The Generalizing Specialist: The Key To Success

Generalizing specialist

A generalizing specialist is simply someone who is multi-skilled. Such an individual can be a specialist in one or more technical disciplines while at the same time actively seeks to expand their skill set, which spans across different areas besides their present specialties. Generalizing specialists are also referred to as cross-functional developers, multi-disciplinary developers, and versatilists.

While they can become more skilled with time, don’t mistake them to be super skilled in every discipline. However, their technical knowledge and general software development knowledge, as well as a good understanding of their relevant business domains, can be critical to getting things done in real-time. The person can easily be redeployed based on the changes in business strategy or other necessary requirements to remain competitive.

Benefits being a generalizing specialist

We live in a fast-changing industry, where being a specialist in just a single discipline alone may not cut it in the larger scheme of things. Since generalizing specialists have knowledge on a broad range of issues, they can see the bigger picture and help make better decisions for greater productivity. As such, the available job opportunities will likely be more compared to specialists. Better yet, you will be able to attract better job offers.

Importance of generalizing specialists

Generalizing specialists are essential to developing high-performing agile teams in companies, and here are some of the reasons they are considered the key to success.

• Better collaboration

While a company will have different departments, they will be connected with others and geared towards accomplishing the same end goal. Communication and collaboration within the teams involved are important elements to achieving that goal, and this is something most specialists aren’t good at. When you don’t have a good understanding of how everything fits together, it’s very easy to look down on what your teammates are doing. Working together effectively might prove a challenging task.

Generalizing specialists are more likely to appreciate the work of others simply because they have a good grasp of different technical and domain disciplines. Their background allows them to understand the issues teammates are trying to find solutions to.

• Improved flexibility

The IT industry, by its very nature, faces significant changes that serious businesses must comply with to remain relevant. With a generalizing specialist, dynamic transition and allocation of the new tasks wouldn’t be a huge problem. Things would look quite different if a team is built of specialists that are just accustomed to doing the same type of tasks over and over again. In fact, this is considered to be risky, as it can result in productivity loss.

• Increased efficiency

Generalizing specialists bring less dependency, which can go a long way in increasing efficiency and productivity. The problem when working with specialists is that they can easily become bottlenecks, especially when they have a lot on their plate. There’s a good chance that multiple development teams will be looking up to the specialist, and this can negatively affect the overall team efficiency.

Conclusion

Generalizing specialists are surely taking over. There’s room for some specialists within IT departments, but as things look at the moment, more departments are moving towards becoming more agile. It’s not unlikely to see only a few specialists survive in the information technology industry over time.

Why Unit Testing is Important

Whenever a new application is in development, unit testing is a vital part of the process and is typically performed by the developer. During this process, sections of code are isolated at a time and are systematically checked to ensure correctness, efficiency, and quality. There are numerous benefits to unit testing, several of which are outlined below.

1. Maximizing Agile Programming and Refactoring

During the coding process, a programmer has to keep in mind a myriad of factors to ensure that the final product correct and as lightweight, as is possible for it to be. However, the programmer also needs to make certain that if changes become necessary, refactoring can be safely and easily done.

Unit testing is the simplest way to assist in making for agile programming and refactoring because the isolated sections of code have already been tested for accuracy and help to minimize refactoring risks.

2. Find and Eliminate Any Bugs Early in the Process

Ultimately, the goal is to find no bugs and no issues to correct, right? But unit testing is there to ensure that any existing bugs are found early on so that they can be addressed and corrected before additional coding is layered on. While it might not feel like a positive thing to have a unit test reveal a problem, it’s good that it’s catching the issue now so that the bug doesn’t affect the final product.

3. Document Any and All Changes

Unit testing provides documentation for each section of coding that has been separated, allowing those who haven’t already directly worked with the code to locate and understand each individual section as necessary. This is invaluable in helping developers understand unit APIs without too much hassle.

4. Reduce Development Costs

As one can imagine, fixing problems after the product is complete is both time-consuming and costly. Not only do you have to sort back through a fully coded application’s worth of material, any bugs which may have been compounded and repeated throughout the application. Unit testing helps not only limit the amount of work that needs to be done after the application is completed it also reduces the time it takes to fix errors because it prevents developers from having to fix the same problem more than once.

5. Assists in Planning

Thanks to the documentation aspect of unit testing, developers are forced to think through the design of each individual section of code so that its function is determined before it’s written. This can prevent redundancies, incomplete sections, and nonsensical functions because it encourages better planning. Developers who implement unit testing in their applications will ultimately improve their creative and coding abilities thanks to this aspect of the process.

Conclusion

Unit testing is absolutely vital to the development process. It streamlines the debugging process and makes it more efficient, saves on time and costs for the developers, and even helps developers and programmers improve their craft through strategic planning. Without unit testing, people would inevitably wind up spending far more time on correcting problems within the code, which is both inefficient and incredibly frustrating. Using unit tests is a must in the development of any application.

