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  • Kids don’t mark their own homework

    - by jamiet
    During a discussion at work today in regard to doing some thorough acceptance testing of the system that I currently work on the topic of who should actually do the testing came up. I remarked that I didn’t think that I as the developer should be doing acceptance testing and a colleague, Russ Taylor, agreed with me and then came out with this little pearler: Kids don’t mark their own homework Maybe its a common turn of phrase but I had never heard it before and, to me, it sums up very succinctly my feelings on the matter. I tweeted about it and it got a couple of retweets as well as a slightly different perspective from Bruce Durling who said: I'm of the opinion that testers should be in the dev team & the dev *team* should be responsible for quality Bruce makes a good point that testers should be considered part of the dev team. I agree wholly with that and don’t think that point of view necessarily conflicts with Russ’s analogy. Yes, developers should absolutely be responsible for testing their own work – I also think that in the murky world of data integration there is often a need for a 3rd party to validate that work. Improving testing mechanisms for data integration projects is something that is near and dear to my heart so I would welcome any other thoughts around this. Let me know if you have any in the comments! @Jamiet

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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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  • Querying the SSIS Catalog? Here’s a handy query!

    - by jamiet
    I’ve been working on a SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) solution for about 6 months now and I’ve learnt many many things that I intend to share on this blog just as soon as I get the time. Here’s a very short starter-for-ten… I’ve found the following query to be utterly invaluable when interrogating the SSIS Catalog to discover what is going on in my executions: SELECT event_message_id,MESSAGE,package_name,event_name,message_source_name,package_path,execution_path,message_type,message_source_typeFROM   (       SELECT  em.*       FROM    SSISDB.catalog.event_messages em       WHERE   em.operation_id = (SELECT MAX(execution_id) FROM SSISDB.catalog.executions)           AND event_name NOT LIKE '%Validate%'       )q/* Put in whatever WHERE predicates you might like*/--WHERE event_name = 'OnError'--WHERE package_name = 'Package.dtsx'--WHERE execution_path LIKE '%<some executable>%'ORDER BY message_time DESC Know it. Learn it. Love it. @jamiet

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  • Redistribution of sqlpackage.exe [SSDT]

    - by jamiet
    This is a short note for anyone that may be interested in redistributing sqlpackage.exe. If this isn’t you then no need to keep reading. Ostensibly this is here for anyone that bingles for this information. sqlpackage.exe is a command-line that ships with SQL Server Development Tools (SSDT) in SQL Server 2012 and its main purpose (amongst other things) is to deploy .dacpac files from the command-line. Its quite conceivable that one might want to install only sqlpackage.exe rather than the full SSDT suite (for example on a production server) and I myself have recently had that need. I enquired to the SSDT product team about the possibility of doing this. I said: Back in VS DB Proj days it was possible to use VSDBCMD.exe on a machine that did not have the full VS shell install by shipping lots of pre-requisites along for the ride (details at How to: Prepare a Database for Deployment From a Command Prompt by Using VSDBCMD.EXE). Is there a similar mechanism for using VSDBMCD.exe’s replacement, sqlpackage.exe? here was the reply from Barclay Hill who heads up the development team: Yes, SQLPackage.exe is the analogy of VSDBCMD.exe. You can acquire separately, in a stand-alone package, by installing DACFX. You can get it from: Feature pack is here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29065 Web Platform Installer here: http://www.microsoft.com/web/gallery/install.aspx?appid=DACFX You will notice it has dependencies on SQLDOM and SQLCLRTYPES.  WebPI will install these for you, but it is al carte on the feature pack. So, now you know. I didn’t enquire about licensing of DACFX but given SSDT is free I am going to assume that the same applies to DACFX too. @Jamiet

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  • Redistribution of sqlpackage.exe [SSDT]

