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LIGHTLY TECHNICAL OBSERVATIONS ON PEOPLESOFT, SQR, AND RELATED AND UNRELATED TOPICS

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A Coding Standards Wish List

A user on one of the online forums recently asked for suggestions for an SQR coding standards document. There wasn't much activity on the thread, but the answers generally fell into two categories. One group of people offered up their own standards documents as samples. The other group talked about the need for meaningful standards that address real objectives, as opposed to the usual "every variable name must begin with a capital letter" sort of thing.

This started me thinking about what I would consider to be essential coding standards. I wanted to come up with a very small list of points—sort of a "wish list" of things that I wished every SQR developer would do. (The following is written with SQR in mind, but it really could apply to just about any language.)

So here's my wish list. This is not a list of all the things we should be doing—I've written about a number of those things before. Instead, this is just the shortest list of really important points that I could think of. Maintaining SQR code would be so much more pleasant if everyone followed these "rules."

#1: Align and indent your code. It may seem a little surprising, but I think this is the single most important thing we can do to make our code understandable and maintainable. I find code that is scattered randomly around nearly impossible to follow. This extends to the SQL as well. (Remember that the only thing that must be aligned at the left margin in SQR is the list of fields/columns in a BEGIN-SELECT. Everything else, including the BEGIN-SELECT itself, can be aligned where it makes sense.) Align your code using spaces, not tabs. Different editors handle tabs in different ways.

Indent within statement blocks that alter the execution flow. For example, your IF, ELSE and END-IF should be aligned in the same column, and everything else within that block should be indented. BEGIN-SELECT, EVALUATE, and WHILE are other examples of these blocks. Don't indent to show logical groupings of statements. For example, if you have a DO statement followed by code that processes the results returned by the DO, don't indent those. Line them up instead. If you want to group statements logically, use blank lines or comments.

#2: Tag your changes. When maintaining existing code, don't delete or change code. Instead, comment out any unwanted code and add the new or changed code. On each line (both the commented-out and the new lines), add a comment that consists of the issue/ticket/case number:

  ! let #a = 1            ! 123
    let #a = 2            ! 123

In this example, the value of #a was originally set to 1. Issue 123 caused us to change this to 2. There is a lot of information here. We have the original code and can back out the change if needed. We can see what the real change was. By looking up the issue or ticket, we can determine when the change was made, by whom, and (importantly) why it was done. This helps in our understanding of the change and is critical if we need to maintain it.

One person on the forum said he prefers to rely on a version management system to highlight changes and allow rollbacks. This works, but if all you have is a list of versions without a tie back to the original issue, you are still left wondering why a change was made.

The most frequent objection to this seems to be that it will clutter your code. Well, after a change has "aged" for some time (say, a year), there's no harm in removing the comments.

#3: Comment your code. It's so easy to skip this step. When we're writing our code, its purpose seems so obvious. But even a few weeks later that same code may not be so clear, even to the person who wrote it.

Comments help our understanding, but don't rely exclusively on them. After all, the comment can be completely wrong and the program will still work correctly! Remember that elements such as procedure and variable names can also carry comment-like information.

    let $PlanType = '11'   ! Dental             Useful
    let $t = '11'          ! Set $t to '11'     Worthless

#4: Refactor your code. Many programmers stop immediately once a section of code works. Instead, I think that we should continue to improve our code (assuming that it's not a throw-away program to be run only once). "Refactoring" refers to improving and cleaning up code by removing duplication, simplifying, restructuring, deleting unused variables, and so forth. (Google it for lots of information.)

