Looking at Juneau's Integrated Database Development

One of the nice things about my day job as technical editor at MSDN Magazine is getting early looks at cutting-edge technologies and how-to guidance from some of the top experts in the world.

This month, for example, Jamie Laflen and Barclay Hill explore “The ‘Juneau' Database Project,” which promises that “you can now perform your database development in the same environment as your application development.” That sounds nice. No more jumping around from one tool to another.

I found it particularly intriguing that the new Database Project in the next version of Visual Studio enables offline SQL Server development. The two SQL Server Developer Tools experts explain this “project-based development” provides the following advantages over using a shared live database:

  • Isolation of developer changes
  • Rich T-SQL editing support
  • Verification of source prior to deployment and enforcement of team coding standards through code analysis rules
  • Automated migration-script generation

Furthering the move to more self-contained development is SQL Server Express LocalDB, as introduced in a sidebar. It provides a kind of simplified user instance and lets you develop against SQL Server Express without having to fuss with managing a full-fledged desktop Express instance, cutting way back on setup time. Check out the article for more technical details. Your job as a .NET/SQL Server developer is about to get a lot easier.

What are you looking forward to in Juneau? Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 09/07/2011 at 1:15 PM1 comments


New NoSQL Language Unveiled As Debate Rages On

Pretty much every blog, article or discussion you see about the SQL vs. NoSQL debate includes sage advice from a reasonable voice of authority along the lines of something like this:

Whoa! Let's calm down. No need to fight. It's not a which-is-better issue, because each (tool/approach/language/philosophy) has its use. They should be used together as needed to solve different kinds of problems according to their strengths ...

And so on.

So it was interesting to read a comment on a blog post that went against that grain:

I wish it was as simple as SQL & RDBMS is good for this and NoSQL is good for that. For me at least, the waters are much muddier than that.

Tony Bain made that comment on a blog post by Conor O'Mahony titled "The Future of the NoSQL, SQL, and RDBMS Markets." Bain goes on to discuss the issue in detail, with much of the discourse from the perspective of a database developer. It's definitely worth reading by you data devs. It's also noteworthy that the blog posting was prompted by an article in The Register with the subhead "World says 'No' to NoSQL."

Were it that easy. Just a week or so earlier, in fact, there was much buzz generated when Couchbase released a "flagship NoSQL database" and an entirely new NoSQL query language called UnQL.

Does that sound like the desperate last gasp of a major player in a dead movement? Or will we one day look back and recognize it as a major step in an industry transformation?

You tell me. Comment here or drop me a line. I'm just happy that Couchbase provided some pronunciation guidance, a pet peeve of mine. UnQL is pronounced like the word "Uncle."

Posted by David Ramel on 08/22/2011 at 1:15 PM0 comments


How are Database Developers Doing, Salary-Wise?

I noticed in the comprehensive 16th annual IT Salary Survey that database developers lost their No. 1 spot in the category of average base salary by job title, actually falling three rungs down the ladder to No. 4.

Not that $95,212 is that bad. But still, that seemed like kind of a big drop in statistics that don't usually change that much from year to year. In fact, editor Michael Domingo said "Database programmers have been fairly consistent in the rankings, but dropped from the top spot to fourth from a dollar perspective. Still, based on percentages, they managed to go up nearly 7 percent from last year's result." Besides being consistent, database programmers "often rank highest," Domingo said in the more extensive PDF document, downloadable with registration.

So, what does a healthy 7 percent average salary hike combined with the reduced job title salary ranking really mean? It looks like that, while data devs are doing OK, others--especially networking project leads--are just doing a little better.

Indeed, when it comes to "salary by technology expertise," Domingo said, "The biggest gains from a year ago are those with database development skills, earning 6.2 percent higher." In that category, the average salary for those with database development skills was $92,460.

Another survey, conducted by Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine, also had good news for database developers. Domingo edited this one, too (the guy is everywhere). "Network project leads also often do well, but in the scheme of things, it's the DBAs and database developers who came in right above on the salary scale," he said. "DBAs and developers often tell us that they're well compensated and happy with their pay, and this year is no different. It's data, after all, that is at the heart of many businesses and good data people are often plied with incentives to either stay put or lured away to companies who can afford to pay higher salaries."

