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  • Twitter status id conundrum

    - by jamiet
    I have an interest, a slightly perverse one some might say, in using online services and trying to figure out what the underlying (logical) data model is and in this day and age Twitter is one that lends itself very well to scrutiny. Consider this recent tweet of mine: The URL that enables you to see that tweet is http://twitter.com/jamiet/status/12154647354. We can interpret that URL to mean "a tweet by jamiet with an id of 12154647354" and hence we might further assume that the unique identifier for the tweet is {jamiet,12154647354}. However, its well-known that Twitter gives each status a unique ID regardless of who tweeted it so we might expect we could reach that tweet just by using a URL of http://twitter.com/status/12154647354 however (at the time of writing) that only redirects to Twitter's homepage. That seems strange to me especially given that we can use Twitter's API to access information about that tweet using only the id of the status. Witness http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/show/12154647354.xml: [We can also access a JSON version of that information using http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/show/12154647354.json] I'm puzzled as to why a tweet can't be accessed using on the main twitter website using the id alone. Anyone have any suggestions? @jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • Archiving SQLHelp tweets

    - by jamiet
    #SQLHelp is a Twitter hashtag that can be used by any Twitter user to get help from the SQL Server community. I think its fair to say that in its first year of being it has proved to be a very useful resource however Kendra Little (@kendra_little) made a very salient point yesterday when she tweeted: Is there a way to search the archives of #sqlhelp Trying to remember answer to a question I know I saw a couple months ago http://twitter.com/#!/Kendra_Little/status/15538234184441856 This highlights an inherent problem with Twitter’s search capability – it simply does not reach far enough back in time. I have made steps to remedy that situation by putting into place two initiatives to archive Tweets that contain the #sqlhelp hashtag. The Archivist http://archivist.visitmix.com/ is a free service that, quite simply, archives a history of tweets that contain a given search term by periodically polling Twitter’s search service with that search term and subsequently displaying a dashboard providing an aggregate view of those tweets for things like tweet volume over time, top users and top words (Archivist FAQ). I have set up an archive on The Archivist for “sqlhelp” which you can view at http://archivist.visitmix.com/jamiet/7. Here is a screenshot of the SQLHelp dashboard 36 minutes after I set it up: There is lots of good information in there, including the fact that Jonathan Kehayias (@SQLSarg) is the most active SQLHelp tweeter (I suspect as an answerer rather than a questioner ) and that SSIS has proven to be a rather (ahem) popular subject!! Datasift The Archivist has its uses though for our purposes it has a couple of downsides. For starters you cannot search through an archive (which is what Kendra was after) and nor can you export the contents of the archive for offline analysis. For those functions we need something a bit more heavyweight and for that I present to you Datasift. Datasift is a tool (currently an alpha release) that allows you to search for tweets and provide them through an object called a Datasift stream. That sounds very similar to normal Twitter search though it has one distinct advantage that other Twitter search tools do not – Datasift has access to Twitter’s Streaming API (aka the Twitter Firehose). In addition it has access to a lot of other rather nice features: It provides the Datasift API that allows you to consume the output of a Datasift stream in your tool of choice (bring on my favourite ultimate mashup tool J ) It has a query language (called Filtered Stream Definition Language – FSDL for short) A Datasift stream can consume (and filter) other Datasift streams Datasift can (and does) consume services other than Twitter If I refer to Datasift as “ETL for tweets” then you may get some sort of idea what it is all about. Just as I did with The Archivist I have set up a publicly available Datasift stream for “sqlhelp” at http://datasift.net/stream/1581/sqlhelp. Here is the FSDL query that provides the data: twitter.text contains "sqlhelp" Pretty simple eh? At the current time it provides little more than a rudimentary dashboard but as Datasift is currently an alpha release I think this may be worth keeping an eye on. The real value though is the ability to consume the output of a stream via Datasift’s RESTful API, observe: http://api.datasift.net/stream.xml?stream_identifier=c7015255f07e982afdeebdf1ae6e3c0d&username=jamiet&api_key=XXXXXXX (Note that an api_key is required during the alpha period so, given that I’m not supplying my api_key, this URI will not work for you) Just to prove that a Datasift stream can indeed consume data from another stream I have set up a second stream that further filters the first one for tweets containing “SSIS”. That one is at http://datasift.net/stream/1586/ssis-sqlhelp and here is the FSDL query: rule "414c9845685ff8d2548999cf3162e897" and (interaction.content contains "ssis") When Datasift moves beyond alpha I’ll re-assess how useful this is going to be and post a follow-up blog. @Jamiet

