Smatterings Logo

Some useful smatterings of information, and some more substantial ones too, to make your working life easier.


Day in the life of a database programmer

Customer Profile

Top tip

Who am I?


Gamble-free Guarantee

Share with a friend Pass on our Smatterings to people you know. Just enter your name, your email address and the email address of the recipient, then click Pass It On.

Your name:
Your email:
Friend's email:
We will only use your friend's email address to send Smatterings to them. We will not pass any personal information to third parties.
Follow SoftwareMatters on Twitter

Day in the Life of a Database Programmer

9:00am Finish off work on an existing project for a recruitment company. The user wants to be able to click a button and email all his clients individually with their timesheet data attached as an Adobe PDF This involves writing and implementing code in VBA for Microsoft Access which carries out the process automatically. The code is almost there but with a few teething errors, I go through the code step by step using a debugger to determine where the errors are occurring. After the errors are fixed I double check that the process works and save the changes leaving the file ready for testing tomorrow.

9:58am Import an update to a database for a client who has a stock management database that we built. Send a transfer file to the customer which contains only the tables, queries, forms and reporrs that need updating. Log on to their PC remotely. I first backup their live database in case anything goes wrong. I then import the file to overwrite their existing files and run through the updates of the database to check they are working.

10:23am I receive a phone call from another client during the update process saying that they have a problem with their database. I arrange to phone them back when I am finished.

10:34am Call back the client from earlier. They want a quick change to an exisitng form. I carry out the work required on our version of the database and note down the steps that I have taken. I check this works and then log in to the client’s pc and carry out the same process there.

11:00am Start building a new database from a specification produced by Philippa. We have already talked through the background and requirements of the business. I start by creating the back file of the database in Access– this is where all the data is stored in tables.


1:00pm Run the daily backup for all our files and then break for lunch.

1:30pm Carry on working on the new project, finish the back file and start working on the front which is linked to the tables in the back file. The front file is what the user sees and is where they enter and view all the data.

2:05pm Receive a phone call from a company who is looking for someone to build them a database. I take down their contact details and check that their requirement sounds like something we can help with before passing them through to Philippa who deals with the enquiry in detail.

2:13pm Check and reply to emails.

2:34pm Carry on the project from earlier.

3:30 - 4:45pm Several phone calls, including one for me. Pass the other ones over to Philippa and James. Keep going on the project in between.

5:30pm Finish for the day after noting where I am on the project

Customer Profile

Savills Logo

Savills– ‘A leading global real estate service provider.’

We have done lots of work for Savills over the years. One particularly interesting project that James is mostly involved with links a database with a GIS (Geographic Information System) to determine where prospective wind turbines can be placed. This allows a user to find suitable areas where turbines can be placed given land designations, housing, roads and wind speeds - which are shown graphically on a map.

Example: Wind speeds are colour-coded in 1km squares so you can instantly see where would not be suitable for a turbine.

Wind turbine site and buffers GIS image
© Crown Copyright licence number 100024244 Savills (UK) Ltd.

It includes features to add buffers around existing and proposed turbines (so nothing can lie within the buffer area), and around linear features such as roads.

All of this links to a project management database so that updates made in the database are reflected automatically in the GIS.



Top Tip

Sitting at desk all day can be bad for your health so make sure to move about every so often. If you need to talk to some one the other side of the office, why not get up and go talk to them rather than phone or email them?

pro·gram·mer or pro·gram·er

One who programs, especially:

  1. Computers One who writes computer programs.
  2. One who prepares or writes instructional programs.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition

Who am I?

Click here to see the clues from the previous Smatterings

If you have recalled the last Smatterings, I am Philippa!

In case you were wondering, Katherine left us to have a baby and her son, Daniel, is now just over a year old.  Keith has now replaced her.  More about him next time!




Welcome back to Time-savers, our handy little hints and tips to save you time and frustration whenever you use your computer!


Shortcut Keys for browsers (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome)

Web Address Bar

These shortcut keys can save a lot of time with internet browsing:          

  • Alt + D Puts your cursor directly in an address bar so that you can type in the address of a webpage or perform a search if applicable to your browser
  • Ctrl key and press the + or - to increase and decrease the size of the web page.
  • Press the backspace key or hold down the Alt key + left arrow to go back a page.
  • Press F5 to refresh or reload a web page.
  • Press F11 to make the Internet browser screen full screen.
  • Press Ctrl + F to open the find box in the browser to search for text within the web page
  • Press Ctrl + T to open a new blank tab.
  • Press Ctrl + N to open a new browser window
  • Press Ctrl + click on a link to open the link in a new tab keeping the current webpage on the existing tab.

Shortcut keys street sign

  • If you're looking for a specific piece of information in a web page after searching on Google, you can see a snapshot of the webpage to determine if it is suitable and see your search words highlighted.  To do this hover your cursor over the desired address and then leave your cursor on the double arrows that appear to the right. (Note: Not all websites have this facility and may not show the most up to date information.)
  • If you open a blank new tab in Firefox or Google Chrome your recent internet pages are shown in easy-to-see large icons.

PS: Don't forget our Gamble-Free Guarantee. We guarantee to save you money overall – if we don't then we'll refund the difference. We won't take something on unless it's worth your while, which means you really can't lose!

scroll to top - icon