On terminology

No, I’m not going to revive the perennial — and pointless — argument about what we call the platform. It’s an IBM Power System running the IBM i operating system and there really is nothing else to discuss here.

Beyond this, however, there is terminology that we use which is at odds with that used elsewhere in the IT industry. This can, and does, create unnecessary communication barriers when talking to colleagues. It can also come back to haunt us when we try to explain that the i on Power is as modern and as capable — if not more so — than whatever shiny the tech press has alighted on this week.

With that in mind, I propose that we stop talking about files, records and fields.

Like it or not, the terminology that comes with SQL has become the language people use when discussing relational databases and those of us working with DB2 for i need to make clear that we know what we are talking about before we start discussing the advantages we enjoy.

So here’s a handy guide:

  • Don’t say library, say schema
  • Don’t say (physical) file, say table
  • Don’t say record, say row
  • Don’t say field, say column
  • Don’t say logical file, say index (or view)

Even if you have avoided SQL and stuck with native IO, using modern terminology will help you. It will ensure that you and your colleagues are using the same words when talking about the same things. Updating your terminology will also underline the fact that we are using a modern, fully featured relational database with more than enough power to remain relevant for many years to come.

Happy New Year.

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