Robert is a freelance technology writer based in the Pacific Northwest. He’s worked as a technical consultant and has written hundreds of articles about technology for both print and online publications, with topics ranging from predictive analytics to 5D storage to the dark web. He’s also contributed to over a dozen books on technology, developed courseware for Microsoft’s training program, and served as a developmental editor on Microsoft certification exams. When not writing about technology, he’s working on a novel or venturing out into the spectacular Northwest woods.
Of the big four DML statements in SQL Server, the DELETE is the one least written about. This is odd considering the extra power conferred on the statement by the addition of the WITH common_table_expression; and the OUTPUT clause that essentially allows you to move data from one table to another in one statement.
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With SQL Server 2005, SQL Server introduced some of SQL's window functions, that apply, not to the full set, but a partitioned 'window'. Although the ROW_NUMBER, RANK, NTILE and DENSE_RANK bring great power to TSQL, the full versatility will not be available until SQL Server delivers the full implementation. As usual, Robert Sheldon explains all.
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The INSERT statement in SQL Server is versatile. It now allows the insertion of multiple rows of literal values. It also provides the output clause that solves a number of common problems such as ascertaining the value of identity fields, and other calculated fields in tables, or for auditing the rows that are added to tables. Robert, once again, gives a clear introduction. … Read more
When the SQL MERGE statement was introduced in SQL Server 2008, it allowed database programmers to replace reams of messy code with something quick, simple and maintainable. The MERGE syntax just takes a bit of explaining, and Rob Sheldon is, as always, on hand to explain with plenty of examples.… Read more
In retrospect, it was probably the inclusion of the OUTPUT clause in the MERGE statement that gave SQL Server 2008 its most powerful SQL enhancement.. It isn't the easiest of features to explain, but Bob does it in his usual clear and careful way.… Read more
SQL Server's UPDATE statement is apparently simple, but complications such as the FROM clause can cause puzzlement. Bob Sheldon starts simply, and introduces the more complex forms painlessly. … Read more
One of the most interesting additions to SQL Server syntax in SQL Server 2005 was the APPLY operator. It allows several queries that were previously impossible. It is surprisingly difficult to find a simple explanation of what APPLY actually does. Rob Sheldon is the specialist in simple explanations, so we asked him.… Read more
Actions are powerful way of extending the value of SSAS cubes for the end user. They can click on a cube or portion of a cube to start an application with the selected item as a parameter, or to retrieve information about the selected item. Actions haven't been well-documented until now; Robert Sheldon once more makes everything clear.… Read more
Key Performance Indicators, which vary according to the application, are widely used as a measure of the performance of parts of an organisation. Analysis Services makes this KPI data easily available to your cube. All you have to do is to follow Rob Sheldon's simple instructions.… Read more
To be able to drill into multidimensional cube data at several levels, you must implement all of the hierarchies on the database dimensions. Then you'll create the attribute relationships necessary to optimize performance. Analysis Services hierarchies offer plenty of possibilities for displaying the data that your business requires. Rob Sheldon continues his series on SQL Server Analysis Services 2008.… Read more
To learn an application, nothing beats getting it up and running. Getting started with Analysis Services can be frustrating unless you have a clear and simple guide that gets you started quickly. In this article, the first in a quick-start series on SSAS, BI and Data Warehousing, Rob Sheldon gets you off the runway, and flying.… Read more
Even though there are many other ways to get data into a database, nothing works quite as fast as BCP, once it is set up with the right parameters and format file. Despite its usefulness, the art of using the command-line utility has always seemed more magic than method; but now along comes Robert Sheldon to shed light on the murky details.… Read more
The Transaction Log provides the means by which either the complete set of tasks of a database transaction are performed or none of them are. It ensures that , via rollback, only valid data is written out to the database, and it allows transactions to be played back to recreate the system state right before a failure. Robert Sheldon explains the various basic tasks involved in managing the transaction log.… Read more
Many seasoned database developers tuck away all the commonly-used INFORMATION_SCHEMA queries as templates. They're an indispensable supplement to sp_help and sp_helpText to get handy information about your database objects, and, even if you use SQL Prompt, they're usually the best standard way to access such information programmatically within a routine. They are ISO standard SQL and are here to stay. Rob Sheldon goes through the basics in a timely refresher course. … Read more
How should SQL code be formatted? What sort of indentation should you use? Should keywords be in upper case? How should lists be lined up? SQL is one of those languages that will execute anyway however you treat whitespace and capitalization. However, the way SQL is laid out will effect its readability and the time taken to review and understand it. Standardisation of code layout is an important issue, but what standard should you adopt? Rob avoids a direct answer, but tells you the sort of answers you'll need to decide upon when creating a strategy for formatting SQL code.… Read more
Rob Sheldon tackles the subject of Index Defragmentation in SQL Server 2005 and 2008, using the sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats system function. He shows how to analyze indexes and, if necessary, how to go about reorganizing or rebuilding indexes. He makes the point that, by analyzing indexes effectively, you can save a lot of unnecessary rebuilding of indexes.… Read more
In SSIS, tasks are linked by precedence constraints. A task will only execute if the condition that is set by the precedence constraint preceding the task is met. By using these constraints, it is possible to ensure different execution paths depending on the success or failure of other tasks. This means that you can use tasks with precedence constraints to determine the workflow of an SSIS package. We challenged Rob Sheldon to provide a straightforward practical example of how to do it. … Read more
The FOR XML clause in SQL Server causes a lot of difficulty, mainly because it is rather poorly explained in Books-on-Line. We challenged Bob Sheldon to make it seem simple. Here is his sublime response. … Read more
XML Data Modification Language (XML DML) allows you to modify and update XML data. When working with SQL Server Databases, this is the most efficient way to modify elements in an XML column, yet the techniques of using XML-DML have not been well, and simply, described - up until now. Robert Sheldon presents a practical workbench to show the various modify methods … Read more