SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Book Signing at PASS

The PASS Community Summit is one of the highlights of my professional year. It’s a time when members of the SQL Community from around the globe can gather together at one place for learning, sharing, and networking. As I’ve often said, the best part about the PASS Community Summit is getting to catch up with friends that I only see once or twice a year. I love that.

And this year’s Summit was doubly special in that regard. This year I was able to get together with a bunch of other folks for the official release of the SQL Server MVP Deep Dives book.

If you haven’t already heard, 52 really smart people and I got together to write a SQL Server book. All of the proceeds from the book are being donated to charity, WarChild.org.

It was a great pleasure and honor to work with Manning Publications and this group of renowned experts in their field to benefit a charity that crosses geographical, political, and socioeconomic boundaries to help children in war ravaged parts of the world.

And it was rewarding to see how the SQL community at PASS responded. The conference bookstore sold out of the book after the first day of the conference and sales of the book surpassed all prior title sales at the conference by a factor of five!

Those who bought a book on-site were able to get it signed by many of the authors; 35 were at the conference.

All in all, this was a special time and I hope you consider buying the book and supporting the effort and WarChild.

Reporting Services resources


Thanks to everyone who attended my SQL Server Reporting Services class in Nashville over the last couple of weeks. As promised, here is a list of online resources that may prove useful to you as you continue to work with Reporting Services.

Additionally, the following links, though not wholly dedicated to Reporting Services, frequently have good Reporting Services articles and content.

And finally, the following book has been well received by its readers according to Amazon.

This list is far from comprehensive. So if you have some links that you’ve found worthwhile, please share them in the comments below.

Update: After I published this list, I was reminded of another great Reporting Services resource entitled Rules to Better SQL Reporting Services. It discusses some best practices for report design to give your users a better experience. It’s definitely worth the read.

Good information is easy to find

Serious technologist and part-time enthusiasts alike know that the Internet is awash in information. Much of the information is good. Some of it is, well, not so good. And unfortunately, some of it is just plain wrong. It can misleading at best and downright damaging at an extreme. Applying what you learn on the Internet is Caveat Emptor or “Let the buyer beware”.

So how can you separate the wheat from the chaff? How can you easily find the rose among thorns? To answer that, let’s consider the medium or form of the information provided.

Newsgroups and forums

When looking for a solution to a specific question or problem they are experiencing, one of the first places many people turn is the newsgroups and forums.

Google Groups is a great place to start if you’re unfamiliar with newsgroups. You can think of newsgroups as the billboards of the information super hi-way. They are messages that anyone can read. Google Groups provides a good, web-based front end on the the NNTP service that makes it easy to search through all of the posts.

There are other sources, too. Microsoft maintains some news servers that host newsgroups for many of their products, including SQL Server.

One thing that attracts many people to the newsgroups is that they can use their preferred newsreader to browse the newsgroups and manage their posts.  You don’t have to use the web front end.

The challenge that most people face when using newsgroups is easily identifying the sound advice from the rest of the noise. Newsgroups are not regulated or monitored, and that can be a good thing. It allows everyone to contribute freely. But it also means that anyone, yes anyone, can say pretty much anything on newsgroup with little ramifications. This can lead to some unusual and potentially unsound advice.

That’s not to say that newsgroups are a free for all. No, there are really dedicated folks, many are MVPs, who constantly peruse and police the newsgroups. They offer good advice and call out those who are misguided in their input. But this is an informal system at best.

Forums are very similar to newsgroups in many aspects – people post questions and other people respond with advice or solutions. Forums typically only have a web front-end and are specific to a particular company or organization. There are lots of good SQL Server related forums that you can frequent for information.

SQLServerCentral.com, SQLTeam.com, the MSDN Forums are all great places to look for information. Most forums have official moderators that monitor the discussions; they ensure that bad advice is not being proffered and to keep the posts on topic.

StockOverflow.com and ServerFault.com have taken the forums concept to a new and different level. Questions and responses are monitored not just by a few moderators but essentially by the community at large. You can vote up or down responses to a particular question to indicate those that you find most and least valuable. This allows the community to, and trusts that the community will, elevate the helpful replies while allowing the rest to fade away.

