From Excel to SQL
My most memorable encounter with coding was SQL. It was a proprietary SQL coding program used by Aspen Tech. Aspen Tech provides a suite of process trending and modeling tools for the manufacturing industries.
SQL completely revamped my troubleshooting strategy. Before SQL, I would pull all the data, dump it into Excel, sort the data, filter out the data I didn’t want, and then, and only then start to actually analyze the data. Phew! Now I do consider myself an Excel guru, but even at my level, this was finger-breaking work.
SQL enters the stage. One click. Pre-sorted, pre-filtered relevant data at my fingertips. The first time I used it, I almost cried for joy. What had I been doing this whole entire time?
Using SQL gave me my time back. I focused more of my time on analyzing the data rather than wrestling with it. My efficiency went through the roof!
All I had to do was write a little bit of code, or simply ask our amazing data management team to write the code for me. Data scientists, data engineers, data analysts and all things data gurus rock out loud by the way!
What do you want the code to do?
Whenever I would come to the data management team for an SQL request, they would ask me: “What do you want the code to do?” That question always floored me. I was starting to realize that what the data management team was asking me for was … a story.
There were other questions too, like:
“Which part of the batch are you most interested in?”
“Do you want to compare batches side by side?”
“What time frame do you want to start with?”
“What parameters would you like included in the output?”
“What parameters do you want to leave out?”
They were asking me to get my story straight!
The nice thing was once I got a working data set, a simple tweak here would open up the search criteria. Another tweak there would drill down into the data even further. No more throwing my laptop out the window because Excel decided to crash on me … again!
After SQL, I was hooked. I started learning other programing tools like Python and R. I also learned about cloud computing. I mastered markdown.
With every new programming language I encountered, the recurring theme was “What’s the story here?”.
Effective Documentation: From Noise to a Symphony
I’ve heard it said, that data without context is just noise. The story in the data transforms this noise into a beautiful symphony.
As with a symphony orchestra, the wind instruments, percussion section, conductor and choir all need to be working off the same sheet of music. Or else, we’re back to the noise issue. That sheet of music in the data world is effective documentation. This includes API documentation, user manuals, white papers, how-to guides, blogs and much more. It’s how the story in the data gets communicated to the rest of the world.
With effective documentation, you are able to:
- Capture every line of code: “What do you want the code to do?”
- Explain every code revision: “Why are we changing the code?”
- Celebrate every flawlessly executed piece of code: “Let’s party!”
Learn more about how we can craft the unique story of your code to continue to bring value to your clients. Use the button below to schedule a call today.
This article is also published on Linkedin.
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