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  • Highlight Word add-in for Visual Studio 2010 [SSDT]

    - by jamiet
    I’ve just been alerted by my colleague Kyle Harvie to a Visual Studio 2010 add-in that should prove very useful if you are an SSDT user. Its simply called Highlight all occurrences of selected word and does exactly what it says on the tin, you highlight a word and it shows all other occurrences of that word in your script: There’s a limitation for .sql files (which I have reported) where the highlighting doesn’t work if the word is wrapped in square brackets but what the heck, its free, it takes about ten seconds to install….install it already! @Jamiet

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  • AdventureWorks2012 now available for all on SQL Azure

    - by jamiet
    Three days ago I tweeted this: Idea. MSFT could host read-only copies of all the [AdventureWorks] DBs up on #sqlazure for the SQL community to use. RT if agree #sqlfamily — Jamie Thomson (@jamiet) March 24, 2012 Evidently I wasn't the only one that thought this was a good idea because as you can see from the screenshot that tweet has, so far, been retweeted more than fifty times. Clearly there is a desire to see the AdventureWorks databases made available for the community to noodle around on so I am pleased to announce that as of today you can do just that - [AdventureWorks2012] now resides on SQL Azure and is available for anyone, absolutely anyone, to connect to and use* for their own means. *By use I mean "issue some SELECT statements". You don't have permission to issue INSERTs, UPDATEs, DELETEs or EXECUTEs I'm afraid - if you want to do that then you can get the bits and host it yourself. This database is free for you to use but SQL Azure is of course not free so before I give you the credentials please lend me your ears eyes for a short while longer. AdventureWorks on Azure is being provided for the SQL Server community to use and so I am hoping that that same community will rally around to support this effort by making a voluntary donation to support the upkeep which, going on current pricing, is going to be $119.88 per year. If you would like to contribute to keep AdventureWorks on Azure up and running for that full year please donate via PayPal to [email protected]: Any amount, no matter how small, will help. If those 50+ people that retweeted me beforehand all contributed $2 then that would just about be enough to keep this up for a year. If the community contributes more that we need then there are a number of additional things that could be done: Host additional databases (Northwind anyone??) Host in more datacentres (this first one is in Western Europe) Make a charitable donation That last one, a charitable donation, is something I would really like to do. The SQL Community have proved before that they can make a significant contribution to charitable orgnisations through purchasing the SQL Server MVP Deep Dives book and I harbour hopes that AdventureWorks on Azure can continue in that vein. So please, if you think AdventureWorks on Azure is something that is worth supporting please make a contribution. OK, with the prickly subject of begging for cash out of the way let me share the details that you need to connect to [AdventureWorks2012] on SQL Azure: Server mhknbn2kdz.database.windows.net  Database AdventureWorks2012 User sqlfamily Password [email protected] That user sqlfamily has all the permissions required to enable you to query away to your heart's content. Here is the code that I used to set it up: CREATE USER sqlfamily FOR LOGIN sqlfamily;CREATE ROLE sqlfamilyrole;EXEC sp_addrolemember 'sqlfamilyrole','sqlfamily';GRANT VIEW DEFINITION ON Database::AdventureWorks2012 TO sqlfamilyrole;GRANT VIEW DATABASE STATE ON Database::AdventureWorks2012 TO sqlfamilyrole;GRANT SHOWPLAN TO sqlfamilyrole;EXEC sp_addrolemember 'db_datareader','sqlfamilyrole'; You can connect to the database using SQL Server Management Studio (instructions to do that are provided at Walkthrough: Connecting to SQL Azure via the SSMS) or you can use the web interface at https://mhknbn2kdz.database.windows.net: Lastly, just for a bit of fun I created a table up there called [dbo].[SqlFamily] into which you can leave a small calling card. Simply execute the following SQL statement (changing the values of course): INSERT [dbo].[SqlFamily]([Name],[Message],[TwitterHandle],[BlogURI])VALUES ('Your name here','Some Message','your twitter handle (optional)','Blog URI (optional)'); [Id] is an IDENTITY field and there is a default constraint on [DT] hence there is no need to supply a value for those. Note that you only have INSERT permissions, not UPDATE or DELETE so make sure you get it right first time! Any offensive or distasteful remarks will of course be deleted :) Thank you for reading this far and have fun using AdventureWorks on Azure. I hope it proves to be useful for some of you. @jamiet AdventureWorks on Azure - Provided by the SQL Server community, for the SQL Server community!

