Even More SQL Server Features that Time Forgot

SQL Server works well, and Microsoft do everything they can to keep it relevant and competitive: As with everything in real life, they don't always get it completely right, and Rob Sheldon continues his quest through the jungle of past features to rediscover and explore the ones that time forgot. Here, he comes across Lightweight Pooling, XML Indexes, Stretch Databases, SQL Variants, Transaction Savepoints and In-Memory OLTP… Read more

More SQL Server Features that Time Forgot

SQL Server produces some great features, but it would be impossible to get them spot-on target every time. We are now quietly advised to use caution about using some of them, such as AutoShrink or the Index Advisor. Others, like the database diagramming tool, almost seem to have been quietly abandoned. Robert Sheldon investigates.… Read more

SQL Server R Services: Working with Data Frames

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Although you can get started with R in SQL Server without understanding data frames, they are a key structure of the R language that are the equivalent of SQL Server table variables. They give you many ways of manipulating and analyzing data and passing it between R and SQL Server. For a database professional, they provide a clear and familiar concept when getting to grips with integrating R into the database.… Read more
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The SQL Server Features that Time Forgot

Every new release of SQL Server comes with new features that cause a ripple of excitement within the industry: well, amongst the marketing people anyway. What happens to all the exciting TLAs that are bandied about when a new version launches? It's mixed, it seems. Adam Machanic's classic post, The SQL Hall of Shame, has inspired Rob Sheldon to look back at some of the features that, though worthy, have may have failed to hit the mainstream.… Read more

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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