Archive for category Databases / SQL Server

SQL Server 2008 R2 Report Builder 3.0 (RTM)

image By far, the most popular posting on this site is Visual Studio 2008 & Business Intelligence Development Studio (Troubleshooting).  The post currently has over 60 comments.  It seems that here’s a lot of confusion about ways in which developers and report designers can get the tools they need to create and manage SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports.  If you’re trying to work with the Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) with SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008, or you’re planning to use Report Builder 2.0, that post should point you in the right direction.

So now that SQL Server 2008 R2 has been released, what’s the story for report development?  Fortunately, it’s not quite as confusing.  The primary tool you’ll use for developing reports is Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Report Builder 3.0.  You can download it manually using the link to the Microsoft Download site, or you can install it using ClickOnce by loading your Reporting Services web site (e.g., http://localhost/Reports).  The download is also available as part of the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Feature Pack (along with a wide variety of other tools and utilities).  Report Builder 3.0 supports the creation of reports for both SQL Server 2008 and the R2 version.

If you’re moving to (or testing) the RTM version of SQL Server 2008 R2, Report Builder 3.0 is likely the best way to get acquainted with the new features of this release.  And, thankfully, the migration process should be much simpler than it was for previous versions of SSRS.  A great resource for more information is the MSDN SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services Forum.  Or, if you have any questions, feel free to post them here.

SQL Saturday in Dallas: May 22, 2010

SQLSaturday SQL Saturday is a series of free single-day conferences that’s being held throughout the United States.  Here’s some basic information about the conference from the web site:

We started SQLSaturday in 2007 as a platform for free one day training events for SQL Server professionals. We focus on local speakers, providing a good variety of topics, and making it all happen through the efforts of volunteers. Whether you’re attending one or thinking about hosting your own, we think you’ll find it’s a great way to spend a Saturday.

Events are currently scheduled through October, 2010 (see the site for details on dates and locations).  Also, if you’re interested in speaking at one of the events, be sure to submit your session early.

I’ll be presenting two SQL Server sessions (details below) at SQL Saturday Dallas 2010.  As of this writing, it looks like there are nearly 500 registered attendees.  It should be a great event!

SQL Server Basics for non-DBAs

Despite the importance and value of relational databases, many developers and administrators often have only a basic understanding of how they work.  This session covers the basic architecture of SQL Server, including basic installation and configuration of the server.  The focus will be an overview of the most important topics, including: Managing database storage, performing regular database maintenance, managing security and data protection.  Finally, we’ll conclude with some best practices for managing database schemas and objects.  Attendees are encouraged to bring their server and database management questions.

Reporting Services: Development and Deployment

This session will begin with a brief architectural overview of Reporting Services and details on getting up and running with Reporting Services.  Then, we will look at demonstrations of creating new reports by building connections and data sets using Report Builder and Visual Studio.  Reporting design features including parameterization, dynamic drill-downs, matrix reports, charts, and sorting will be provided. 

Austin CodeCamp 2010: May 15, 2010

The Austin .NET User Group (ADNUG) is holding it’s free, annual technical event in mid-May.  Austin Code Camp 2010 will include dozens of technical sessions that are focused on programming methodology (such as Test-Driven Development) and practices.  Here’s some basic info from the conference web site:

The Austin .Net User Group is proud to sponsor it’s fourth Annual Code Camp

This is one day FREE conference For The Community, By the community.

The Conference is on May 15, 2010 at St Edward’s Professional Education Center from 8 am to 5 pm. Click the link on the Location Tab for additional information about St Edward’s.

If you’re planning to attend, please be sure to use the site’s Session Voting page.  This will give organizers and speakers some help in planning room assignments and will help speakers tailor their presentations for audience size.

I’ll also be presenting two sessions at this year’s event.  Below are the details.  Feel free to respond here if you have any questions or comments on the topics, and I hope to see you there!

SQL Server Reporting Services: Develop & Deploy Reports

This session will begin with a brief architectural overview of Reporting Services and details on getting up and running with Reporting Services. Then, we will look at demonstrations of creating new reports by building connections and data sets using Report Builder and Visual Studio. Reporting design features including parametrization, dynamic drill-downs, matrix reports, charts, and sorting will be provided.

Next, we’ll look at deployment details, including scheduling reports, configuring caching, creating snapshots, and managing security. Time permitting, the presentation will include a demonstration of using Report Viewer controls within ASP.NET and Windows Forms applications. The session is intended for developers that have basic familiarity with report development (in any technology) and a basic understanding of SQL.