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  • Enforce SSIS naming conventions using BI-xPress

    - by jamiet
    A long long long time ago (in 2006 in fact) I published a blog post entitled Suggested Best Practises and naming conventions in which I suggested a bunch of acronyms that folks could use to prefix object names in their SSIS packages, thus allowing easier identification of those objects in log records, here is a sample of some of those suggestions: If you have adopted these naming conventions (and I am led to believe that a bunch of people have) then you might like to know that you can now check for adherence to these conventions using a tool called BI-xPress from Pragmatic Works. BI-xPress includes a feature called the Best Practices Analyzer that scans your packages and assess them according to some rules that you specify. In addition Pragmatic Works have made available a collection of these rules that adhere to the naming conventions I specified in 2006 You can download this collection however I recommend you first read the accompanying article that demonstrates the capabilities of the Best Practices Analyzer. Pretty cool stuff. @Jamiet

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  • Ted Kummert to make significant announcement related to SQL Server

    - by jamiet
    Microsoft have announced a conference call tomorrow with the head of all things SQL Server, Ted Kummert: Normally I wouldn’t take any notice of such things but the mysterious pre-conference-call-announcement (not something that the SQL Server team do regularly as I recall) has me intrigued. Logic says that it will have something to do with SQL Server R2, we shall see! @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • ObjectStorageHelper now available via nuget

    - by jamiet
    One of my numerous little side projects has recently been ObjectStorageHelper, a library that makes it easy to read/write files in WinRT (aka Windows 8) applications. This is a short post to let you know that ObjectStorageHelper is now available in the nuget gallery and hence can easily be added to your WinRT applications by running the following command in the nuget Package Manager Console: Massive thanks to Scott Lovegrove (@scottisafool) for helping me with this making this happen. To read more about ObjectStorageHelper and what it can do for you please visit Generic Object Storage Helper for WinRT on Codeplex. I know of four apps in the Windows Store that are currently making use of ObjectStorageHelper, they are: myScoreboard pro BO2 Create-a-Class MW3 Create-a-Class Ctrl-Alt-Del The following code shows how easy it is to store files using ObjectStorageHelper: and subsequently retrieve them: @Jamiet

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  • ObjectStorageHelper now available via nuget

    - by jamiet
    One of my numerous little side projects has recently been ObjectStorageHelper, a library that makes it easy to read/write files in WinRT (aka Windows 8) applications. This is a short post to let you know that ObjectStorageHelper is now available in the nuget gallery and hence can easily be added to your WinRT applications by running the following command in the nuget Package Manager Console: Massive thanks to Scott Lovegrove (@scottisafool) for helping me with this making this happen. To read more about ObjectStorageHelper and what it can do for you please visit Generic Object Storage Helper for WinRT on Codeplex. I know of four apps in the Windows Store that are currently making use of ObjectStorageHelper, they are: myScoreboard pro BO2 Create-a-Class MW3 Create-a-Class Ctrl-Alt-Del The following code shows how easy it is to store files using ObjectStorageHelper: and subsequently retrieve them: @Jamiet

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  • Big label generator

    - by jamiet
    Sometimes I write blog posts mainly so that I can find stuff when I need it later. This is such a blog post. Of late I have been writing lots of deployment scripts and I am fan of putting big labels into deployment scripts (which, these days, reside in SSDT) so one can easily see what’s going on as they execute. Here’s such an example from my current project: which results in this being displayed when the script is run: In case you care….PM_EDW is the name of one of our databases. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I spent about half an hour crafting that and a few others for my current project because a colleague has just alerted me to a website that would have done it for me, and given me lots of options for how to present it too: http://www.patorjk.com/software/taag/#p=testall&f=Banner3&t=PM__EDW Very useful indeed. Nice one! And yes, I’m sure there are a myriad of sites that do the same thing - I’m a latecomer, ok? @Jamiet

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  • Weekend reading: Microsoft/Oracle and SkyDrive based code-editor

