For the past two days I’ve been working on creating a bunch of test data for insertion into a database. There are many reasons why this is a giant pain in the butt, starting with the fact that the data files have to be fixed-width text files with information in exactly the right columns and exactly the right format. A tool called Record Editor has made that part of it a little easier. Much easier, in fact, than working in a traditional text editor (which is what I was trying to do at first), even a good one like EditPad or TextEdit. Also easier, at least for me, than trying to figure out how to make Excel or Access do what I want.
So now I have a relatively easy way to create the files. Unfortunately, I can’t just slap a bunch of data willy-nilly into them; they sort of have to make sense and I have to keep track of their contents, so that I can look it up later. We’re testing adding and changing the information contained in the files and also various levels of duplication in the data, and its effect on the database. There are several long numerical fields that have to be unique for each record; one is 10 digits and another is 17 digits. I’m really not creative (or insane) enough to come up with hundreds of unique 10- and 17-digit numbers with my own brain power, not to mention keeping track of all of them. So I did a search on random number generators and found RANDOM.ORG, a “true random number service.” The string generator does exactly what I need and all I have to do is copy and paste. Anyone interested in math or statistics would find this website really fascinating. Math has never been my strong suit but even I thought it was pretty cool!
The lesson for me: don’t get stuck trying to do things the hard way, when helpful tools are a quick Google search away!