Whew! I guess that initial ranking drop I mentioned isn't that worrisome after all. Data still rules, and pays the big bucks. Now, for me, it's with relief that I return to wrestling with outer joins and normalization in that "Become a Database Developer in 21 Days" course I paid so much for.

What the heck is a tuple? Clue me in or comment otherwise, or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 08/04/2011 at 1:15 PM0 comments


When Beta Apps Wreck Your System: A SQL Server 2008 R2 Eval Lesson

OK, I need a little help here. I earlier wrote about a nightmare I endured (along with many others) with the evaluation version of SQL Server 2008 R2.

I was surprised to be ripped by readers. Turns out it was my fault. You're never supposed to install beta apps on a system you might want to use again. That was news to me. One reader wrote:

"By its very nature eval software is not to be installed on any machine you don't care about needing to be rebuilt from the ground up. Hasn't anybody ever read the warnings included with installation of eval software? If you are "experimenting" with new software on a machine that cannot be wiped and rebuilt then the onus is on YOU not Microsoft."

Another concurred:

"When using evaluation software you should always walk in the path that what you are installing it on may not be capable of running afterwards, no matter who wrote the software."

How did I miss this? Where are these "warnings"? Do Microsoft or other major vendors actually say that you should only use this stuff at your own risk because it might trash your computer? I looked around quickly on Microsoft's site but didn't see these warnings. Do they pop up when you install the software or are they in the EULA or somewhere else? I'd test this out by installing something and seeing what warnings I receive, but I'm afraid to now. Maybe I just click too quickly through all the screens during setup and have missed these warnings.

Anyway, reader No. 1 suggested using virtual machines. I've never tried these, frankly, so I'm looking for some advice. He mentioned a free server from Microsoft, what I presume is Virtual Server 2005 R2. Does anybody have any real-world experience with this? I have an underpowered Win 7 laptop so I'm kind of concerned about any additional load it will put on the system. And there must be myriad other details that real users can relate that aren't found in the documentation.

Also, are there any other free alternative virtual servers that anyone has hands-on experience with that might be useful for testing software?

Another reader mentioned he uses partitions for testing this stuff. But I've had bad experiences with partitioning disks before, too (hmm, maybe it's just me). What about you? Any suggestions or experiences to pass along with partitioning, or partitioning vs. virtualization?

So basically I'm looking to share with everyone any tips, warnings or ideas about virtualization or partitioning--or alternative methods to test software--that you'd care to provide. Please comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 07/21/2011 at 1:15 PM2 comments


And the "SQL Server 'Denali' Must/Must Not Support XP" Debate Goes On

A couple of interesting announcement were made since I wrote about how some developers were clamoring for Windows XP support in the next version of SQL Server, code-name Denali.

First, in a Monday keynote address at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), the company announced that XP's "end of life" would occur in 1,000 days, on April 8, 2014.

Second, on the same day, at the same event, Microsoft announced the availability of the Community Technology Preview 3 of Denali. It's getting closer and closer to final release.

The XP/Denali debate continued on Microsoft's site after my blog was published, with readers chiming in on the issue even though the post announcing that XP wouldn't be supported was nearly a month old. "I'm going to disagree with the crowd, I think support for XP should be put in place," commented one reader last Friday.

The lively exchange among readers continued in the comments on my blog post, with a mix of opinions. "Obviously seems wrong to support something that's now obsolete," wrote one reader. "Time to cut the cord," wrote another. "Definitely Windows XP has to be supported," wrote yet another.

So it's still a hot-button issue, even though, with the Denali CTP3, the point seems moot.

Me? I've come down firmly right in the middle of the fence. I still have an XP machine, and it works fine with several modern apps. And a couple years ago, I was still advocating XP as the best OS in a debate with three other journalists on another IT publication's Web site.

But I also have a Win 7 machine, and I love some of its more advanced features. And with the economy imploding, even cash-rich Microsoft has to pick its support spots these days.