    - by jamiet
    A couple of news item caught my eye this weekend that I think are worthy of comment. Microsoft/Oracle partnership to be announced tomorrow (24/06/2013) According to many news site Microsoft and Oracle are about to announce a partnership (Oracle set for major Microsoft, Salesforce, Netsuite partnerships) and they all seem to be assuming that it will be something to do with “the cloud”. I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment, Microsoft are heavily pushing Azure and Oracle seem (to me anyway) to be rather lagging behind in the cloud game. More specifically folks seem to be assuming that Oracle’s forthcoming 12c database release will be offered on Azure. I did a bit of reading about Oracle 12c and one of its key pillars appears to be that it supports multi-tenant topologies and multi-tenancy is a common usage scenario for databases in the cloud. I’m left wondering then, if Microsoft are willing to push a rival’s multi-tenant solution what is happening to its own cloud-based multi-tenant offering – SQL Azure Federations. We haven’t heard anything about federations for what now seems to be a long time and moreover the main Program Manager behind the technology, Cihan Biyikoglu, recently left Microsoft to join Twitter. Furthermore, a Principle Architect for SQL Server, Conor Cunningham, recently presented the opening keynote at SQLBits 11 where he talked about multi-tenant solutions on SQL Azure and not once did he mention federations. All in all I don’t have a warm fuzzy feeling about the future of SQL Azure Federations so I hope that that question gets asked at some point following the Microsoft/Oracle announcement. Text Editor on SkyDrive with coding-specific features Liveside.net got a bit of a scoop this weekend with the news (Exclusive: SkyDrive.com to get web-based text file editing features) that Microsoft’s consumer-facing file storage service is going to get a new feature – a web-based code editor. Here’s Liveside’s screenshot: I’ve long had a passing interest in online code editors, indeed back in December 2009 I wondered out loud on this blog site: I started to wonder when the development tools that we use would also become cloud-based. After all, if we’re using cloud-based services does it not make sense to have cloud-based tools that work with them? I think it does. Project Houston Since then the world has moved on. Cloud 9 IDE (https://c9.io/) have blazed a trail in the fledgling world of online code editors and I have been wondering when Microsoft were going to start playing catch-up. I had no doubt that an online code editor was in Microsoft’s future; its an obvious future direction, why would I want to have to download and install a bloated text editor (which, arguably, is exactly what Visual Studio amounts to) and have to continually update it when I can simply open a web browser and have ready access to all of my code from wherever I am. There are signs that Microsoft is already making moves in this direction, after all the URL for their new offering Team Foundation Service doesn’t mention TFS at all – my own personalised URL for Team Foundation Service is http://jamiet.visualstudio.com – using “Visual Studio” as the domain name for a service that isn’t strictly speaking part of Visual Studio leads me to think that there’s a much bigger play here and that one day http://visualstudio.com will house an online code editor. With that in mind then I find Liveside’s revelation rather intriguing, why would a code editing tool show up in Skydrive? Perhaps SkyDrive is going to get integrated more tightly into TFS, I’m very interested to see where this goes. The larger question playing on my mind though is whether an online code editor from Microsoft will support SQL Server developers. I have opined before (see The SQL developer gap) about the shoddy treatment that SQL Server developers have to experience from Microsoft and I haven’t seen any change in Microsoft’s attitude in the three and a half years since I wrote that post. I’m constantly bewildered by the lack of investment in SQL Server developer productivity compared to the riches that are lavished upon our appdev brethren. When you consider that SQL Server is Microsoft’s third biggest revenue stream it is, frankly, rather insulting. SSDT was a step in the right direction but the hushed noises I hear coming out of Microsoft of late in regard to SSDT don’t bode fantastically well for its future. So, will an online code editor from Microsoft support T-SQL development? I have to assume not given the paucity of investment on us lowly SQL Server developers over the last few years, but I live in hope! Your thoughts in the comments section please. I would be very interested in reading them. @Jamiet

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  • Speaking at SQLRelay. Will you be there?

