Benjamin Wright-Jones

Exploring Information, Infrastructure and Solution Architecture

Posts
  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Tech-Ed Europe, Day 2 at the ATE Stand

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    We've had some interesting questions during the first day on the ATE stand at Tech-Ed in Amsterdam. These have ranged from: 1. How does the optimiser work? to 2. Where can I download SQL Server 2005 from? There was also quite a lot of interest around database mirroring (thanks to Gianluca Hotz, MVP, http://solidqualitylearning.com/blogs/Gianluca/, for having pre-canned demos and slide decks!! and to Tony Rogerson, MVP, http://www.sqlserverfaq.com for assisting with Q&A) Business intelligence (particularly Reporting Services, Analysis Services) also generated quite a lot of interest. Suprisingly, there didn't seem to be a lot of hype around Integration Services although the AMD stand had a great SQL Server 2005 64-Bit demo of SSIS on the Opteron dual core processor. I managed to attend a Notification Services HOL/session in the morning was fairly interesting. There a few nice enhancements such as the Analysis Services Event Provider but I'll blog more about this later.
  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Tech-Ed Pre-Conference

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    I have seen enough black Tech-Ed bags to send me blind.....

    Pre-conf was good, I decided to attend the VB6 to VB.NET session and it was surprisingly very good - I thought I'd 'keep in touch' with the developer platforms since the CLR is going to be a major feature of SQL Server 2005 (although C# is probably going to be more favourable).  The session materials can be found here: http://www.mcwtech.com/2005/teched/emea/ - I was definitely impressed with all the features that were demo'd to us in one day! 

    I'm going to be on the SQL Server ATE stand over the next three days (schedule below) so please drop by and ask questions.

    Tuesday 5th: 1400-1630
    Wednesday 6th: 1100-1400
    Thursday 7th: 1100-1400

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Anyone going to Tech-Ed Europe?

    • 1 Comments

    I'm working at the SQL Server ATE booth next week for Tech-Ed in Amsterdam.  Please feel free to drop by for a chat if you're attending.  http://www.mseventseurope.com/TechEd/05/Pre/Content/ate.aspx

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    SQL Server Integration Services

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    Hi all

    Sorry I haven't posted for a while (well, a few months) - I really must post more often (that is my resolution for July).  I've just returned from a week's vacation in Spain.  I stayed at a great villa in Jalon valley near Calpe.  I have to blog about a restaurant called Oustau http://www.oustau.com/ingles/introduccion.html which is located in the fantastic town, Altea.  The food is amazing, the location awesome and the weather is great all year! Anyway enough about that....

    I must say I am impressed with SQL Server Integration Services.  I have been using this product in a development environment for some time now, and although there are the some bugs in CTP builds, the product is very flexible and the IDE is stable.  In comparison to DTS in SQL Server 2000, there are some major changes. I'd recommend reading the whitepaper available here http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/sql/2005/intro2is.mspx

    There are also some excellent blogs on this subject area (see below)

    http://sqljunkies.com/WebLog/knight%5Freign/

    http://www.sqljunkies.com/WebLog/donald_farmer/default.aspx

    http://sqljunkies.com/WebLog/ashvinis/

    http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson/

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Database mail is cool...

    • 2 Comments

    I'm now a big fan of database mail in SQL Server 2005 - it is so much better than SQLMail.  For starters, it is now cluster-aware (customers have been asking for this for a while now), supports SMTP and takes advantage of service broker.  When database mail is configured, it is at the user database level.  Various objects are installed in the database being enabled for mail.  The stored procedure, sp_send_dbmail, is one of these objects and it takes a variety of parameters e.g. queries can be used and the results can be attached as a file.  The following script provides a simple example:

    EXEC dbo.sp_send_dbmail

    @profile_name = 'YUKON01_Database_Mail',

    @recipients = '<email address>',

    @body = 'This is a query test',

    @subject = 'Query Test',

    @query = '<T-SQL Statement>',

    @attach_query_result_as_file = 1 ;

    There are also two DMV's which can be queried to look at the metadata and determine when the last message was sent; these are sysmail_mailitems & sysmail_log.  Please feel free to post any comments on your thoughts regarding database mail. 

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    SQLPass 05 (Europe) and CTP Updates

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    Hi everyone, just thought I'd update you all regarding SQL Server 2005 CTP releases and some interesting things I picked up at SQLPass 05 in Munich (it's always nice to speak to partners/customers about their thoughts and experiences). 