    - by jamiet
    This is a short note for anyone that may be interested in redistributing sqlpackage.exe. If this isn’t you then no need to keep reading. Ostensibly this is here for anyone that bingles for this information. sqlpackage.exe is a command-line that ships with SQL Server Development Tools (SSDT) in SQL Server 2012 and its main purpose (amongst other things) is to deploy .dacpac files from the command-line. Its quite conceivable that one might want to install only sqlpackage.exe rather than the full SSDT suite (for example on a production server) and I myself have recently had that need. I enquired to the SSDT product team about the possibility of doing this. I said: Back in VS DB Proj days it was possible to use VSDBCMD.exe on a machine that did not have the full VS shell install by shipping lots of pre-requisites along for the ride (details at How to: Prepare a Database for Deployment From a Command Prompt by Using VSDBCMD.EXE). Is there a similar mechanism for using VSDBMCD.exe’s replacement, sqlpackage.exe? here was the reply from Barclay Hill who heads up the development team: Yes, SQLPackage.exe is the analogy of VSDBCMD.exe. You can acquire separately, in a stand-alone package, by installing DACFX. You can get it from: Feature pack is here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29065 Web Platform Installer here: http://www.microsoft.com/web/gallery/install.aspx?appid=DACFX You will notice it has dependencies on SQLDOM and SQLCLRTYPES.  WebPI will install these for you, but it is al carte on the feature pack. So, now you know. I didn’t enquire about licensing of DACFX but given SSDT is free I am going to assume that the same applies to DACFX too. @Jamiet

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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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  • Don’t learn SSDT, learn about your databases instead

    - by jamiet
    Last Thursday I presented my session “Introduction to SSDT” at the SQL Supper event held at the offices of 7 Digital (loved the samosas, guys). I did my usual spiel, tour of the IDE, connected development, declarative database development yadda yadda yadda… and at the end asked if there were any questions. One gentleman in attendance (sorry, can’t remember your name) raised his hand and stated that by attempting to evangelise all of the features I’d missed the single biggest benefit of SSDT, that it can tell you stuff about database that you didn’t already know. I realised that he was dead right. SSDT allows you to import your whole database schema into a new project and it will instantly give you a list of errors and/or warnings pertaining to the objects in your database. Invalid references (e.g a long-forgotten stored procedure that refers to a non-existent column), unnecessary 3-part naming, incorrect case usage, syntax errors…it’ll tell you about all of ‘em! Turn on static code analysis (this article shows you how) and you’ll learn even more such as any stored procedures that begin with “sp_”, WHERE clauses that will kill performance, use of @@IDENTITY instead of SCOPE_IDENTITY(), use of deprecated syntax, implicit casts etc…. the list goes on and on. I urge you to download and install SSDT (takes a few minutes, its free and you don’t need SQL Server or Visual Studio pre-installed), start a new project: right-click on your new project and import from your database: and see what happens: You may be surprised what you discover. Let me know in the comments below what results you get, total number of objects, number of errors/warnings, I’d be interested to know! @Jamiet

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  • My old Conchango blog posts are currently not accessible

    - by jamiet
    Some of you reading this may be aware that I used to blog at http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson. That URL later changed to http://consultingblogs.emc.com/jamiethomson after Conchango (my employer) got taken over by EMC. In my last post on that site: I stated that I had 676 blog posts on that site. Unfortunately, as of today, those 676 posts are inaccessible. If you try to get to http://consultingblogs.emc.com/jamiethomson today you will see this: I am not the only one affected either; it seems that EMC have taken the same action for many blog sites of my old colleagues (e.g. http://consultingblogs.emc.com/merrickchaffer is also inaccessible). Early indications are that EMC have removed all blog posts by any former employees although that is yet to be confirmed.   A few of us former employees are endeavouring to get this situation rectified so watch this space. I am aware that many people in the SSIS community still refer to those old blog posts so please be aware that any attempt to access any of them will be futile for the foreseeable future. @Jamiet UPDATE: Looks like I managed to get through to the right person. its back http://consultingblogs.emc.com/jamiethomson/ 

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  • New version of SQL Server Data Tools is now available

