Thursday, 6 October 2011

SQLBits Friday and Saturday


By David Postlethwaite

The last two days of SQL Bits provide opportunities to hear short 50 minutes presentations from experts
on a diverse range of SQL related subjects.

Friday I stuck to a DBA theme.
I’ve heard Simon Sabin talk on performance tuning at the last SQL bits but there’s no harm hearing it
again there’s always something you missed last time. He certainly hates scalar functions.
David Morrison went through query plan operators which again although you’ve heard them all before,
you pick up something new.
Both covered similar ground and the overall view is that there are many ways to write a query to
achieve the same output, exactly what code you finally use will depend on many factors like the amount
of data, the cardinality of the data ,the available indexes, new indexes . You’ve just got to keep looking
at the query plan, understand it and change the query until you get acceptable results.
And finally Klaus Aschenbrenner on SQL 2008 troubleshooting looking at all those DMVs and how they
can help to keep your SQL Server under control.

I would have gone to another talk on Friday but the hotel was so hot and stuffy that I had to get out for a
breather. England had the hottest September 30th in history and the air-con couldn’t cope.

Saturday, still hot but slightly more bearable.
This time I went to more development orientated talks
Database Unit Testing using VS2010 with Anthony Brown. I’ve never tried a database project in Visual
Studio. I’m sure like many people I just create a database in SSMS and then create a web or Windows
project to write the application. Much better to use database project especially when VS can link to
Source Control. The unit testing ability of VS was pretty neat as well.

Moving on from VS to Project Juneau with Gert Drapers. This is the new developer tool in SQL Denali,
a replacement for BIDS I think. Looks rather cool. I’ve always wanted to be able to step through SQL
scripts like you can in c# and this looks like it’ll do it as well as lots more useful features.

Lightning talks can throw up all sorts of interesting things and this one was no exception. I heard about
someone using SQL spatial objects to record the number and type of dead animals seen by the side of
our roads to help understand our biodiversity and another on a new feature in SQL Denali that links a
SQL database to a windows folder and its file contents and allows you run T-SQL queries on the folder
(like list all files with a certain word within).

SQL Tuning from a .NET perspective by Bob Duffy had some interesting points for a .NET developer,
the main points being connection pooling and caching.

Two talks which were very similar T-SQL performance recommendations by Milos Radivojevic and T-
SQL bad habits to Kick by Aaron Bertrand. Both of these covered similar points to some of the tuning
talks from the previous day but still very useful to hear from a different direction.

And finally if you are looking for a free tool to help you understand your execution plans then take a look
at SQL Sentry Plan Explorer ( It has loads of features and allows you to look at an
execution plan in several different ways and best of all its free without obligation.

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