    - by jamiet
    SQL Relay (#sqlrelay) is fast approaching and I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a little about it.SQL Relay is a 5-day tour around the UK that is taking in five Server Server user groups, each one comprising a full day of SQL Server related learnings. The dates and venues are:21st May, Edinburgh22nd May, Manchester23rd May, Birmingham24th May, Bristol30th May, LondonClick on the appropriate link to see the full agenda and to book your spot.SQL Relay features some of this country's most prominent SQL Server speakers including Chris Webb, Tony Rogerson, Andrew Fryer, Martin Bell, Allan Mitchell, Steve Shaw, Gordon Meyer, Satya Jayanty, Chris Testa O'Neill, Duncan Sutcliffe, Rob Carrol, me and SQL Server UK Product Manager Morris Novello so I really encourage you to go - you have my word it'll be an informative and, more importantly, enjoyable day out from your regular 9-to-5.I am presenting my session "A Lap Around the SSIS Catalog" at Edinburgh and Manchester so if you're going, I hope to see you [email protected]

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  • SQL Server 2012 content on Channel 9

    - by jamiet
    A mountain of SQL Server 2012 video content featuring Greg Low, Jonathan Kehayias, Joe Sack and Roger Doherty has just been released on Channel 9. Channel 9 has great support for tags and RSS feeds so if you want to automatically download all of that content simply you can add the following RSS feed: http://channel9.msdn.com/Tags/sql+server+2012/RSS to your podcast reader of choice and have fun learning about all the new features in SQL Server 2012 such as: AlwaysOn Power View SSDT SSRS Data Alerts SSAS Tabular Modelling DAX Improvements MDS improvements SSIS improvements DQS StreamInsight improvements Data-Tier Apps (DACs) LocalDB FileTable Spatial improvements T-SQL paging Distributed Replay XEvents improvements ADO.Net Code-first T-SQL improvements Server roles Partitioning improvements ColumnStore Whew, quite a list! @jamiet

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  • SQL Server 2012 content on Channel 9

    - by jamiet
    A mountain of SQL Server 2012 video content featuring Greg Low, Jonathan Kehayias, Joe Sack and Roger Doherty has just been released on Channel 9. Channel 9 has great support for tags and RSS feeds so if you want to automatically download all of that content simply you can add the following RSS feed: http://channel9.msdn.com/Tags/sql+server+2012/RSS to your podcast reader of choice and have fun learning about all the new features in SQL Server 2012 such as: AlwaysOn Power View SSDT SSRS Data Alerts SSAS Tabular Modelling DAX Improvements MDS improvements SSIS improvements DQS StreamInsight improvements Data-Tier Apps (DACs) LocalDB FileTable Spatial improvements T-SQL paging Distributed Replay XEvents improvements ADO.Net Code-first T-SQL improvements Server roles Partitioning improvements ColumnStore Whew, quite a list! @jamiet

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  • Always use dtexec.exe to test performance of your dataflows. No exceptions.

    - by jamiet
    Earlier this evening I posted a blog post entitled Investigation: Can different combinations of components effect Dataflow performance? where I compared the performance of three different dataflows all working to the same overall goal. I wanted to make one last point related to the results but I thought it warranted a blog post all of its own. Here is a screenshot of one of the dataflows that I was testing: Pretty complicated I’m sure you’ll agree. Now, when I executed this dataflow in the test it was executing in ~19seconds however in that case I was executing using the command-line tool dtexec. I also tried executing inside the BIDS development environment and in that case it took much longer – 139seconds. That’s more than seven times as long. The point I want to make is very simple. If you are testing your dataflows for performance please use dtexec. Nothing else will suffice. @Jamiet

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  • The perils of double-dash comments [T-SQL]

    - by jamiet
    I was checking my Twitter feed on my way in to work this morning and was alerted to an interesting blog post by Valentino Vranken that highlights a problem regarding the OLE DB Source in SSIS. In short, using double-dash comments in SQL statements within the OLE DB Source can cause unexpected results. It really is quite an important read if you’re developing SSIS packages so head over to SSIS OLE DB Source, Parameters And Comments: A Dangerous Mix! and be educated. Note that the problem is solved in SSIS2012 and Valentino explains exactly why. If reading Valentino’s post has switched your brain into “learn mode” perhaps also check out my post SSIS: SELECT *... or select from a dropdown in an OLE DB Source component? which highlights another issue to be aware of when using the OLE DB Source. As I was reading Valentino’s post I was reminded of a slidedeck by Chris Adkin entitled T-SQL Coding Guidelines where he recommends never using double-dash comments: That’s good advice! @Jamiet

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  • New SSIS features and enhancements in Denali – a webinar on 28th June in association with Pragmatic Works