    - by jamiet
    If you don’t follow the SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) blog then you may not know that two days ago an updated version of SSDT was released (and by SSDT I mean the database projects, not the SSIS/SSRS/SSAS stuff) along with a new version of the SSDT Power Tools. This release incorporates a an updated version of the SQL Server Data Tier Application Framework (aka DAC Framework, aka DacFX) which you can read about on Adam Mahood’s blog post SQL Server Data-Tier Application Framework (September 2012) Available. DacFX is essentially all the gubbins that you need to extract and publish .dacpacs and according to Adam’s post it incorporates a new feature that I think is very interesting indeed: Extract DACPAC with data – Creates a database snapshot file (.dacpac) from a live SQL Server or Windows Azure SQL Database that contains data from user tables in addition to the database schema. These packages can be published to a new or existing SQL Server or Windows Azure SQL Database using the SqlPackage.exe Publish action. Data contained in package replaces the existing data in the target database. In short, .dacpacs can now include data as well as schema. I’m very excited about this because one of my long-standing complaints about SSDT (and its many forebears) is that whilst it has great support for declarative development of schema it does not provide anything similar for data – if you want to deploy data from your SSDT projects then you have to write Post-Deployment MERGE scripts. This new feature for .dacpacs does not change that situation yet however it is a very important pre-requisite so I am hoping that a feature to provide declaration of data (in addition to declaration of schema which we have today) is going to light up in SSDT in the not too distant future. Read more about the latest SSDT, Power Tools & DacFX releases at: Now available: SQL Server Data Tools - September 2012 update! by Janet Yeilding New SSDT Power Tools! Now for both Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012 by Sarah McDevitt SQL Server Data-Tier Application Framework (September 2012) Available by Adam Mahood @Jamiet

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  • Bing brings Twitter aggregation to search results

    - by jamiet
    I read with interest today a post on the Bing blog Get the Latest on Twitter with Bing Social Search which describes how tweets are soon going to show up in Bing search results. On the surface that isn’t very interesting, Google has been doing this for a while, but of particular interest to myself was the following screenshot: We can see at the bottom of a search result for “TMZ” that Bing is showing us the most popular TMZ stories as determined by the number of tweets that contain links to them. This is great. Bing are applying a principle that those of us in the Business Intelligence (BI) trade have known for ages: a piece of data in isolation is not very interesting but when you aggregate a lot of that data you find the trends that actually matter and when you surface that data in a meaningful way then people can derive real value from it. That sounds obvious but this new Bing feature is the first time I have seen the principle applied in a useful way to tweets and I applaud them for that; its certainly a lot more useful than the pointless constant tweet scroll that you see on Google. What a shame its going to be, yet again from Bing, a US-only feature. @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • A dacpac limitation – Deploy dacpac wizard does not understand SqlCmd variables

    - by jamiet
    Since the release of SQL Server 2012 I have become a big fan of using dacpacs for deploying SQL Server databases (for reasons that I will explain some other day) and I chose to use a dacpac to distribute my recently announced utility sp_ssiscatalog (read: Introducing sp_ssiscatalog (v1.0.0.0)). Unfortunately if you read that blog post you may have taken note of the following: Ordinarily a dacpac can be deployed to a SQL Server from SSMS using the Deploy Dacpac wizard however in this case there is a limitation. Due to sp_ssiscatalog referring to objects in the SSIS Catalog (which it has to do of course) the dacpac contains a SqlCmd variable to store the name of the database that underpins the SSIS Catalog; unfortunately the Deploy Dacpac wizard in SSMS has a rather gaping limitation in that it cannot deploy dacpacs containing SqlCmd variables. I think it is worth calling out this limitation separately in this blog post because its a limitation that all dacpac users need to be aware of. If you try and deploy the dacpac containing sp_ssiscatalog using the wizard in SSMS then this is what you will see: TITLE: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio ------------------------------ Could not deploy package. (Microsoft.SqlServer.Dac) ------------------------------ ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Missing values for the following SqlCmd variables:SSISDB. (Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql) ------------------------------ BUTTONS: OK ------------------------------ The message is quite correct. The SSDT DB project that I used to build this dacpac *does* have a SqlCmd variable in it called SSISDB: Quite simply, the Dac Deployment wizard in SSMS is not capable of deploying such dacpacs. Your only option for deploying such dacpacs is to use the command-line tool sqlpackage.exe. Generally I use sqlpackage.exe anyway (which is why it has taken me months to encounter the aforementioned problem) and have found it preferable to using a GUI-based wizard. Your mileage may vary. @Jamiet

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  • A dacpac limitation – Deploy dacpac wizard does not understand SqlCmd variables

