Robert Sheldon

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.

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24 August 2012
24 August 2012

Report Builder 3.0: Creating a Basic Report

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Report Builder is underrated as a BI and report-authoring tool. It is a free stand-alone application from Microsoft that provides an intuitive way for anybody to create reports from data. It uses an interface that is similar to Microsoft Office, and supports the full capabilities of SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services. Rob Sheldon starts a short course in how to use it.… Read more
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02 July 2012
02 July 2012

Working with SSIS Data Types

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In order to be able to take data from a variety of sources, manipulate it, and then export it to one of several destinations, SSIS has to use its own data types. Generally, the conversions of data types is handled implicitly, but if you hit problems, then you may need to intervene in one of several ways to ensure an appropriate conversion.… Read more
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01 February 2012
01 February 2012

Converting String Data to XML and XML to String Data

We all appreciate that, in general, XML documents or fragments are held in strings as text markup. In SQL Server, XML variables and columns are instead tokenised to allow rapid access to the data within. This is fine, but can cause some odd problems, auch as 'entitization'. What, also, do you do if you need to preserve the formatting? As usual Rob Sheldon comes to our aid.… Read more
08 December 2011
08 December 2011

The XML Methods in SQL Server

The XML Data type has definite uses, but the way of interrogating, retrieving, and manipulating the values of properties and attributes within XML have been so foreign to the SQL language as to be somewhat of a barrier to their use. Fortunately, Robert Sheldon has once more managed to make the subject accessible to those of us who just need to get the job done.… Read more
18 August 2011
18 August 2011

XML Configuration files in SQL Server Integration Services

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Package configuration files are a great way of providing the values of SSIS package properties so that packages can be used in a far more versatile way. They make the deployment of SSIS packages easier and can provide parameters that are based on the server configuration, or which change for each runtime. They're easy to understand, especially when explained by Rob Sheldon.… Read more
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21 July 2011
21 July 2011

Adding the Script Task to Your SSIS Packages

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Script tasks are a great way of extending SSIS functionality, when the buit-in functionality isn't quite Script tasks are a great way of extending SSIS functionality, when none of the buit-in components are quite right for the task you need to perform. But how to go about creating a script task? No worries, once again Robert Sheldon is on hand to provide easy instructions on how to do it.… Read more
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26 April 2011
26 April 2011

SSIS Event Handlers Basics

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SSIS event handlers are the simplest means of turning an SSIS script into a reliable system that is auditable, reacts appropriately to error conditions, reports progress and allows instrumentation and monitoring your SSIS packages. They are easy to implement, and provide a great deal of flexibility. Rob Sheldon once again provides the easy, clear introduction.… Read more
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28 February 2011
28 February 2011

The EXCEPT and INTERSECT Operators in SQL Server

The UNION, EXCEPT and INTERSECT operators of SQL enable you to combine more than one SELECT statement to form a single result set. The UNION operator returns all rows. The INTERSECT operator returns all rows that are in both result sets. The EXCEPT operator returns the rows that are only in the first result set but not in the second. Simple? Rob Sheldon explains all, with plenty of examples… Read more
06 January 2011
06 January 2011

Data Conversion in SQL Server

Most of the time, you do not have to worry about implicit conversion in SQL expressions, or when assigning a value to a column. Just occasionally, though, you'll find that data gets truncated, queries run slowly, or comparisons just seem plain wrong. Robert explains why you sometimes need to be very careful if you mix data types when manipulating values. … Read more