The Art of Programming

Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code or simply BASIC is one of the oldest programming languages around and also the first programming language I learned in school back in the 70’s. Later I came around a dialect of BASIC called COMAL, learned and forgot all about ASSEMBLER, made my first business code in COBOL (plus a Yahtzee game), created applications with SPEED and PACE, worked with PowerBuilder, wrote some SQL and made my own data quality tool using MAGIC.

Independent of all the different languages being used, when programming there may be two different basic measures of quality:

  1. Good code may refer to if the code is well structured, readable by others including being feasible documented, is reusable and is setup to use the computer resources the best way possible.
  2. Good code (delivered as an application) may refer to that it helps solving the business (or gaming) issue addressed through the best possible user experience.

Looking at good code these two ways resembles the two ways we also measure if our data is good:

  1. Good data may refer to if the data is well structured, readable by others including being feasible documented, is reusable and reflects the real world the best way possible.
  2. Good data (delivered as information) may refer to that it supports solving the business issue addressed through the best possible user experience.

Application (and information) users concern is point 2.

As a programmer (and data quality professional) you have to consider point 1 in order to achieve point 2. You may get along with a quick and dirty work around in a short term, but in the long run you have to make it technically right.  

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Programming

  1. Jim Harris 16th October 2010 / 16:03

    Great analogy, Henrik.

    Good code delivers good applications. Good data delivers good information.

    Your post made me think of a compiler analogy for data and information.

    In programming, a compiler transforms source code written in one programming language (the source language) into another computer language (the target language) in order to transform the source code into an executable program.

    In data quality, data is the source code, the source language, which must be compiled into information, the target language, in order to transform the data into actionable business insight.

    Just as bad code will not compile properly, bad data will not deliver information properly.

    As Peter Benson, Project Leader of ISO 8000 says:

    “Quality data does NOT guarantee quality information, but quality information is impossible without quality data.”

    Best Regards,

    Jim

  2. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 16th October 2010 / 18:21

    Thanks Jim. I like the Benson quote too – and the Harris data compiler theorem as well.

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