Whatever happened to …

… databases?

A couple of things got me thinking about this recently. First, attending Peter Beens’ session at BIT reminded me that I haven’t created anything original on my computer of any sophistication recently. Secondly, I had coffee with a database administrator who was talking about his changing reality.

There was a time when his boss(es) would ask for reports from the databases that he manages. In his case, they are Oracle. These days, those requests are few and far between. Instead, they’re just asking for a spreadsheet export and they’d do the work themselves in Excel.

There was a time where I worked with pretty sophisticated databases (at least for my abilities). If your teeth are long enough in Ontario Education, you’ll remember the Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner, the first Electronic Report Cards, and OSAPAC licensing versions of Filemaker Pro. I had a support person who was a genius working with this software as we always seemed to be doing mailing lists or managing large collections of data. As the webmaster for OSAPAC at the time, I taught myself how to work with Access and put the software and curriculum connections on line. Personally, I had a Webquest Locator where I made my collection available to others online. To be honest, I felt like I was just tipping my toes into the database water. I always felt more at home working with a spreadsheet. Does anyone remember Visicalc?

I can’t remember the last time I even worked explicitly with a database program. Yes, I have access to collections of data but I’m able to do whatever it is that I want in a spreadsheet program (LibreOffice or online with Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel).

And, we all work with databases regularly on the front end. We’re often just not exposed to what happens behind the scenes. We take a lot of things for granted. It just works – https://www.wpbeginner.com/glossary/mysql/

For a Sunday, your thoughts.

  • are you a database programmer? If so, what sorts of things are you doing with your skills?
  • do you remember the Ontario Educational products listed above?
  • do you have access to a database program at your school?
  • are you proficient in a spreadsheet program? If so, which one?
  • does your spreadsheet program do what you need it to do? Do you have needs that go a bit further?
  • we talk about how we should be worried about our personal data collected online. Should we be teaching our students these skills?
  • are databases addressed in your curriculum? If so, where or how?
  • for the truly experienced, what are the file extensions for
    • Microsoft Access
    • Filemaker Pro
    • FoxPro
    • Oracle
    • SQL
    • or any of the others that you might know?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

3 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. I wonder what happened to simple flat indexed sequential access files. Before joins and SQL and the fancy stuff that makes for powerful tools. If you want a simple file you can’t make one anymore. Drives me crazy.


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