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SQL Server R Services: Working with ggplot2 Statistical Graphics

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It is when you use R in SQL Server with one of the huge range of packages that comes with it that you can begin to appreciate the power of the system. With a package such as ggplot there are many 'knobs one can twiddle' in order to get spectacular and informative visualisations. Rob Sheldon continues his beginners series for R in SQL Server by showing how to refine the output to get it as you need it.… Read more
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SQL Server R Services: Digging into the R Language

It is not just the analytic power of R that you get from using SQL Server R Services, but also the great range of packages that can be run in R that provide a daunting range of graphing and plotting facilities. Robert Sheldon shows how you can take data held in SQL Server and, via SQL Server R Services, use an R package called ggPlot that offers a powerful graphics language for creating elegant and complex plots.… Read more

The Basics of Good T-SQL Coding Style – Part 3: Querying and Manipulating Data

SQL was designed to be a third-generation language, expressed in syntax close to real language, because it was designed to be easy for untrained people to use. Even so, there are ways of expressing SQL Queries and data manipulation in ways that make it easier for the database engine to turn into efficient action. and easier for your colleagues to understand. Robert Sheldon homes in on data querying and manipulation and makes suggestions for team standards in SQL Coding.… Read more

SQL Server R Services: The Basics

It is possible to do a great deal with R within SQL Server, but it is best to start by doing analysis in R on numeric data from SQL Server and returning the results to SQL Server. There is great value to be gained even with this basic foundation. Robert Sheldon is on hand to give you a kick start with the first in his series on beginning with R in SQL Server.… Read more

The Basics of Good T-SQL Coding Style – Part 2: Defining Database Objects

Technical debt is a real problem in database development, where corners have been cut in the rush to keep to dates. The result may work but the problems are in the details: such things as inconsistent naming of objects, or of defining columns; sloppy use of data types, archaic syntax or obsolete system functions. With databases, technical debt is even harder to pay back. Robert Sheldon explains how and why you can get it right first time instead.… Read more

The Basics of Good T-SQL Coding Style

TSQL Code must work properly and efficiently. That's not enough though. Unless you are working alone, have perfect memory and plan to never change job, then you need to comment and document your code, it must be inherently readable, well laid out, use informative and obvious names, and it must be robust and resilient; written defensively. It must not rely on deprecated features of SQL Server, or assume particular database settings. Robert Sheldon starts a series of articles that explains the basics.… Read more

Questions About SQL Server Collations You Were Too Shy to Ask

Of course we all like our colleagues to think that we know everything there is to know about SQL Server Collations. However, the truth is that it is a rather complicated topic to fully understand and the cost of getting collation wrong can be great. If only one could ask certain questions on forums or at conferences without blushing. Help is at hand, because Robert Sheldon once again makes the complicated seem simple by answering those questions that you were too shy to ask… Read more

Stairway to SQL Server XML

XML has been part of the SQL Standard since 2003, and is essential for any DBA because so many of the dynamic management views return XML data. Now that the industry is more used to data defined by document markup, it is becoming more important than ever for Database Developers and DBAs to understand the technology and to know where it makes sense to use XML. In this book, originally a series of articles on SQLServerCentral.com, Robert Sheldon flexes his talent to make the complicated seem simple.… Read more

Encrypting SQL Server: Dynamic Data Masking

Dynamic Data Masking is a good way of rendering data unreadable for such purposes as user-acceptance testing, or demonstrating an application. It doesn't encrypt the data, and a knowledgeable SQL user can defeat it. However it provides a simple way to administer from the database what data the various users of a database application can and can not see, making it a useful tool for the developer.… Read more

SQL Server Encryption: Always Encrypted

Is 'Always Encrypted' SQL Server 2016's most widely important new feature? It is significant that 'Always Encrypted' in SQL Server is in all editions of SQL Server. Because of the increasing importance of encryption to data governance, it allows encryption for the sensitive application data for everywhere beyond the application's client connection, including network, server, database and storage. Robert Sheldon explains what it is, why you should try it out, and how to set about it.… Read more

Core Database Source Control Concepts

Sometimes, it isn't the technicalities or details of database source control that people find difficult, but the general concepts and workflow. In this article, taken from Robert Sheldon's book 'SQL Server Source Control Basics' , he takes a step back from the details to explain the whole purpose of database source control and the most important operations within source control such as versioning, branching and merging.… Read more

Encrypting SQL Server: Transparent Data Encryption (TDE)

Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) encrypts the data within the physical files of the database, the 'data at rest'. Without the original encryption certificate and master key, the data cannot be read when the drive is accessed or the physical media is stolen. The data in unencrypted data files can be read by restoring the files to another server. TDE requires planning but can be implemented without changing the database. Robert Sheldon explains how to implement TDE.… Read more

Using Power BI Desktop to Visualize SQL Server Metadata

You can easily use PowerBI Desktop to show graphically how your database is growing, which tables are taking the most space, how various parts of SQL Server is consuming memory, its use of indexes and so on. Sure, you can create graphs in SSMS, but with PowerBI, you can create reports that you can then publish to others, and which allow drill-down. It is a great way to get familiar with PowerBI Desktop as well. Rob Sheldon shows how simple it is to do.… Read more

Importing Excel Data into Power BI Desktop

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In any commercial setting, Excel Spreadsheets remain the preferred way of collecting and analysing data, and it makes sense that it should be easy to get the data into PowerBI so it can be made more generally available for sharing and further analysis. As well as the data, we'd probably need the other analysis components such as the Power Pivot tables, Power View visualizations, Power Query queries. It is all possible, and Robert Sheldon demonstrates how.… Read more
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Retrieving SQL Server Query Execution Plans

Execution plans explain all you need to know about query performance, and how to fine-tune. Sure, you can see them in SSMS, but what if you need to drill into to the important details? What about using DMVs, Extended Events or SET statements to get at the execution plans? To get the best use of execution plans you need to be able to get right information from the right plan at the right time. Robert Sheldon explains how.… Read more

More Power BI to your Elbow

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Power BI Desktop continues to evolve. There have been many improvements to the reporting side that together make it easier to get from the data to the visualisation as quickly as possible. You can now create line charts that let users drill down into hierarchical data. There are now ways of adding dynamic reference lines to a visualization that provide users with relevant reference points. Robert Sheldon demonstrates how to combine these features to great effect.… Read more
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SQL Server for Linux

Although SQL Server for Linux removes the concern that adopting SQL Server forces you to also adopt the Windows platform, it could also provide a useful alternative platform, and a more obvious alternative to Oracle. There are, however, several obvious concerns as to how such a product could ever achieve parity with the existing Windows-based product. Microsoft have made an interesting move with several ramifications, as Robert Sheldon explains.… Read more

SQL Server Access Control: The Basics

No technology yet invented can in any way allow us to neglect the task of ensuring the security of the database by controlling access. Security must be applied in depth, and the database is designed provide a system that will thwart even the most determined external attack. If it seems a bit complicated at first, that is no longer an excuse now that Rob Sheldon has provided this simple guide for getting started. … Read more

SQL Server Statistics Basics

Distribution statistics are used by SQL Server's Query Optimiser to determine a good execution plan for your SQL query. You don't need to know about them to execute queries, but the better you understand them, the better you can optimise your queries and sort out performance problems. Robert Sheldon once more provides a simple guide.… Read more

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