Monthly Archives: March 2017

Presenting: Presentation Mode!

As a presenter at events I am constantly trying to improve the experience of showing information in slides and transitioning back and forth to demos.

ZoomIt: An OK solution for a bad problem?

The most jarring aspect of this is making sure that demo code is visible to the audience. The fantastic ZoomIt allows a presenter to (surprise, surprise) zoom into portions of the screen and highlight/annotate code or information to the audience:

ZoomIt

First of all, the act of zooming can be disorienting to the audience. There is a flurry of zoom and scrolling activity to get to where you want to on the screen. After this, the actual presentation of the zoomed content usually works nicely enough. However, the zoom out must occur before moving back into the PowerPoint slide deck to continue with the next portion of the presentation.

This has been the only way to give a consistent and clear overview to an audience, particularly when SSMS was being used for demos. The issue revolves around the fact that although the T-SQL code editor window can resize fonts, the remainder of the SSMS interface is set in a single font type and size.

Many of you may have noticed that Microsoft made a key change in their deployment strategy with regards to SSMS when SQL Server 2016 was released. SSMS was decoupled from the core engine components and follows a much shorter release cycle. Since SQL Server 2016 was released to market in September, there have been at least 6 versions of SSMS released. This is fantastic, we now no longer have to wait for the next release of SQL Server (whether a full version or a service pack) for SSMS to get bug-fixes or feature additions.

This is now extremely important when we look at the issue around font sizes and types. Microsoft has paid attention and with their current Release Candidate (RC) for SSMS 17 they included a very important release note entry…..

Presentation Mode!

If we read the release notes, we see that there are three new tasks available via Quick Launch inside SSMS.

  • PresentEdit – This allows the fonts for presentation mode to be set
  • PresentOn – This turns on presentation mode
  • RestoreDefaultFonts – Reverts SSMS back to the default fonts after activating presentation mode

All three tasks are pretty easy to understand, although the final task highlights that a task to specifically turn off the presentation mode is currently missing (this is an RC after all).

The “Quick Launch” field can be found in the top right corner of SSMS 17.0 RC3 and begins searching as soon as we start to type in it:

Present

By choosing “PresentEdit” an xml file is opened in a new tab in SSMS, showing us the options that we can change to make SSMS look different when presentation mode is activated.

PresentEdit

We are presented with the option to choose font family and font size for both the text editor and, more importantly, for the environment in general (menus, object explorer etc.). This is where we can play around an find the fonts that work best in our presentations.

Using the values in my screenshot and launching PresentOn made a huge difference in font readability inside SSMS. The image below shows SSMS on the left in “standard” mode and in presentation mode on the right.

PresentOnSize

The difference is quite clear, all environment fonts are much larger and easier to read on during presentation mode. This is great for demoing SSMS during a presentation!

However, the biggest improvement is when we are querying data. In previous versions of SSMS the grid results were tiny when projected onto a wall. The only way to see the results were to either return the results as text (which has the downside of running off the right-side of the screen for larger result sets), or using ZoomIt and people getting motion sickness.

Now, with presentation mode on, the results grid is included in the font resizing:

PresentOnGridResultsSize

Praise be to the spaghetti monster! No more motion sickness required and attendees can concentrate their contempt at all the bullet points in the slide deck instead.

So if you are a presenter, or want to have more control over the fonts in SSMS, your wait is almost over…… or is over now if you are brave enough to install the RC of SSMS 17 🙂

Happy font-changing

I’ve been awarded my first MVP award

You’ve got mail!

This afternoon during a typical afternoon working on fixing a client’s database design, I received an email that I never expected to receive:

For the non-German readers, this is an email from Microsoft saying that I have been awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award. The award is a recognition of work in the community which is based on other people in the community nominating people for the award. Read up on the MVP award on the dedicated website.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

I have been part of the SQL Server community for a few years now, starting back in 2013 with my first session at SQL Sat 196 in Exeter. This continued to multiple SQLSaturday events and other tech events around Europe and also at the PASS Summit in 2016. In the mean time, I setup a SQL Server user group in my quiet corner of Germany and also a cool little event called SQLGrillen

However, all of this would never have come to pass without the cajoling and wrangling of a few very important people.

  • André Kamman (b | t) – friend, mentor and now business partner
  • Mladen Prajdić (t) – friend, mentor and creator of the excellent SSMS Toolspack
  • Marco Blasio (t) – friend, mentor and crazy Italian in Ireland 🙂

These three were instrumental in getting me to begin engaging in the community, especially as a speaker at events. Without their pressure support, I would never have taken those first steps. Thanks gents!

  • Jonathan Allen (t) – friend, mentor, former minion colleague
  • Annette Allen (t) – friend, mentor, inspiration for community work

Jonathan and Annette are in fact, as the organizers of SQLSat Exeter, the original enablers of getting me hooked on community stuff. It is fully their fault that I began speaking by giving me a platform to start my speaking career.

  • Karla Landrum (t) – friend, mentor and fantastic all-round gal.

Karla was/is just amazing. She is best known as the face of PASS at SQLSaturdays around the world until she stepped down last year. She helped me so much in the background, tirelessly listening to my questions. She provided me with invaluable insights and inspiration in everything to do with the community.

One common theme here is that I count each of these people as friends first. For me at least, this is why I do what I do. I get to spend time with friends, talking about things I am passionate about and try to get others excited about it too. What’s not to love?!

However, being awarded anything is nice and I don’t deny it is a good feeling to receive “official” recognition for what I have done.

Now the real work begins

I now hope to use the access to extra information and resources to help even more people who want to be successful with SQL Server. With the speed that the tools and tech coming out of Redmond, there will be plenty of things for me to keep up with.

So for now, I’ll say thanks for the award and well wishes and I hope to see you at an event somewhere soon!