Happy New Year to all my favorite PL/SQL developers - those who play quizzes at the PL/SQL Challenge, of course!
For those of us living in the United States, 2012 was a year full of political campaigns and way too many political advertisements. Good riddance! (well, for a little while, anyway) And it would be nice if surviving the 2012 national elections was the worst we had to deal with. Unfortunately, here in the United States, 2012 featured Sandy, which devastated the East Coast and brought home forcefully the dangers of our changing global climate patterns. And multiple massacres by men bearing semi-automatic weapons and lots of ammunition demonstrated repeatedly the utter insanity of both U.S. gun laws and the way Americans take care of our fellow citizens, especially our children.
OK, enough of that depressing news. On a more personal and upbeat note, 2012 was the first full year of life for my granddaughter, Loey, who is beautiful, smart and funny:
Lots more pictures of Loey and her family on my Flickr page.
For Oracle technologists who concentrate on SQL,PL/SQL and APEX, it was a bit of a waiting game of a year: Oracle Database 12c didn't quite make it to production and the Oracle Public Cloud hasn't quite got off the ground. All of which means that 2013 is going to be a very big year for new Oracle technologies. Technologies that we will need to study, absorb, exploit and make available to our users.
At the PL/SQL Challenge, we look forward to writing many new quizzes on Oracle Database 12c (SQL and PL/SQL), as well as new quizzes on Oracle Application Express 4.2. Of course, the delay in releasing Oracle Database 12c didn't stop us from offering hundreds of new quizzes in 2012 and
implementing many new features on the website.
The start of a new year is also the start of a new quarter, which means that we will be holding a championship playoff for Q4 2012. This newsletter contains the lists of participants in the playoff; we will be setting the date for the playoff in the next week or two. We also salute the winners in
our previous 2012 playoffs.
Overall Stats for 2012During 2012, Oracle technologists from at least 83 different countries submitted over 200,000 answers (including some 30,000 practices) to more than 1,000 different questions. The average percentage correct for all answers was 71%. That is a whole lot of "active learning"!
My Gratitude to All of You
I have received lots of positive feedback about the PL/SQL Challenge website and our quizzes. I built this site because I believe that the kind of active learning that comes from testing your knowledge can acelerate you along your learning curve to being an expert. It seems as though many people agree with me.
But I also want to make sure you know that I feel an enormous debt of gratitude to all of you, our players. Without your commitment to improving your Oracle skills, without your drive to excel and, for some of you, your enjoyment of the competition, the PL/SQL Challenge would have withered away over time. Instead, it has drawn a solid core of technologists, who not only answer quizzes but lend their expertise to review, comment on, correct, and discuss those quizzes.
I look forward to another busy, fulfilling year as we all use the PL/SQL Challenge to learn more about, and get better at writing, SQL and PL/SQL. I hope you feel the same way.
Warm regards and best wishes for a fantastic 2013,
Founder, the PL/SQL Challenge
Henry Abeska, Patrick Barel, Ivan Blanarik , Marco Erdmann, Marsel Fattakhov, Sebastian Kolski, Chad Lee, Vijay Mahawar, Iudith Mentzel, Sean Molloy, Cliff Nadler, Edgars Pampe, Jim Schmitz, Viacheslav Stepanov, Stelios Vlasopoulos, Pavel Vorontsov, Graham Wallace, Scott Wesley, Fulop Zoltan, Jan van Overveld.
