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  • Thoughts on schemas and schema proliferation

    - by jamiet
    In SQL Server 2005 Microsoft introduced user-schema separation and since then I have seen the use of schemas increase; whereas before I would typically see databases where all objects were in the [dbo] schema I now see databases that have multiple schemas, a database I saw recently had 31 (thirty one) of them. I can’t help but wonder whether this is a good thing or not – clearly 31 is an extreme case but I question whether multiple schemas create more problems than they solve? I have been involved in many discussions that go something like this: Developer #1> “I have a new function to add to the database and I’m not sure which schema to put it in” Developer #2> “What does it do?” Developer #1> “It provides data to a report in Reporting Services” Developer #2> “Ok, so put it in the [reports] schema” Developer #1> “Well I could, but the data will only be used by our Financial reporting folks so shouldn’t I put it in the [financial] schema?” Developer #2> “Maybe, yes” Developer #1> “Mind you, the data is supposed to be used for regulatory reporting to the FSA, should I put it in [regulatory]?” Developer #2> “Err….” You get the idea!!! The more schemas that exist in your database then the more chance that their supposed usages will overlap. I’m left wondering whether the use of schemas is actually necessary. I don’t view really see them as an aid to security because I generally believe that principles should be assigned permissions on objects as-needed on a case-by-case basis (and I have a stock SQL query that deciphers them all for me) so why bother using them at all? I can envisage a use where a database is used to house objects pertaining to many different business functions (which, in itself, is an ambiguous term) and in that circumstance perhaps a schema per business function would be appropriate; hence of late I have been loosely following this edict: If some objects in a database could be moved en masse to another database without the need to remove any foreign key constraints then those objects could legitimately exist in a dedicated schema. I am interested to know what other people’s thoughts are on this. If you would like to share then please do so in the comments. @Jamiet

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  • Analysing SQLBits Feedback

    - by jamiet
    Earlier this week I received all the feedback that people offered on my session at SQLBits 7 in York – “SSIS Dataflow Performance Tuning” (the video is available online if you wish to see it). As you may have gathered from previous posts on this blog and my less-SQLy-focused Wordpress blog I am a big fan of collecting and tracking both personal and public data and session feedback lends itself very well to tracking because it is quantitative rather than qualitative; by that I mean attendees are invited to provide marks out of ten rather than (or, in the case of SQLBits, as well as) written comments. The SQLBits feedback is also useful because they use a consistent format – the same questions are asked each time – this means it is particularly easy to to track whether the scores that people give are trending up or down. I suspect that somewhere the SQLBits organisers have a big Analysis Services cube (ok, perhaps its an Excel pivot table) that allows them to analyse these scores per conference, speaker, track etc.… and there’s no reason that we as session speakers cannot do the same thing. To that end I have started to store my feedback in an Excel spreadsheet of my own which in the interests of transparency is available for public viewing (only a web browser required) on SkyDrive at http://cid-550f681dad532637.office.live.com/view.aspx/Public/Misc/Personal%20SQLBits%20Session%20Feedback.xlsx. I have used a pivot table to aggregate all that feedback and here is a screenshot: I am hereby making a public plea to the SQLBits organisers (on the off-chance that they are reading) to please continue to keep the feedback format consistent in the future and I encourage them to publish all of the feedback in an anonymised form. I would also encourage anyone doing conference speaking to track their conference feedback in the same way that I am doing so that you get an insight into whether or not you are improving over time. It is not difficult to setup and maintaining it as you do more sessions takes very little effort. Storing feedback data like this leads me to wider thoughts about well-known conventions and data format standardisation. Let’s imagine a utopia where there were a standard set of questions for capturing session feedback that were leveraged at every conference regardless of subject matter, location or culture; that would give rise to immense cross-conference and cross-discipline analysis – the data analyst in me goes giddy at the thought of it. It is scenarios like this that drive my interest both in data formats such as iCalendar, microformats and RDF, and in emerging movements such as the semantic web and linked data, all things which I have written about in the past. I don’t know whether we will ever reach the stage where every piece of data has structured, descriptive metadata associated with it but I live in hope. @Jamiet

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  • Documenting sp_ssiscatalog

    - by jamiet
    What is the best way to document an API? Moreover, what is the best way to document a T-SQL API? Before I try to answer those questions I should explain what I mean by “a T-SQL API”. I think of an API as being a collection of well-defined, known, code modules that provide some notion of a service to whomever uses it; in T-SQL terms I tend to think of a collection of stored procedures and functions as a form of API. Its a loose definition, I admit, and in SQL Server circles we don’t tend to think of stored procedures collectively as an API but if you think about it that’s exactly what they are. The question of how to document a T-SQL API came to my mind as I worked on sp_ssiscatalog. How could I make it easy for people to learn about the capabilities of sp_ssiscatalog without forcing them to dig through the code and find out for themselves? My opening gambit was to write documentation pages on the wiki at http://ssisreportingpack.codeplex.com. That’s kinda useful but it does suffer the disadvantage that someone using sp_ssiscatalog needs to go visit a webpage to read it – I want the documentation to be available wherever the user is using sp_ssiscatalog. Moreover, maintaining the wiki is a real PITA. Intellisense works up to a point, I guess: but that only shows whatever SQL Server knows about the various parameters, which isn’t all that much! I wanted a better way for my API users to learn about its capabilities and so I hit upon the idea of simply using PRINT statements within the code itself to inform the user what options are available; hence I added such PRINT statements in the latest check-in. Now when you execute (for example): EXEC sp_ssiscatalog @operation_type='execs' you can hit F6 a few times to view the messages pane and you shall see something like this: Notice that I’m returning information about all the parameters that can be used to affect the results that just got returned. I really do think this will be very useful to anyone using sp_ssiscatalog; I myself am always forgetting what the parameters are and I wrote the damn thing so I can’t really expect anyone else to remember them. I have not yet made available a release that has these changes in it but when I do I’ll blog about it right here. At the time of writing the latest available release of sp_ssiscatalog is DB v1.0.1.0 but if you want to the latest and greatest simply download it straight from source. Feedback is welcome as always. @Jamiet

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  • June 2013 release of SSDT contains a minor bug that you should be aware of

    - by jamiet
    I have discovered what seems, to me, like a bug in the June 2013 release of SSDT and given the problems that it created yesterday on my current gig I thought it prudent to write this blog post to inform people of it. I’ve built a very simple SSDT project to reproduce the problem that has just two tables, [Table1] and [Table2], and also a procedure [Procedure1]: The two tables have exactly the same definition, both a have a single column called [Id] of type integer. CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Table1] (     [Id] INT NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY ) My stored procedure simply joins the two together, orders them by the column used in the join predicate, and returns the results: CREATE PROCEDURE [dbo].[Procedure1] AS     SELECT t1.*     FROM    Table1 t1     INNER JOIN Table2 t2         ON    t1.Id = t2.Id     ORDER BY Id Now if I create those three objects manually and then execute the stored procedure, it works fine: So we know that the code works. Unfortunately, SSDT thinks that there is an error here: The text of that error is: Procedure: [dbo].[Procedure1] contains an unresolved reference to an object. Either the object does not exist or the reference is ambiguous because it could refer to any of the following objects: [dbo].[Table1].[Id] or [dbo].[Table2].[Id]. Its complaining that the [Id] field in the ORDER BY clause is ambiguous. Now you may well be thinking at this point “OK, just stick a table alias into the ORDER BY predicate and everything will be fine!” Well that’s true, but there’s a bigger problem here. One of the developers at my current client installed this drop of SSDT and all of a sudden all the builds started failing on his machine – he had errors left right and centre because, as it transpires, we have a fair bit of code that exhibits this scenario.  Worse, previous installations of SSDT do not flag this code as erroneous and therein lies the rub. We immediately had a mass panic where we had to run around the department to our developers (of which there are many) ensuring that none of them should upgrade their SSDT installation if they wanted to carry on being productive for the rest of the day. Also bear in mind that as soon as a new drop of SSDT comes out then the previous version is instantly unavailable so rolling back is going to be impossible unless you have created an administrative install of SSDT for that previous version. Just thought you should know! In the grand schema of things this isn’t a big deal as the bug can be worked around with a simple code modification but forewarned is forearmed so they say! Last thing to say, if you want to know which version of SSDT you are running check my blog post Which version of SSDT Database Projects do I have installed? @Jamiet

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  • SQL Server Configuration timeouts - and a workaround [SSIS]

