What I learned at CodeStock 2010

June 25/26 brought the annual CodeStock event. A big congrats to Michael Neel, the East Tennessee .Net Users Group and the volunteers for their hard work and dedication. As you will note from the previous post I had the honor of being chosen to present two sessions. I appreciate everyone who showed up and participated, lots of great questions and interaction. The new venue at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville really worked out well. The hotels were across the street, and there were plenty of places to eat within short walking distance. The conference center easily held the over 450 attendees, it never felt cramped our crowded.

Thanks also to the many great sponsors for their support. RecruitWise, for their taking the main sponsorship should get a special shout out. I also got to spend some time with the great folks from both TechSmith and DevExpress, it’s great to get to know the people who make the tools you use to get your job done. I had the best seat at dinner one night, sitting right between @BetsyWeber (TechSmith) and @RachelHawley (DevExpress).

I spent quite a bit of time in Open Spaces and “The Lounge” as we began to call it, the area in the lobby with comfy chairs where we gathered in informal discussion. Lots of great topics, including global teams, professionalism, going independent, and much more. I also participated in a open spaces session where Hal Rottenberg did a group discussion and recorded it for his PowerScripting podcast. (Great podcast for learning more about PowerShell, I’ve been listening for quite a while.)

I attended a few sessions when I wasn’t participating in Open Spaces or presenting myself. Jennifer Marsman’s session on VS2010 Tools for Architecture, Modeling and Visualization was quite interesting. I also got a lot of really good ideas from Tim Corbett’s session on the structure of the RDL/RDLC file.

My favorite session though had to be Steve Andrews’ session on T4. If you’ve never heard of T4, it is a code generation language built right into Visual Studio 2008/2010, and available as a download for 2005. It’s easy to use yet also very powerful. There’s also some T4 libraries you can download that will make using T4 easy to use. I can’t wait to begin using this for some of my SQL Server database projects I do with Visual Studio Database Developer (Data Dude). Check out Steve’s blog for more info on T4.

Of course my favorite part had to be “PostStock”, the party hosted by @AlanStevens and his lovely wife. It was quite nice, for the bulk of the evening we sat on his front porch having great conversations. Naturally technology was a frequent topic, but we also touched on other topics such as the importance of family and the epicurean delights from fine food, wine and cigars. Somewhere after midnight we relocated to the Stevens backyard and gathered around the fire pit. (Not too closely, it was pretty hot.) Alan and Steve Andrews broke out their guitars and serenaded us with song after song. The highlight was when they did a rousing rendition of “Code Monkey”.

CodeStock is an awesome event, I’ve been the last few years and will continue to attend. See you at CodeStock 2011!

CodeStock 2010

It’s June, must be time for CodeStock! For those who don’t know, CodeStock is a conference but on annually by the East Tennessee .Net Users Group. This year I am fortunate to have been selected for two presentations.

The first is The Decoder Ring for Data Warehousing / Business Intelligence. This is a concepts talk in which you’ll learn about the terms and overall design of a Data Warehouse, and what they mean when they say Business Intelligence. While we’ll mention the products SQL Server offers, unfortunately we won’t have time for much in the way of a demo.

My second session of the day is a nice follow on to the above session, but will also work even should you not have been in the first session. In SSIS For Developers, we’ll look at how SSIS, commonly used in Data Warehousing, can also be used by most developers to solve issues that frequently come up in the course of their job. Data conversion and exporting data are two good examples, and we’ll also look at how to call your new SSIS job from your .Net application.

There are two code demos used during the presentation, both available at my Code Gallery site. The first is the basic SSIS For Devs demo with the three packages. The second is the more complex example showing how to call SSIS from your .Net application.

What I learned at TechEd

Last week I was at the Microsoft TechEd conference in North America, along with over 10,000 of my closest friends. I spent a lot of time in the Microsoft floor area talking to people, and came away with some interesting info about new technologies. As I’m sharing some of these at the Steel City SQL user group tonight, I thought I’d share here too.

First up is OData, the Open Data Protocol from Microsoft. It is an ATOM feed but for data. People can publish under the OData format and be able to consume the data from either a JSON or AtomPub. You can also add security, should you wish to have data available to many consumers but only on a permission basis. You can learn more at http://www.odata.org

Next up is Microsoft’s new “Dallas” project. Dallas is the code name for a data marketplace on it’s Azure platform. Through Dallas users and vendors will be able to consume / provide data feeds. Some will be free, others will be at some cost. There is a catalog through which consumers can look at the various feeds available. This is very much in it’s infancy but there are a few feeds which you can look at and preview.

Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse looked interesting, although it fits a very niche market. It’s an appliance you can purchase that is essentially a rack of SQL Servers. One is the master server, and coordinates all the child servers. As a DBA you manage what appears to be a “normal” instance of a SQL Server. Behind the scenes the controller will propagate changes to the other servers in it’s hub. Scaling can be achieved by simply adding more servers to the existing rack, or additional racks as needed. PDW becomes economical starting around 10 terabytes and scales to well over 100 terabytes of data.

The folks at Red Gate have a new tool called SQL Search that they have released for free to the community. SQL Search is an add-on for SQL Server Management Studio that does lightening fast searches of object names in your database. Just pick the database name and term to search for and SQL Search will populate a grid with all possible matches. If you double click on the row it will navigate SSMS’s Object Explorer pane to the correct spot in the navigation tree with your object. Further, if the object is a view, stored proc, etc it will even display the SQL of the object and highlight the searched item. And did I mention it’s free?

Speaking of cool, free tools the folks at Confio have created a free version of their popular Ignite tool called IgniteFree. It is a real time performance monitoring tool that will work with not just SQL Server but Oracle and DB2 as well. They have versions of the tool that run on both Windows and Unix/Linux.

PowerPivot continues to fascinate and excite me, while I was at TechEd I won a copy of “PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint”. I had this on my “to buy” list anyway so considered myself lucky. I’m about a sixth of the way through the book and it has been really good so far. It starts with a quick tour of the Excel piece, then walks you through the SharePoint install so you can quickly get up and running in a test environment. Later chapters delve much more deeply into PowerPivot. If you are looking for a good PowerPivot book I would recommend it.

Finally, even if you couldn’t be there you can watch the sessions from this and past Tech Ed’s. Microsoft has released them to the general public at http://www.msteched.com/


*FTC Discloser, I am in the “Friends of Red Gate” program where I get copies of their tools in order to test and provide feedback. In this case the disclaimer probably isn’t necessary since the SQL Search tool is freely available to all, but I’d prefer to keep things above board.

SQL Server Full Text Searching at SQL Saturday #22 Pensacola FL

Today I had the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of cool people at SQL Saturday 22 in Pensacola FL. My presentation is SQL Server Full Text Searching, a Guide for Dev’s and DBAs. While I’ve done this presentation in the past, it’s been updated with new material and demos. You’ll find all the code, and the slide deck at the Code Gallery site,


Thanks for coming!

DevExpress TV Interview

At the Atlanta ReMix converence, Mehul Harry from DevExpress interviewed me for their TV site. We talked about Visual Studio Database Developer Edition, aka “Data Dude”. Take a look…



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