    - by jamiet
    Since the release of SQL Server 2012 I have become a big fan of using dacpacs for deploying SQL Server databases (for reasons that I will explain some other day) and I chose to use a dacpac to distribute my recently announced utility sp_ssiscatalog (read: Introducing sp_ssiscatalog (v1.0.0.0)). Unfortunately if you read that blog post you may have taken note of the following: Ordinarily a dacpac can be deployed to a SQL Server from SSMS using the Deploy Dacpac wizard however in this case there is a limitation. Due to sp_ssiscatalog referring to objects in the SSIS Catalog (which it has to do of course) the dacpac contains a SqlCmd variable to store the name of the database that underpins the SSIS Catalog; unfortunately the Deploy Dacpac wizard in SSMS has a rather gaping limitation in that it cannot deploy dacpacs containing SqlCmd variables. I think it is worth calling out this limitation separately in this blog post because its a limitation that all dacpac users need to be aware of. If you try and deploy the dacpac containing sp_ssiscatalog using the wizard in SSMS then this is what you will see: TITLE: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio ------------------------------ Could not deploy package. (Microsoft.SqlServer.Dac) ------------------------------ ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Missing values for the following SqlCmd variables:SSISDB. (Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql) ------------------------------ BUTTONS: OK ------------------------------ The message is quite correct. The SSDT DB project that I used to build this dacpac *does* have a SqlCmd variable in it called SSISDB: Quite simply, the Dac Deployment wizard in SSMS is not capable of deploying such dacpacs. Your only option for deploying such dacpacs is to use the command-line tool sqlpackage.exe. Generally I use sqlpackage.exe anyway (which is why it has taken me months to encounter the aforementioned problem) and have found it preferable to using a GUI-based wizard. Your mileage may vary. @Jamiet

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  • Smart defaults [SSDT]

    - by jamiet
    I’ve just discovered a new, somewhat hidden, feature in SSDT that I didn’t know about and figured it would be worth highlighting here because I’ll bet not many others know it either; the feature is called Smart Defaults. It gets around the problem of adding a NOT NULLable column to an existing table that has got data in it – previous to SSDT you would need to define a DEFAULT constraint however it does feel rather cumbersome to create an object purely for the purpose of pushing through a deployment – that’s the situation that Smart Defaults is meant to alleviate. The Smart Defaults option exists in the advanced section of a Publish Profile file: The description of the setting is “Automatically provides a default value when updating a table that contains data with a column that does not allow null values”, in other words checking that option will cause SSDT to insert an arbitrary default value into your newly created NON NULLable column. In case you’re wondering how it does it, here’s how: SSDT creates a DEFAULT CONSTRAINT at the same time as the column is created and then immediately removes that constraint: ALTER TABLE [dbo].[T1]    ADD [C1] INT NOT NULL,         CONSTRAINT [SD_T1_1df7a5f76cf44bb593506d05ff9a1e2b] DEFAULT 0 FOR [C1];ALTER TABLE [dbo].[T1] DROP CONSTRAINT [SD_T1_1df7a5f76cf44bb593506d05ff9a1e2b]; You can then update the value as appropriate in a Post-Deployment script. Pretty cool! On the downside, you can only specify this option for the whole project, not for an individual table or even an individual column – I’m not sure that I’d want to turn this on for an entire project as it could hide problems that a failed deployment would highlight, in other words smart defaults could be seen to be “papering over the cracks”. If you think that should be improved go and vote (and leave a comment) at [SSDT] Allow us to specify Smart defaults per table or even per column. @Jamiet

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  • Explaining the difference between OData & RDF by way of analogy

