Goodwill and hard learning at SQL Bits 15

SQL Bits XV, the official launch event for SQL Server 2016, begins in Liverpool, UK, on May 4, 2016. Simple-Talk is a strong supporter of this event, and for good reasons; it’s a fantastic training event, and also one of those that feels “right” from the moment you enter the venue.

There are so many factors that combine to generate this feeling that it’s hard to pin down precisely. It’s run efficiently, but with a friendliness and laid-back humor that probably just reflects the nature of the team who have built up this event from scratch. It’s a conference that retains firm roots in the SQL community; it strongly encourages community volunteers and speakers alongside the usual conference stalwarts. It shifts venue each year to reach as many of the community as possible. It generates a sense of belonging, a dangerous urge to participate, and a lot of goodwill to see the event continue to flourish.

Its growing status is reflected in Microsoft choosing it as the SQL Server 2016 launch event, and there will be plenty of Microsoft US staff present, doubtless keen to discuss query store, dynamic data masking, JSON, R and more. However, it remains a conference where you are also guaranteed to benefit from deep working knowledge of SQL Server. Many may recall the feeling last year, in Adam Machanic’s Clash of the Row Goals presentation of being on the verge of some rare insight into the inner workings of the Query Optimizer, if only their brains would keep up.

All of this goodwill and hard learning culminates in a conference party that has to be seen to be believed. This year’s theme is “space”. If you’re thinking with a weary sigh that you know roughly what to expect from a “fancy dress” party at a technical event, then think again. This one is done with real panache. We’re fully expecting to see realistic Buck Rogers and Chewbacca lookalikes mingling with someone dressed as a solid state drive.

The event is now a 4-day epic, with 2 days of pre-cons, then over 70 sessions spread across Friday and Saturday. If you are short of time or budget, the Saturday is still free and worth attending in its own right. Unlike some paid events, SQL Bits makes freely available many of the conference slides and videos from previous events, and also live streams some sessions, so you can sample the sort of content on offer. It’s a great learning resource in its own right, especially for those who would have loved to attend but can’t. SQL Bits retains an admirable sense of its main goal: to help educate as many SQL professionals as possible.

However, if you have any chance to be in Liverpool, we highly recommend you get the full live event experience! We hope to see you there for some or all of it.

Cheers, Tony

PS. Post a review of a previous SQL Bits event or video, by April 15, to have a chance to win a free full conference pass.