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Journal FortKnox's Journal: How do people get these jobs?!?! 15

At my current client, there is a woman in the database group who's sole job is to give out 'correct and standard column names.' For example "DEPARTMENT_NUMBER" would become "DPT_NO". Everything is 3 letters or less with an underscore between them.

Now, I'm no DBA, but its my understanding that column names don't really need to be short anymore... back in the day it made a difference, but today it doesn't. She does this for informix databases, DB2 databases, and even the few oracle databases lying about.

How do you even apply for that job? Yeah... well, I do have a degree in English with a specialization in shortening words to miminize drive space....

And, of course, this woman takes her job VERY seriously (we are arguing over a column name... it already exists in production tables, but she doesn't like how its written. I'm about to tell her, "Fine, just change it both places" and see what the other developer thinks about changing a working app cause HER_RYL_HNS[1] thinks the names aren't perfect).

[1] that's some DBA humor for ye!

Oh, and how is a wheel barrow a good icon for databases???
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How do people get these jobs?!?!

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  • I have been doing the reverse lately. Converting crappy old COBOL layouts with field names like PT_NO to something that makes sense in a relational database......
    • I was put in charge of cleaning up a JSP app that was ported from AS/400-slash-DB2 by a ex-COBOL guy.

      EVERY variable name is unreadable, unless you're an ex-COBOL guy. EVERY DB column is unreadable, unless you're an ex-COBOL guy.

      That's okay; every time I have to fix a function, I clean up that POJO/JSP. I do a quick search-replace to fix the variable names and then invoke Jalopy to clean up the horrible formatting (or lack thereof).

      Now when I go back to the code in 6 months, I can instantly understand wh

  • about the wheel barrow thing myself. The one thing I do like about it is that it is very unique and easy to spot. Since I am very interested in database stuff it is nice. But I don't know what the connection is.

    Column names are like variable names. Short is nice to keep your code shorter and such. Long and descriptive is nice because it helps when you are reading to know what things are.

    Standardized names are good-- but I'm not sure why you would need a human being to devote all their time to it.
  • We had a real anal person like that at my old company. He would always hold up big confrence calls with his blabber about keeping the db field names to this very oldskool standard for DB2.

    Unfortunatly he vanished after the first round of lay-offs. My team made it to the 6th round. ;)

    Odd sense of justice, eh?
  • Does that actually work?

    I mean does shortening the names actually save any space? Other than a few bytes... I thought that stuff would be referenced like, once and then it wouldn't be stored a bunch of times. And I thought this was done since, oh, back in the dark ages?

    Or am I wrong there? Whats the purpose behind making the names short like that other than giving people headaches?
  • wheelbarrow=thing that can contain lots o' crap?
    database=thing that can contain lots o' crap?

    It was either that or some image of an SQL query or something :-) God I love icons.

  • That it is a tradition from the olden days. Personally, if I design databases I give them sensible names, alas, they are usally deformed once you give them to the DBA.
  • One issue, I suppose, might be for consistency -- department number might be abbreviated the same everywhere. We don't seem to have such a person and it's a nuisance because "Patient Number" gets abbreviated differently from dataset to dataset.

    The qualification is probably compulsive organization.

  • Just write a short script that does their job and post it on your company's intranet site. Send an email around saying you made something that automagically abbreviates column names for you and does so in an always consistant manner.

    You might even be able to get a bonus out of it if they excise the useless employee. Of course, then you have to live knowing that you were the primary cause of somebody being laid off. On the other hand, that never stopped the inventer of the telephone from making the telegraph

    • Yeah, then you could wear that ThinkGeek shirt saying "Go away or I will replace you with a very small shell script" like a trophy, except in your case it would be a very small SQL script.
  • The Finnish army loves abbreviations. A manual even had a rule on how to shorten the names of equipment: They can be shortened from the beginning, the end, or anywhere else.

    I kid you not, that is what it said. So it's nice to know there are consistent standards...
  • ... make up new names for the tables/columns?

    We once had a table (I kid you not) named: TRCHINTV. Yes, every table had to begin with T and they limited table names to 8 characters to conform to a limit in DB2 that doesn't exist anymore (and this wasn't even a DB2 database). So right off the bat, you are limited to 7 characters.

    So what does that table store? Who knows right? We ended up refering to the tables by names. This one got the honor of being called the "Church & TV" table. Someone just

  • I end up messing with db2 often in my gigs, and we have a bunch of developers who insist on super long table names. Works great w/ oracle and sql server, but I've spent some long nights sorting issues because someone was too verbose.
  • The Daily WTF [] has a nice collection of similar stories and code fragments.

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