As I write this, though, I notice my XP desktop lies dormant at my feet, while for quite some time I've had its monitor plugged into my Win 7 laptop for dual-display.

I guess I've fallen off the fence.

What do you think? Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 07/14/2011 at 1:15 PM2 comments


SQL Server Devs Clamor for XP Support in Denali

When I first glanced at the proposed list of OSes to be supported in the next version of SQL Server, code-name Denali, I actually thought: "Windows XP isn't supported? That's odd. There are a lot of XP machines still out there."

My immediate second thought was: "No, that's cool. It's getting too long in the tooth. Time to move on." But it appears a lot of SQL Server developers agreed with thought No. 1. Yes, the nearly 10-year-old OS still has its proponents in the dev field (it's hard to believe XP was actually released to manufacturers before we all knew about Osama bin Laden).

Case in point was this reader's response to the blog announcing Microsoft's supported OSes and upgrade plans:

"Sadly, that Windows XP is not supported. I know many developers use SQL Server Express + SSMS on their Windows XP corporate workstations. And they do not plan to move to Windows 7 soon. I do understand, that life is going on, but still ... I wish it would support XP."

There were many more posts like that one, leading to a good deal of give-and-take among the readers on both sides of the issue. Two readers reported companies they worked at (or recently worked at) still had more than 10,000 XP machines!

Comments like those made me gravitate back to my thought No. 1. After all, Wikipedia says, Microsoft continued to sell XP through certain channels up until the beginning of 2010. And the Denali CTP was released later that year. Isn't it a bit premature to abandon the vast XP user base in introducing an important new SQL Server release when XP hasn't even been officially expired for much more than a year and half? Granted, I don't know when Denali will be officially released, but a lot of people think it might be this year.

But other readers make good points, too. Like this:

Good list and I support it. No reason to go backwards anymore. Those companies that still run XP on every desktop and mandate it, or have SQL2K, aren't going to run to Denali. If they think they need it, they'll make exceptions for the people that need it.

Any IT professional that wants to work on Denali, but has XP at work. Either invest in a machine that you can run it on at home or learn to set up a VM, but there is no reason for MS to invest time or testing efforts into supporting XP at this point.

Those kinds of comments made me reconsider thought No. 2.

Ah, I'm just too darned wishy-washy. Decide for me. Which should it be? Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 07/07/2011 at 1:15 PM10 comments


NoSQL Ascension Highlights Developer Survey

I found it interesting that Evans Data chose to lead with the growth of NoSQL in the enterprise when it began hawking its latest North American Development Survey today.

Not programming languages used, mobile development or even the cloud. But rather, the ascension of NoSQL. What does this prove? It's the data, stupid.

The survey reported that 56 percent of respondents were using some flavor of NoSQL and 63 percent planned on doing so in the next two years. The reason, Evans Data, said, was scale. Massive amounts of data become awkward to handle in traditional relational database schemas. And these huge depositories, spawned on explosively growing Web sites such as Google and Facebook, are becoming more commonplace in the enterprise.

"The advent of Big Data is driving adoption of NoSQL, and this is especially true in the corporate enterprise," the company said in a news release.  "While it may have got its start on the Web with innovations like Big Table and MapReduce, it's the enterprise that can most benefit from NoSQL and developers realize this across all geographical regions."

In fact, Evans Data said enterprise adoption dwarfed that of the "general developer population," where only 43 percent of respondents expected to use NoSQL.

Microsoft has to be paying attention to this. They may have been late to the Web, mobile, etc., but the enterprise has always been their stronghold, in SQL Server and many other technologies. If they weren't worried before, they have to be now.

For an interesting, alternative take on the reasons for the growth of the NoSQL movement, read this blog by database expert Andrew J. Brust on the Redmond Developer News site.

Then chime in with your own thoughts about this upsurge in popularity. Comment here or send me an e-mail.