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PS The HTML object 04-11-2014
PS Types of HTML areas 03-14-2014
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PS Disabling autocomplete 09-29-2013
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General Stopping... and restarting 09-02-2013
SQRSQR debugger version 2 09-29-2010
SQRA few SQR items 05-20-2009
PS Ignoring "component changed" 05-07-2008
PS App Engine 04-30-2008
PS Commenting code 04-02-2008
PS The "Powered By" page 03-05-2008
PS Formats in PeopleCode vars 01-30-2008
PS Page layout with group boxes 01-09-2008
PS Meta-SQL wrappers 12-19-2007
PS Derived record PeopleCode 12-05-2007
PS A Cancel button 11-28-2007
General "Leading" the test effort 11-07-2007
SQRTemporary tables in SQR 10-31-2007
SQRUpdating long character data 10-24-2007
PS Record.Field specification 10-17-2007
PSSQRRELLANG.SQC 10-03-2007
PS Migrating project definitions 09-26-2007
PS Derived records 09-19-2007
PS Positioning elements on pages 08-29-2007
General Thanks 08-22-2007
SQRSQR "code alerts" 08-08-2007
PS Styles in HTML Areas 08-01-2007
SQRDynamic SQL for performance? 07-25-2007
PS Page Field Name 07-18-2007
PS PeopleCode event order 06-27-2007
SQRFormatting Excel using HTML 06-06-2007
Component-changed state 05-23-2007
PS Selecting styles for page fields05-16-2007
SQRSending email from SQR 05-02-2007
General Contractor networking 04-25-2007
PS Project X--and another project04-18-2007
PS Effective and data entry dates04-11-2007
PS A PeopleSoft home page 04-04-2007
PSSQRHyperion and the future of SQR03-21-2007
General The data doesn't lie 03-14-2007
PSSQRHyperion acquisition 03-07-2007
General Taking ownership 02-28-2007
PS Source control 02-21-2007
PS Sandboxes 02-14-2007
PS Migration instructions 02-07-2007
PS PeopleSoft environment usage 01-31-2007
PS Multiple environment strings 01-24-2007
PS Multiple testing environments 01-17-2007
PS PeopleSoft support environments 01-10-2007
General A single source of truth 01-03-2007
Nothing Smile 12-27-2006
PS Navigating the component buffer 12-20-2006
PS JavaScript and styles 12-13-2006
PS SQL for common HR queries 12-06-2006
SQRSQR program complexity 11-29-2006
SQRFrequent SQR questions 11-22-2006
PS Followup 11-15-2006
PS Expanding subrecords 11-08-2006
PS Bind variables 10-25-2006
PS Attaching objects to projects 10-18-2006
PS Partial transaction completion10-11-2006
PS The multi-process component 10-04-2006
PS Employee rows lost to security09-27-2006
SQRSQR document sections 09-20-2006
PS Empty-string compares in SQL 09-13-2006
SQRNulls, blanks, empty strings 09-06-2006
General Company policy 08-30-2006
PS Auto-lookup exclusion 08-23-2006
PS Effective status 08-16-2006
PS A couple of HRMS/HCM utilities08-02-2006
PS Translate value changes 07-26-2006
General Updating views 07-19-2006
General Set-based updates 07-12-2006
PS SQL set-based processing 07-05-2006
Being happy about bugs 06-28-2006
Busy in the PS marketplace 06-21-2006
General 2-way documentation 06-14-2006
PS Interfaces as views 06-07-2006
PS Hijacked fields 05-31-2006
General Agile software development 05-24-2006
General Working within Waterfall 05-17-2006
General Over the Waterfall 05-10-2006
PS Experimentation in PeopleSoft 05-03-2006
PS Unlimited enhancements? 04-26-2006
PS Testing direct DB updates 04-19-2006
SQRDelayed evaluation of SQL 04-12-2006
PS Database compares 04-05-2006
General Support problem? Call FBI! 03-29-2006
SQRFinding SQR errors 03-22-2006
PS Finding PeopleSoft Queries 03-15-2006
PS PeopleSoft Query support 03-08-2006
PS JOB table and SetIDs 03-01-2006
PS Migrating the project 02-22-2006
PS Compare and Report options 02-15-2006
PS Comparing and migrating projects 02-08-2006