    - by jamiet
    A couple of months back I wrote a blog post entitled Microsoft, OData and RDF where I gave a high level view of the OData protocol and how it compares to RDF. I talked about linked data, triples and such like which may have been somewhat useful however jargon-heavy. Earlier today Dr Michael Hausenblas (blog | twitter) offered an analogy which I think is probably more useful and with Michael's permission I'm re-posting it here:Imagine a Web (a Web of Documents, if you wish), which is not based on HTML and hyperlinks, but on MS Word documents. The documents are all available on the Internet, so you can download them and consume the content. But after you’re done with a certain document that talks about a book, how do you learn more about it? For example, reviews about the book or where you can purchase it? Maybe the original document mentions that there is some more related information on another server. So you’d need to go there and look for the related bit of information yourself. You see? That’s what the Web is great at – you just click on a hyperlink and it takes you to the document (or section) you’re interested in. All the legwork is taken care of for you through HTML, URIs and HTTP.Hm, right, but how is this related to OData? Well, OData feels a bit like the above mentioned scenario, just concerning data. Of course you – well actually rather a software program I guess – can consume it (a single source), but that’s it.from Oh – it is data on the Web by Michael Hausenblas I believe that OData has loads of use cases but its important to understand its limitations as well and I think Michael has done a good job of explaining those [email protected]   Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • My old Conchango blog posts are currently not accessible

    - by jamiet
    Some of you reading this may be aware that I used to blog at http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson. That URL later changed to http://consultingblogs.emc.com/jamiethomson after Conchango (my employer) got taken over by EMC. In my last post on that site: I stated that I had 676 blog posts on that site. Unfortunately, as of today, those 676 posts are inaccessible. If you try to get to http://consultingblogs.emc.com/jamiethomson today you will see this: I am not the only one affected either; it seems that EMC have taken the same action for many blog sites of my old colleagues (e.g. http://consultingblogs.emc.com/merrickchaffer is also inaccessible). Early indications are that EMC have removed all blog posts by any former employees although that is yet to be confirmed.   A few of us former employees are endeavouring to get this situation rectified so watch this space. I am aware that many people in the SSIS community still refer to those old blog posts so please be aware that any attempt to access any of them will be futile for the foreseeable future. @Jamiet

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  • Have SSIS' differing type systems ever caused you problems?

    - by jamiet
    One thing that has always infuriated me about SSIS is the fact that every package has three different type systems; to give you an idea of what I am talking about consider the following: The SSIS dataflow's type system is made up of types called DT_*  (e.g. DT_STR, DT_I4) The SSIS variable type system is based on .Net datatypes (e.g. String, Int32) The types available for Execute SQL Task's parameters are based on something else - I don't exactly know what (e.g. VARCHAR, LONG) Speaking euphemistically ... this is not an optimum situation (were I not speaking euphemistically I would be a lot ruder) and hence I have submitted a suggestion to Connect at [SSIS] Consolidate three type systems into one requesting that it be remedied. This accompanying blog post is not however a request for votes (though that would be nice); the reason is actually subtler than that. Let me explain. I have been submitting bugs and suggestions pertaining to SSIS for years and have, so far, submitted over 200 Connect items. If that experience has taught me anything it is this - Connect items are not generally actioned because they are considered "nice to have". No, SSIS Connect items get actioned because they cause customers grief and if I am perfectly honest I must admit that, other than being a bit gnarly, SSIS' three type system architecture has never knowingly caused me any significant problems. The reason for this blog post is to ask if any reader out there has ever encountered any problems on account of SSIS' three type systems or have you, like me, never found them to be a problem? Errors or performance degredation caused by implicit type conversions would, I believe, present a strong case for getting this situation remedied in a future version of SSIS so if you HAVE encountered such problems I would encourage you to leave a comment on the Connect submission accordingly. Let me know in the comments too - I would be interested to hear others' opinions on this. @Jamiet

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  • Smart defaults [SSDT]

    - by jamiet
    I’ve just discovered a new, somewhat hidden, feature in SSDT that I didn’t know about and figured it would be worth highlighting here because I’ll bet not many others know it either; the feature is called Smart Defaults. It gets around the problem of adding a NOT NULLable column to an existing table that has got data in it – previous to SSDT you would need to define a DEFAULT constraint however it does feel rather cumbersome to create an object purely for the purpose of pushing through a deployment – that’s the situation that Smart Defaults is meant to alleviate. The Smart Defaults option exists in the advanced section of a Publish Profile file: The description of the setting is “Automatically provides a default value when updating a table that contains data with a column that does not allow null values”, in other words checking that option will cause SSDT to insert an arbitrary default value into your newly created NON NULLable column. In case you’re wondering how it does it, here’s how: SSDT creates a DEFAULT CONSTRAINT at the same time as the column is created and then immediately removes that constraint: ALTER TABLE [dbo].[T1]    ADD [C1] INT NOT NULL,         CONSTRAINT [SD_T1_1df7a5f76cf44bb593506d05ff9a1e2b] DEFAULT 0 FOR [C1];ALTER TABLE [dbo].[T1] DROP CONSTRAINT [SD_T1_1df7a5f76cf44bb593506d05ff9a1e2b]; You can then update the value as appropriate in a Post-Deployment script. Pretty cool! On the downside, you can only specify this option for the whole project, not for an individual table or even an individual column – I’m not sure that I’d want to turn this on for an entire project as it could hide problems that a failed deployment would highlight, in other words smart defaults could be seen to be “papering over the cracks”. If you think that should be improved go and vote (and leave a comment) at [SSDT] Allow us to specify Smart defaults per table or even per column. @Jamiet