Posted by David Ramel on 06/30/2011 at 1:15 PM0 comments


PowerShell vs. SQL Server Management Studio

When I (along with many other people) had a lot of trouble trying to install SQL Server Management Studio in an attempt to switch from the SQL Server 2008 R2 evaluation to the free Express version, I became quite frustrated and began looking at free alternatives to SSMS, including PowerShell.

When I wrote about this, one reader replied that my post was a total disappointment because PowerShell, not having a graphical user interface (GUI), was not a suitable candidate to replace SSMS. I found this comment puzzling, as I included a screenshot of the PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE), which looks pretty darned GUIish to me.

TechNet seems to agree with me, as it says, "In Windows PowerShell ISE, you can run commands and write, test, and debug scripts in a single Windows-based graphic user interface [emphasis mine] with multiline editing, tab completion, syntax coloring, selective execution, context-sensitive help, and support for right-to-left languages."

But hey, I'll give the reader the benefit of the doubt. Maybe "graphic user interface" is different from "graphical user interface" and PowerShell doesn't qualify as an official GUI because you often have to enter scripting commands, or something.

Anyway, I pointed the reader to PowerGUI, which I hope to explore further.

In that same post, I commented that SSMS has some things that PowerShell doesn't, such as an object explorer. PowerShell expert Chad Miller commented (on VisualStudioMagazine.com another site hosting my blog) that PowerShell is quite extensible and allows you to build your own object explorer and directed me to the SQL ISE, part of the SQL Server PowerShell Extensions CodePlex project (SQLPSX).

So I checked it out and learned that "SQLPSX consists of 13 modules with 163 advanced functions, 2 cmdlets and 7 scripts for working with ADO.NET, SMO, Agent, RMO, SSIS, SQL script files, PBM, Oracle and MySQL and using Powershell ISE as a SQL and Oracle query tool. In addition, optional backend databases and SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 reports are provided with SQLServer and PBM modules."

Impressive, but I wondered about the DIY object explorer. I downloaded and installed all the requisite files and modules and an "Add-ons" item was added to the top menu. Clicking on that brings up a "SQLIse" menu item with a dozen submenus, one of which is "Object Browser." That indeed does bring up something similar to the SSMS object browser, as a new window, as shown in Fig. 1, exploring the Northwind database:


[Click on image for larger view.]
Figure 1. Exploring the Northwind database with the SQLIse object explorer.

It doesn't have the exact same capabilities as its SSMS counterpart (such as right-click functionality to run queries, and so on), but it certainly lets you explore the database tables.

Being a PowerShell noob, I wanted to explore more database-related functionality. I asked PowerShell MVP Doug Finke what he thought about the usefulness of PowerShell for database developers. "PowerShell is useful for devs in many ways," he replied. As a simple example, he pointed to the Invoke-SqlCommand, from Lee Holmes of the PowerShell team, and author of Windows PowerShell Cookbook.

Finke provided the following command example:

Invoke-SqlCommand -Sql "Select * from pubs" | Export-Csv  -NoTypeInformation c:\pubs.csv; 
Invoke-Item c:\pubs.csv

"This extracts the data, puts it in a comma-separated-format file and then uses Invoke-Item to launch Excel on that file," Finke said. I tried his example, and sure enough, the result is shown in Fig 2.


[Click on image for larger view.]
Figure 2. Using PowerShell to access the Pubs database and export its contents into a .csv file.

Finke continued: "[Here] is a post I did doing more tricks with Excel and pivot tables. While the data in the post comes from a csv, it could come from SQL Server or any other data source. This is a key benefit to the object pipeline."

Finke also listed more benefits to database developers offered by PowerShell:

  1. Testing Web services using PowerShell's New-WebServiceProxy cmdlet.
  2. Microsoft Nuget has a PowerShell console that resides inside Visual Studio 2010 and makes using it more productive.
  3. A developer can load and test .NET DLLs at the command line or in scripts.
  4. PowerShell can be used to automate common, everyday developer tasks including source control builds.