    - by jamiet
    Ever since I started writing SSIS packages back in 2004 I have opted to store configurations in .dtsConfig (.i.e. XML) files rather than in a SQL Server table (aka SQL Server Configurations) however recently I inherited some packages that used SQL Server Configurations and thus had to immerse myself in their murky little world. To all the people that have ever gone onto the SSIS forum and asked questions about ambiguous behaviour of SQL Server Configurations I now say this... I feel your pain! The biggest problem I have had was in dealing with the change to the order in which configurations get applied that came about in SSIS 2008. Those changes are detailed on MSDN at SSIS Package Configurations however the pertinent bits are: As the utility loads and runs the package, events occur in the following order: The dtexec utility loads the package. The utility applies the configurations that were specified in the package at design time and in the order that is specified in the package. (The one exception to this is the Parent Package Variables configurations. The utility applies these configurations only once and later in the process.) The utility then applies any options that you specified on the command line. The utility then reloads the configurations that were specified in the package at design time and in the order specified in the package. (Again, the exception to this rule is the Parent Package Variables configurations). The utility uses any command-line options that were specified to reload the configurations. Therefore, different values might be reloaded from a different location. The utility applies the Parent Package Variable configurations. The utility runs the package. To understand how these steps differ from SSIS 2005 I recommend reading Doug Laudenschlager’s blog post Understand how SSIS package configurations are applied. The very nature of SQL Server Configurations means that the Connection String for the database holding the configuration values needs to be supplied from the command-line. Typically then the call to execute your package resembles this: dtexec /FILE Package.dtsx /SET "\Package.Connections[SSISConfigurations].Properties[ConnectionString]";"\"Data Source=SomeServer;Initial Catalog=SomeDB;Integrated Security=SSPI;\"", The problem then is that, as per the steps above, the package will (1) attempt to apply all configurations using the Connection String stored in the package for the "SSISConfigurations" Connection Manager before then (2) applying the Connection String from the command-line and then (3) apply the same configurations all over again. In the packages that I inherited that first attempt to apply the configurations would timeout (not unexpected); I had 8 SQL Server Configurations in the package and thus the package was waiting for 2 minutes until all the Configurations timed out (i.e. 15seconds per Configuration) - in a package that only executes for ~8seconds when it gets to do its actual work a delay of 2minutes was simply unacceptable. We had three options in how to deal with this: Get rid of the use of SQL Server configurations and use .dtsConfig files instead Edit the packages when they get deployed Change the timeout on the "SSISConfigurations" Connection Manager #1 was my preferred choice but, for reasons I explain below*, wasn't an option in this particular instance. #2 was discounted out of hand because it negates the point of using Configurations in the first place. This left us with #3 - change the timeout on the Connection Manager. This is done by going into the properties of the Connection Manager, opening the "All" tab and changing the Connect Timeout property to some suitable value (in the screenshot below I chose 2 seconds). This change meant that the attempts to apply the SQL Server configurations timed out in 16 seconds rather than two minutes; clearly this isn't an optimum solution but its certainly better than it was. So there you have it - if you are having problems with SQL Server configuration timeouts within SSIS try changing the timeout of the Connection Manager. Better still - don't bother using SQL Server Configuration in the first place. Even better - install RC0 of SQL Server 2012 to start leveraging SSIS parameters and leave the nasty old world of configurations behind you. @Jamiet * Basically, we are leveraging a SSIS execution/logging framework in which the client had invested a lot of resources and SQL Server Configurations are an integral part of that.

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  • Inequality joins, Asynchronous transformations and Lookups : SSIS

    - by jamiet
    It is pretty much accepted by SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) developers that synchronous transformations are generally quicker than asynchronous transformations (for a description of synchronous and asynchronous transformations go read Asynchronous and synchronous data flow components). Notice I said “generally” and not “always”; there are circumstances where using asynchronous transformations can be beneficial and in this blog post I’ll demonstrate such a scenario, one that is pretty common when building data warehouses. Imagine I have a [Customer] dimension table that manages information about all of my customers as a slowly-changing dimension. If that is a type 2 slowly changing dimension then you will likely have multiple rows per customer in that table. Furthermore you might also have datetime fields that indicate the effective time period of each member record. Here is such a table that contains data for four dimension members {Terry, Max, Henry, Horace}: Notice that we have multiple records per customer and that the [SCDStartDate] of a record is equivalent to the [SCDEndDate] of the record that preceded it (if there was one). (Note that I am on record as saying I am not a fan of this technique of storing an [SCDEndDate] but for the purposes of clarity I have included it here.) Anyway, the idea here is that we will have some incoming data containing [CustomerName] & [EffectiveDate] and we need to use those values to lookup [Customer].[CustomerId]. The logic will be: Lookup a [CustomerId] WHERE [CustomerName]=[CustomerName] AND [SCDStartDate] <= [EffectiveDate] AND [EffectiveDate] <= [SCDEndDate] The conventional approach to this would be to use a full cached lookup but that isn’t an option here because we are using inequality conditions. The obvious next step then is to use a non-cached lookup which enables us to change the SQL statement to use inequality operators: Let’s take a look at the dataflow: Notice these are all synchronous components. This approach works just fine however it does have the limitation that it has to issue a SQL statement against your lookup set for every row thus we can expect the execution time of our dataflow to increase linearly in line with the number of rows in our dataflow; that’s not good. OK, that’s the obvious method. Let’s now look at a different way of achieving this using an asynchronous Merge Join transform coupled with a Conditional Split. I’ve shown it post-execution so that I can include the row counts which help to illustrate what is going on here: Notice that there are more rows output from our Merge Join component than on the input. That is because we are joining on [CustomerName] and, as we know, we have multiple records per [CustomerName] in our lookup set. Notice also that there are two asynchronous components in here (the Sort and the Merge Join). I have embedded a video below that compares the execution times for each of these two methods. The video is just over 8minutes long. View on Vimeo  For those that can’t be bothered watching the video I’ll tell you the results here. The dataflow that used the Lookup transform took 36 seconds whereas the dataflow that used the Merge Join took less than two seconds. An illustration in case it is needed: Pretty conclusive proof that in some scenarios it may be quicker to use an asynchronous component than a synchronous one. Your mileage may of course vary. The scenario outlined here is analogous to performance tuning procedural SQL that uses cursors. It is common to eliminate cursors by converting them to set-based operations and that is effectively what we have done here. Our non-cached lookup is performing a discrete operation for every single row of data, exactly like a cursor does. By eliminating this cursor-in-disguise we have dramatically sped up our dataflow. I hope all of that proves useful. You can download the package that I demonstrated in the video from my SkyDrive at http://cid-550f681dad532637.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/BlogShare/20100514/20100514%20Lookups%20and%20Merge%20Joins.zip Comments are welcome as always. @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • I spy a Live Framework portal

    - by jamiet
    Those that have followed my blogs for a while may know that I have a slightly banal interest in Windows Live and, more specifically, the Live Services developer platform'; if that doesn’t sound interesting to you then stop reading now. My interest mainly stems from the Live Mesh technology that was announced a couple of years ago and the data synchronisation platform API that underpins it; that platform is called the Live Framework or LiveFX for short. At the Professional Developer’s Conference (PDC) 2008 Microsoft made LiveFX available to the public as a Tech Preview and I spent some time learning to use it and also built a few test apps on it too. In August 2009 an announcement came that that tech preview was getting shut down: "At the Professional Developer Conference 2008, we gave the developer community access to the technical preview of the Live Framework. The Live Framework is core to our vision of providing you with a consistent programming interface. Now we are working to integrate existing services, controls and the Live Framework into the next release of Windows Live. Your feedback continues to help us build the best possible offerings for Windows Live users, for you and for your customers. " Since then news on LiveFX has disappeared save for a throwaway session at PDC09 and I was hoping that news was going to appear at this week’s MIX conference but nothing was forthcoming. Instead though today I stumbled upon an unannounced portal for future LiveFX applications on Microsoft’s Azure portal at http://live.azure.com. Check it out: I consider this to be very good news. This Azure portal was built after the LiveFX tech preview was decommissioned so seeing Live Services existing so prominently alongside Microsoft’s other cloud efforts like Windows Azure and SQL Azure vindicates my early investment in the platform and gives me hope that we’re going to see something get released very very soon. I believe that the potential uses for this platform are extremely compelling and I’m looking forward to trying some out in the near future. I am also expecting LiveFX to have a heavy dependency on the OData protocol that I talked about yesterday in my post OData.org updated - gives clues about future sql azure enhancements so you can tell where my interest in that stems from. In case you’re wondering the projects that you see listed above (Basic List Sample, JT-proj etc…) are projects that I built on the old Tech Preview platform so clearly that stuff has not gone for good which is also good news; not just because it means I’ll have access to the code I wrote before but I also assume it means that LiveFX won’t have changed much since its tech preview incarnation. I know there are other LiveFX buffs out there and hopefully this news reaches some of them. If you are one of them the please put a comment below and let me know your thoughts! @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • Want a headless build server for SSDT without installing Visual Studio? You’re out of luck!