Practical SQL Server Performance Monitoring & Optimization

Developers can dramatically improve performance by monitoring and analyzing real world queries. This session covers SQL Server monitoring at various levels to the most impactful performance improvements. The presentation will start with an overview of different optimization tools and techniques and will be based on practical examples of real-world performance monitoring and troubleshooting. Details include the use of server monitoring tools, SQL Profiler, the Database Tuning Advisor, and analyzing query plans, Dynamic Management Views, and related methods. The overall emphasis will be on solving practical, real-world database performance problems.

This session assumes that attendees have basic familiarity with SQL Server and with writing database queries.

.NET Developer Stories

Perhaps one of the best and most enjoyable ways to learn about technology is through examples of how it’s being applied.  Many organizations offer case studies and other details of their implementations in an effort to help others that can benefit from the knowledge.  However, it’s often difficult to find real-world, developer-focused content.  Much of the information has had many layers of overly enthusiastic marketing-ese applied, and the technical details get buried under photos of attractive, happy-looking business people from stock clip art.

To help provide some concrete examples (and recognition) related to .NET development, Microsoft has created it’s .NET Stories web site.  This site allows developers to post some details related to their own projects and the application of technologies such as:

  • .NET Framework and Visual Studio
  • Windows Server
  • SQL Server
  • SharePoint Server
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Azure

You can submit your own projects use the My .NET Story web site.  I’m looking forward to reviewing the submissions for ideas (and I might possibly submit one of my own applications for review).  Oh, and did I mention that the site offers numerous prizes, including a Smart Car and a 12-day trip to the Galapagos Islands?  It’s not often that developers get recognition, so I hope a lot of us can take advantage of the information collected on this site.

Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 Available for Download


Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010 development environment is a complete overhaul of the popular IDE.  It will continue to support all current Microsoft development languages and technologies, but it also features a completely revamped UI that’s based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).  If you have an MSDN or Microsoft TechNet subscription, you can download the files now.  The available editions include:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional
  • Visual Studio 2010 Premium
  • Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate
  • Visual Studio 2010 Team Foundation Server

You can also find a number of “Additional Resources”, including web installer packages and tools for testing and team-based development.  More information is available on the Visual Studio 2010 Product Information Site (note that, as of this writing, the site still provides links to the Beta 1 version of VS 2010).

Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNet’s Microsoft Watch provides some more details in Testers to get Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 this week; final by March 2010.  It looks like the plan is to open up the beta to all testers later this week.  The article also provides some basic details about the various editions, their estimated prices, and how you can get hold of them upon release.

The first official beta version of VS 2010 came out in May, so it has been a refresh is very welcome.  I have done some informal testing of the first beta and it seems to be fairly stable overall.  That version was clearly nowhere near the polish that the release version should have, but it was certainly usable and provided some exciting new features (I’ll cover the highlights in an upcoming post).

Currently, it looks like the final version will be available in Q1, 2009 (based on reports from ZDNet and other bloggers).  Let’s hope that it provides all the improvements and new features we’ve been waiting for!

Austin Code Camp 2009 Presentations

Code Camps are free events that are held by and for developers.  They focus on real, practical technical information that is presented through demonstrations.  Many user groups hold these sessions on weekends to help support the best attendance and availability.  The topics focus on a wide variety of subjects that are of interest to developers.  Examples include development methodologies, specific technical features, and development techniques.  You can find more information in the Code Camp Manifesto.

Austin Code Camp 2009 is scheduled for Saturday, May 30, 2009 and will be held at the St. Edwards Professional Education Center.  Past events have had hundreds of attendees with dozens of sessions.  If you’re in the area, I highly recommend attending at least part of the event.  Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? :) 

This year, I’ll be presenting on three topics (listed below, with abstracts).  Each session is scheduled to last two hours and will focus on practical demonstrations.  Specific presentation times have not yet been posted, but keep checking the web site for more details.  In the meantime, be sure to register to attend and vote on proposed topics.  If you can’t make it, I plan to post the presentation slides and sample code on my web site just prior to the event.

Presentation Topics & Abstracts

SQL Server Reporting Services: Report Creation and Deployment:

Using SQL Server Reporting Services, developers can author and distribute complex reports that come from a variety of data sources. The session will begin with an architectural overview of Reporting Services and how developers can install and configure the required services. Then, we will walk through the process of creating new reports by building connections and data sets using Report Builder 2.0 and Visual Studio 2008. Reporting design features including dynamic drill-downs, matrix reports, charts, and sorting will be provided. Also included will be methods by which multiple levels of report parameters can be used to filter data and increase performance. Next, we’ll look at deployment details, including scheduling reports, configuring caching, creating snapshots, and managing security. Time permitting, the presentation will include a demonstration of using Report Viewer controls within ASP.NET and Windows Forms applications.