Related References

Denodo Model Best Practices For Creation of Associations

What Are Denodo Associations?

In denodo associations follow the same concept as modeling tools, which can be described as an ‘on-demand join.’

Where Should Associations Be Created In the Denodo Model?

You don’t necessarily need to define an Association at every level; usually, the best practice is to apply associations at the following points:

  • On final views published for data consumers, indicating relationships between related views; Especially, on published web services.
  • On the component views below, any derived view that brings together disparate (dissimilar) data sources.  The associations should be defined as Referential Constraints whenever appropriate to aid the optimization engine.
  • On the component views below, any derived view that joins a “Base View from Query” with standard views, since Base Views from Query cannot be rewritten by the denodo optimization engine.  Often Base Views from Query create performance bottlenecks.

These best practices should cover the majority scenarios; beyond these guidelines, it is best to take an ad-hoc approach to create Associations when you see a specific performance/optimization.

Why Are Associations important in Denodo?

In a nutshell, associations performance and the efficiency of the denodo execution optimizer along with other model metadata, such as:  

  • The SQL of the view(s)
  • Table metadata (Table Keys {PK, FK), Virtual Partitions…etc.)
  • Data statistics, which are used by the Cost Based Optimizer (CBO)

Related References

Associations in Denodo

Importing Associations And Joins From A Database Schema in Denodo

A coworker recently asked a question as to whether denodo generated joins automatically from source RDBMS database schema.  After searching, a few snippets of information became obvious.  First, that the subject of inheriting join properties was broader than joins and needed to in modeling associations (joins on demand). Second, that there were some denodo design best practices to be considered to optimize associations.

Does Denodo Automatically Generate Joins From the Source System?

After some research, the short answer is no.

Can Denodo Inherit Accusations From A Logical Model?

The short answer is yes. 

Denodo bridges allow models to be passed to and from other modeling tools, it is possible to have the association build automatically, using the top-down approach design approach and importing a model, at the Interface View level, which is the topmost level of the top-down design process. 

However, below the Interface view level, associations and or joins are created manually by the developer.

Where Should Associations Be Created?

You don’t necessarily need to define an Association at every level, usually, the best practice is to apply associations at following points:

These best practices should cover the majority scenarios, beyond these guidelines it is best to take an ad-hoc approach to create Associations when you see a specific performance/optimization.

Related References

Associations in Denodo

Why Business Intelligence (BI) needs a Semantic Data Model

A semantic data model is a method of organizing and representing corporate data that reflects the meaning and relationships among data items. This method of organizing data helps end users access data autonomously using familiar business terms such as revenue, product, or customer via the BI (business intelligence) and other analytics tools. The use of a semantic model offers a consolidated, unified view of data across the business allowing end-users to obtain valuable insights quickly from large, complex, and diverse data sets.

What is the purpose of semantic data modeling in BI and data virtualization?

A semantic data model sits between a reporting tool and the original database in order to assist end-users with reporting. It is the main entry point for accessing data for most organizations when they are running ad hoc queries or creating reports and dashboards. It facilitates reporting and improvements in various areas, such as:

  • No relationships or joins for end-users to worry about because they’ve already been handled in the semantic data model
  • Data such as invoice data, salesforce data, and inventory data have all been pre-integrated for end-users to consume.
  • Columns have been renamed into user-friendly names such as Invoice Amount as opposed to INVAMT.
  • The model includes powerful time-oriented calculations such as Percentage in sales since last quarter, sales year-to-date, and sales increase year over year.
  • Business logic and calculations are centralized in the semantic data model in order to reduce the risk of incorrect recalculations.
  • Data security can be incorporated. This might include exposing certain measurements to only authorized end-users and/or standard row-level security.

A well-designed semantic data model with agile tooling allows end-users to learn and understand how altering their queries results in different outcomes. It also gives them independence from IT while having confidence that their results are correct.

Personas Vs. Roles – What Is The Difference?

Personas and roles are user modeling approaches that are applied in the early stages of system development or redesign. They drive the design decision and allows programmers and designers to place everyday user needs at the forefront of their system development journey in a user-centered design approach.

Personas and user roles help improve the quality of user experience when working with products that require a significant amount of user interaction. But there is a distinct difference between technology personas vs. roles. What then exactly is a persona? What are user roles in system development? And, how does persona differ from user roles?

Let’s see how these two distinct, yet often confused, user models fit in a holistic user-centered design process and how you can leverage them to identify valuable product features.

Technology Personas Vs. Roles – The Most Relevant Way to Describe Users

In software development, a user role describes the relationship between a user type and a software tool. It is generally the user’s responsibility when using a system or the specific behavior of a user who is participating in a business process. Think of roles as the umbrella, homogeneous constructs of the users of a particular system. For instance, in an accounting system, you can have roles such as accountant, cashier, and so forth.