    - by jamiet
    An issue that regularly seems to rear its head on my travels is that of headless build servers for SSDT. What does that mean exactly? Let me give you my interpretation of it. A SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) project incorporates a build process that will basically parse all of the files within the project and spit out a .dacpac file. Where an organisation employs a Continuous Integration process they will likely want to automate the building of that dacpac whenever someone commits a change to the source control repository. In order to do that the organisation will use a build server (e.g. TFS, TeamCity, Jenkins) and hence that build server requires all the pre-requisite software that understands how to build an SSDT project. The simplest way to install all of those pre-requisites is to install SSDT itself however a lot of folks don’t like that approach because it installs a lot unnecessary components on there, not least Visual Studio itself. Those folks (of which i am one) are of the opinion that it should be unnecessary to install a heavyweight GUI in order to simply get a few software components required to do something that inherently doesn’t even need a GUI. The phrase “headless build server” is often used to describe a build server that doesn’t contain any heavyweight GUI tools such as Visual Studio and is a desirable state for a build server. In his blog post Headless MSBuild Support for SSDT (*.sqlproj) Projects Gert Drapers outlines the steps necessary to obtain a headless build server for SSDT: This article describes how to install the required components to build and publish SQL Server Data Tools projects (*.sqlproj) using MSBuild without installing the full SQL Server Data Tool hosted inside the Visual Studio IDE. http://sqlproj.com/index.php/2012/03/headless-msbuild-support-for-ssdt-sqlproj-projects/ Frankly however going through these steps is a royal PITA and folks like myself have longed for Microsoft to support headless build support for SSDT by providing a distributable installer that installs only the pre-requisites for building SSDT projects. Yesterday in MSDN forum thread Building a VS2013 headless build server - it's sooo hard Mike Hingley complained about this very thing and it prompted a response from Kevin Cunnane from the SSDT product team: The official recommendation from the TFS / Visual Studio team is to install the version of Visual Studio you use on the build machine. I, like many others, would rather not have to install full blown Visual Studio and so I asked: Is there any chance you'll ever support any of these scenarios: Installation of all build/deploy pre-requisites without installing the VS shell? TFS shipping with all of the pre-requisites for doing SSDT project build/deploys 3rd party build servers (e.g. TeamCity) shipping with all of the requisites for doing SSDT project build/deploys I have to say that the lack of a single installer containing all the pre-requisites for SSDT build/deploy puzzles me. Surely the DacFX installer would be a perfect vehicle for that? Kevin replied again: The answer is no for all 3 scenarios. We looked into this issue, discussed it with the Visual Studio / TFS team, and in the end agreed to go with their latest guidance which is to install Visual Studio (e.g. VS2013 Express for Web) on the build machine. This is how Visual Studio Online is doing it and it's the approach recommended for customers setting up their own TFS build servers. I would hope this is compatible with 3rd party build servers but have not verified whether this works with TeamCity etc. Note that DacFx MSI isn't a suitable release vehicle for this as we don't want to include Visual Studio/MSBuild dependencies in that package. It's meant to just include the core DacFx DLLs used by SSMS, SqlPackage.exe on the command line, etc. What this means is we won't be providing a separate MSI installer or nuget package with just the necessary build DLLs you need to run your build and tests. If someone wanted to create a script that generated a nuget package based on our DLLs and targets files, then release that somewhere on the web for easier integration with 3rd party build servers we've no problem with that. Again, here’s the link to the thread and its worth reading in its entirety if this is something that interests you. So there you have it. Microsoft will not be be providing support for headless build servers for SSDT but if someone in the community wants to go ahead and roll their own, go right ahead. @Jamiet

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  • Subscribable World Cup 2010 Calendar

    - by jamiet
    I bang on quite a lot on this blog about ways in which data can get published over the web and one of the most interesting ways, in my opinion, of publishing data in a structured manner that is well understood is to use the iCalendar specification. There isn’t much information in the world that doesn’t have some concept of “when” so iCalendar is a great way of distributing that information. You have probably used iCalendar at some point without even knowing about it. All files with a .ics suffix are iCalendar format files and that is why you can happily import them into Outlook, Hotmail Calendar, Google Calendar etc… where they can be parsed and have the semantic data (when, where and who) extracted from them. Importing of iCalendar format data is really only half the trick though; in my opinion the real value of iCalendar-formatted calendar is the ability to subscribe to them. Subscribing has a simple benefit over importing but that single benefit is of massive importance: a subscriber to an iCalendar calendar can periodically check to see if any updates have been made and, if they have, automatically update the local copy. The real benefit to the user is the productivity gain – a single update to an iCalendar means that all subscribers are automatically made aware of the change and there is zero effort on the part of the subscriber; as my former colleague Howard van Rooijen is fond of saying, “work smarter not harder” – nowhere is this edict more ably demonstrated than subscribing versus importing of calendars. If you want to read some more thoughts about iCalendar then go and read my past blog post Calendar syndication - My big hope for 2009's breakthrough technology or better still go and seek out Jon Udell who speaks very authoritatively on the issue of iCalendar. With this subject of iCalendar on my mind I was interested to discover (via Steve Clayton’s blog post Download the world cup fixtures) that the BBC had made a .ics file available containing all of the matches in the upcoming World Cup. As you can probably guess this was a file that was made available so that it could be imported into your calendar of choice. It had one obvious downside though, right now nobody knows who is going to be playing in the knock-out stages so the calendar looks like this: with no teams being named after 25th June. How much more useful would this calendar have been if the BBC had made it possible to subscribe to the calendar instead, thus the calendar could be updated with the teams for the knock out stages when they are known and every subscriber would have a permanently up-to-date record of all the fixtures in their calendar. Better still, the calendar could be updated with match results as well or perhaps even post a match report from the BBC sport pages; when calendars are made subscribable a sea of opportunity opens up for distribution of information. So with that in mind I have decided to go one better than the BBC. I have imported their .ics into a brand new Hotmail calendar and made it publicly available at the following URLs: HTML http://cid-dc1ed121af0476be.calendar.live.com/calendar/World+Cup+2010/index.html iCalendar webcal://cid-dc1ed121af0476be.calendar.live.com/calendar/World+Cup+2010/calendar.ics The link you’re really interested in is the second one - click on that and it should open up in your calendar software of choice. Or, if you want to view it in an online calendar such as Hotmail Calendar or Google Calendar, copy and paste that URL into the appropriate place. I shall endeavour to keep the calendar updated throughout the World Cup and even if I don’t you’re no worse off than if you had imported the BBC’s .ics file so why not give it a try? If I do keep it up to date then you will have a permanent record of the 2010 World Cup available in your calendar. Forever. If you have your calendar synced to your smartphone then you’ll be carrying match reports around with you without you having to do a single thing. Surely that’s worth a quick click isn’t it?   If you have any thoughts let me have them in the comments below. Thanks for reading. @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • Required Parameters [SSIS Denali]

    - by jamiet
    SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) in its 2005 and 2008 incarnations expects you to set a property values within your package at runtime using Configurations. SSIS developers tend to have rather a lot of issues with SSIS configurations; in this blog post I am going to highlight one of those problems and how it has been alleviated in SQL Server code-named Denali.   A configuration is a property path/value pair that exists outside of a package, typically within SQL Server or in a collection of one or more configurations in a file called a .dtsConfig file. Within the package one defines a pointer to a configuration that says to the package “When you execute, go and get a configuration value from this location” and if all goes well the package will fetch that configuration value as it starts to execute and you will see something like the following in your output log: Information: 0x40016041 at Package: The package is attempting to configure from the XML file "C:\Configs\MyConfig.dtsConfig". Unfortunately things DON’T always go well, perhaps the .dtsConfig file is unreachable or the name of the SQL Sever holding the configuration value has been defined incorrectly – any one of a number of things can go wrong. In this circumstance you might see something like the following in your log output instead: Warning: 0x80012014 at Package: The configuration file "C:\Configs\MyConfig.dtsConfig" cannot be found. Check the directory and file name. The problem that I want to draw attention to here though is that your package will ignore the fact it can’t find the configuration and executes anyway. This is really really bad because the package will not be doing what it is supposed to do and worse, if you have not isolated your environments you might not even know about it. Can you imagine a package executing for months and all the while inserting data into the wrong server? Sounds ridiculous but I have absolutely seen this happen and the root cause was that no-one picked up on configuration warnings like the one above. Happily in SSIS code-named Denali this problem has gone away as configurations have been replaced with parameters. Each parameter has a property called ‘Required’: Any parameter with Required=True must have a value passed to it when the package executes. Any attempt to execute the package will result in an error. Here we see that error when attempting to execute using the SSMS UI: and similarly when executing using T-SQL: Error is: Msg 27184, Level 16, State 1, Procedure prepare_execution, Line 112 In order to execute this package, you need to specify values for the required parameters.   As you can see, SSIS code-named Denali has mechanisms built-in to prevent the problem I described at the top of this blog post. Specifying a Parameter required means that any packages in that project cannot execute until a value for the parameter has been supplied. This is a very good thing. I am loathe to make recommendations so early in the development cycle but right now I’m thinking that all Project Parameters should have Required=True, certainly any that are used to define external locations should be anyway. @Jamiet

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  • Some thoughts on email hosting for one’s own domain

    - by jamiet
    I have used the same email providers for my own domains for a few years now however I am considering moving over to a new provider. In this email I’ll share my current thoughts and hopefully I’ll get some feedback that might help me to decide on what to do next. What I use today I have three email addresses that I use primarily (I have changed the domains in this blog post as I don’t want to give them away to spammers): [email protected] – My personal account that I give out to family and friends and which I use to register on websites [email protected]  - An account that I use to catch email from the numerous mailing lists that I am on [email protected] – I am a self-employed consultant so this is an account that I hand out to my clients, my accountant, and other work-related organisations Those two domains (jtpersonaldomain.com & jtworkdomain.com) are both managed at http://domains.live.com which is a fantastic service provided by Microsoft that for some perplexing reason they never bother telling anyone about. It offers multiple accounts (I have seven at jtpersonaldomain.com though as already stated I only use two of them) which are accessed via Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail.com) along with usage reporting plus a few other odds and sods that I never use. Best of all though, its totally free. In addition, given that I have got both domains hosted using http://domains.live.com I can link my various accounts together and switch between them at Outlook.com without having to login and logout: N.B. You’ll notice that there are two other accounts listed there in addition to the three I already mentioned. One is my mum’s account which helps me provide IT support/spam filtering services to her and the other is the donation account for AdventureWorks on Azure. I find that linking feature to be very handy indeed. Finally, http://domains.live.com is the epitome of “it just works”. I set up jtworkdomain.com at http://domains.live.com over three years ago and I am pretty certain I haven’t been back there even once to administer it. Proposed changes OK, so if I like http://domains.live.com so much why am I considering changing? Well, I earn my corn in the Microsoft ecosystem and if I’m reading the tea-leaves correctly its looking increasingly likely that the services that I’m going to have to be familiar with in the future are all going to be running on top of and alongside Windows Azure Active Directory and Office 365 respectively. Its clear to me that Microsoft’s are pushing their customers toward cloud services and, like it or lump it, data integration developers like me may have to come along for the ride. I don’t think the day is too far off when we can log into Windows Azure SQL Database (aka SQL Azure), Team Foundation Service, Dynamics etc… using the same credentials that are currently used for Office 365 and over time I would expect those things to get integrated together a lot better – that integration will be based upon a Windows Azure Active Directory identity. This should not come as a surprise, in my opinion Microsoft’s whole enterprise play over the past 15 or 20 years can be neatly surmised as “get people onto Windows Server and Active Directory then upsell from there” – in the not-too-distant-future the only difference is that they’re trying to do it in the cloud. I want to get familiar with these services and hence I am considering moving jtworkdomain.com onto Office 365. I’ll lose the convenience of easily being able to switch to that account at Outlook.com and moreover I’ll have to start paying for it (I think it’ll be about fifty quid a year – not a massive amount but its quite a bit more than free) but increasingly this is beginning to look like a move I have to make. So that’s where my head is at right now. Anyone have any relevant thoughts or experiences to share? Please let me know in the comments below. @Jamiet

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  • Kill all the project files!