These players took every weekly SQL quiz in 2012:
Henry Abeska, Ivan Blanarik , Alexey Chernyadyev, Rich Dellheim, Giedrius Deveikis, Niels Hecker, Sebastian Kolski, Naresh Kumar, Chad Lee, Bruno Martins, Iudith Mentzel, Keith Milner, Sean Molloy, Pavel Noga, Jens Petersen, Gert Poel, Thierry Poels, Hudai Polat, Zoltan Pasztor, Matthias Rogel, Martin Scholz, Tom Sullivan, Milan Vontorcik, Scott Wesley, William (Yi) Zhu, james su Ravshan Abbasov, Alexander Andris, Rytis Budreika, Alexander Filimonov, Krzysztof Helbin, Vijay Mahawar, Chase Mei, Ugo Mirenghi, Tobias Stark, Viacheslav Stepanov, Oleg Tsibulnyak, Kostik Vasiliev, Stelios Vlasopoulos, Graham Wallace, Cor van Berkel
These players took every weekly Logic quiz in 2012:
Henry Abeska, Margit Biróné Sonkoly, Rich Dellheim, Victor Dobrovolsky, Randy Gettman, Ingimundur Gudmundsson, Niels Hecker, Sriram Iyer, Sebastian Kolski, Naresh Kumar, Chad Lee, Bruno Martins, Iudith Mentzel, Keith Milner, Sean Molloy, Jens Petersen, Gert Poel, Thierry Poels, Hudai Polat, Zoltan Pasztor, Dave Stadt, Sean Stuber, William (Yi) Zhu, james su Rytis Budreika, Jerry Bull, Alexander Filimonov, Jason H, Krzysztof Helbin, Vijay Mahawar, Ugo Mirenghi, Juan Fernando Soruco, Tobias Stark, Viacheslav Stepanov, Oleg Tsibulnyak, Kostik Vasiliev, Brigt Olav Vik, Pavel Vorontsov, Graham Wallace, Cor van Berkel
And these players took every APEX quiz in 2012, until it was discontinued:
Henry Abeska, Warren Capps, Rich Dellheim, Giedrius Deveikis, Bob F, Alexander Filimonov, Danny Gawarecki, Roel Hartman, Niels Hecker, Moritz Klein, Alexander Koblov, Sebastian Kolski, Chad Lee, Bruno Martins, Jens Petersen, Gert Poel, Hudai Polat, Juan Fernando Soruco, Tobias Stark, Viacheslav Stepanov, Miguel Villamil, Stelios Vlasopoulos, Graham Wallace, Scott Wesley, William (Yi) Zhu, gaurav kowale
In addition, we congratulate Henry Abeska from the Czech Republic for being the first player to answer over 1,000 quizzes , in total!
Some players have an enormous impact not by playing quizzes, but by reviewing them. I encourage you to visit the Reviewers page to fully appreciate the amount of work these fine volunteers perform. Without our reviewers, the quizzes would have many more errors and would be far less informative. Our deepest thanks to all our reviewers, but I would also like to single out Elic (a.k.a., Vitaliy Lyanchevskiy) of Belarus (shown below, with his daughter).
Elic has been the most active reviewer of PL/SQL quizzes throughout 2012, though I must admit that "review" is an inadequate description of Elic's contribution. He often not only finds and fixes problems with questions. He also adds interesting choices the author never thought. And he often completely rewrites the verification code, making it both more useful, understandable and sophisticated.
Elic said this about the motivation behind his awesome reviews: "I like it when thing are done in the best way possible. It is not so easy for me to create materials that can teach but I can and like to identify problems in the content created by others. And sometimes digging deeper while verifying can help to discover something new. :)"
We don't (yet) have awards for reviewers, but if we did, Elic would be Reviewer of the Year for 2012!
Activity PointsUp through 2.1, the only reflection of your activity on the PL/SQL Challenge was your ranking in the daily PL/SQL quiz, or some other quiz. Of course, the vast majority of players will never find themselves in the top rankings for these quizzes, but they nevertheless spend lots of time and effort at the PL/SQL Challenge improving their skills. In 2.2, we now award points to players for all of their activities on the site (taking quizzes, submitting quizzes, reviewing results, engaging in discussions about quizzes, etc.).
Practice QuizzesIn the olden days of the PL/SQL Challenge, you could take a quiz when it was initially offered, and then review results and answers through the Library afterwards. You could not, however, take past quizzes if you'd missed them, nor could you re-take a quiz. Now, you can set up practices based on past quizzes, specific features about which you want to learn more, or your favorite authors. You can also use the unique Autotune feature: the PL/SQL Challenge will automatically create practices for you, based on pre-defined criteria.
On-Site Quiz DiscussionsRather than discuss interesting aspects of quizzes on the PLSQL-Challenge.Blogspot.com blog, you can now start or answer a thread directly on the Quiz Details page. You can also ask for help (it must be related to the topic of the quiz) or even post an objection to the quiz. In other words, if you think there is something wrong with the quiz, you can register your concern on both the post-quiz feedback page or on the Quiz Details page. You can also easily see if another player has already submitted a request for a correction.
Quizbook: Quiz as PDFOne of the most long-sought enhancement requests on the PL/SQL Challenge, the Quizbook feature makes it easy for you to generate a PDF document of one or more quizzes. These can be formatted as an offline test (no answer information included), a player scorecard (showcasing your performance) or a knowledge document, containing all answers and resources. You can save and reuse your Quizbooks, as well as sharing them with other players.