I was curious about item No. 3 in that list, so I gave it a try. Sure enough, using the .NET Math DLL is as simple as calling it in brackets and then using :: to use one of its static methods, in this case the square root function. I assigned the value produced by the function to $v and called for the square root of 49, like this:

PS  C:\Users\Ramel\Desktop> $v = [MATH]::Sqrt(49)

Then, to see the value returned, you can just enter the variable at the prompt: $t.

That produces the result: 7

You can also make and access your own DLLs. For example, in Visual Studio, I created a Class Library project, connected to the Pubs database and built a Pubs DLL, which I accessed with this command:

PS  C:\Users\Ramel\Desktop> [System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadFile("C:\pathtodll\Pubs.dll") 

I then created a new object -- a Pubs DataContext -- and assigned to a variable called $ctx. Just by typing in the variable and hitting enter, you could see the structure of the object:

authors                 : {White, Green, Carson, O'Leary...}
titles                 : {BU1032, BU1111, BU2075, BU7832...}
...

Once you see the structure, you can call up all author records, for example, like this:

PS C:\Users\Ramel\Desktop> $ctx.authors
au_id        : 172-32-1176
au_lname     : White
au_fname     : Johnson
phone        : 408 496-7223
address      : 10932 Bigge Rd.
city         : Menlo Park
state        : CA
zip          : 94025
contract     : True
titleauthors : {172-32-1176}
...

You can then run SQL queries against the DataContext in a number of different ways, including the following, which finds authors who live in Utah:

PS C:\Users\Ramel\Desktop> $ctx.authors | where-object  {$_.state -eq "UT" }
au_id        : 899-46-2035
au_lname     : Ringer
au_fname     : Anne
phone        : 801 826-0752
address      : 67 Seventh Av.
city         : Salt Lake City
state        : UT
zip          : 84152
contract     : True
titleauthors : {899-46-2035, 899-46-2035}
...

So even though I've just scratched the surface of what you can do in PowerShell, I can see that while it doesn't duplicate the complete functionality of SSMS, it can duplicate a lot of it. And the extensibility, .NET compatibility and many other features make it a worthwhile consideration.

How do you use PowerShell in your database development? Comment below or e-mail dramel@1105media.com.

Posted by David Ramel on 06/24/2011 at 1:15 PM1 comments


SQL Server 'Juneau' Developer Tools Needs Testers

You can be among the first to get your hands on the cool new 'Juneau' database development tools if you're willing to test them and provide feedback to Microsoft.

The company is now courting TSQL developers to join the SQL Server Developer Tools Advisory Program. Those chosen to participate will get early access to the package, which features a beefed-up code editor integrated with Visual Studio, a new table designer and a single project type for multiple platforms, among many other improvements.

Earlier, I wrote about the company's similar program for "Denali," code-name for the next version of SQL Server, which will feature the Juneau tools.

The new Juneau-focused advisory program was announced in a blog by Microsoft's Tiffena Kou last week.

Kou said the improved TSQL editor, which will feature IntelliSense, code navigation and language support similar to that of C# and Visual Basic, is just one of the new features of Juneau that has been publicly announced, with more improvements to be revealed.

One new feature was revealed at the Tech-Ed conference in Atlanta last week in a keynote address and demonstrated further in a session hosted by Bill Gibson and Mark Wilson-Thomas. "It's a new local database runtime, which is a new feature in SQL Server Denali," explained Gibson, a principal PM architect at Microsoft, in a session titled "Database Development with SQL Server Developer Tools codename 'Juneau.'"

He described it as "a local database that you can run on your desktop, and it's a single-user, single-instance, on-demand activated version of SQL Server. An incredibly cool, lightweight, test-and-debug feature, if you will." The new feature was revealed when the duo did an F5 project build in Visual Studio and chose the database runtime as the deployment target. Gibson said the new runtime can be used for applications, but the main use for database developers will be for testing and debugging.

One cool aspect of the SQL Server Developer Tools (SSDT) demo was how Gibson and Wilson-Thomas worked while connected to a database via a new SQL Server node in the Server Explorer window on the left-hand side of the Visual Studio IDE. Right-clicking on a table in the node tree opened a new query window in which queries could be instantly executed, just like SQL Server Management Studio. But they also could take advantage of features such as a buffered declarative approach, model-based coding with error detection, a code-backed designer and the "modern TSQL coding experience" with IntelliSense, code coloring and so on.