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  • SSIS Reporting Pack – a performance tip

    - by jamiet
    SSIS Reporting Pack is a suite of open source SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports that provide additional insight into the SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) 2012 Catalog. You can read more about SSIS Reporting Pack here on my blog or had over to the home page for the project at http://ssisreportingpack.codeplex.com/. After having used SSRS Reporting Pack on a real project for a few months now I have come to realise that if you have any sizeable data volumes in [SSISDB] then the reports in SSIS Reporting Pack will suffer from chronic performance problems – I have seen the “execution” report take upwards of 30minutes to return data. To combat this I highly recommend that you create an index on the [SSISDB].[internal].[event_messages].[operation_id] & [SSISDB].[internal].[operation_messages].[operation_id] fields. Phil Brammer has experienced similar problems himself and has since made it easy for the rest of us by preparing some scripts to create the indexes that he recommends and he has shared those scripts via his blog at http://www.ssistalk.com/SSIS_2012_Missing_Indexes.zip. If you are using SSIS Reporting Pack, or even if you are simply querying [SSISDB], I highly recommend that you download Phil’s scripts and test them out on your own SSIS Catalog(s). Those indexes will not solve all problems but they will make some of your reports run quicker. I am working on some further enhancements that should further improve the performance of the reports. Watch this space. @Jamiet

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  • Is SQL Azure a newbies springboard?

    - by jamiet
    Earlier today I was considering the various SQL Server platforms that are available today and I wondered aloud, wonder how long until the majority of #sqlserver newcomers use @sqlazure instead of installing locally Let me explain. My first experience of development was way back in the early 90s when I would crank open VBA in Access or Excel and start hammering out some code, usually by recording macros and looking at the code that they produced (sound familiar?). The reason was simple, Office was becoming ubiquitous so the barrier to entry was incredibly low and, save for a short hiatus at university, I’ve been developing on the Microsoft platform ever since. These days spend most of my time using SQL Server. I take a look at SQL Azure today I see a lot of similarities with those early experiences, the barrier to entry is low and getting lower. I don’t have to download some software or actually install anything other than a web browser in order to get myself a fully functioning SQL Server  database against which I can ostensibly start hammering out some code and I believe that to be incredibly empowering. Having said that there are still a few pretty high barriers, namely: I need to get out my credit card Its pretty useless without some development tools such as SQL Server Management Studio, which I do have to install. The second of those barriers will disappear pretty soon when Project Houston delivers a web-based admin and presentation tool for SQL Azure so that just leaves the matter of my having to use a credit card. If Microsoft have any sense at all then they will realise the huge potential of opening up a free, throttled version of SQL Azure for newbies to party on; they get to developers early (just like they did with me all those years ago) and it gives potential customers an opportunity to try-before-they-buy. Perhaps in 20 years time people will be talking about SQL Azure as being their first foray into the world of coding! @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • Big AdventureWorks2012