    - by jamiet
    Like many folks I’m a keen podcast listener and yesterday my commute was filled by listening to Scott Hunter being interviewed on .Net Rocks about the next version of ASP.Net. One thing Scott said really struck a chord with me. I don’t remember the full quote but he was talking about how the ASP.Net project file (i.e. the .csproj file) is going away. The rationale being that the main purpose of that file is to list all the other files in the project, and that’s something that the file system is pretty good at. In Scott’s own words (that someone helpfully put in the comments): A file that lists files is really redundant when the OS already does this Romeliz Valenciano correctly pointed out on Twitter that there will still be a project.json file however no longer will there be a need to keep a list of files in a project file. I suspect project.json will simply contain a list of exclusions where necessary rather than the current approach where the project file is a list of inclusions. On the face of it this seems like a pretty good idea. I’ve long been a fan of convention over configuration and this is a great example of that. Instead of listing all the files in a separate file, just treat all the files in the directory as being part of the project. Ostensibly the approach is if its in the directory, its part of the project. Simple. Now I’m not an ASP.net developer, far from it, but it did occur to me that the same approach could be applied to the two Visual Studio project types that I am most familiar with, SSIS & SSDT. Like many people I’ve long been irritated by SSIS projects that display a faux file system inside Solution Explorer. As you can see in the screenshot below the project has Miscellaneous and Connection Managers folders but no such folders exist on the file system: This may seem like a minor thing but it means useful Solution Explorer features like Show All Files and Open Folder in Windows Explorer don’t work and quite frankly it makes me feel like a second class citizen in the Microsoft ecosystem. I’m a developer, treat me like one. Don’t try and hide the detail of how a project works under the covers, show it to me. I’m a big boy, I can handle it! Would it not be preferable to simply treat all the .dtsx files in a directory as being part of a project? I think it would, that’s pretty much all the .dtproj file does anyway (that, and present things in a non-alphabetic order – something else that wildly irritates me), so why not just get rid of the .dtproj file? In the case of SSDT the .sqlproj actually does a whole lot more than simply list files because it also states the BuildAction of each file (Build, NotInBuild, Post-Deployment, etc…) but I see no reason why the convention over configuration approach can’t help us there either. Want to know which is the Post-deployment script? Well, its the one called Post-DeploymentScript.sql! Simple! So that’s my new crusade. Let’s kill all the project files (well, the .dtproj & .sqlproj ones anyway). Are you with me? @Jamiet

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  • Bitmask data insertions in SSDT Post-Deployment scripts

    - by jamiet
    On my current project we are using SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) to manage our database schema and one of the tasks we need to do often is insert data into that schema once deployed; the typical method employed to do this is to leverage Post-Deployment scripts and that is exactly what we are doing. Our requirement is a little different though, our data is split up into various buckets that we need to selectively deploy on a case-by-case basis. I was going to use a SQLCMD variable for each bucket (defaulted to some value other than “Yes”) to define whether it should be deployed or not so we could use something like this in our Post-Deployment script: IF ($(DeployBucket1Flag) = 'Yes')BEGIN   :r .\Bucket1.data.sqlENDIF ($(DeployBucket2Flag) = 'Yes')BEGIN   :r .\Bucket2.data.sqlENDIF ($(DeployBucket3Flag) = 'Yes')BEGIN   :r .\Bucket3.data.sqlEND That works fine and is, I’m sure, a very common technique for doing this. It is however slightly ugly because we have to litter our deployment with various SQLCMD variables. My colleague James Rowland-Jones (whom I’m sure many of you know) suggested another technique – bitmasks. I won’t go into detail about how this works (James has already done that at Using a Bitmask - a practical example) but I’ll summarise by saying that you can deploy different combinations of the buckets simply by supplying a different numerical value for a single SQLCMD variable. Each bit of that value’s binary representation signifies whether a particular bucket should be deployed or not. This is better demonstrated using the following simple script (which can be easily leveraged inside your Post-Deployment scripts): /* $(DeployData) is a SQLCMD variable that would, if you were using this in SSDT, be declared in the SQLCMD variables section of your project file. It should contain a numerical value, defaulted to 0. In this example I have declared it using a :setvar statement. Test the affect of different values by changing the :setvar statement accordingly. Examples: :setvar DeployData 1 will deploy bucket 1 :setvar DeployData 2 will deploy bucket 2 :setvar DeployData 3   will deploy buckets 1 & 2 :setvar DeployData 6   will deploy buckets 2 & 3 :setvar DeployData 31  will deploy buckets 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 */ :setvar DeployData 0 DECLARE  @bitmask VARBINARY(MAX) = CONVERT(VARBINARY,$(DeployData)); IF (@bitmask & 1 = 1) BEGIN     PRINT 'Bucket 1 insertions'; END IF (@bitmask & 2 = 2) BEGIN     PRINT 'Bucket 2 insertions'; END IF (@bitmask & 4 = 4) BEGIN     PRINT 'Bucket 3 insertions'; END IF (@bitmask & 8 = 8) BEGIN     PRINT 'Bucket 4 insertions'; END IF (@bitmask & 16 = 16) BEGIN     PRINT 'Bucket 5 insertions'; END An example of running this using DeployData=6 The binary representation of 6 is 110. The second and third significant bits of that binary number are set to 1 and hence buckets 2 and 3 are “activated”. Hope that makes sense and is useful to some of you! @Jamiet P.S. I used the awesome HTML Copy feature of Visual Studio’s Productivity Power Tools in order to format the T-SQL code above for this blog post.

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  • Folders in SQL Server Data Tools

    - by jamiet
    Recently I have begun a new project in which I am using SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) and SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) 2012. Although I have been using SSDT & SSIS fairly extensively while SQL Server 2012 was in the beta phase I usually find that you don’t learn about the capabilities and quirks of new products until you use them on a real project, hence I am hoping I’m going to have a lot of experiences to share on my blog over the coming few weeks. In this first such blog post I want to talk about file and folder organisation in SSDT. The predecessor to SSDT is Visual Studio Database Projects. When one created a new Visual Studio Database Project a folder structure was provided with “Schema Objects” and “Scripts” in the root and a series of subfolders for each schema: Apparently a few customers were not too happy with the tool arbitrarily creating lots of folders in Solution Explorer and hence SSDT has gone in completely the opposite direction; now no folders are created and new objects will get created in the root – it is at your discretion where they get moved to: After using SSDT for a few weeks I can safely say that I preferred the older way because I never used Solution Explorer to navigate my schema objects anyway so it didn’t bother me how many folders it created. Having said that the thought of a single long list of files in Solution Explorer without any folders makes me shudder so on this project I have been manually creating folders in which to organise files and I have tried to mimic the old way as much as possible by creating two folders in the root, one for all schema objects and another for Pre/Post deployment scripts: This works fine until different developers start to build their own different subfolder structures; if you are OCD-inclined like me this is going to grate on you eventually and hence you are going to want to move stuff around so that you have consistent folder structures for each schema and (if you have multiple databases) each project. Moreover new files get created with a filename of the object name + “.sql” and often people like to have an extra identifier in the filename to indicate the object type: The overall point is this – files and folders in your solution are going to change. Some version control systems (VCSs) don’t take kindly to files being moved around or renamed because they recognise the renamed/moved file simply as a new file and when they do that you lose the revision history which, to my mind, is one of the key benefits of using a VCS in the first place. On this project we have been using Team Foundation Server (TFS) and while it pains me to say it (as I am no great fan of TFS’s version control system) it has proved invaluable when dealing with the SSDT problems that I outlined above because it is integrated right into the Visual Studio IDE. Thus the advice from this blog post is: If you are using SSDT consider using an Visual-Studio-integrated VCS that can easily handle file renames and file moves I suspect that fans of other VCSs will counter by saying that their VCS weapon of choice can handle renames/file moves quite satisfactorily and if that’s the case…great…let me know about them in the comments. This blog post is not an attempt to make people use one particular VCS, only to make people aware of this issue that might rise when using SSDT. More to come in the coming few weeks! @jamiet