    - by jamiet
    Tomorrow I shall be presenting a webinar entitled “New SSIS features and enhancements in Denali”. The webinar is being hosted by Pragmatic Works and you can sign up for it at Pragmatic Works webinars. The webinar will start at 1930BST and you can view the time for your timezone at this link: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=New+SSIS+features+and+enhancements+in+Denali&iso=20110628T1830 The webinar was arranged a few months ago and at that time we were hoping that the next Community Technology Preview (CTP) of SQL Server Denali would be available for public consumption; unfortunately it transpires that that is not yet the case and hence I will be presenting new features of CTP1 that was released at the start of this year. If you’re not yet familiar with the new features of SSIS that are coming in the next release of SQL Server then please do come and join the webinar. @Jamiet

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  • Conditional formatting of duplicate values in Excel

    - by jamiet
    One of the infrequent pleasures of being a data geek like me is that one does occasionally stumble across little-known yet incredibly useful features in a tool that you use day-in, day-out. Today this happened to me and the feature is Excel’s ability to highlight dupicate rows in a worksheet. Check this out: Notice that I have got some data in my worksheet that contains duplicated values and simply by selecting Conditional Formatting->Highlight Cells Rules->Duplicate Values… Excel will highlight (shown here in red) which rows are duplicated. It seem such a simple thing but when you’re working on a data integration project and the data that is being sent is of, well, let’s say dubious quality features like this are worth their weight in gold. I tweeted about this and it happened to catch a few people’s attention so I figured it might be worth blogging too. Note that I am using Excel 2013 but I happen to know that the feature exists in Excel 2010 and possibly in earlier versions too. Have a great weekend! @Jamiet

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  • ODBC in SSIS 2012

    - by jamiet
    In August 2011 the SQL Server client team published a blog post entitled Microsoft is Aligning with ODBC for Native Relational Data Access in which they basically said "OLE DB is the past, ODBC is the future. Deal with it.". From that blog post:We encourage you to adopt ODBC in the development of your new and future versions of your application. You don’t need to change your existing applications using OLE DB, as they will continue to be supported on Denali throughout its lifecycle. While this gives you a large window of opportunity for changing your applications before the deprecation goes into effect, you may want to consider migrating those applications to ODBC as a part of your future roadmap.I recently undertook a project using SSIS2012 and heeded that advice by opting to use ODBC Connection Managers rather than OLE DB Connection Managers. Unfortunately my finding was that the ODBC Connection Manager is not yet ready for primetime use in SSIS 2012. The main issue I found was that you can't populate an Object variable with a recordset when using an Execute SQL Task connecting to an ODBC data source; any attempt to do so will result in an error:"Disconnected recordsets are not available from ODBC connections." I have filed a bug on Connect at ODBC Connection Manager does not have same funcitonality as OLE DB. For this reason I strongly recommend that you don't make the move to ODBC Connection Managers in SSIS just yet - best to wait for the next version of SSIS before doing that.I found another couple of issues with the ODBC Connection Manager that are worth keeping in mind:It doesn't recognise System Data Source Names (DSNs), only User DSNs (bug filed at ODBC System DSNs are not available in the ODBC Connection Manager)  UPDATE: According to a comment on that Connect item this may only be a problem on 64bit.In the OLE DB Connection Manager parameter ordinals are 0-based, in the ODBC Connection Manager they are 1-based (oh I just can't wait for the upgrade mess that ensues from this one!!!)You have been [email protected]

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  • Parsing flat files using SSIS : SSIS Nugget

    - by jamiet
    Often when using SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) you will find there is more than one way of accomplishing a task and that the most obvious method of doing so might not be the optimal one. In the video below I demonstrate this by way of an experiment using SSIS’s Flat File Source component; I show different ways that you can pull data from a flat file into the SSIS dataflow and also how the nature of the data itself can influence your choice as to how this task should be accomplished. If you are having trouble viewing the video in your blog reader then head to http://sqlblog.com/blogs/jamie_thomson/archive/2010/03/25/parsing-flat-files-using-ssis-ssis-nugget.aspx to see it as it is hosted on my blog!  The main point I want to get across from this video is that a little bit of creative thinking when building your dataflows can sometimes be very beneficial for performance; quite often building a solution that isn’t the most obvious might actually turn out to be the best one. You’ll notice, if you have watched the video, that my editing skills weren’t quite up to snuff and I cut off the final few words however all I was saying was that if you have any feedback on this video then I would love to hear it either via email or preferably the comments section below. I hope this turns out to be useful to some of you. @Jamiet P.S. Incidentally the parsing that we do using SSIS expressions in the video would be much easier if we had a TOKENISE function in SSIS’s expression language and I have asked for the introduction of such a function on Connect at [SSIS] TOKEN(string, tokeniser_string, occurence) function. Feel free to go and vote that up if you think this feature would be useful! Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • FileNameColumnName property, Flat File Source Adapter : SSIS Nugget