    - by jamiet
    Last week I launched AdventureWorks on Azure, an initiative to make SQL Azure accessible to anyone, in my blog post AdventureWorks2012 now available for all on SQL Azure. Since then I think its fair to say that the reaction has been lukewarm with 31 insertions into the [dbo].[SqlFamily] table and only 8 donations via PayPal to support it; on the other hand those 8 donators have been incredibly generous and we nearly have enough in the bank to cover a full year’s worth of availability. It was always my intention to try and make this offering more appealing and to that end I have used an adapted version of Adam Machanic’s make_big_adventure.sql script to massively increase the amount of data in the database and give the community more scope to really push SQL Azure and see what it is capable of. There are now two new tables in the database: [dbo].[bigProduct] with 25200 rows [dbo].[bigTransactionHistory] with 7827579 rows The credentials to login and use AdventureWorks on Azure are as they were before: Server mhknbn2kdz.database.windows.net Database AdventureWorks2012 User sqlfamily Password [email protected] Remember, if you want to support AdventureWorks on Azure simply click here to launch a pre-populated PayPal Send Money form - all you have to do is login, fill in an amount, and click Send. We need more donations to keep this up and running so if you think this is useful and worth supporting, please please donate.   I mentioned that I had to adapt Adam’s script, the main reasons being: Cross-database queries are not yet supported in SQL Azure so I had to create a local copy of [dbo].[spt_values] rather than reference that in [master] SELECT…INTO is not supported in SQL Azure The 1GB limit of SQLAzure web edition meant that there would not be enough space to store all the data generated by Adam’s script so I had to decrease the total number of rows. The amended script is available on my SkyDrive at https://skydrive.live.com/redir.aspx?cid=550f681dad532637&resid=550F681DAD532637!16756&parid=550F681DAD532637!16755 @Jamiet

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  • HTML Maps for DataViz

    - by jamiet
    I don’t talk about data visualisation (#dataviz) much on this blog because, well, because its not something I can claim to be particularly knowledgeable about – that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion about it though. I just stumbled upon an article that compares the media ecosystems of four various technology companies entitled Mapping The Entertainment Ecosystems of Apple, Microsoft, Google & Amazon and apart from being a well-researched and well-written article (not something that the tech press excels in, in my opinion) I was struck by how well the author uses maps to tell a story to the reader. Take the map in this screenshot: Clicking on one of the four icons at the bottom of the map dynamically changes the shaded areas of the map to indicate which countries that company offers their services. Its aesthetically pleasing but moreover it instantly coveys useful information to me. What I love about it most of all though is that its all pure HTML – I don’t need any poxy Silverlight or Flash plugin to view the maps and interact with them – all I need is an up to date web browser (I use Chrome v22 although I tested using IE9 and it worked fine there too). This is how I believe data visualisation should be - conveying useful info in a friction-free way. Maps are a great way of achieving that – I just wish more people agreed with me about calendars as a mechanism for doing the same! @Jamiet

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  • Should we be able to deploy a single package to the SSIS Catalog?

    - by jamiet
    My buddy Sutha Thiru sent me an email recently asking about my opinion on a particular nuance of the project deployment model in SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) 2012 and I’d like to share my response as I think it warrants a wider discussion. Sutha asked: Jamie What is your take on this? http://www.mattmasson.com/index.php/2012/07/can-i-deploy-a-single-ssis-package-from-my-project-to-the-ssis-catalog/ Overnight I was talking to Matt who confirmed that they got no plans to change the deployment model. For example if we have following scenrio how do we do deploy? Sprint 1 Pkg1, 2 & 3 has been developed and deployed to UAT. Once signed off its been deployed to Live. Sprint 2 Pkg 4 & 5 been developed. During this time users raised a bug on Pkg2. We want to make the change to Pkg2 and deploy that to UAT and eventually to LIVE without releasing Pkg 4 &5. How do we do it? Matt pointed me to his blog entry which I have seen before . http://www.mattmasson.com/index.php/2012/02/thoughts-on-branching-strategies-for-ssis-projects/ Thanks Sutha My response: Personally, even though I've experienced the exact problem you just outlined, I agree with the current approach. I steadfastly believe that there should not be a way for an unscrupulous developer to slide in a new version of a package under the covers. Deploying .ispac files brings a degree of rigour to your operational processes. Yes, that means that we as SSIS developers are going to have to get better at using source control and branching properly but that is no bad thing in my opinion. Claiming to be proper "developers" is a bit of a cheap claim if we don't even do the fundamentals correctly. I would be interested in the thoughts of others who have used the project deployment model. Do you agree with my point of view? @Jamiet

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  • SSDT gotcha – Moving a file erases code analysis suppressions