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  • DATEFROMPARTS

    - by jamiet
    I recently overheard a remark by Greg Low in which he said something akin to "the most interesting parts of a new SQL Server release are the myriad of small things that are in there that make a developer's life easier" (I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember the actual quote but it was something like that). The new DATEFROMPARTS function is a classic example of that . It simply takes three integer parameters and builds a date out of them (if you have used DateSerial in Reporting Services then you'll understand). Take the following code which generates the first and last day of some given years: SELECT 2008 AS Yr INTO #Years UNION ALL SELECT 2009 UNION ALL SELECT 2010 UNION ALL SELECT 2011 UNION ALL SELECT 2012SELECT [FirstDayOfYear] = CONVERT(DATE,CONVERT(CHAR(8),((y.[Yr] * 10000) + 101))),      [LastDayOfYear] = CONVERT(DATE,CONVERT(CHAR(8),((y.[Yr] * 10000) + 1231)))FROM   #Years y here are the results: That code is pretty gnarly though with those CONVERTs in there and, worse, if the character string is constructed in a certain way then it could fail due to localisation, check this out: SET LANGUAGE french;SELECT dt,Month_Name=DATENAME(mm,dt)FROM   (       SELECT  dt = CONVERT(DATETIME,CONVERT(CHAR(4),y.[Yr]) + N'-01-02')       FROM    #Years y       )d;SET LANGUAGE us_english;SELECT dt,Month_Name=DATENAME(mm,dt)FROM   (       SELECT  dt = CONVERT(DATETIME,CONVERT(CHAR(4),y.[Yr]) + N'-01-02')       FROM    #Years y       )d; Notice how the datetime has been converted differently based on the language setting. When French, the string "2012-01-02" gets interpreted as 1st February whereas when us_english the same string is interpreted as 2nd January. Instead of all this CONVERTing nastiness we have DATEFROMPARTS: SELECT [FirstDayOfYear] = DATEFROMPARTS(y.[Yr],1,1),    [LasttDayOfYear] = DATEFROMPARTS(y.[Yr],12,31)FROM   #Years y How much nicer is that? The bad news of course is that you have to upgrade to SQL Server 2012 or migrate to SQL Azure if you want to use it, as is the way of the world! Don't forget that if you want to try this code out on SQL Azure right this second, for free, you can do so by connecting up to AdventureWorks On Azure. You don't even need to have SSMS handy - a browser that runs Silverlight will do just fine. Simply head to https://mhknbn2kdz.database.windows.net/ and use the following credentials: Database AdventureWorks2012 User sqlfamily Password [email protected] One caveat, SELECT INTO doesn't work on SQL Azure so you'll have to use this instead: DECLARE @y TABLE ( [Yr] INT);INSERT @y([Yr])SELECT 2008 AS Yr UNION ALL SELECT 2009 UNION ALL SELECT 2010 UNION ALL SELECT 2011 UNION ALL SELECT 2012;SELECT [FirstDayOfYear] = DATEFROMPARTS(y.[Yr],1,1),      [LastDayOfYear] = DATEFROMPARTS(y.[Yr],12,31)FROM @y y;SELECT [FirstDayOfYear] = CONVERT(DATE,CONVERT(CHAR(8),((y.[Yr] * 10000) + 101))),      [LastDayOfYear] = CONVERT(DATE,CONVERT(CHAR(8),((y.[Yr] * 10000) + 1231)))FROM @y y; @Jamiet

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  • Build-time dependency resolving coming to Entity Framework. Now, how about those BI tools too?

    - by jamiet
    Three months ago I wrote a blog post entitled Some thoughts on Visual Studio database references and how they should be used for SQL Server BI where I shared some thoughts on a feature available to database developers in Visual Studio 2010 that I would love to see added to SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), Analysis Services (SSAS) and Reporting Services (SSRS). In there I said: Over the past few weeks I have been making heavy use of the Database tools in Visual Studio 2010 and one of the features that has most impressed me has been database references.   Database references allow you to have stored procedures in your database project that refer to objects (tables, views, stored procedures etc…) that exist in other database projects and hence when you build your database project it is able to resolve those references.   It occurred to me that similar functionality would be incredibly useful for SQL Server Integration Services(SSIS), Analysis Services (SSAS) & Reporting Services (SSRS) projects. After all reports, packages and data source views are rife with references to database objects – why shouldn’t we be able to have design-time dependency checking in our BI projects the same way that database and .Net developers do? In that blog post I shared links to three Connect submissions where I requested this feature be added to SSIS, SSAS & SSRS. In addition I also submitted a request that the feature be extended to .Net projects so that any reference to a database object in a .Net assembly can be resolved at build time. That Connect submission is at [Entity FX] Use database references to constrain the EDM and overnight it received this comment from Microsoft: We have been working on this feature for a while and and will be available soon This is really good news - it improves the Microsoft developer ecosystem by ensuring invalid references to database references get caught at build time (ideally as part of a Continuous integration build) rather than run time. [Hopefully it might nip this code-first nonsense in the bud too (Ooo...way to incite flame comments :) ) ]. If you want to see this feature in action then check out a video from Teched Europe last month entitled SQL Server Developer Tools Code-named "Juneau" where it is demo'd by Lance Delano and Tim Laverty.   The point of this blog post though is not just to draw attention to this forthcoming feature for .Net developers, it is to ask you to petition Microsoft to get this feature added to SSIS/SSAS/SSRS too. After all, we already know (from the video above) that the feature is coming to this new code-name Juneau development environment plus we also know that Juneau will be the development environment for SSIS/SSAS/SSRS as well - is it really much of a stretch to expect the BI tools to have access to this great feature too? I don't think so and if you agree with me then I urge you to vote and add a comment to the Connection submissions that are requesting this feature. They are at: [SSAS] Declare Object Dependancies [SSRS] Declare Object Dependancies [SSIS] Declare Object Dependancies (Update, Apparently someone at Microsoft has deemed it necassary to set this to private and I am not able to change it back even though I submitted it. You can still vote on the other two though.) Let's close that SQL Developer Gap!   @Jamiet    

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  • Olympics data available for all on Windows Azure SQL Database and Power View

    - by jamiet
    Are you looking around for some decent test data for your BI demos? Well, if so, Microsoft have provided some data about all medals won at the Olympics Games (1900 to 2008) at OlympicsData workbook - Excel, SSIS, Azure sample; it provides analysis over athletes, countries, medal type, sport, discipline and various other dimensions. The data has been provided in an Excel workbook along with instructions on how to load the data into a Windows Azure SQL Database using SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). Frankly though, the rigmarole of standing up your own Windows Azure SQL Database ok, SQL Azure database, is both costly (SQL Azure isn’t free) and time consuming (the provided instructions aren’t exactly an idiot’s guide and getting SSIS to work properly with Excel isn’t a barrel of laughs either). To ease the pain for all you BI folks out there that simply want to party on the data I have loaded it all into the SQL Azure database that I use for hosting AdventureWorks on Azure. You can read more about AdventureWorks on Azure below however I’ll summarise here by saying it is a SQL Azure database provided for the use of the SQL Server community and which is supported by voluntary donations. To view the data the credentials you need are: Server mhknbn2kdz.database.windows.net  Database AdventureWorks2012 User sqlfamily Password [email protected] Type those into SSMS and away you go, the data is provided in four tables [olympics].[Sport], [olympics].[Discipline], [olympics].[Event] & [olympics].[Medalist]: I figured this would be a good candidate for a Power View report so I fired up Excel 2013 and built such a report to slice’n’dice through the data – here are some screenshots that should give you a flavour of what is available: A view of all the available data Where do all the gymastics medals go? Which countries do top ten all-time medal winners come from? You get the idea. There is masses of information here and if you have Excel 2013 handy Power View provides a quick and easy way of surfing through it. To save you the bother of setting up the Power View report yourself you can have the one that I took these screenshots from, it is available on my SkyDrive at OlympicsAnalysis.xlsx so just hit the link and download to play to your heart’s content. Party on, people! As I said above the data is hosted on a SQL Azure database that I use for hosting “AdventureWorks on Azure” which I first announced in March 2013 at AdventureWorks2012 now available for all on SQL Azure. I’ll repeat the pertinent parts of that blog post here: I am pleased to announce that as of today … [AdventureWorks2012] now resides on SQL Azure and is available for anyone, absolutely anyone, to connect to and use for their own means. 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 than 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. I’d like to emphasize that last point. If my hosting this Olympics data is useful to you please support this initiative by donating. Thanks in advance. @Jamiet

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  • Building a database installer with WiX, datadude and Visual Studio 2010

