Database Programming in Simple Terms

If you lived in the years prior to 1940, you didn’t have the option of using a computer because there was no such thing. If you had to create a list say for all the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the employees in your company, you were restricted to either handwriting them all into a list or keeping them organized in a manila folder. Organizing all that information tended to be a nightmare. Nowadays, the use of organizing lists of data has become much easier. So let’s take a look at one of the ways you can organize a large list, and then look at what database programming is in simple terms.

As I mentioned, we need a way to organize lists, whether they be employee lists, mailing lists, inventory lists, employee payroll records, etc. An excellent way to keep track of all these lists in an orderly fashion is with the use of a database. A database is usually composed of two separate entities — a record and a field. In the example of a mailing list containing 2,000 people, each individual person would be a record; and each record would have their own fields (i.e. first name, last name, street address 1, street address 2, city, state, etc.) When you set up a database, it will allow you to organize everything and even allow you to sort on one or more fields for all records.

Now while it’s possible to use applications like Microsoft Access or Filemaker, if you like to customize applications and have an advanced level of computer knowledge, you may be adventuresome and do your own computer programming. Basically, computer programming (or programming or coding) can be defined as being able to write, test, analyze errors, and keep secure source code for the database you intend to build while using a special computer language with binary numbers. Now when I say binary numbers, I’m referring to two numbers, 0 and 1, that represent either an on or off status.

Computer programming can be broken down into three main types — command-level programming, productivity-tool programming, or programming using a general-purpose programming language such as Ada, BASIC, or C++. Since command-level programming specifies the process that a computer or a software program must follow either with a menu box or with specialized key strikes, this type is particularly adaptive to using with word processors, Excel spreadsheets, and databases. Productivity-tool programming is more advanced and can utilize macro language like dBASE or HyperTalk. It stands to reason that the general-purpose programming languages such as BASIC or some of the other programming languages out there will take more computer education to learn them.

So let’s look at what we’ve discussed thus far and see if we can determine what database programming is in simple terms. I like to think of it as the development of a database (or application used to organize lists of data) using specialized commands in a computer language to write, test, analyze errors, and maintain your data and source code securely.