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Trading Places

Trading Places

I have always been a firm believer in the value and importance of trade publications in the information technology industry. I remember back in my early days as a consultant being assigned to (more like thrown into) the maintenance end of an Informix-4GL project. Now, mind you, at that time I didn't have any prior experience working with relational database technology, let alone working with Informix.

But, giving it my best shot, I started reading the truckload of manuals that came with the product, hoping that I would be able to learn it fast enough to be productive on the project. I was able to pick up the programming part without much trouble, but relational database technology - that was a different story.

Sometimes the best way to learn something is just to get in there and do it, so it wasn't long before I was able to create a table or two and run some simple SQL statements. Over time, I found myself more and more fascinated with the technology. Somewhere along the line, I made a conscious decision to take steps toward becoming a database analyst, somehow, some way. Not only were data analysts and administrators held in high esteem at the time (at least in my mind), but they were also highly paid.

But how does one graduate from the programmer ranks to the higher echelon of project-land? In my opinion, keep learning as much as you can, any way that you can, and with a little luck, you can do it.

At the time, you couldn't get anything better than subscribing to Database Programming & Design magazine. Month after month, I would religiously read the magazine cover to cover, learning everything from relational theory to SQL tips (Joe Celko was my idol) to database tuning. Gradually, over the years of learning and project experience, I was able to work my way toward landing more database analysis and design assignments, so much so that at one time, I held a data architect title for a small Internet startup firm. I'd have to say there were a few nay-sayers along the way, saying that you cannot become an expert just by reading a magazine month after month. But, it surely can't hurt.

Now, years later, and not limited to just database technology but J2EE and BEA WebLogic as well, I find myself in a new position as editor-in-chief of WebLogic Developers Journal, something I could not have imagined doing years ago when I was an avid reader of DBPD. But now, instead of eagerly waiting for the magazine to arrive in the mail, I'll be hard at work behind the scenes trying to guarantee that you, the reader, receive the same high quality of articles and monthly columns that I have come to expect.

Over the next several months, we plan to expand WLDJ to include articles on architecture and administration, as well as continue to provide new insights on the design and development end of things. Since technology is ever evolving, there will always be something new to learn on the BEA WebLogic platform - and that is why we're here.

This month, we focus on data integration (an old familiar topic for me) - it's not just databases anymore - and the various XML-based technologies that have come about in just the past few years.

We're on the verge of a new and exciting time in the industry, with Web services finally taking off and the birth of new technologies for business process management. With this growth, BEA will continue to be in the forefront, developing the standards and technology platform to make it all happen. And I hope that WebLogic Developers Journal becomes your monthly window into what's new and exciting at BEA. And, for those of you who want to become a WebLogic developer or architect, keep reading. You never know!

More Stories By Joe Mitchko

Joe Mitchko is the editor-in-chief of WLDJ and a senior technical specialist for a leading consulting services company.

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