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On Being Economical with the Truth

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A while back, I attended a presentation about a suite of software that allowed IT managers to track in some detail the progress of a development project, via static code analysis, a range of source control metrics and other magic. Bathed in these insights, management could instantly track the detail of what was going on … Read more
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Data Security: Time to be Grown-Up

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How do you quickly clear a room-full of application developers, short of shouting ‘fire’ and setting off a smoke-bomb? The answer, of course, is to stand up in front of them and announce that you are giving a talk about database access-control and security. Once, at a conference, I sat through a brilliant talk on … Read more
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Measure of a DBA

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Marketing people are often surprised when a new version of SQL Server doesn’t quite generate the atmosphere of excited anticipation that they expected. After all, people seem to get themselves in a state of frenzy when a new iPhone is introduced, and suddenly their present phone looks like a museum item. The urge to upgrade … Read more
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Unmasking the Dynamic Data Masking

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/* Revised 27th June   Dynamic data masking is a great product and solves some niche problems that come if you need to do certain testing with live data at the application level. You should, however, beware of using it as a database-level security device. I haven’t yet used it in testing because I don’t … Read more
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How to Build and Deploy a Database from Object-Level Source in a VCS

It is easy for someone who is developing a database to shrug and say 'if only my budget would extend to buying fancy tools, then I could start using version control when developing or maintaining databases'. Phil Factor sets out to show that there are ways of maintaining object-level source control for SQL Server databases just using what Microsoft provides, It may not be perfect, but there are ways of doing it whatever your budget.… Read more

Automatically Creating UML Database Diagrams for SQL Server

SQL Server database developers seem reluctant to use diagrams when documenting their databases. It is probably because it has, in the past, been difficult to automatically draw precisely what you want, other than a vast Entity-relationship diagram. However, you can do it without buying any third-party tool, just using some existing Java-based open-source tools; and can even automate it entirely, using SQL and PowerShell.… Read more

SQL Server Table Smells

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Table smells in SQL Server are just like code smells. They are just an indication that something may need to be checked or investigated. They are easy to check as well, because you can generally ferret through the object catalog metadata views to flush out the aspects that just don’t smell right. In this blog, … Read more
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The Luhn Algorithm in SQL

The Luhn test is used by most credit card companies to check the basic validity of a credit card number. It is not an anti-fraud measure but a quick check on data corruption. It still allows any digits that are odd or even to be switched in the sequence. Most credit cards are compatible with Luhn algorithm. It is often applied to SSNs, company organization numbers, and OCR numbers for internet payments. How do you handle them in SQL?… Read more

The SQL of the Feast Days of Western Christendom

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I’ve been intrigued for a long time by the Christian feasts. Nowadays, we start getting excited about Christmas around July, and it is considered by commerce to be fair-game as a de-walletizing activity from Halloween onwards. I would like far more feast days to get excited about. Our ancestors had so many feast days that … Read more
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Late in the Day for a DBA

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I first met Joe when I went to Woodworking evening classes several years ago. I saw him from across the room. He was at the lathe, turning a bowl. There was something about the careful, diligent way he was working that activated my DBA-dar. I approached him. “You’re a DBA, aren’t you?” I asked. He … Read more
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Dependencies and References in SQL Server

It is important for developers and DBAs to be able to determine the interdependencies of any database object. Perhaps you need to work out what process is accessing that view you want to alter, or maybe find out whether that table-type you wish to change is being used. What are all these dependencies? How do you work out which are relevant? Phil Factor explains.… Read more

Soft Skills for the Developer

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(Guest Editorial for the Simple-Talk newsletter) In the rush to recruit a developer to fill a gaping void in a development project, it is sometimes easy to forget the relative importance of the skills you need. We were building a complex middleware architecture based on SOA principles with distributed transactions. The task was daunting, and … Read more
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Typoglycemia: The PowerShell and the SQL

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Typoglycemia is the ironic name, (derived from Hypoglycemia) given to the phenomenon that many readers can understand the meaning of words in a sentence even when the interior letters of each word are scrambled. They appear to recognize words by the outermost letters, the length, the letters used and the context.  As long as all … Read more
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SQL Server: The Neglected Features

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Have you ever experienced that moment in an exam, frantically scribbling your answer to the final question, when the invigilator looks sternly across the room and says “time’s up, now cease writing and put down your pens”? I sometimes imagine this happening to the developers in the server division of Microsoft. SQL Server has several … Read more
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Microsoft and Database Lifecycle Management (DLM): The DacPac

The Data-Tier Application Package (DacPac), together with the Data-Tier Application Framework (DacFx), provides an alternative way to automate the process of scripting out, or deploying a SQL Server database, reporting on changes, or checking version-drift. As such, it seems to provide an obvious cost-free start for tackling automated Database Delivery as part of Database Life-cycle Management (DLM). We asked Phil Factor if it is ready for Prime-time.… Read more

Can Code Review Be Automated?

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I was scanning the API of DacFx, the ‘engine’ of SSDT, and became interested in the facility it contains for automating SQL code reviews. DacFx allows you to parse the SQL code sufficiently to do static code analysis, to scan for heresies, deprecated code and code that doesn’t ‘conform to corporate policy’. Dave Ballantyne has … Read more
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