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.

Programming Language Migration Path

While I was preparing some personal background information for a potential client, I was reviewing all the programming languages that I have had experience with. I list languages that I’m most experienced with on my resume. However, it occurred to me that if I was to list all the languages that I’ve worked with, then the client would become overwhelmed with the resume and just write me off as either a total bit head or looney toons. But as I reflected on all these different environments I realized how much fun I’ve had being involved with the software development industry, and that a lot of that fun has to do with the learning process. I think this is what makes a good programmer. Not just the ability to write code, or come up with a very creative application, but the ability to learn. Lets admit it! If a programmer doesn’t have good learning skills, then the programmer is going to have a very short career.

As an exercise, I’m going to list out my Programming Language Migration Path. I would be interested to hear from other programmers what their PLMP is as well. Here goes:

* Commodore Vic-20 Basic

* Commodore Vic-20 6502 Assembler

* Commodore 64 6510 Assembler (Lots of all nighters with this one!)


* IBM Assembler (My hate relationship with segment addressing.)

* dBASE II (Wow! Structured programming.)

* GWBasic

* Turbo Pascal (Thank you Mr. Kahn! Best $49 I ever spent!)

* Turbo C

* dBASE III+ (Cool, my dBASE II report generator now only takes 2 hours to run instead of 7.)

* Clipper/Foxbase



* Microsoft C (First under DOS, then under Windows 3.1)

* SuperBase (First under Amiga DOS, then for MS Windows)

* SQL Windows (Whatever happened to this? Gupta?)

* Visual Basic 2.0

* Delphi

* Visual Basic 3.0

* Access Basic / Word Basic (Microsoft)

* Newton Script (My first “elegant” language)

* Visual Basic 4.0 & 5.0


* FormLogic (for Apple Newton)

* Codewarrior C for Palm OS

* Visual Basic 6.0

* NS BASIC for Palm OS & Windows CE

* FileMaker 5

* Satellite Forms

* Visual C++

* REAL Basic for Mac 9.x & OSX

* Java

* Codewarrior C++ for Palm OS

* Appforge for Palm OS & Pocket PC

* C#

* FileMaker Pro 7.0

Whew! Not only is this a good exercise to reflect on all the languages that I’ve worked with, but it is a good example of how the languages and the technology has progressed during the past 25 years. I’m sure that I’ll be adding much more to this PLMP in the near future as well. And as with most programmers I know, there is so much more that I would like to learn but just don’t have the time.

Another good exercise is to bring this up as a topic of discussion with a group of programmers after a nice long day at any technical trade show. For example, quite some time ago, after a long day at the OS/2 Developers Conference in Seattle (Yea, dating myself here.), I brought up the topic of 6502 Assembly Language programming. This was during dinner at around 7pm. The resulting conversation migrated to the hotel lobby where it continued until around 2am in the morning. (Ah, the good ol’ days.) 😉

(If you’re a developer, I’d be interested in seeing your own personal Programming Language Migration Path. Shoot me an email to timdottrimbleatgmaildotcom.)

Timothy Trimble, The ART of Software Development

Employee Health and Wellness Program

Companies want their workers to be aware of health care resources, but more importantly, to be able to effectively use them.

The poet, Virgil, once said, “the greatest wealth is health.” Although quality and coverage are ranked highly as health care goals, most Americans rate the U.S. system as unsatisfactory. Employers are interested in helping consumers be more conscious, thoughtful, and informed in making health choices.

The American Heart Association (AHA) promotes comprehensive programs that address the following:

  1. cardiovascular disease prevention;
  2. tobacco cessation and prevention;
  3. physical activity;
  4. nutrition education;
  5. stress management/reduction;
  6. weight management; and
  7. early detection/screening.

Other features may include direction regarding effective use of the health care system, back pain prevention/management, alcohol and substance abuse assessment, adult vaccination, and maternal and infant health education.

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) agrees that “cultural competency is one of the main ingredients in closing the disparities gap in health care.” When developing a health wellness program, language and culture influence:

  1. how health conditions and causes are perceived;
  2. workplace wellness belief systems;
  3. attitudes toward health care providers;
  4. behaviors of consumers; and
  5. delivery of health services.

According to an article in Family & Community Health, “culturally sensitive and appropriate programs must be developed to engage economically challenged minority and other underserved populations.”

Take a look at The Dow Chemical Company. Dow’s health and wellness programs in South Africa and Latin America have focused on reducing health risks and attending to long-term HIV/AIDS prevention. Significant increases in longevity and reduced rates of HIV highlight Dow’s success.

When businesses search for cost-effective ways to meet their employees’ health needs, they obtain a variety of health and wellness quotes. Workplace wellness programs vary, not only financially, but in how each addresses the health of employees.