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SWQL Study Group for the complete novice - thoughts?

Just throwing this out there and wondering ...

My coding skills are pretty much non-existent. I have been a hardware guy all my life and just when I think I've got a handle on something and create a new query which subsequently doesn't work I get all deflated. So off I go a Googling and a Thwacking trying to see if someone has already built that wheel before. And frequently I find the answer to that is yes, they have; only it was so long ago that things have changed and the script is so far from usable / working that I'm back at the start again.

Anyway ...

My point is, I wonder if there is any merit in a SWQL Study Group to help learn this stuff from the ground up.

I've no idea if it would work; who would run it (combined effort / self led / experienced friendly coder?); structure or anything... but maybe a few like minded code n00bs, could find someplace/someway to form a self help learning group.


Especially if you are like me and want in on a group like this?

  • Sounds interesting. I do most everything in swql (reports and alerts) now, but nothing complex like some of the reports i see here. API programming with powershell and python - total noob. Trying to crack those nuts and look at them as modularized scripts. API auth, then Call #1 etc. The idea is reusable bits that those of us with limited skills can rinse/repeat. So count me in as interested.

  • Thank you  - I like the reply from  and hoping he or someone else can suggest a means to tale that up.

    A forum or similar, where we could create a private channel/room - Teams maybe, but I don't know how that would work across company boundaries, etc...  

  • Maybe we do something here on THWACK?  A group where you join up, but it has a moderator or two to keep the conversation moving.  The more I think on this, the more I like it, but I'd need help in deciding what goes in said theoretical space.

    What say you all?  If there was a group in THWACK where people could come together, what would it need?

    (This is not a commitment to build this thing, but gathering requirements is important to build something people find useful)

  • what would it need?

    Now there's a question I don't know how best to answer, but here's my starters for 10.

    I guess it needs several sections/areas from

    • where to start, so an FAQ or groups of FAQs and pointers to current/live/accurate posts.
    • I don't understand this concept. (e.g. my struggle to understand CASE)
    • can I, or how can I do X.
    • A code repository maybe of some sort might also be useful - or maybe just another sub section of "this works for me" and/or here's how I did it posts.

    I liked suggestion as it implied a 'live capability' to try code on the fly as folks in different time zones popped in and added their 2p worth. Think of it akin to comments on a blog post that happen on the fly, with folks reacting as necessary. Not a criticism here, but the THWACK shell seems too static for that sort of thing? But what do I know?

    Do you envisage the mods to be folks already well versed in SWQL / Powershell / Python or just anyone willing to keep it alive? And how easy would it be for a mod to be replaced /added to down the line?

  • THWACK is actually as flexible as we'd like it to be, which is why I was asking "if you had a magic wand" level questions.  I'm not saying it's something we can stand up in a few days (or even weeks), but it might be worth having the conversation.  The trick is that we can't have every device everyone has in their monitoring - nor can we run multiple versions of the software.  Are there roadblocks?  Yes.  Can they be overcome?  Also, yes.

    I've got some ideas I'd like to take back to the people with wallets, but why should I tell them this is needed as an additional option considering what we already make available?

    • Free trials of the software
    • SolarWinds Labs/Livecasts
    • SolarWinds Academy classes
    • Documentation/assistance on THWACK

    I'm not trying to be obstinate, I just want to make sure I have all the information before I start the conversations.

  • What I will re-iterate [from other threads] is that there are multiple styles of learning and of the 4 you listed , only one fits partially into the way I learn - live classes. Sadly, the majority of these, and I understand why, are US time based which for someone that starts work at 7am and is typically done by 3pm is a no go due to commitments outside of work [I'm a foster dad].

    So with that knowledge, then for me, and this is purely my personal experience, THWACK 'as is' doesn't work very well for me, and what I was hoping to do was find likeminded souls that wanted to learn alongside each other via a study club type of idea. If a few knowledgeable types wanted to jump in and mentor / assist then fab.

    I look at it as something similar to my work teams 'Teams' chat where we throw out random questions / requests for technical help and those that can jump in and answer or post suggestions. I wasn't looking to put any onus or requirement on SolarWinds to provide, but equally I can see the logic / benefit in you wanting to keep a resource like this in-house.

    Here's a simple example that may help: I'll admit, a lot of my issues is around understanding terminology. So when someone says 'modern dashboards' (for e.g.) I have to pause a second and wonder what on earth they are talking about. Now that I've dug into the topic, have done some reading, but most importantly for me, actually created some I now get what they are. To relate that back to SWQL - as I am not and have never been a coder when folks talk about records, fields, etc, etc I can tell you my head doesn't think about data structures. So all I'm looking for is somewhere for folks to say - "that post by Kevin on SWQL 101 - what is he on about and can one of you expand on it".

    p.s. not seeing you as obstinate very much more helping and trying to understand the what/why of a thing I haven't really thought through. TBH I was really waiting on enough folks to commit to the idea of this first before starting to discuss / thrash out the how, what, where etc.

    p.p.s. apologies if I'm not getting your drift either - hopefully other folks will chime in?