    - by jamiet
    Today I have been using Windows Installer XML (WiX) to build an installer (.msi file) that would install a SQL Server database on a server of my choosing; the source code for that database lives in datadude (a tool which you may know by one of quite a few other names). The basis for this work was a most excellent blog post by Duke Kamstra entitled Implementing a WIX installer that calls the GDR version of VSDBCMD.EXE which coves the delicate intricacies of doing this – particularly how to call Vsdbcmd.exe in a CustomAction. Unfortunately there are a couple of things wrong with Duke’s post: Searching for “datadude wix” didn’t turn it up in the first page of search results and hence it took me a long time to find it. And I knew that it existed. If someone else were after a post on using WiX with datadude its likely that they would never have come across Duke’s post and that would be a great shame because its the definitive post on the matter. It was written in October 2009 and had not been updated for Visual Studio 2010. Well, this blog post is an attempt to solve those problems. Hopefully I’ve solved the first one just by following a few of my blogging SEO tips while writing this blog post, in the rest of it I will explain how I took Duke’s code and updated it to work in Visual Studio 2010. If you need to build a database installer using WiX, datadude and Visual Studio 2010 then you still need to follow Duke’s blog post so go and do that now. Below are the amendments that I made that enabled the project to get built in Visual Studio 2010: In VS2010 datadude’s output files have changed from being called Database.<suffix> to <ProjectName>_Database.<suffix>. Duke’s code was referencing the old file name formats. Duke used $(var.SolutionDir) and relative paths to point to datadude artefacts I have replaced these with Votive Project References http://wix.sourceforge.net/manual-wix3/votive_project_references.htm I commented out all references to MicrosoftSqlTypesDbschema in DatabaseArtifacts.wxi. I don't think this is produced in VS2010 (I may be wrong about that but it wasn't in the output from my project) Similarly I commented out component MicrosoftSqlTypesDbschema in VsdbcmdArtifacts.wxi. It wasn't where Duke's code said it should have been so am assuming/hoping it isn't needed. Duke's ?define block to work out appropriate SrcArchPath actually wasn't working for me (i.e. <?if $(var.Platform)=x64 ?> was evaluating to false)  so I just took out the conditional stuff and declared the path explicitly to the “Program Files (x86)” path. The old code is still there though if you need to put it back. None of the <RegistrySearch> stuff is needed for VS2010 - so I commented it all out! Changed to use /manifest option rather than /model option on vsdbcmd.exe command-line. Personal preference is all! Added a new component in order to bundle along the vsdbcmd.exe.config file Made the install of the Custom Action dependent on the relevant feature being selected for install. This one is actually really important – deselecting the database feature for installation does not, by default, stop the CustomAction from executing and so would cause an error - so that scenario needs to be catered for I have made my amended solution available for download at: http://cid-550f681dad532637.office.live.com/self.aspx/Public/BlogShare/20110210/InstallMyDatabase.zip It contains two projects: the WiX project and the datadude project that is the source to be deployed (for demo purposes it only contains one table). I have also made the .msi available although in order that it gets through file blockers I changed the name from InstallMyDatabase.msi to InstallMyDatabase.ms_ – simply rename the file back once you have downloaded it from: http://cid-550f681dad532637.office.live.com/self.aspx/Public/BlogShare/20110210/InstallMyDatabase.ms%5E_ .You can try it out for yourself – the only thing it does is dump the files into %Program Files%\MyDatabase and uses them to install a database onto a server of your choosing with a name of your choosing - no damaging side-affects. I will caveat this by saying “it works on my machine” and, not having access to a plethora of different machines, I haven’t tested it anywhere else. One potential issue that I know of is that Vsdbcmd.exe has a dependency on SQL Server CE although if you have SQL Server tools or Visual Studio installed you should be fine. Unfortunately its not possible to bundle along the SQL Server CE installer in the .msi because Windows will not allow you to call one installer from inside another – the recommended way to get around this problem is to build a bootstrapper to bundle the whole lot together but doing that is outside the scope of this blog post. If you discover any other issues then please let me know. Here are the screenshots from the installer: And once installed…. Hope this is useful! @jamiet 

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  • Workaround for datadude deployment bug - NullReferenceException

    - by jamiet
    I have come across a bug in Visual Studio 2010 Database Projects (aka datadude aka DPro aka Visual Studio Database Development Tools aka Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals aka Juneau aka SQL Server Data Tools) that other people may encounter so, for the purposes of googling, I'm writing this blog post about it. Through my own googling I discovered that a Connect bug had already been raised about it (VS2010 Database project deploy - “SqlDeployTask” task failed unexpectedly, NullReferenceException), and coincidentally enough it was raised by my former colleague Tom Hunter (whom I have mentioned here before as the superhuman Tom Hunter) although it has not (at this time) received a reply from Microsoft. Tom provided a repro, namely that this syntactically valid function definition: CREATE FUNCTION [dbo].[Function1]()RETURNS TABLEASRETURN (    WITH cte AS (    SELECT 1 AS [c1]    FROM [$(Database3)].[dbo].[Table1]   )   SELECT 1 AS [c1]   FROM cte) would produce this nasty unhelpful error upon deployment: C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\Microsoft\VisualStudio\v10.0\TeamData\Microsoft.Data.Schema.TSqlTasks.targets(120,5): Error MSB4018: The "SqlDeployTask" task failed unexpectedly.System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.Sql.SchemaModel.SqlModelComparerBase.VariableSubstitution(SqlScriptProperty propertyValue, IDictionary`2 variables, Boolean& isChanged)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.Sql.SchemaModel.SqlModelComparerBase.ArePropertiesEqual(IModelElement source, IModelElement target, ModelPropertyClass propertyClass, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareProperties(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition changes)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareElementsWithoutCompareName(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, Boolean parentExplicitlyIncluded, Boolean compareElementOnly, ModelComparisonResult result, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition changes)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareElementsWithSameType(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, ModelComparisonResult result, Boolean ignoreComparingName, Boolean parentExplicitlyIncluded, Boolean compareElementOnly, Boolean compareFromRootElement, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition& changes)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareChildren(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, Boolean parentExplicitlyIncluded, Boolean compareParentElementOnly, ModelComparisonResult result, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition changes, Boolean isComposing)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareElementsWithoutCompareName(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, Boolean parentExplicitlyIncluded, Boolean compareElementOnly, ModelComparisonResult result, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition changes)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareElementsWithSameType(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, ModelComparisonResult result, Boolean ignoreComparingName, Boolean parentExplicitlyIncluded, Boolean compareElementOnly, Boolean compareFromRootElement, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition& changes)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareChildren(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, Boolean parentExplicitlyIncluded, Boolean compareParentElementOnly, ModelComparisonResult result, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition changes, Boolean isComposing)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareElementsWithoutCompareName(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, Boolean parentExplicitlyIncluded, Boolean compareElementOnly, ModelComparisonResult result, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition changes)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareElementsWithSameType(IModelElement sourceElement, IModelElement targetElement, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, ModelComparisonResult result, Boolean ignoreComparingName, Boolean parentExplicitlyIncluded, Boolean compareElementOnly, Boolean compareFromRootElement, ModelComparisonChangeDefinition& changes)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareAllElementsForOneType(ModelElementClass type, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration, ModelComparisonResult result, Boolean compareOrphanedElements)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.SchemaModel.ModelComparer.CompareStore(ModelStore source, ModelStore target, ModelComparerConfiguration configuration)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.Build.SchemaDeployment.CompareModels()   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.Build.SchemaDeployment.PrepareBuildPlan()   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.Build.SchemaDeployment.Execute(Boolean executeDeployment)   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.Build.SchemaDeployment.Execute()   at Microsoft.Data.Schema.Tasks.DBDeployTask.Execute()   at Microsoft.Build.BackEnd.TaskExecutionHost.Microsoft.Build.BackEnd.ITaskExecutionHost.Execute()   at Microsoft.Build.BackEnd.TaskBuilder.ExecuteInstantiatedTask(ITaskExecutionHost taskExecutionHost, TaskLoggingContext taskLoggingContext, TaskHost taskHost, ItemBucket bucket, TaskExecutionMode howToExecuteTask, Boolean& taskResult)   Done executing task "SqlDeployTask" -- FAILED.  Done building target "DspDeploy" in project "Lloyds.UKTax.DB.UKtax.dbproj" -- FAILED. Done executing task "CallTarget" -- FAILED.Done building target "DBDeploy" in project It turns out there are a certain set of circumstances that need to be met for this error to occur: The object being deployed is an inline function  (may also exist for multistatement and scalar functions - I haven't tested that) That object includes SQLCMD variable references The object has already been deployed successfully Just to reiterate that last bullet point, the error does not occur when you deploy the function for the first time, only on the subsequent deployment.   Luckily I have a direct line into a guy on the development team so I fired off an email on Friday evening and today (Monday) I received a reply back telling me that there is a simple fix, one simply has to remove the parentheses that wrap the SQL statement. So, in the case of Tom's repro, the function definition simpy has to be changed to: CREATE FUNCTION [dbo].[Function1]()RETURNS TABLEASRETURN --(    WITH cte AS (    SELECT 1 AS [c1]    FROM [$(Database3)].[dbo].[Table1]   )   SELECT 1 AS [c1]   FROM cte--) I have commented out the offending parentheses rather than removing them just to emphasize the point. Thereafter the function will deploy fine. I tested this out on my own project this morning and can confirm that this fix does indeed work.   I have been told that the bug CAN be reproduced in the Release Candidate (RC) 0 build of SQL Server Data Tools in SQL Server 2010 so am hoping that a fix makes it in for the Release-To-Manufacturing (RTM) build. Hope this helps @jamiet

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  • Personal search – the future of search