    As you probably know, the April CTP (Community Technology Preview) of SQL Server 2005 is now available for download from MSDN.  The build quality is very very good.   There will be a new CTP out this month although I'm not sure on specific dates.  My interest in SQL Server 2005 Integration Services (SSIS) is growing, especially after I saw some very cool demos by Darren Green & Alan Mitchell (they run the www.sqldts.com and www.sqlis.com websites).  I particulary like the ability to recover/restart a package from the point of failure using checkpointing.  I also saw some some impressive SSIS performance figures on 32 bit and 64 bit which blow away DTS in SQL Server 2000. 

    There are some nice additions in the tools arena, for example, the ability to see graphical displays of deadlock detection and showplan in Profiler.  SQLMail is no more; it has been replace by Database Mail which supports SMTP and is cluster-aware.  I also like the Surface Area Configuration Tool (I wish the marketing guys thought of a better name) which allows you to enable/disable various features e.g. xp_cmdshell, SQLMail legacy support, sp_OACreate etc

    I should also mention that there will be a lot of excellent SQL Server 2005 material presented at this years TechEd conference in Europe - I'm also planning to be there helping out in the Ask the Experts area.  Hope you can make it - go here for more information http://www.mseventseurope.com/teched/05/pre/content/default.aspx

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    SQL Server 2005 - Top 5 Favourite Features

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    After experimenting with the numerous features of SQL Server 2005 in beta 2 and subsequent CTP releases, I have decided upon my favourite features.  Although they're not necessarily the most important, they will make my life so much easier. 

    1. Database Mirroring (High Protection Mode)
    2. CLR Hosting (for complex code / calculations)
    3. Full Bi-Directional (Peer-to-Peer) Replication 
    4. Full Text Enhancements
    5. SQLCMD (and the dedicated administrator connection)

    I should really mention the Service Broker however I haven't (as yet) looked at it in any detail.  There is a good resource slowly developing here http://www.sqlservicebroker.com/forums/.  There is also a nice tool in dev called the Service Broker Explorer which provides more control over the elements in a GUI.  It can be downloaded from here: http://www.sqlservicebroker.com/forums/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=80.  I should mention that it is not intended for use on a production system; more of a learning tool. 

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Analysing SQL Server Error Logs; Useful Tool

    • 3 Comments

    I recently found quite a useful tool hidden in the Windows Installer SDK developer Kit called WiLogUtl.exe which can be used to analyze / parse not just SQL Server error logs, but any form of text-based log file.  The tool is embedded in the Windows Platform SDK (XPSP2) which can be downloaded from here http://www.microsoft.com/msdownload/platformsdk/sdkupdate/.  The binary file is installed under the following directory tree C:\Program Files\Microsoft Platform SDK for Windows XP SP2\Bin. It's provides a simple yet useful interface for browsing and analyzing those log files which are generated by failed setups and service pack installs. 

    I've recently corrected this post (thanks to Matt Tisdel) as I included an incorrect URL (the correct one is shown above).  Further information on WiLogUtl.exe can be found in MSDN here http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/msi/setup/wilogutl_exe.asp and here http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/msi/setup/windows_installer_development_tools.asp

    On a slightly different topic, my new favourite RSS reader is now Sauce Reader from Synop http://www.synop.com/Products/SauceReader/Home - this is great for consolidating RSS reads.

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Site Updates & SQL Server Nuggets on MSDN

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    I've made a few changes to the layout of the blog site - hopefully this is much easier to navigate.  Anyway, whilst recently browsing on Tim Sneath's blog http://blogs.msdn.com/tims I came accross a reference to SQL Server Nuggets.  This is a cool resource if you're looking for a gentle introduction to some of the CLR features in SQL Server 2005.  The short webcasts are also downnloadable (see links below)

    SQL Server 2005

    If you've got a couple of moments to spare, check out the MSDN Nuggets page as there are also some good .NET developer demos. 

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Check out the SQL Server 2005 Express Manager Preview...

    • 1 Comments

    I had a look at the SQL Server 2005 Express Manager a few days ago and realised that it works with developer, standard and enterprise editions of SQL Server 2005.  I was also impressed to discover that it also works with SQL Server 2000 instances.  I should also mention that you'll need to install .NET Framework 2.0 - the link is embedded on the download page at the following location: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=8f92556a-6c3b-47d2-9929-ecdc5a4d25ae&displaylang=en

    The express manager is a light-weight client, similar to QA but not as feature rich.  It is a good alternative to the query edition in the SQL Server 2005 management studio (application launch time is much better in Express Manager).  I just hope that a drop-down combo is added in future releases and that it also remembers server/instance name. 