  • Hey All,

    Sorry, I've been pretty distracted these past few weeks, but I have been thinking about this.  

    Firstly, to address  questions about what would be a wish list, I think first and foremost would be an area dedicated to learning SWQL.  The SDK section is sort of like this, but is much more of an area where people who know SWQL spend time together solving problems, but less time learning the basics of SWQL.  Separating out the learning might help people find a place to focus on that task.  And, I've ALWAYS thought that not having a home demo licensing program would be key to expanding people's knowledge of Orion and giving them someplace to lab things out, break things, really dig in w/o being afraid if breaking a production system.  I've worked at 3 places using Orion now, and only one had any sort of lab.  And even then, you were really encouraged to leave the system in as stock of a state as possible, because it was shared amongst a few dozen people and they are depending on having it up and working when they needed it.

    As someone who has never been a programmer of any sort, I'm slowly learning my way around, but if you are starting from square one learning SWQL, it's a long, steep learning path.

    I completely understand what @stuartd is saying about live learning, but programming and live learning are hard to put together... Maybe a series of pre-recorded lectures or even an ongoing series of lectures helping to work through leaving SWQL would be a way to handle that.  But for the actual students with fingers on keyboard banging out code, I don't think that works as well.  I wonder more about a structure learning path via a series of programming challenges.  Like you see in most programming courses.  OK, we've learned these piece, let's apply that new knowledge with a programming challenge.  Read Only, most of us could easily use our environments and the SDK to work out these challenges.  Having a THWACK thread for each challenge, so newer participates could work their way through older challenges, see the discussion of people talking about how they are approaching it, working out problems via discussion, learning from each other.  And maybe, the ability to download a 'solution' after you've got it working (or completely stumped) and see how the teachers solved the same problem.

    Learning programming of any sort is tough, but there are a lot of books, websites and video playlists with downloadable content that work you through learning a programming language.  I think some sort of structure program along with a dedicated "Learn SWQL" forum would go a long way to helping more people get a grasp  of how to use what could be arguably the most powerful part of the Orion system.

  • As someone who has never been a programmer of any sort, I'm slowly learning my way around, but if you are starting from square one learning SWQL, it's a long, steep learning path.

    Absolutely with you on this one. And I'll add to it by saying my actual day job distracts from the learning as some ideas, I have to re-learn each time as I don't use them frequently enough.

    That said, sme good suggestions in your message. To add to (clarify?) on the learning styles I do get that live classes may not be the best approach but I was also being very general when using that term. So, what methods work for me... well live class encompasses it all, but by that I predominantly mean there are other folks around me that I can call on and say "what did he mean by X" or "did you get that" - so that the students interact with each other rather than necessarily the teacher - although that is a viable option as well.

    The point I'm trying to badly make is it is the interaction that helps me learn, not necessarily the live class per se. So the study group idea is what I have come up with. But a section of THWACK for n00b SWQL coders and challenges, lessons, etc would probably work for me IF there was a commitment from those 'in the know' to answer / respond in as real time as feasible at certain hours / times of a week (month, or whatever timescale is agreed upon).

    An alternative might be to as you say, hand out the challenges, but once a month (again, negotiable) have a live Teams / Zoom session to discuss what folks found out or not, how they overcame a particular hurdle if there's a better way to do something, etc ... in-between times, the n00bs could get together as oft as they like to discuss ideas, etc.

  • I like the idea of having Team/Zoom study sessions.

    Having online live 'classes' might not work as well for many, as we are spread across the globe in different time zones and have many things that keep us from attending when we'd like to, so I like the idea of on-your-own-pace learning because of that.  But the idea of live study sessions is a great idea.  

    I think there is a workable solution that would work for most people somewhere in the mix of these ideas.

  • I'm with you Stu, your suggestion would be great for me also.

  • Love the handle / nick name / tag :)

    Years ago, in BBS days I used to sign off my messages with "Stu...D" - and someone took umbrage. that I was calling them stupid. When I pointed out what my actual visible name was, they quickly backtracked and apologised.

    Anyway - welcome to the gang, I hope we can get something worked out.

  • Love the handle / nick name / tag :)

    Years ago, in BBS days I used to sign off my messages with "Stu...D" - and someone took umbrage. that I was calling them stupid. When I pointed out what my actual visible name was, they quickly backtracked and apologised.

    Anyway - welcome to the gang, I hope we can get something worked out.

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