SQL Server Basics for Non-DBAs

Although relational databases are a critical component of most applications, many developers often have only a basic understanding of how they work. This session will describe the architecture of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and its many features can be used to improve the end-user experience. The presentation will begin with an overview of the SQL Server platform, including installation and configuration of the server. Then, we’ll look at ways in which you can manage logical databases and their constituent files. Recommendations for regular database maintenance and data protection will be covered next. Other important tasks include managing security, including techniques such as role-based security, permissions hierarchies, and data- and object-level encryption. Finally, we’ll conclude with some best practices for managing database schemas and objects. Attendees are encouraged to bring their server and database management questions.

SQL Server Performance Monitoring & Optimization

Developers can dramatically improve performance by understanding how their queries are executing in the "real world". This session will cover ways in which attendees can monitor performance at various levels, and how they can use this information to optimize queries and improve overall application performance. We’ll start with a discussion of developing a performance optimization strategy and how various tools can help. Then, we’ll walk through the process of using SQL Profiler to collect data in a real-world case: Generating a "hit list" of worst-performing queries based on execution times and frequency. Next we’ll look at using the Database Engine Tuning Advisor to make suggestions related to physical database structures such as indexes and partitions. Also included will be ways in which built-in reports and dynamic management views can be used to monitor performance of production systems. Time permitting, the presentation will include methods for reducing deadlocks and managing long-running transactions. Finally, the presentation will include an overview of analyzing query plans. The overall emphasis will be on solving practical, real-world database performance problems.

SQL Server 2008 SP1 Now Available

Microsoft has just released SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 1 for download.  Packages are available for x86, x84, and IA64 installations and are each less than 400MB in size.  Most of the changes and updates are behind the scenes, but this is a fully-tested collection of post-RTM bug fixes.  eWeek magazine has some coverage on the update in Microsoft Releases SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 1.  From the article:

SQL Server 2008 SP1 contains a handful of enhancements, including Slipstream, Service Pack Uninstall and Report Builder 2.0 Click Once. Slipstream allows administrators to install SQL Server 2008 and Service Pack 1 in a single instance. The feature is designed to decrease the total time for an installation by, for example, requiring a fewer number of reboots, thereby increasing productivity.

SP1 also includes all the fixes and cumulative updates for SQL Server 2008 issued so far.

SQL Server 2008 RTM Requires Visual Studio 2008 SP1

While SQL Server 2008 has reached the release (RTM) stage, there’s a potential gotcha that’s going to prevent many of us from upgrading right away.  The issue is that the SQL Server 2008 installer requires you to have installed Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio 2008 in order to complete the setup process.  If you can’t yet meet this requirement, you’ll receive the following error message:

A previous release of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 is installed on this computer. Upgrade Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 to the SP1 before installing SQL Server 2008.

The issue is described in Microsoft Article 956139: Visual Studio 2008 SP1 may be required for SQL Server 2008 installations.  Unfortunately, the article seems to leave out an important point: The release version of Visual Studio 2008 SP1 is not yet available (you can download and install the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Beta, but it won’t meet the installation requirement).  So what can you do? 

It looks like we’ll all have to wait until the final release of VS 2008 SP1.  You can also read more about what features are included in the update at the VS 2008 SP Beta site.  Microsoft currently states that it will be available by August 11th, so it shouldn’t be too much longer.  Still, a better-coordinated release process (and bigger warnings) would have been helpful.

SQL Server 2008 Final Release Available

After what seems like an eternity in development, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 has finally been released.  That’s right – this latest version is not a beta version, a CTP, an RC, or anything of the sort.  MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers can download the RTM bits now.  Physical media should make it’s way to users within the next few weeks.  Here are some links to articles that might help smooth the transition to SQL Server 2008:

That should be plenty of leisure reading to get everyone up to speed on the latest version of SQL Server.  While there’s no rush to upgrade many existing installations, the list of improvements and new features in the latest version provides some compelling reasons to do so.

One note of warning: If you’re running Visual Studio 2008, you might have to wait a few more days before you can install or upgrade to SQL Server 2008.  I’ll post about that separately.

SQL Server Performance Monitoring & Optimization: Austin Code Camp Presentation

If you’re a developer that’s located in the Austin area, I highly recommend you consider attending Austin Code Camp 2008.  This free conference takes place on Saturday, May 17th, and is designed for attendees to learn about a wide variety of development-related topics without marketing hype or fluff.  Here’s the "official" description for the event:

The Austin .Net User Group is sponsoring the third Austin Code Camp. A code camp is a one day technical conference that has indepth sessions that are code focused. The sessions are given by members of the local development community for members of the local development community. If you are doing something interesting in the .Net framework, you should consider submitting a session. This is a no pressure event where you can try presenting to a group of developers that are truely interested in hearing what you have to say. (They are coming to hear you on a Saturday, need we say more about their dedication?) If you are interested in presenting then submit a session

Who can attend?: The camp is open to all individuals who are interested in learning or talking about software development on the Microsoft .Net Platform. Professional developers, Hobbiest, Students are all welcome.

