Monday, May 22, 2006

Database dump in MySQL vs SQL Server 2000

Last Friday before leaving work, I had to make a database dump to copy some data over another SQL Server. I had always used the DTS packages to export or import data, however when using a DTS package you need to know the Server Name and login credentials for both the source server and the destination. You can also import or export to different file formats such as excel sheets, access databases, comma separated files .csv or text files.
I didn't know the name of the destination sql server, nor the credentials to log into that server, one of the requirements from the other team was to get the DTS package already, not only the files with the data.
I then though, well, I should be able to generate a .sql file with the insert statements, this way all they have to do is run the query in the Query Analyzer. To my entire surprise, I was totally unable to do that with the Enterprise Manager or the Query Analyzer. The Query Analyzer would only give me an insert template whenever I right click on the table name and selected the insert statement.
I ended up creating a .dts file to import data from a previously generated .cvs file. On this package, the server name and credentials have to be edited before running in the final environment.

I then thought, well, wouldn't it be a lot easier to just have the insert statements. Let's take a look at MySQL and the most primitive manager it has, phpMyAdmin. I can generate a .sql file that will include the DDL for creating a table or not, and the data for populating that table as a group of inserts.

And save the file with a .sql extension:

It is true that MS SQL Server will let you copy objects among databases, it is true that there is a greater complexity of those objects and the data transformation that you can make with a DTS, but the point is, why they didn't keep the simplest as well.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years

I got this link today on an email. I would recommend this article to every programmer.
Don't be in a rush... read it when you have the time.

Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years

Rough day and conditional server side includes

My day began with a heavy rain. I don't like driving in the rain, mostly because I need better windshield wipers. While I was driving to work a car hit me on the back. It was only a few scratches but that made me moody.
I got to work and the morning passed without major events, just coding and reviewing.
The whole team was invited to a lunch out for our good performance so we decided to go for Japanese food.
When I read the menu I saw that most of the plates said "Entrees", except the Specials. Coming from a Latin culture, and read Latin as the Roman Empire official Language not as in Latin America, I thought, ok, entrees, that's French and means entrance, or as in Spanish, lets ask two and that's it because I'm not too hungry. Oh well, in the Anglosaxon culture an Entree is a main course dish and the waitress kept going for an hour that I had ordered two entrees and I replied that yes, that I wasn't too hungry...LOL main problem today was a broken code.
I think I blogged before about conditional includes in classic ASP.
This morning I had to add some code for my part of the project in a common file that is shared among several sites.

The code looked like this:

<% Select myReport
Case "Report1": %> <!--#include virtual='Report1.asp'-->
<% Case "Lizis_Report" %> <!--#include virtual='Lizis_Report.asp' -->
<% End Select %>

It was an innocent extra case in a conditional statement. The thing is, conditional includes doesn't work in ASP and I should have known better as I have read this article on 4GuysFromRolla

My innocent Lizis_Report.asp had functions with the same name and signature than the functions in Report1.asp so the original ones got overwritten. The reason: IIS processes SSI before it processes ASP code, so both files are included at the same time.

I came home decided to make a small test in PHP with Apache:
I created a mytest.php with the following content:

<?php if(false){ ?> <!--#include virtual='file1.shtml' --> <? } else{ ?> <!--#include virtual='file2.shtml' --> <? } ?>

After testing it the output to the browser is
<!--#include virtual='file1.shtml' -->

So I guess it works in Apache but IIS is kinda lazy...
I better go swimming for a while to burn out the two "Entrees" I ate today :-P

See you later!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rescuing a princess

  1. Beautiful Princess I'm here to rescue you!
  2. Go away, I'm not interested, I'm very happy here
  3. It is my duty, as a brave, noble and restless knight, to fight this dragon and free you.
  4. You heard her, you better leave.
  5. Nothing will stop me from...
  6. I cant stand these fanatic knights.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I'm currently working on branching an asp project, hopefully not for long. It took me some time to adapt myself back to its programming style, but I'm longing to go back to .NET.
This post is not about how to convince the stockholders than migrating a project saves money in the long run and allows branching a lot easier. It's not about how adding branches to old hard to maintain code increases costs, it might give money right away when you sell that branch in a direct proportion, but increases maintainability costs in an exponential way. I don't know how long it would take for you, humble programmer, to explain the difference between exponential and direct proportion.

As usual, I would like to summarize why I moved away from ASP 6 years ago, and why I look forward to move away from it today, the farther the better.

  1. Classic ASP is hard to debug and maintain. Probably because of its own programming model. The mixture of asp code with HTML in a single .ASP page, the lack of a well defined object oriented hierarchy et-cetera.
  2. Everything is interpreted script, in order to increase performance the best bet is to move part of the logic or functionality to COM components.
  3. COM components require the components to be registered on the server, what brings into account the well known DLL hell and adds deployment complexity. It also makes debugging more complex, you cannot debug locally unless you have the COM components registered on your machine. You have to have exact versions of the COM components in the development and production environments. This rules out shared web hosting.
  4. VBScript is not strong typed. Syntax errors are discovered most of the time when the call to your script shows a 500 http error. There is no way to discover any error at compilation time, because there is no compilation time :-p.
  5. In order to debug your script, you're better off writing response.writes to the screen or taking guerrilla techniques.
    Definition of Guerrilla Technique: Select the whole content of your script, cut it and paste it in an open notepad windows. Type in a Response.Write ("I'm Here. I made it into MyScript.asp") and request the page after saving it in your IIS box. Then start copying and pasting small chunks of the original code at a time till you no longer see the "I'm Here..." So you can determine the failing line of code.
  6. Classic ASP is not event driven programming, if you want event driven response, you better get a JavaScript book or bookmark a good online reference. It's true that you should know JavaScript no matter what, some .NET programmers abuse the numbers of trips to the server that could be saved with some client side logic.
  7. In order to have a nice grid that you can re-use in your daily reports you have to write humongous amounts of code, even more if the grid has pagination or sorting capabilities.
  8. Option Explicit is off by default in classic ASP, oh no! (Note: it becomes Off by default since VS 2003 if I remember correct)
I'm sure some people will point out some advantages. I can hardly think of two of them:
  1. When you set the form action attribute in html to a certain script, it certainly requests that script on the server, it doesn't go to the same original page that contents the form. Ok, ok, without removing the feature, it wouldn't be possible a Page.IsPostback property in .NET. Have you ever tried that in .NET? I mean setting the action attribute, not the Page.IsPostback, dummy.
  2. Some coworkers have said the OnError type of error treatment is better than the Try Catch because it lets you Resume Next. To be honest, I'm quite fond to do proper Exception Handling so no thanks.