Today we are pleased to announce that the SQL Azure Data Sync preview release has been upgraded to Service Update 4 (SU4) within the Windows Azure data centers.  SU4 is now running live. This update adds the most -requested feature: users can edit an existing Sync Group to accommodate changes they have made to their database schemas, without having to re-create the Sync Group.  In order to use the new Edit Sync Group feature, you must install the latest release of the local agent software, available here. Existing Sync Groups do not need to be re-created, they will work with the new features automatically.

The complete list of changes are listed below:

  • Users  can now modify a sync group without having to recreate it. See the MSDN topic Edit a Sync Group for details.
    • New information in the portal helps customers more easily manage sync groups:
      • The portal displays the upgrade and support status of the user’s local agent software:  the local  agent version is shown with a recommendation to upgrade if your client agent is not the latest, a warning if support for your agent version expires soon and an error if your agent is no longer supported.
      • The portal displays a warning for sync groups that may become out-of-date if changes fail to apply for 60 or more days.
  • The update fixes issues that affected ORM (Object Relational Model) frameworks such as Entity Framework and NHibernate working with Data Sync.
  • The service provides better error and status messages.

If you are using SQL Azure and are not familiar with SQL Azure Data Sync, you can watch this online video demonstration.

The ability to edit an existing Sync Group enables some common customer scenarios, and we have listed some of these below as examples.

Scenario 1: User adds a table and a column to a sync group

  • William uses Data Sync to keep the products databases in his branch offices up to date.
  • He decides to add a new Material attribute to his products to indicate whether the product is made from Animal, Vegetable or Mineral.
  • He adds a Material column to his Products table and a Material table to contain the range of material values.
  • He modifies his sync group to include the new Material table and the new Material column in the Product table.
  • The Data Sync service adjusts the sync configuration in William’s databases and begins synchronizing the new data.
  • William categorizes his products using a Category ID in his Products table, which references records in a Category table in his database.
  • He decides to discontinue the use of the Category attribute in favor of a set of descriptive tags which apply to each product.
  • He modifies his application to use the descriptive tags in place of the Category attribute.
  • William modifies the Sync Group to exclude the Category attribute for his Products table.
  • He modifies the Sync Group to exclude the Category table.
  • The Data Sync service adjusts the sync configuration in William’s databases and no longer synchronizes the Category data.
  • William maintains a set of attributes for his products that include Notes and Thumbnail images.
  • William decides to increase the length of the columns he uses to store these attributes:
  • He changes the Notes column from CHAR(32) to CHAR(128) to accommodate more verbose notes.
  • He changes the Thumbnail column from BINARY(1000) to BINARY(MAX) to hold higher resolution thumbnail images.
  • William modifies his application to use the expanded attributes.
  • William modifies his database by altering the Notes and Thumbnail columns to the larger sizes.
  • He updates his Sync Group with the new column lengths for the Notes and Thumbnail columns.
  • The Data Sync service adjusts the sync configuration in William’s databases and synchronizes the expanded columns.

Scenario 2: User removes a table and a column from a sync group

  • William categorizes his products using a Category ID in his Products table, which references records in a Category table in his database.
  • He decides to discontinue the use of the Category attribute in favor of a set of descriptive tags which apply to each product.
  • He modifies his application to use the descriptive tags in place of the Category attribute.
  • William modifies the Sync Group to exclude the Category attribute for his Products table.
  • He modifies the Sync Group to exclude the Category table.
  • The Data Sync service adjusts the sync configuration in William’s databases and no longer synchronizes the Category data. 

Scenario 3: User changes the length of a column in a sync group

  • William maintains a set of attributes for his products that include Notes and Thumbnail images.
  • William decides to increase the length of the columns he uses to store these attributes:
  • He changes the Notes column from CHAR(32) to CHAR(128) to accommodate more verbose notes.
  • He changes the Thumbnail column from BINARY(1000) to BINARY(MAX) to hold higher resolution thumbnail images.
  • William modifies his application to use the expanded attributes.
  • William modifies his database by altering the Notes and Thumbnail columns to the larger sizes.
  • He updates his Sync Group with the new column lengths for the Notes and Thumbnail columns.
  • The Data Sync service adjusts the sync configuration in William’s databases and synchronizes the expanded columns.

Sharing Your Feedback

For community-based support, post a question to the SQL Azure MSDN forums. The product team will do its best to answer any questions posted there.

To suggest new SQL Azure Data Sync features or vote on existing suggestions, click here.

To log a bug in this release, use the following steps:

  1. Navigate to https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/Feedback.
  2. You will be prompted to search our existing feedback to verify your issue has not already been submitted.
  3. Once you verify that your issue has not been submitted, scroll down the page and click on the orange Submit Feedback button in the left-hand navigation bar.
  4. On the Select Feedback form, click SQL Server Bug Form.
  5. On the bug form, select Version = SQL Azure Data Sync Preview
  6. On the bug form, select Category = SQL Azure Data Sync
  7. Complete your request.
  8. Click Submit to send the form to Microsoft.