    - by jamiet
    [Four months ago I wrote a meandering blog post on another blogging site entitled Personal search – the future of search. The points I made therein are becoming more relevant to what I'm reading about and hoping to get involved in in the future so I'm re-posting here to a wider audience to hopefully get some more feedback and guage reaction to it. This has been prompted by the book Pull by David Siegel that is forming my current holiday reading (recommended to me by a commenter on my previous post Interesting things – Twitter annotations and your phone as a web server) and in particular by Siegel's notion of us all in the future having a personal online data vault.] My one-time colleague Paul Dawson recently wrote an article called The Future of Search and in it he proposed some interesting ideas. Some choice quotes: The growth of Chinese search giant Baidu is an indicator that fully localised and tailored content and offerings have great traction with local audiences This trend is already driving an increase in the use of specialist searches … Look at how Farecast is now integrated into Bing for example, or how Flightstats is now integrated into Google. Search does not necessarily have to begin with a keyword, but could start instead with a click or a touch. Take a look at Retrievr. Start drawing a picture in the box and see what happens. This is certainly search without the need for typing in keywords search technology has advanced greatly in recent years. The recent launch of Microsoft Live Labs’ Pivot has given us a taste of what we can expect to see in the future This really got me thinking about where search might go in the future and as my mind wandered I realised that as the amount of data that we collect about ourselves increases so too will the need and the desire to search it. The amount of electronic data that exists about each and every person is increasing and in the near future I fully expect that we are going to be able to store personal data such as: A history of our location (in fact Google Latitude already offers this facility) Recordings of all our phone conversations Health information history (weight, blood pressure etc…) Energy usage Spending history What films we watch, what radio stations we listen to Voting history Of course, most of this stuff is already stored somewhere but crucially we don’t have easy access to it. My utilities supplier knows how much electricity I’m using but if I want to know for myself I have to go and dig through my statements (assuming I have kept them). Similarly my doctor probably has ready access to all of my health records, my bank knows exactly what I have spent my money on, my cable supplier knows what I watch on TV and my mobile phone supplier probably knows exactly where I am and where I’ve been for the past few years. Strange then that none of this electronic information is available to me in a way that I can really make use of it; after all, its MY information. Its MY data. I created it. That is set to change. As technologies mature and customers become more technically cognizant they will demand more access to the data that companies hold about them. The companies themselves will realise the benefit that they derive from giving users what they want and will embrace ways of providing it. As a result the amount of data that we store about ourselves is going to increase exponentially and the desire to search and derive value from that data is going to grow with it; we are about to enter the era of the “personal datastore” and we will want, and need, to search through it in order to make sense of it all. Its interesting then that today when we think of search we think of search engines and yet in these personal datastores we’re referring to data that search engines can’t touch because WE own it and we (hopefully) choose to keep it private. Someone, I know not who, is going to lead in this space by making it easy for us to search our data and retrieve information that we have either forgotten or maybe didn’t even know in the first place. We will learn new things about ourselves and about our habits; we will share these findings with whomever we choose; we will compare what we discover with others; we will collaborate for mutual benefit and, most of all, we will educate ourselves as to how to live our lives better. Search will be the means to that end, it will enable us to make sense of the wealth of information that we will collect day in day out. The future of search is personal, why would we be interested in anything else? @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • SQL Server devs–what source control system do you use, if any? (answer and maybe win free stuff)

    - by jamiet
    Recently I noticed a tweet from notable SQL Server author and community dude-at-large Steve Jones in which he asked how many SQL Server developers were putting their SQL Server source code (i.e. DDL) under source control (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t remember the exact tweet and Twitter’s search functionality is useless). The question surprised me slightly as I thought a more pertinent question would be “how many SQL Server developers are not using source control?” because I have been doing just that for many years now and I simply assumed that use of source control is a given in this day and age. Then I started thinking about it. “Perhaps I’m wrong” I pondered, “perhaps the SQL Server folks that do use source control in their day-to-day jobs are in the minority”. So, dear reader, I’m interested to know a little bit more about your use of source control. Are you putting your SQL Server code into a source control system? If so, what source control server software (e.g. TFS, Git, SVN, Mercurial, SourceSafe, Perforce) are you using? What source control client software are you using (e.g. TFS Team Explorer, Tortoise, Red Gate SQL Source Control, Red Gate SQL Connect, Git Bash, etc…)? Why did you make those particular software choices? Any interesting anecdotes to share in regard to your use of source control and SQL Server? To encourage you to contribute I have five pairs of licenses for Red Gate SQL Source Control and Red Gate SQL Connect to give away to what I consider to be the five best replies (“best” is totally subjective of course but this is my blog so my decision is final ), if you want to be considered don’t forget to leave contact details; email address, Twitter handle or similar will do. To start you off and to perhaps get the brain cells whirring, here are my answers to the questions above: Are you putting your SQL Server code into a source control system? As I think I’ve already said…yes. Always. If so, what source control server software (e.g. TFS, Git, SVN, Mercurial, SourceSafe, Perforce) are you using? I move around a lot between many clients so it changes on a fairly regular basis; my current client uses Team Foundation Server (aka TFS) and as part of a separate project is trialing the use of Team Foundation Service. I have used SVN extensively in the past which I am a fan of (I generally prefer it to TFS) and am trying to get my head around Git by using it for ObjectStorageHelper. What source control client software are you using (e.g. TFS Team Explorer, Tortoise, Red Gate SQL Source Control, Red Gate SQL Connect, Git Bash, etc…)? On my current project, Team Explorer. In the past I have used Tortoise to connect to SVN. Why did you make those particular software choices? I generally use whatever the client uses and given that I work with SQL Server I find that the majority of my clients use TFS, I guess simply because they are Microsoft development shops. Any interesting anecdotes to share in regard to your use of source control and SQL Server? Not an anecdote as such but I am going to share some frustrations about TFS. In many ways TFS is a great product because it integrates many separate functions (source control, work item tracking, build agents) into one whole and I’m firmly of the opinion that that is a good thing if for no reason other than being able to associate your check-ins with a work-item. However, like many people there are aspects to TFS source control that annoy me day-in, day-out. Chief among them has to be the fact that it uses a file’s read-only property to determine if a file should be checked-out or not and, if it determines that it should, it will happily do that check-out on your behalf without you even asking it to. I didn’t realise how ridiculous this was until I first used SVN about three years ago – with SVN you make any changes you wish and then use your source control client to determine which files have changed and thus be checked-in; the notion of “check-out” doesn’t even exist. That sounds like a small thing but you don’t realise how liberating it is until you actually start working that way. Hoping to hear some more anecdotes and opinions in the comments. Remember….free software is up for grabs! @jamiet 

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  • Personal search – the future of search

    - by jamiet
    [Four months ago I wrote a meandering blog post on another blogging site entitled Personal search – the future of search. The points I made therein are becoming more relevant to what I'm reading about and hoping to get involved in in the future so I'm re-posting here to a wider audience to hopefully get some more feedback and guage reaction to it. This has been prompted by the book Pull by David Siegel that is forming my current holiday reading (recommended to me by a commenter on my previous post Interesting things – Twitter annotations and your phone as a web server) and in particular by Siegel's notion of us all in the future having a personal online data vault.] My one-time colleague Paul Dawson recently wrote an article called The Future of Search and in it he proposed some interesting ideas. Some choice quotes: The growth of Chinese search giant Baidu is an indicator that fully localised and tailored content and offerings have great traction with local audiences This trend is already driving an increase in the use of specialist searches … Look at how Farecast is now integrated into Bing for example, or how Flightstats is now integrated into Google. Search does not necessarily have to begin with a keyword, but could start instead with a click or a touch. Take a look at Retrievr. Start drawing a picture in the box and see what happens. This is certainly search without the need for typing in keywords search technology has advanced greatly in recent years. The recent launch of Microsoft Live Labs’ Pivot has given us a taste of what we can expect to see in the future This really got me thinking about where search might go in the future and as my mind wandered I realised that as the amount of data that we collect about ourselves increases so too will the need and the desire to search it. The amount of electronic data that exists about each and every person is increasing and in the near future I fully expect that we are going to be able to store personal data such as: A history of our location (in fact Google Latitude already offers this facility) Recordings of all our phone conversations Health information history (weight, blood pressure etc…) Energy usage Spending history What films we watch, what radio stations we listen to Voting history Of course, most of this stuff is already stored somewhere but crucially we don’t have easy access to it. My utilities supplier knows how much electricity I’m using but if I want to know for myself I have to go and dig through my statements (assuming I have kept them). Similarly my doctor probably has ready access to all of my health records, my bank knows exactly what I have spent my money on, my cable supplier knows what I watch on TV and my mobile phone supplier probably knows exactly where I am and where I’ve been for the past few years. Strange then that none of this electronic information is available to me in a way that I can really make use of it; after all, its MY information. Its MY data. I created it. That is set to change. As technologies mature and customers become more technically cognizant they will demand more access to the data that companies hold about them. The companies themselves will realise the benefit that they derive from giving users what they want and will embrace ways of providing it. As a result the amount of data that we store about ourselves is going to increase exponentially and the desire to search and derive value from that data is going to grow with it; we are about to enter the era of the “personal datastore” and we will want, and need, to search through it in order to make sense of it all. Its interesting then that today when we think of search we think of search engines and yet in these personal datastores we’re referring to data that search engines can’t touch because WE own it and we (hopefully) choose to keep it private. Someone, I know not who, is going to lead in this space by making it easy for us to search our data and retrieve information that we have either forgotten or maybe didn’t even know in the first place. We will learn new things about ourselves and about our habits; we will share these findings with whomever we choose; we will compare what we discover with others; we will collaborate for mutual benefit and, most of all, we will educate ourselves as to how to live our lives better. Search will be the means to that end, it will enable us to make sense of the wealth of information that we will collect day in day out. The future of search is personal, why would we be interested in anything else? @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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  • Editing sqlcmdvariable nodes in SSDT Publish Profile files using msbuild

