more and more more and more. :D

Bill said...

Spirit - I've been working on a post along those exact same lines!

I've been at this more years than I care to recall.. and while there have been improvements, I'm not sure we're really any better off.

Maryan, often remarks on the money we spend attempting to keep me current. The fact is, things change so quickly these days, there are times I don't even finish a book before it's outdated!

I hope we can do some coding together soon, I want to show you the Meta-Object stuff I've been working on... I think you'll like it, and, you may find it useful as well!