Past events have been very well attended, and did I mention that it’s completely free?  You can download the complete and final schedule of sessions, if you’re planning to attend.  I’ll be presenting on SQL Server Performance Monitoring & Optimization – a demonstration-based session that shows how to optimize server and query performance.

DevTeach Conference Sessions

I’m going to be speaking at the DevTeach Conference in Toronto, Canada.  The conference runs from May 12 – 16, 2008.  I’ll be giving two presentations on virtualization and one on SQL Server.  Here are the topics and descriptions:

Evaluating Virtualization Tools and Technologies

There’s far more than one way to implement virtualization. For example, Microsoft has several different products which are designed to help solve organizations’ largest IT challenges. This presentation will cover information about presentation virtualization (Citrix and Windows Terminal Services), application virtualization (Virtuzzo and Microsoft SoftGrid), and server virtualization (including products from VMware, Microsoft, and other vendors). The goal is to help IT professionals determine the best solution(s) for implementing virtualization in their environments.

Windows Server 2008’s Hyper-V: Inside and Out

One of the most compelling features of Windows Server 2008 is its completely new virtualization feature. This presentation will provide details related to the architecture of Hyper-V and what it means to IT departments. Details related to deploying and managing VMs will be presented, with a focus on virtual hard disk and virtual network management. Attendees will also learn how to automate virtualization using WMI and Windows PowerShell.

SQL Server Data Protection and High Availability

SQL Server includes numerous features for protecting important data and ensuring high-availability. This presentation will provide live demonstrations of implementing backup and recovery plans, log-shipping, database mirroring, Fail-Over clusters and database snapshots. The presentation includes recommendations for choosing the best approach given a set of requirements. Presentation scripts and sample code will also be made available.

You can also find more details on the dozens of other presentation topics on the DevTeach Sessions page.

Visual Studio 2008 & Business Intelligence Development Studio (Troubleshooting)

I recently installed Visual Studio 2008 on my main development computer and have been very happy with it overall.  However, before starting the installation, I decided to remove all of the Visual Studio 2005 components from my computer.  Overall, this was a good idea (VS 2008 is backwards-compatible), but I found out that it broke my ability to launch the Business Intelligence Development Studio (the primary tool for creating, among other things, SQL Server Reporting Services projects).  One solution would be to re-run the SQL Server 2005 setup, but I didn’t want to go through the time and trouble.

Fortunately, it looks like there’s a better way…  This MSDN Thread outlines a great response from Dan Jones:

You should make sure that Visual Studio is still installed. If you didn’t previously have VS installed, the BI Dev Studio installation will install a VS shell called Visual Studio Premier Partner Edition. Look in Add or Remove Programs for an entry like this. If you don’t find any entry for Visual Studio go to the location for SQL Server setup and run .\Tools\Setup\vs_setup.exe. This will install the VS Shell. After this is installed repair the BI Studio installation by running the following from the command line from the .\Tools directory: start /wait setup.exe /qb REINSTALL=SQL_WarehouseDevWorkbench REINSTALLMODE=OMUS

After running both commands, I’m back up and running properly.  Hopefully, this “gotcha” will be better documented at some point (perhaps in an official Knowledge Base article?).  For now, though it should get you back up and running within about 10 minutes.  Note that you’ll want to run Microsoft Update to install the Visual Studio SP1 updates on your computer.

Update: If you’re looking for information on SQL Server 2008 R2 and Report Builder 3.0, please see my newer post SQL Server 2008 R2 Report Builder 3.0 (RTM).

Free Microsoft Learning Courses

If you’re not already familiar with the Microsoft Learning web site, you might be missing out on many different training courses and resources.  The site provides access to hundreds of resources, ranging from books to exams to online training courses.  Content is organized both by the role of an IT pro (systems administration, development, etc.) and by technology.

If you want to get started with content related to security, development, and related topics, see the list of free courses.  Often, these courses cover new technologies or methods that Microsoft wants developers and IT pros to learn about.  Current examples include:

I have completed somewhere around a dozen of these courses over the last few years, and I have found most of them to be pretty useful for quickly getting up to speed on new technologies.  And, they’re a good chance of pace from reading books, blogs, and other online materials.