Re: Take a Pill

Subject: Re: Take a Pill
From: Graham Tillotson <graham -at- MEGSINET -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 1999 22:20:30 -0600

Of all the sideline pursuits you could take up as a technical writer, I
think databases as a general category is an excellent choice, one that
extends beyond whatever product you happen to focus on (Oracle, Access, SQL
Server, etc.). For the past two years I have been building custom Access
databases to manage administrative information and whatever else comes my
way, and I've learned to expand this knowledge for my own benefit as well as
that of the client.

For example, I started building databases to track project information
(consolidating spreadsheets into a more functional package with a reporting
structure that is not all gridlines and cells). Once I had the basics down,
I created databases to track training information (rosters, class listings)
and then setup a development/export process to write procedures in Access
and kick them out to Word/RoboHELP.

Obviously, not everyone will be this gung-ho about databases, but the
concepts that you learn when you get near them--how to read a relational
model, data normalization, SQL statement syntax, triggers and events--these
are invaluable. On my last project I quit asking developers for information
because I knew enough to go out to the Oracle tables and get it myself.

Anyone wanting to know more about databases need only use Web resources or
Access's online help, which is remarkably thorough and covers general topics
such as relational principles and SQL syntax. I have a list of favorite
database Web sites if someone wants to contact me off list.


========================================
Graham Tillotson, Senior Consultant
Whittman-Hart, Inc. Chicago, IL
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