Three months later, we added a new way for developers to discuss programming techniques and strategies, with the
Roundtable DiscussionsYou can now participate in "roundtable" discussions of big-picture issues or questions that do not necessarily fit within the scope of a single quiz. We will use this feature to gather use cases for seldom-used features of PL/SQL, such as invoker rights, and also seek consensus on overall strategies for optimal PL/SQL development, such as exception handling.
The Roundtable discussion for January 2013 is, appropriately enough, an invitation to players to offer their single-most important piece of advice for new PL/SQL developers. Check it out - and add your own suggestion!
And if that wasn't enough to keep you entertained, in September we added....
FavoritesYou can now "tag" authors, players, quizzes, resources, features and more as Favorites. The home page will then show latest news about your favorites and - if you are receiving emails with quiz results - you will be notified via a daily email digest of this news as well. Check out this blog post for details and instructions, if you haven't yet taken advantage of this feature.
On the downside, we had to suspend our weekly APEX quiz, but we still hope to get it back up and running in 2013 - and you can help. Submit a quiz on APEX to help us fill up the calendar!
So that was 2012...we've got lots of new ideas for 2013, ranging from offering tests to supporting team play, and more.
But I must confess: I originally planned to offer a truly daily quiz: seven days a week. Fortunately, however, my founding partner, Finn Ellebaek Nielsen, convinced me that five days a week was more than enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Finn, for that enormously wise advice (and for your help in launching the PL/SQL Challenge). If, by the way, you ever need consulting on applying Agile principles to Oracle-based projects, especially around testing, I strongly recommend Ellebaek Consulting ApS .
Here are some stats on the Daily PL/SQL Quizes for 2012:
Top Ranked in Past Year Among All Players
Top Ranked in Past Year Among Advanced Players
Top Ranked in Past Year Among Intermediate Players
Top Ranked in Past Year Among Beginner Players
Rankings by Country
Rankings by Organization
And all that just gets you into the playoff. Then you've got to compete with between 30 and 45 other top-notch Oracle technologists. So I am very pleased, indeed, to present to you the winners of the first three 2012 championship playoffs:
Winners of Q3 2012 Playoff1st Place: Stelios Vlasopoulos of Belgium
2nd Place: Frank Schrader of Germany
3rd Place: Niels Hecker of Germany
Winners of Q2 2012 Playoff1st Place: kowido
2nd Place: Justin Cave of United States
3rd Place: Frank Schrader of Germany
Winners of Q1 2012 Playoff1st Place: Chad Lee of United States
2nd Place: Niels Hecker of Germany
3rd Place: Ivan Blanarik of Slovakia
Kim Berg Hansen (a.k.a., the SQL Evangelist).
Kim is a Senior System Developer for T. Hansen Gruppen A/S and has been using SQL since 2000. He started playing quizzes at the PL/SQL Challenge on 14 April 2010, just six days after it started. Kim has written a total of 38 quizzes and reviewed 48 others. His quizzes have covered lots of territory, but many of them have helped educate thousands of us about the power of analytic functions. We asked Kim why he spends so much of his time on the PL/SQL Challenge and he told us "I see many developers shying away from learning advanced SQL, as it is easier to understand procedural languages in your head. If I can teach SQL through the quizzes, I help myself getting more like-minded people out there to share the fun of squeezing as much power out of Oracle as possibles."
Thanks, Kim: we couldn't have done it without you!
Here are some stats on the Weekly SQL Quiz for 2012:
Top Ranked in Past Year Among All Players
Rankings by Country
Rankings by Organization
I found very useful to study "Deductive Logic" even before learning a programming language. I think that every programming language is the same, the applied logic is what counts.
You can't write code, debug code, understand code without a very deep level of comfort with deductive logic. And I would have had a hard time, indeed, offering these weekly puzzlers without the assistance of Eli, my son and main APEX developer for the PL/SQL Challenge. I've always loved to play games and so Eli grew up keeping me entertained, playing all sorts of card games, board games, logic games with me. Well, that investment in time and fun has now paid off!
It's great to be able to turn to Eli and ask him to put together another weekly puzzler. He has produced some really tough ones. And he creates these puzzles in a much more difficult way than I. When I write a logic puzzler, I play part of a game of Mastermind and then use that as my template for the quiz. Eli, conversely, works it all out on paper, in his head, without the benefit of game software.
Here are some stats on the Weekly Logic Puzzle for 2012:
Top Ranked in Past Year Among All Players