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IntelliSense Coming in SQL Server 2008

SQL Server 2008 will get IntelliSense injection.

Microsoft has failed to meet its goal of issuing a new community technology preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2008 database every 60 days, but company officials promised certain key new features will be worth the wait.

The capability perhaps most sought after by developers is support for IntelliSense in SQL Server Management Studio, the programming and administrative environment released in the 2005 version of the database platform.

Microsoft introduced IntelliSense into Visual Studio 2005. It auto-completes program elements and source code such as T-SQL into an application rather than requiring developers to recall or find the various attributes. The company had planned to include the functionality in SQL Server 2005 but pulled it from a beta release before the company released the database to manufacturing.

IntelliSense was set to be featured in the CTP slated for Sept. 30. But by mid-month, officials made it clear they would not make that date. The CTP is instead expected to land sometime this month.

“[Intellisense] is a big time-saver in general when you're writing SQL Server Code”
Eric Johnson, Founder and Database Consultant, Consortio Services, LLC
At the VSLive! New York regional conference in Brooklyn, N.Y., last month, a Microsoft official promised IntelliSense will make that CTP and ultimately the next version of SQL Server. "This thing is going to be in there," Dan Jones, lead program manager for Microsoft's SQL Server management team told attendees during a VSLive! session. "You can hunt me down if it gets out."

A Welcome Addition
News that IntelliSense will be in SQL Server 2008 was well received by attendees of VSLive! (produced by Redmond Media Group, which publishes RDN) and at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) user conference in Denver, which also took place last month. "Everyone is excited about IntelliSense," says Kevin Kline, president of PASS and SQL Server technical strategy manager at Quest Software Inc.

During a demonstration at PASS, a presenter deleted a T-SQL table, then started retyping the data, invoking the IntelliSense.

"It was huge," recalls Eric Johnson, founder and database systems consultant with Denver-based Consortio Services LLC. "People just lost their minds."

Wayne Snyder, a managing consultant at North Carolina-based data integration software firm Mariner LLC and a member of the PASS executive committee, also attended the demo.

"People were going crazy," Snyder says. "It's about time, especially with some of these dynamic view table names. Who can remember all of that?"

IntelliSense will especially help SQL developers to write stored procedures, Johnson notes.

"You don't have to look up the name of the table you're trying to select from," he says. "It just drops down the list as you type it, it shows you the rest of the name, it saves you looking it up, it saves you from having to remember how everything is named, and most importantly, it saves you from spelling errors. You just hit tab and it auto-fills the rest of that name for you. It's a big time-saver in general when you're writing SQL Server code."

So what took so long to get IntelliSense into SQL Server? "It wasn't performing where it needed to be," Jones said in his VSLive session. "We weren't covering the amount of language syntax that we wanted, so it got yanked."

Other Features Await Debut
by J.S. with Stephen Swoyer contributing

While IntelliSense will finally debut in the next SQL Server 2008 CTP, developers have sought several other key features, including support for geospatial data, policy management and dynamic development.

Microsoft demonstrated those capabilities and others for the first time at the VSLive! New York regional conference and at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) user conference in Denver last month.

Microsoft is banking especially on the geospatial data functionality, lining up partnerships with various systems integrators and ISVs, says Kimberly Colley, a Microsoft SQL Server product manager. "We've partnered with these companies to make sure SQL Server 2008 can store and retrieve [geospatial data] and you can do reports off of it," Colley says

Redmond also showcased upcoming dynamic dev features. Syntax can be tweaked so the database can, for example, dynamically update or delete a record based on the condition of a key in a table, says Eric Johnson, founder and database systems consultant with Denver-based Consortio Services LLC.

The next CTP will also include the declarative management framework, which will let admins set policies across multiple database servers. "Policy management is something that never existed in SQL Server before," says Kevin Kline, president of PASS and SQL Server technical strategy manager at Quest Software Inc. While this is more a feature for DBAs, it will also impact the way developers write data driven applications that touch on multiple systems, he points out.

Microsoft is also now shipping Performance Point Server 2007, a product intended to make SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) mainstream.

Microsoft had announced Performance Point in June of 2006, just a couple of months after it acquired the former ProClarity Corp. This helped raise expectations for Redmond's inaugural performance management suite, in part because ProClarity brought so much to the table, especially in terms of analytic, dashboard and data visualization capabilities.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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