Later, they switched to offline development, using the familiar Solution Explorer on the right-hand side of the Visual Studio IDE. They explained how this let them use "all the project goodness" while working on a source code-backed model rather than a database-backed model as they had done earlier with the Server Explorer on the left-hand side. This enabled source code control, application lifecycle management and other project-based features. They went on to cover new functionality such as drift detection, snapshots and publishing to SQL Azure.

If you're "interested in evaluating all the cool ideas we are toying with," as Microsoft's Kou phrased it, you can "self-nominate" with a Windows Live ID. You'll need to sign a non-disclosure agreement and give details about your company and database projects. "The Advisory program lasts for 6 months," Kou said. "Program participants will have access to SSDT product prototypes in videos and pictures every month, and participate in surveys to give us feedback on the new ideas we are showing."

Go here to sign up.

What do you think of Juneau/SSDT? Please comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 05/26/2011 at 1:15 PM0 comments


SQL Server Management Studio Alternatives that are Free

I'm down on SQL Server Management Studio right now. I basically just spent a day trying to swap out the evaluation version of SQL Server 2008 R2 with the Express version, and SSMS just wouldn't install, apparently because some components of the evaluation version wouldn't uninstall. It's a long, ugly story that I won't bore you with, but a Web search shows that I'm certainly not alone in my frustration, which is cold comfort indeed, as they say.

Graham O'Neale's blog post illustrated problems similar to what I experienced. Note that he starts out with: "Ok, I'm angry...."

So are a lot of other people. Aaron Bertrand wrote a detailed account of his attempt to uninstall the evaluation edition and ultimately had to resort to registry hacks. "That was WAY too painful," he said. I feel that pain. So do dozens--hundreds, thousands?--of others. I wish Microsoft would just fix the damn thing.

Anyway, after many hours of exasperation, I decided to give up and started wondering what alternatives to SSMS were out there for developers wanting to mess around with SQL Server. Being of little coinage, my main requirement was simple: they had to be free.

Turns out, all I had to do was hit the Window key and type "ISE." (Well, Microsoft got THAT right.)

That command brings up the Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE). PowerShell is typically described as a tool for automation tasks or a "command-line shell designed especially for system administrators." But it can do much, much more.

Coincidentally, in my day job as technical editor of MSDN Magazine, I'm currently working on an article about PowerShell and how its seamless integration with the .NET Framework allows developers to do some pretty cool things. This article (to be published in the July edition) describes how to use the WPF PowerShell Kit to build a nifty WPF present value calculator.

I asked the author if he thought PowerShell would be of benefit to SQL Server developers. "PowerShell is absolutely, without a doubt, hands down a valuable for tool for Devs to work with SQL Server (and more)," he replied.

So I've been fooling around with it for a few hours now. It looks promising.

Version 2.0 comes with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 out of the box, ready to be used. It can be run from the command line or in the ISE, which I prefer. To get started running scripts, you have to change the default execution policy, as explained here.

Then, to work with SQL Server, you need to install a couple "snap-ins," one for the SQL Server Provider and one to run SQL Server Cmdlets (pronounced "command-lets"). With Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2, this is simply a matter of entering the following commands while in PowerShell: Add-PSSnapin SqlServerProviderSnapin and Add-PSSnapin SqlServerCmdletSnapin. You can read more about that in this TechNet article and this MSDN article.

After you're all set up, you're ready to start interacting with your SQL Server databases with regular Transact-SQL commands with the Invoke-Sqlcmd Cmdlet.

For example, here's a query against the Northwind database (Fig. 1 shows the result in PowerShell):

invoke-sqlcmd -query "SELECT Employees.EmployeeID, Employees.FirstName, Employees.LastName, Orders.OrderID, Orders.OrderDate
FROM Employees JOIN Orders ON (Employees.EmployeeID = Orders.EmployeeID)
WHERE Orders.orderdate > '5/5/1998'
ORDER BY Orders.OrderDate" -database northwind -serverinstance acer | format-table

SQL Server query against Northwind executed in PowerShell

Figure 1. A SQL Server query against the Northwind database executed in PowerShell. (Click image to view larger version.)

