The elegance of code is still important, for those of us who read and write code. If you use WYSIWYG editors or a code generating IDE then your code will never be elegant, but I digress.
The problem I wanted to solve today was to change the case of strings. For example, to change 'HELLO WORLD' to 'Hello World'. My challenge is to see whether I can do it with MySQL and just the built-in string functions. If it's not possible, it's no matter. I can fall back on a simple PHP script to do this one-time conversion very easily. This is because I've already written code in PHP to do this in the application for all new records that are created, and I just want to change the existing data stored in the table.
Googling a possible MySQL solution, I came across an article on Experts Exchange for the exact same problem, and they also agreed PHP is a better option than using just SQL. What surprised me on reading it was how inelegant the suggested solution was. Let me illustrate:
$field = strtolower($field);
substr($array[$i],0,1) = strtoupper(substr($array[$i],0,1));
$field = implode(" ",$array);
$field = ucwords(strtolower($field));
Which would you rather write? And more importantly, which would you rather read if you had to read someone else's code? Now my solution does have one important difference: I reviewed the PHP manual to see if there was a built-in function that capitalizes the first letter of each word. In simple terms it satisfies the DRY principle, code reuse and using as little code as possible. Sometimes all it takes is a little time and thought to create something so much more beautiful, elegant and readable - time well spent.