How do you learn? Do you look at a technology concept description or formula or code syntax and immediately see practical applications? Do you go directly from hearing about a new technology to applying it successfully to real-world solutions?
This “From the Editor” was inspired by an e-mail conversation with Oracle ACE Director and Oracle Magazine columnist Mark Rittman. In discussing Mark’s next article for Oracle Magazine, I questioned his idea for introducing sample data into the hands-on how-to steps he was planning to describe. The article steps involved moving big data between systems, and Mark’s plan for using sample big data for the article was to load it quickly from a single file. When I questioned the idea of true sample big data coming from a single data file, Mark pointed out that a more realistic alternative to loading sample big data could be a long article all by itself. An excellent point.
Thanks, Mark, for the example explanation and editorial inspiration.
Some people can get from technology concepts and syntax to solutions and results without a lot of information in between. Many more, I believe, don’t turn away when examples are offered to support complex concepts and syntax. For me, it’s the excellent examples that support, and often complete, the story of the underlying technology.
An important part of many good information technology examples is a representative set of sample data—data that enables everyone who follows the example process to also see how that example could be applied to one’s own business and technology. Oracle Database, for example, has included sample data for many years, going back to the venerable SCOTT schema and continuing with the HR (human resources), OE (order entry), PM (product media), SH (sales history), and IX (information exchange) schemas.
If you’re a regular reader of Oracle Magazine, you’ve seen these schemas or data derived from these schemas used often in the magazine’s hands-on how-to technology articles. Some of the magazine’s technology writers also create ad hoc sample data that provides what seems to be the exact amount of information required for an article in the shortest possible space. I respect that efficiency, and as an editor who has to make all content fit in pages, columns, boxes, and so on, I appreciate the brevity.
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Longtime Oracle Magazine columnists Tom Kyte and Steven Feuerstein are masters of the brief example and brief sample data. If someone on the Ask Tom forum (asktom.oracle.com) asks Tom a question that calls for a sample database with thousands or tens of thousands or even more rows, Tom will create the right-size database in the fewest lines of code possible. Steven quickly creates multiple PL/SQL package specifications, bodies, procedures, functions, and more, always using best practices for naming and coding while keeping the code volume to just what’s needed to explain the topic.
In addition to featuring hands-on how-to articles that are rich with examples, Oracle Magazine features stories of Oracle customers succeeding with Oracle technology. These customers demonstrate by example their own business and technology challenges and solutions for other business and technology leaders to see. And in the same way a technologist can extrapolate a solution from the presentation of examples, business and technology leaders—visionaries—can see success and create their own new success strategies based in part on the experience of a small sample of some of Oracle’s 400,000 customers.
You can see tens of thousands of Oracle customers and technologists, and hear their success strategies and stories in person, at Oracle OpenWorld 2015 in San Francisco, California, October 25–29. Register early. Be an example.
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