    - by jamiet
    I discovered a little wrinkle in SSDT today that is worth knowing about if you are managing your database schemas using SSDT. In short, if a file is moved to a different folder in the project then any code analysis suppressions that reference that file will disappear from the suppression file. This makes sense if you think about it because the paths stored in the suppression file are no longer valid, but you probably won’t be aware of it until it happens to you. If you don’t know what code analysis is or you don’t know what the suppression file is then you can probably stop reading now, otherwise read on for a simple short demo. Let’s create a new project and add a stored procedure to it called sp_dummy. Naming stored procedures with a sp_ prefix is generally frowned upon and hence SSDT static code analysis will look for occurrences of this and flag them. So, the next thing we need to do is turn on static code analysis in the project properties: A subsequent build causes a code analysis warning as we might expect: Let’s suppose we actually don’t mind stored procedures with sp_ prefixes, we can just right-click on the message to suppress and get rid of it: That causes a suppression file to get created in our project: Notice that the suppression file contains a relative path to the file that has had the suppression placed upon it. Now if we simply move the file within our project to a new folder notice that the suppression that we just created gets removed from the suppression file: As I alluded above this behaviour is intuitive because the path originally stored in the suppression file is no longer relevant but you’re probably not going to be aware of it until it happens to you and messages that you thought you had suppressed start appearing again. Definitely one to be aware of. @Jamiet   

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  • Move a SQL Azure server between subscriptions

    - by jamiet
    In September 2011 I published a blog post SSIS Reporting Pack v0.2 now available in which I made available the credentials of a sample database that one could use to test SSIS Reporting Pack. That database was sitting on a paid-for Azure subscription and hence was costing me about £5 a month - not a huge amount but when I later got a free Azure subscription through my MSDN Subscription in January 2012 it made sense to migrate the database onto that subscription. Since then I have been endeavouring to make that move but a few failed attempts combined with lack of time meant that I had not yet gotten round to it.That is until this morning when I heard about a new feature available in the Azure Management Portal that enables one to move a SQL Azure server from one subscription to another. Up to now I had been attempting to use a combination of SSIS packages and/or scripts to move the data but, as I alluded, I ran into a few roadblocks hence the ability to move a SQL Azure server was a godsend to me. I fired up the Azure Management Portal and a few clicks later my server had been successfully migrated, moreover the name of the server doesn't change and neither do any credentials so I have no need to go and update my original blog post either. Its easy to be cynical about SQL Azure (and I maintain a healthy scepticism myself) but that, my friends, is cool!You can read more about the ability to move SQL Azure servers between subscriptions from the official blog post Moving SQL Azure Servers Between [email protected]

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  • XMLPad – a new tool in my developer utility belt

    - by jamiet
    Yesterday I was on the lookout for a free tool that would help me write XPath statements. I put a shout out on Twitter and Johan Barnard replied saying : Give XMLPad a try http://www.wmhelp.com/xmlpad3.htm I’m sure there are legions of developers out there that know all about XMLPad but I had never heard about it so I suspect some of you reading haven’t either. Today I downloaded it to give it a run out and I gotta say – I love it. I only used it to do one thing –constructing an XPath expression to point to a particular Configuration definition in a .dtsx file- and it allowed me to do that with consummate ease. The feature I particularly loved was that, similar to Google Suggest, it showed me results from my expression as I typed. Here is a screenshot of my XPath expression to find (and just try saying this in a hurry) the value of a property whose DTS:Name attribute equals ‘ConfigurationString’ of a Configuration definition where the value of that Configuration definition’s property whose DTS:Name attribute equals ‘ObjectName’, equals ‘BIConfig My XPath expression: /DTS:Executable/DTS:Configuration[DTS:Property[@DTS:Name=’ObjectName’]=’BIConfig’]/DTS:Property[@DTS:Name=’ConfigurationString’] and believe me, there was no way I would have been able to come up with that without a tool to help me! So, an easy tip for you – if you need to write XPath expression download XMLPad for free from http://www.wmhelp.com/xmlpad3.htm and see what it can do for you. That’s all. Its now Friday evening and I’m shutting down and relaxing before heading to the big game at Twickenham tomorrow (yes, I have a ticket ). Have a good one! @Jamiet

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