    BTW, there are a lot of good whitepapers appearing on the public website, have a look at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/2005/techinfo/default.asp

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Unattended clusters installs in SQL Server 2005 / Mount Point Support

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    Ok, so not exactly a killer feature, but I know a few customers who have been asking for this for a while especially as most of the builds are engineered and deployed via SMS.  I think this is one of those 'nice to have' features. From Beta 2 BOL: "For an unattended installation of a failover cluster, you must use /qn.  The /qn switch specifies a silent installation, displaying no user interface dialog boxes, even in cases of Setup errors or failure. If the /qn switch is used, all Setup messages are written to Setup log files". You'll also be pleased to hear that we will now support mount points on a Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition cluster running SQL Server 2005.  This should be really beneficial to those who have a requirement to exceed the 26 drive letter limitation (great news for consolidation.

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    SQL Server 2005 Webcasts

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    Just thought I'd plug the SQL Server 2005 webcasts which are due to launch from the beginning of December.  If you'd like to know more, go here to register: http://msdn.microsoft.com/SQL/2005/2005Webcasts/default.aspx

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    General ravings...IDW9....

    • 1 Comments

    Hello again I'm pleased to announce that the latest build of SQL Server 2005 includes two new T-SQL commands, INTERSECT and EXCEPT.  I'll talk about these a little later. I've just been on a great 2005 training course delivered by Niels Berglund of developmentor.  Niels has introduced me to some great features which I'll talk about in this blog.  I'm going to run through the labs again as I missed some of the slides on http endpoints and service broker.  There are so many cool things in SQL Server 2005 that its difficult to know where to begin.  SQLCLR is such a great enhancement P> I'll post again soon....

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    SQL Server 2005 Extended Triggers

    • 4 Comments

    Ok, I am impressed with everything in SQL Server 2005, especially extended triggers to capture DDL actions.  I was playing around with these today and I can see how this will be a nice feature, especially for audit trails.  I've included a simple script below.

    -- create sample db
    create
    database trigtestdb
    go

    use trigtestdb
    go
    create table tblextrig (eventid int identity, eventdata xml)
    go

    -- create event driven trigger
    create trigger trig_ddl
       
    on database
       
    for create_table, drop_table, alter_table
    as
       
    insert tblextrig values (eventdata())
    go

    -- do some ddl
    create table ben (id int)
    drop table ben
    create table ben (id int)
    go

    -- check if DML events have been logged by trigger
    select eventid, eventdata from tblextrig
    go

    -- clean up
    use master
    go

    drop database trigtestdb

     

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    I've been gone a while but I'm back....

    • 1 Comments

    Hi all

    Apologies for not updating my blog as often as possible - I've been on vacation for the past couple of weeks and managed to lose most of my possesions when the villa was broken into!  Fortunately, my wallet and passport has been recovered in Valencia last week - they were found dumped in a skip - so I'm in the process of trying to recover these from the Spanish Guardia Civil (which is not easy)!

    Everything is almost sorted out and I'm finally getting back into the SQL Server world.  There's a new SQL Server 2005 portal and some excellent whitepapers here: http://www.microsoft.com/sql/2005/techinfo/default.asp

    I'm currently working on a few support issues related EMPTYFILE and SQLXML - I'll post my findings once I've done some research and analysis.  It's too early to add further comments at the moment :-)

    Cheers

    Ben

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    A DTS problem which is bothering me...

    • 0 Comments

    I can't believe it's almost July and it's pouring down with rain.  I've been thinking about a problem a customer asked me about last week regarding DTS and the lack of interoperability between SQL Server 7 and 2000.  To cut a long story short, I was asked to document the known DTS bugs for each (public) build of SQL Server 7 and 2000 - so, RTM to SP3/4 etc.  As you probably know, the security in 2000 was changed and this introduced some compatibility problems; there are also some caveats around using the SQL Server 2000 client tools to edit packages designed in 7.0.  However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many DTS KB's and I need to check out.  There's also a great resource here: www.sqldts.com which I highly recommend - I believe it's run by an MVP.  I've had a lot of people ask for a setup option to not install DTS - I can understand how this would solve a lot of problems and I know SQL Server 2005 addresses this. 

  • Benjamin Wright-Jones

    Hello & Let's talk about SQL Server

    • 1 Comments

    Welcome to my blog - I'm going to use this site to share my thoughts, ideas and experiences with SQL Server & some VB/C#.NET.  I'll most likely concentrate on the current 2000 and pending 2005 release which should be with us soon.  The second beta is just round the corner.   I'm particularly interested in the CLR hosting, replication enhancements and DTS. 

    I'm hopefully going to PDC this year, I haven't heard or seen any published information yet - I'll post an update when a date has been confirmed. 

    Update:
    PDC 2005 information can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/events/pdc/
    Tech Ed 2005 information can be viewed here http://www.microsoft.com/events/teched2005/default.mspx

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