    - by jamiet
    Publish profile files are a new feature of SSDT database projects that enable you to package up all environment-specific properties into a single file for use at publish time; I have written about them before at Publish Profile Files in SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) and if it wasn’t obvious from that blog post, I’m a big fan! As I have used Publish Profile files more and more I have realised that there may be times when you need to edit those Publish profile files during your build process, you may think of such an operation as a kind of pre-processor step. In my case I have a sqlcmd variable called DeployTag, it holds a value representing the current build number that later gets inserted into a table using a Post-Deployment script (that’s a technique that I wrote about in Implementing SQL Server solutions using Visual Studio 2010 Database Projects – a compendium of project experiences – search for “Putting a build number into the DB”). Here are the contents of my Publish Profile file (simplified for demo purposes) : Notice that DeployTag defaults to “UNKNOWN”. On my current project we are using msbuild scripts to control what gets built and what I want to do is take the build number from our build engine and edit the Publish profile files accordingly. Here is the pertinent portion of the the msbuild script I came up with to do that:   <ItemGroup>     <Namespaces Include="myns">       <Prefix>myns</Prefix>       <Uri>http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003</Uri>     </Namespaces>   </ItemGroup>   <Target Name="UpdateBuildNumber">     <ItemGroup>       <SSDTPublishFiles Include="$(DESTINATION)\**\$(CONFIGURATION)\**\*.publish.xml" />     </ItemGroup>     <MSBuild.ExtensionPack.Xml.XmlFile Condition="%(SSDTPublishFiles.Identity) != ''"                                        TaskAction="UpdateElement"                                        File="%(SSDTPublishFiles.Identity)"                                        Namespaces="@(Namespaces)"                                         XPath="//myns:SqlCmdVariable[@Include='DeployTag']/myns:Value"                                         InnerText="$(BuildNumber)"/>   </Target> The important bits here are the definition of the namespace http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003: and the XPath expression //myns:SqlCmdVariable[@Include='DeployTag']/myns:Value: Some extra info: I use a fantastic tool called XMLPad to discover/test XPath expressions, read more at XMLPad – a new tool in my developer utility belt MSBuild.ExtensionPack.Xml.XmlFile is a msbuild task used to edit XML files and is available from Mike Fourie’s MSBuild Extension Pack I’m using a property called $(BuildNumber) to hold the value to substitute into the file and also $(DESTINATION)\**\$(CONFIGURATION)\**\*.publish.xml to define an ItemGroup all of my Publish Profile files. Populating those properties is basic msbuild stuff and is therefore outside the scope of this blog post however if you want to learn more check out MSBuild properties & How To: Use Wildcards to Build All Files in a Directory. Hope this is useful! @Jamiet

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  • Querying Visual Studio project files using T-SQL and Powershell

    - by jamiet
    Earlier today I had a need to get some information out of a Visual Studio project file and in this blog post I’m going to share a couple of ways of going about that because I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only person that ever wants to do this. The specific problem I was trying to solve was finding out how many objects in my database project (i.e. in my .dbproj file) had any warnings suppressed but the techniques discussed below will work pretty well for any Visual Studio project file because every such file is simply an XML document, hence it can be queried by anything that can query XML documents. Ever heard the phrase “when all you’ve got is hammer everything looks like a nail”? Well that’s me with querying stuff – if I can write SQL then I’m writing SQL. Here’s a little noddy database project I put together for demo purposes: Two views and a stored procedure, nothing fancy. I suppressed warnings for [View1] & [Procedure1] and hence the pertinent part my project file looks like this:   <ItemGroup>    <Build Include="Schema Objects\Schemas\dbo\Views\View1.view.sql">      <SubType>Code</SubType>      <SuppressWarnings>4151,3276</SuppressWarnings>    </Build>    <Build Include="Schema Objects\Schemas\dbo\Views\View2.view.sql">      <SubType>Code</SubType>    </Build>    <Build Include="Schema Objects\Schemas\dbo\Programmability\Stored Procedures\Procedure1.proc.sql">      <SubType>Code</SubType>      <SuppressWarnings>4151</SuppressWarnings>    </Build>  </ItemGroup>  <ItemGroup> Note the <SuppressWarnings> elements – those are the bits of information that I am after. With a lot of help from folks on the SQL Server XML forum  I came up with the following query that nailed what I was after. It reads the contents of the .dbproj file into a variable of type XML and then shreds it using T-SQL’s XML data type methods: DECLARE @xml XML; SELECT @xml = CAST(pkgblob.BulkColumn AS XML) FROM   OPENROWSET(BULK 'C:\temp\QueryingProjectFileDemo\QueryingProjectFileDemo.dbproj' -- <-Change this path!                    ,single_blob) AS pkgblob                    ;WITH XMLNAMESPACES( 'http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003' AS ns) SELECT  REVERSE(SUBSTRING(REVERSE(ObjectPath),0,CHARINDEX('\',REVERSE(ObjectPath)))) AS [ObjectName]        ,[SuppressedWarnings] FROM   (        SELECT  build.query('.') AS [_node]        ,       build.value('ns:SuppressWarnings[1]','nvarchar(100)') AS [SuppressedWarnings]        ,       build.value('@Include','nvarchar(1000)') AS [ObjectPath]        FROM    @xml.nodes('//ns:Build[ns:SuppressWarnings]') AS R(build)        )q And here’s the output: And that’s it – an easy way of discovering which warnings have been suppressed and for which objects in your database projects. I won’t bother going over the code as it is fairly self-explanatory – peruse it at your leisure.   Once I had the SQL above I figured I’d share it around a little in case it was ever useful to anyone else; hence I’m writing this blog post and I also posted it on the Visual Studio Database Development Tools forum at FYI: Discover which objects have had warnings suppressed. Luckily Kevin Goode saw the thread and he posted a different solution to the same problem, one that uses Powershell. The advantage of Kevin’s Powershell approach is that it is easy to analyse many .dbproj files at the same time. Below is Kevin’s code which I have tweaked ever so slightly so that it produces the same results as my SQL script (I just want any object that had had a warning suppressed whereas Kevin was querying specifically for warning 4151):   cd 'C:\Temp\QueryingProjectFileDemo\' cls $projects = ls -r -i *.dbproj Foreach($project in $projects) { $xml = new-object System.Xml.XmlDocument $xml.set_PreserveWhiteSpace( $true ) $xml.Load($project) #$xpath = @{Start="/e:Project/e:ItemGroup/e:Build[e:SuppressWarnings=4151]/@Include"} #$xpath = @{Start="/e:Project/e:ItemGroup/e:Build[contains(e:SuppressWarnings,'4151')]/@Include"} $xpath = @{Start="/e:Project/e:ItemGroup/e:Build[e:SuppressWarnings]/@Include"} $ns = @{ e = "http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003" } $xml | Select-Xml -XPath $xpath.Start -Namespace $ns |Select -Expand Node | Select -expand Value } and here’s the output: Nice reusable Powershell and SQL scripts – not bad for an evening’s work. Thank you to Kevin for allowing me to share his code. Don’t forget that these techniques can easily be adapted to query any Visual Studio project file, they’re only XML documents after all! Doubtless many people out there already have code for doing this but nonetheless here is another offering to the great script library in the sky. Have fun! @Jamiet

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  • Subscribable World Cup 2010 Calendar

    - by jamiet
    I bang on quite a lot on this blog about ways in which data can get published over the web and one of the most interesting ways, in my opinion, of publishing data in a structured manner that is well understood is to use the iCalendar specification. There isn’t much information in the world that doesn’t have some concept of “when” so iCalendar is a great way of distributing that information. You have probably used iCalendar at some point without even knowing about it. All files with a .ics suffix are iCalendar format files and that is why you can happily import them into Outlook, Hotmail Calendar, Google Calendar etc… where they can be parsed and have the semantic data (when, where and who) extracted from them. Importing of iCalendar format data is really only half the trick though; in my opinion the real value of iCalendar-formatted calendar is the ability to subscribe to them. Subscribing has a simple benefit over importing but that single benefit is of massive importance: a subscriber to an iCalendar calendar can periodically check to see if any updates have been made and, if they have, automatically update the local copy. The real benefit to the user is the productivity gain – a single update to an iCalendar means that all subscribers are automatically made aware of the change and there is zero effort on the part of the subscriber; as my former colleague Howard van Rooijen is fond of saying, “work smarter not harder” – nowhere is this edict more ably demonstrated than subscribing versus importing of calendars. If you want to read some more thoughts about iCalendar then go and read my past blog post Calendar syndication - My big hope for 2009's breakthrough technology or better still go and seek out Jon Udell who speaks very authoritatively on the issue of iCalendar. With this subject of iCalendar on my mind I was interested to discover (via Steve Clayton’s blog post Download the world cup fixtures) that the BBC had made a .ics file available containing all of the matches in the upcoming World Cup. As you can probably guess this was a file that was made available so that it could be imported into your calendar of choice. It had one obvious downside though, right now nobody knows who is going to be playing in the knock-out stages so the calendar looks like this: with no teams being named after 25th June. How much more useful would this calendar have been if the BBC had made it possible to subscribe to the calendar instead, thus the calendar could be updated with the teams for the knock out stages when they are known and every subscriber would have a permanently up-to-date record of all the fixtures in their calendar. Better still, the calendar could be updated with match results as well or perhaps even post a match report from the BBC sport pages; when calendars are made subscribable a sea of opportunity opens up for distribution of information. So with that in mind I have decided to go one better than the BBC. I have imported their .ics into a brand new Hotmail calendar and made it publicly available at the following URLs: HTML http://cid-dc1ed121af0476be.calendar.live.com/calendar/World+Cup+2010/index.html iCalendar webcal://cid-dc1ed121af0476be.calendar.live.com/calendar/World+Cup+2010/calendar.ics The link you’re really interested in is the second one - click on that and it should open up in your calendar software of choice. Or, if you want to view it in an online calendar such as Hotmail Calendar or Google Calendar, copy and paste that URL into the appropriate place. Some people have told me they’re having trouble with the iCalendar link in which case hit the HTML link and then click “View ICS” at the resultant web page: I shall endeavour to keep the calendar updated throughout the World Cup and even if I don’t you’re no worse off than if you had imported the BBC’s .ics file so why not give it a try? If I do keep it up to date then you will have a permanent record of the 2010 World Cup available in your calendar. Forever. If you have your calendar synced to your smartphone then you’ll be carrying match reports around with you without you having to do a single thing. Surely that’s worth a quick click isn’t it?   If you have any thoughts let me have them in the comments below. Thanks for reading. @Jamiet Share this post: email it! | bookmark it! | digg it! | reddit! | kick it! | live it!

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