PS Object security in App Designer 02-01-2006
PS Automation of App Designer 01-25-2006
General Contractors on PS projects 01-18-2006
General "Smart coding" 01-11-2006
SQRDebugger tricks 01-04-2006
PS EFFDT and component processing12-28-2005
PS Referential integrity 12-21-2005
PS Menu navigation using SQL 12-14-2005
SQRA coding standards wish list 12-07-2005
PS More App Designer options 11-30-2005
PS Pages in App Designer 11-23-2005
PS Finding objects on the menu 11-14-2005
PS Magic search record fields 10-31-2005
PS Documenting object attributes 10-24-2005
PS Monitoring server performance 10-17-2005
PS Searching PeopleCode 10-10-2005
PS Speeding up App Designer 10-03-2005
PS Using the message catalog 09-26-2005
PS Good ideas that sometimes aren't09-19-2005
PS And now Siebel 09-12-2005
SQRDate comparisons 09-05-2005
PSSQRFTP options 08-29-2005
PSSQRMoving code across environments08-22-2005
PS Spring cleaning 08-15-2005
SQRBuild your own SQR "IDE" 08-08-2005
PS Change control in App Designer08-01-2005
PS App Engine: disadvantages 07-25-2005
PS App Engine: advantages 07-18-2005
SQRCoding Excel file output 07-11-2005
General Creating Excel files 07-05-2005
PS Dave's next move 06-27-2005
SQRSQR variable oddities 06-20-2005
SQRSQR arrays 06-13-2005
SQRCompiling SQRs 06-06-2005
PS 5-character SETIDs 05-30-2005
PS Use all of the keys 05-23-2005
SQRDynamic SQL in SQR 05-16-2005
PS Running the in-place conv 05-09-2005
PS Searching for fields in DB 05-02-2005
PS Converting setup data 04-25-2005
PS Associating effective-dated tables 04-18-2005
PS Upgrading without an upgrade 04-04-2005
PS Scheduling patches 03-28-2005
PS To patch or not? 03-21-2005
PS Basic tools 03-14-2005
SQRWay back with sqrtools.com 03-07-2005
PS Meta-SQL 02-28-2005
PS Dropping the user index 02-21-2005
PS User indexes 02-14-2005
PS Page changes in App Designer 02-07-2005
General Generate SQL from SQL 01-31-2005
SQRSQR report viewer 01-24-2005
General Bug or enhancement? 01-17-2005
PSSQRTagging objects and code 01-10-2005
General Issue tracking 01-03-2005
PS PeopleSoft 10? 12-27-2004
PS Purging tables 12-20-2004
PS Acquisition 12-13-2004
PS Exporting PCode as text 12-06-2004
PS Simplify SQR code 11-29-2004
PS New site for SQR info 11-22-2004
PS Comparing objects 11-08-2004
PS Applying SQL-from-SQL 11-01-2004
General Generating SQL with SQL 10-25-2004
General Generating SQL 10-18-2004
PS Scrambling data 10-11-2004
PS What's going on with PS? 10-04-2004
SQRPrint positioning in SQR 09-27-2004
PS Oracle vs. PeopleSoft 09-13-2004
General Word, email, and lava lamps 09-06-2004
PS Custom run control: tips 08-30-2004
PS Custom run control: building 08-23-2004
PS PeopleCode, behind the scenes 08-16-2004
PS Language-specific pages 08-09-2004
SQRUsing substitution variables 08-02-2004
SQRSQR substitution variables 08-02-2004
PS HTML areas 07-19-2004
SQRRecursion in SQR 07-12-2004
SQRSQR code formatting 07-06-2004
SQRDebugger beta release 06-28-2004
PS Application Designer tidbits 06-27-2004
PS Configuration for custom SQR 06-14-2004
PSSQRModify or clone? 06-07-2004
PS Identifying custom objects 06-01-2004
PS EFFDT again 05-24-2004
General Change-only interface: impl 05-17-2004
General Change-only interface: concept05-10-2004
PS Cache troubles 05-03-2004
PS Component PeopleCode 04-25-2004
PS EFFDT and EFF_STATUS 04-18-2004
PS SETID in subselects 04-11-2004
PS Denormalized tables 04-04-2004
PS Documenting retired custom 03-28-2004
PS Sharing login IDs 03-21-2004
SQRGlobal and local SQR variables03-14-2004
SQRDISPLAY and MOVE 03-07-2004
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PS Implementation setup data 02-15-2004
PS Managing setup data 02-08-2004
PS Managing objects 02-01-2004
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