Jack’s First SQL Query


Jack is just about 6 months old now. As anticipated, he has expressed an interest in programming. He was sitting on my lap yesterday as I was tweaking a query. He started to pound on the keyboard, so I opened up a fresh window for him so that he could express his programming desires uninhibited by my existing work.

Here is what he came up with

“  ."

That’s 2 spaces, a period, and another space. Not only should you appreciate the query itself, but you should appreciate the manner in which it was written. Some people have a vague idea of what they are doing and they sit down to figure it out through a cycle of research/trial-and-error. Others know what has to be done and simply do it; Solving the problem takes exactly as long as it takes to type in the solution. I am of the latter classification, and it would seem that whichever gene enables that skill has been passed to the offspring. Jack was Picasso and the keyboard was his tapestry; There was no delay or thought, simply action. It was so natural that a casual observer may have perceived it as nothing more than the random flailing of his 2 topmost limbs.

As a dad I proudly exclaim that this is a tremendous victory. While not completely void of issues, it is an excellent first step in solving many well known SQL puzzles. I love the initiative, the attitude, and the overall spirit of the effort. It takes more than skill to be a programmer; you need to love it. For that he gets an A+.

But, as a software architect and a mentor, I must be fair and point out the very rare opportunities for improvement.

  • Excessive white spaces – surely we don’t need spaces on both sides of the period. Perhaps he should consider a tab rather than consecutive leading spaces. I was going to suggest this to him, but he chose that moment to engage in massive crap. He was concentrating very hard on the pushing exercise, with his brow furrowed and his face turning red from the effort. Relative to his intestinal action and diaper trauma, the tab issue seemed trivial so was left unsaid.
  • The period – in this context, it doesn’t actually do anything, which is OK. I see that the period is a solution; its just that we don’t understand the problem because we’re dumb. I only mention it here because he didn’t comment it.

Cleary Jack is on the road to programming greatness.

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