    - by jamiet
    I saw a question on MSDN’s SSIS forum the other day that went something like this: I’m loading data into a table from a flat file but I want to be able to store the name of that file as well. Is there a way of doing that? I don’t want to come across as disrespecting those who took the time to reply but there was a few answers along the lines of “loop over the files using a For Each, store the file name in a variable yadda yadda yadda” when in fact there is a much much simpler way of accomplishing this; it just happens to be a little hidden away as I shall now explain! The Flat File Source Adapter has a property called FileNameColumnName which for some reason it isn’t exposed through the Flat File Source editor, it is however exposed via the Advanced Properties: You’ll see in the screenshot above that I have set FileNameColumnName=“Filename” (it doesn’t matter what name you use, anything except a non-zero string will work). What this will do is create a new column in our dataflow called “Filename” that contains, unsurprisingly, the name of the file from which the row was sourced. All very simple. This is particularly useful if you are extracting data from multiple files using the MultiFlatFile Connection Manager as it allows you to differentiate between data from each of the files as you can see in the following screenshot: So there you have it, the FileNameColumnName property; a little known secret of SSIS. I hope it proves to be useful to someone out there. @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • Introducing SSIS Reporting Pack for SQL Server code-named Denali

    - by jamiet
    In recent blog posts I have introduced the new SSIS Catalog that is forthcoming in SQL Server Code-named Denali: What's new in SSIS in Denali Introduction to SSIS Projects in Denali Parameters in SSIS In Denali SSIS Server, Catalogs, Environments and Environment Variables in SSIS in Denali The SSIS Catalog is responsible for executing SSIS packages and also for capturing the metadata from those executions. However, at the time of writing there is no mechanism provided to view analyse and drill into that metadata and that is the reason that I am, in this blog post, introducing a suite of SSIS Catalog reports called the SSIS Reporting Pack which you can download from my SkyDrive at http://cid-550f681dad532637.office.live.com/self.aspx/Public/SSIS%20Reporting%20Pack/SSISReportingPack%20v0.1.zip. In this first release the SSIS Reporting Pack includes five reports: Catalog – A high-level summary of all activity in the Catalog Folders – A summary of activity in each Catalog Folder Folder – Project-level activity per single Folder Executions – A visualisation of all executions per Folder/Project/Package/Environment or subset thereof Execution – Information about an individual execution Here is a screenshot of the Executions report: Notice that the SSIS Reporting Pack provides a visual overview of all executions in the Catalog. Each execution is represented as a bar on the bar chart, the success or otherwise of each execution is indicated by the colour of the bar and the execution time is indicated by the bar height. I have recorded a video that gives an overview of the SSIS Reporting which I have embedded below. If you are having any trouble viewing the video go see it at http://vimeo.com/17617974 I must stress that this is a very early version of the SSIS Reporting Pack and I am expecting it to change a lot over the coming year. I am very keen to get some feedback about this, specifically: let me know if anything does not work as you expect give me your feature requests The easiest way to get hold of of me for now is within the comments section of this blog post. That’s all for now. I hope the SSIS Reporting Pack proves useful and I look forward to hearing your feedback. Lastly, that download link again: http://cid-550f681dad532637.office.live.com/self.aspx/Public/SSIS%20Reporting%20Pack/SSISReportingPack%20v0.1.zip. @jamiet

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  • Kill your temp tables using keyboard shortcuts : SSMS