However, by merely using roles, system developers, designers, and testers do not have sufficient information to conclusively make critical UX decisions that would make the software more user-centric, and more appealing to its target users.

This lack of understanding of the user community has led to the need for teams to move beyond role-based requirements and focus more on subsets of the system users. User roles can be refined further by creating “user stand-ins,” known as personas. By using personas, developers and designers can move closer to the needs and preferences of the user in a more profound manner than they would by merely relying on user roles.

In product development, user personas are an archetype of a fictitious user that represents a specific group of your typical everyday users. First introduced by Alan Cooper, personas help the development team to clearly understand the context in which the ideal customer interacts with a software/system and helps guide the design decision process.

Ideally, personas provide team members with a name, a face, and a description for each user role. By using personas, you’re typically personalizing the user roles, and by so doing, you end up creating a lasting impression on the entire team. Through personas, team members can ask questions about the users.

The Benefits of Persona Development

Persona development has several benefits, including:

  • They help team members have a consistent understanding of the user group.
  • They provide stakeholders with an opportunity to discuss the critical features of a system redesign.
  • Personas help designers to develop user-centric products that have functions and features that the market already demands.
  • A persona helps to create more empathy and a better understanding of the person that will be using the end product. This way, the developers can design the product with the actual user needs in mind.
  • Personas can help predict the needs, behaviors, and possible reactions of the users to the product.

What Makes Up a Well-Defined Persona?

Once you’ve identified user roles that are relevant to your product, you’ll need to create personas for each. A well-defined persona should ideally take into consideration the needs, goals, and observed behaviors of your target audience. This will influence the features and design elements you choose for your system.

The user persona should encompass all the critical details about your ideal user and should be presented in a memorable way that everyone in the team can identify with and understand. It should contain four critical pieces of information.

1. The header

The header aid in improving memorability and creating a connection between the design team and the user. The header should include:

  • A fictional name
  • An image, avatar or a stock photo
  • A vivid description/quote that best describes the persona as it relates to the product.

2. Demographic Profile

Unlike the name and image, which might be fictitious, the demographic profile includes factual details about the ideal user. The demographic profile includes:

  • Personal background: Age, gender, education, ethnicity, persona group, and family status
  • Professional background: Occupation, work experience, and income level.
  • User environment. It represents the social, physical, and technological context of the user. It answers questions like: What devices do the user have? Do they interact with other people? How do they spend their time?
  • Psychographics: Attitudes, motivations, interests, and user pain points.

3. End Goal(s)

End goals help answer the questions: What problems or needs will the product solution to the user? What are the motivating factors that inspire the user’s actions?

4. Scenario

This is a narrative that describes how the ideal user would interact with your product in real-life to achieve their end goals. It should explain the when, the where, and the how.

Conclusion

For a truly successful user-centered design approach, system development teams should use personas to provide simple descriptions of key user roles. While a distinct difference exists in technology personas vs. roles, design teams should use the two user-centered design tools throughout the project to decide and evaluate the functionality of their end product. This way, they can deliver a useful and usable solution to their target market.

denodo SQL Type Mapping

denodo 7.0 saves some manual coding when building the ‘Base Views’ by performing some initial data type conversions from ANSI SQL type to denodo Virtual DataPort data types. So, where is a quick reference mapping to show to what the denodo Virtual DataPort Data Type mappings are:

ANSI SQL types To Virtual DataPort Data types Mapping

ANSI SQL TypeVirtual DataPort Type
BIT (n)blob
BIT VARYING (n)blob
BOOLboolean
BYTEAblob
CHAR (n)text
CHARACTER (n)text
CHARACTER VARYING (n)text
DATElocaldate
DECIMALdouble
DECIMAL (n)double
DECIMAL (n, m)double
DOUBLE PRECISIONdouble
FLOATfloat
FLOAT4float
FLOAT8double
INT2int
INT4int
INT8long
INTEGERint
NCHAR (n)text
NUMERICdouble
NUMERIC (n)double
NUMERIC (n, m)double
NVARCHAR (n)text
REALfloat
SMALLINTint
TEXTtext
TIMESTAMPtimestamp
TIMESTAMP WITH TIME ZONEtimestamptz
TIMESTAMPTZtimestamptz
TIMEtime
TIMETZtime
VARBITblob
VARCHARtext
VARCHAR ( MAX )text
VARCHAR (n)text

ANSI SQL Type Conversion Notes

  • The function CAST truncates the output when converting a value to a text, when these two conditions are met:
  1. You specify a SQL type with a length for the target data type. E.g. VARCHAR(20).
  2. And, this length is lower than the length of the input value.
  • When casting a boolean to an integertrue is mapped to 1 and false to 0.

Related References

denodo 7.0 Type Conversion Functions