Fig. 2 is that same query as executed in SSMS (yes, I finally did get it to install).

... and this one in SSMS

Figure 2. The same query as executed in SQL Server Management Studio. (Click image to view larger version.)

Obviously, SSMS offers some features that PowerShell doesn't, such as the handy Object Explorer pane. But what I've shown is just the beginning of what you can do with PowerShell in the place of SSMS. I'll be exploring PowerShell more as time allows, and I'd also like to investigate other options, such as LINQPad 4 and the free version of Toad for SQL Server.

But I'm sure there are many readers out there who have already followed this path. So I'd love to have you share your experiences with the rest of us. What problems have you had with SSMS? What free alternatives do you recommend? Any experience with LINQPad or Toad? What do you like/dislike about these or various other options? Please comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 05/19/2011 at 1:15 PM2 comments


SQL to NoSQL to NewSQL? Come on!

Earlier this month there were several articles published about the term "NewSQL" coined by the 451 Group in regard to a new class of vendors of high-performance, scalable database examined in its new report. The group explains the meaning of the term in a post hawking the report. And ReadWriteWeb has expounded on the subject.

I wonder, is this stuff really necessary? Or is it just a backlash that can be viewed as part of a repeating pattern concerning traditional, established technologies, as Andrew J. Brust posited in a thoughtful piece about the NoSQL movement earlier this week. He wrote:

"So if older technologies are proven technologies, and if they can be repurposed to function like some of the newer ones, what causes such discomfort with them? Is it mere folly of younger developers? Are older developers building up barriers of vocabulary, APIs and accumulated, sometimes seldom used, features in their products, to keep their club an exclusive one?"

Anyway, the 451 Group noted that "like NoSQL, NewSQL is not to be taken too literally: the new thing about the NewSQL vendors is the vendor, not the SQL."

So, does that help clear things up? Personally, I don't want a new acronym that describes vendors, not technologies.

I hereby officially launch the NoNewSQL movment. It's all about encouraging enterprises to take advantage of cutting-edge, anti-acronym technologies in order to leverage market trends and forces to enhance business value while increasing ROI... .

What do you think? Enough with the SQL acronyms? Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 04/28/2011 at 1:15 PM11 comments


Microsoft Answers Call for Database Support in Windows Phone 7

Last fall, writing about the developer uproar surrounding the lack of database support in the Windows Phone 7 platform, I noted: "It's pretty obvious what mobile developers want. Is Microsoft listening?"

Well, the answer is: "Yes!"

Microsoft this week announced in a MIX11 keynote address that the next update of Windows Phone 7, called "Mango," will include the lightweight SQL Server Compact Edition. Previously, database options were limited to options such as storing data in XML files, isolated storage or third-party solutions. That caused much developer ire, such as this reader comment: "Why not implement SQL CE Compact? You cannot write real business application without database support."

Microsoft exec Joe Belfiore noted early in his keynote that Mango will add several new features "that you've been asking for."

That's for sure. In fact, when he got around to listing the features, he talked about new core support for things like TCP/IP sockets. But when he mentioned "we have a built-in SQL database that you can use," spontaneous audience applause broke out, causing him to have to pause and acknowledge the cheers. "Yes, thank you," he said, before he could continue on. There was yet more applause after he mentioned more improved data access, to information such as contacts and calendars "so you can more richly integrate your apps with the user's data."

Clearly, data is king in mobile app development, and Microsoft has answered the call to help developers build richer data-centric apps.

So much for the monolithic behemoth out of touch with customers and developers.

You can watch the keynote about Mango, due out later this year, here.

What do you think about the addition of SQL Server support to Windows Phone 7? Just what the developer ordered, or too little, too late? Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 04/15/2011 at 1:15 PM2 comments


Upcoming Events

.NET Insight

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.