Blogs & Web Sites

Blogs and other web sites can also be a great source of information. Most every morning, I have a list of blogs that I read using a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader. My reader of choice is Google Reader, but there are lots from which to choose.

Once again, you should be careful and confirm whatever you read on a blog posting before running off and implementing it on your server. Anyone can create a blog and claim to be an industry expert. So it helps to find a few names that you trust and start with them.

SQLBlog.com is a great place to look for SQL Server related blog content. To blog there is by invitation only and most of the bloggers are SQL Server MVPs so you can pretty sure that you’ll receive sound advice. The Technet blogs are also a great reservoir of technical knowledge, as is SQLServerPedia.com.

Additionally there are great community based web sites like Simple-Talk.com and MSSqlTips.com that have rigorous standards for the articles they produce.

Find a who’s who

Still not sure where to start? Well, there are some really dedicated folks out there who create a sort of a Who’s Who for bloggers. Thomas LaRock is one of the most well known in the SQL Server realm. He regularly updates his rankings list of best SQL Bloggers. As a matter of fact, my blog made his most recent list. It was promoted to msdb status.

This list is by no means to be considered exhaustive. As a matter of fact, as soon as it is published it’ll likely be dated. So if you know of any resources or links that I’ve missed, please feel free to share them in the comments section.



Update: Shortly after I published this blog posting, I was reminded of another resource that’s definitely worth mentioning – SSWUG.  The SQL Server Worldwide User Group provides articles, forums, & scripts to its members. It also combs the internet to aggregate articles from other sources to present them in one consolidated location. Another interesting concept from SSWUG is its virtual conference with some of the biggest names in the industry presenting sessions online.

NashSQL Meeting: SQL Server 2008 Change Data Capture

Mark your calendars! The Nashville SQL Server User Group, also known as NashSQL, is having our monthly meeting this Friday, May 29th at 11:30am.

This month we’re welcoming Whitney Weaver, Principal Consultant with Magenic Technologies. In his session, Whitney will demonstrate how to implement the new SQL Server 2008 Change Data Capture (CDC) feature as a method for tracking changes made in an instance. The session will cover the implementation of CDC, the pain points removed by the feature, and the process of retrieving captured data.

Food and drinks will are provided and there is no charge for the event. Who says there isn’t such a thing as a free lunch?  But as a courtesy, you’re requested to RSVP.

For more information visit our web site at http://nashville.sqlpass.org/.

For more information on Change Data Capture, visit these resources:

Cheers and I hope to see you there!


Book Review – Learning SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

SSRS Book Image
I recently received a copy of “Learning SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services” by Jayaram Krishnaswamy published by Packt Publishing.

If you are relatively new to SQL Server Reporting Services and you’re a Tactile/Kinesthetic learner (one that learns best by doing rather than listening or reading), this may be the book to help you to quickly get up to speed on Reporting Services.

The author teaches by example throughout most of the book, using the Hands-On exercises to deliver much of the book’s content. I’d dare say that 70% to 80% of the book is in the form of Hands-On exercises.

The book is replete with screen shots to help those less familiar with Reporting Services follow along. For example, Hands-On Exercise 1.1 guides you through installing SQL Server 2008. The author goes to great lengths to ensure each step of the process is clear and unambiguous, using screen shots and commentary to guide the reader through each step. Exercise 1.1 is 25 pages.

If you are already well steeped in the SSRS, this book may be a bit on the remedial side for your tastes, though I suspect you’ll be able to glean some useful tidbits of information about the differences from prior version of the product.

The publisher has made a chapter of the book available for download if you’d like to take a peek before making your buying decision. EDIT: The link seemed to be for a limited time only so I’ve removed it from the blog post to eliminate confusion.

If you read this book, I’d love to hear you thoughts in the comments section below.



Free book available on SQL Server XML Schema Collections

jacobsebastianxmlbookXML Schema Collections in SQL Server can be a source of great optimism and a bit of confusion for many people. So I was glad to hear my friend and fellow SQL Server MVP, Jacob Sebastian, undertook the task of writing a book on the subject. For those of you not familar with Jacob, he is a mainstay on the MSDN SQL Server Forums where he regularly offers great advice to those seeking help.

I’ve just downloaded the book from Red-Gate’s web site and I’m eager to begin reading it. I’ll post a book review soon. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure you were aware of it.