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Almost any task can be automated. There are several factors that come into play when deciding whether a task should be performed with a script:

  • Complexity—If a task requires a complex set of conditions to perform, then a script may be required to repeat the steps until the task is completed (even if the task will never be performed again).

  • Repetition—If the task will need to be repeated regularly, a script might be ideal for the job. This reduces the amount of monotonous work that must be done by the DBA or developers because the script can simply be run as a cron job.

  • Interaction— If a task requires little or no interaction, a script can easily perform the task. If interaction is required, it should be required at the start of the task. (This type of interaction often involves setting up parameters for the script.)

  • Functionality—If the functionality of the task can be expressed in code, a script can do the job. For instance, a script can double-check account balances with ease, but it would take a bit of work to make a script understand when an account balance that sums properly is still wrong.

Let’s consider several tasks and determine whether or not the task should be scripted.

Daily Conversion of Data from a Legacy System

Every day a set of data must be loaded from the university’s mainframe system. Some special applications have been developed on the mainframe, and IS (that’s you) hasn’t had time to implement those special applications on the new system. Consider these points:

  • The data from the mainframe always comes in the same format.

  • The data doesn’t require complex interpretation.

  • The data must be imported every morning before the start of business.

Given these conditions, this task should definitely be scripted.

Pattern Analysis of Stock Trends

The Vice President of Finance wants to see a report of trends in the university’s investments. The stock prices are keyed into the database by his secretary every morning, but the standard report doesn’t help him predict where the investments are going.

  You have all the data needed for the report, but it’s not 100 percent reliable. (Remember, the Vice President’s secretary keys the data in by hand every morning, and everyone makes mistakes.)
  The code for the report would have to follow some logical method of predicting trends in the stock market, but a large part of predicting trends is intuition.
  The Vice President wants to see this report once.

Unless you’ve created a reliable method for predicting where stock prices are going and can translate that method into simple logical steps, you’re unlikely to have any success using a script to generate a usable report. (And let’s face it, if you had created a reliable method of predicting where stock prices are going, you probably wouldn’t be working for a living.)

  
This is an excerpt from the book "High Performance Oracle Database Automation" by Jonathan Ingram and Donald K. Burleson, Series Editor.

  
 

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