    - by jamiet
    Here’s a nifty little SSMS trick that my colleague Tom Hunter educated me on the other day and I thought it was worth sharing. If you’re a keyboard shortcut junkie then you’ll love it. How often when working with code in SSMS that contains temp tables do you see the following message: Msg 2714, Level 16, State 6, Line 78 There is already an object named '#table' in the database. Quite often I would imagine, it happens to me all the time! Usually I write a bit of code at the top of the query window that goes and drops the table if it exists but there’s a much easier way of dealing with it. Remember that temp tables disappear as soon as your sessions ends hence wouldn’t it be nice if there were a quick way of recycling (i.e. stopping and restarting) your session? Well turns out there is and all it takes is a sequence of 4 keystrokes: Bring up the context menu using that mythically-named button that usually sits 3 to the right of the space bar ‘C’ for “Connection” ‘H’ for “Change Connection…” ‘Enter’ to select the same connection you had open last time (screenshots below) Once you’ve done it a few times you’ll probably have the whole sequence down to less than a second. Such a simple little trick, I’m annoyed with myself for it not occurring to me before! The only caveat is that you’ll need a “USE <database>” directive at the top of your query window but I don’t think that’s much of a bind! That is all other than to say if you like little SSMS titbits like this then Lee Everest’s blog is a good one to keep an eye on! @jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • FileNameColumnName property, Flat File Source Adapter : SSIS Nugget

    - by jamiet
    I saw a question on MSDN’s SSIS forum the other day that went something like this: I’m loading data into a table from a flat file but I want to be able to store the name of that file as well. Is there a way of doing that? I don’t want to come across as disrespecting those who took the time to reply but there was a few answers along the lines of “loop over the files using a For Each, store the file name in a variable yadda yadda yadda” when in fact there is a much much simpler way of accomplishing this; it just happens to be a little hidden away as I shall now explain! The Flat File Source Adapter has a property called FileNameColumnName which for some reason it isn’t exposed through the Flat File Source editor, it is however exposed via the Advanced Properties: You’ll see in the screenshot above that I have set FileNameColumnName=“Filename” (it doesn’t matter what name you use, anything except a non-zero string will work). What this will do is create a new column in our dataflow called “Filename” that contains, unsurprisingly, the name of the file from which the row was sourced. All very simple. This is particularly useful if you are extracting data from multiple files using the MultiFlatFile Connection Manager as it allows you to differentiate between data from each of the files as you can see in the following screenshot: So there you have it, the FileNameColumnName property; a little known secret of SSIS. I hope it proves to be useful to someone out there. @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • SSIS Prehistory video

    - by jamiet
    I’m currently wasting spending my Easter bank holiday putting together my presentation SSIS Dataflow Performance Tuning for the upcoming SQL Bits conference in London and in doing so I’m researching some old material about how the dataflow actually works. Boring as it is I’ve gotten easily sidelined and have chanced upon an old video on Channel 9 entitled Euan Garden - Tour of SQL Server Team (part I). Euan is a former member of the SQL Server team and in this series of videos he walks the halls of the SQL Server building on Microsoft’s Redmond campus talking to some of the various protagonists and in this one he happens upon the SQL Server Integration Services team. The video was shot in 2004 so this is a fascinating (to me anyway) glimpse into the development of SSIS from before it was ever shipped and if you’re a geek like me you’ll really enjoy this behind-the-scenes look into how and why the product was architected. The video is also notable for the presence of the cameraman – none other than the now-rather-more-famous-than-he-was-then Robert Scoble. See it at http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/TheChannel9Team/Euan-Garden-Tour-of-SQL-Server-Team-part-I/ Enjoy! @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • OData.org updated, gives clues about future SQL Azure enhancements

    - by jamiet
    The OData website at http://www.odata.org/home has been updated today to provide a much more engaging page than the previous sterile attempt. Moreover its now chockful of information about the progress of OData including a blog, a list of products that produce OData feeds plus some live OData feeds that you can hit up today, a list of OData-compliant clients and an FAQ. Most interestingly SQL Azure is listed as a producer of OData feeds: If you have a SQL Azure database account you can easily expose an OData feed through a simple configuration portal. You can select authenticated or anonymous access and expose different OData views according to permissions granted to the specified SQL Azure database user. A preview of this upcoming SQL Azure service is available at https://www.sqlazurelabs.com/OData.aspx and it enables you to select one of your existing SQL Azure databases and, with a few clicks, turn it into an OData feed. It looks as though SQL Azure will soon be added to the stable of products that natively support OData, good news indeed. @Jamiet Related blog posts: OData gunning for ubiquity across Microsoft products Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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