Category Archives: Free Stuff

Introducing Open Query Store

Introducing Open Query Store

Many of us may have heard about the amazing new feature in SQL Server 2016 called Query Store. However, there are a lot of SQL Servers out there that are neither 2016, nor will they ever be upgraded to 2016.

What is Open Query Store?

Open Query Store is our attempt at copying the capabilities of the Query Store, but for SQL 2005 – 2014. As the name suggests, this is an open source project with the MIT license, meaning you can use it for fun or profit (or both).

After a few meetings (read: SQL Server events and beers), Enrico van der Laar ( b | t ) and myself got the idea of creating a Query Store for the rest of us!

This quickly became what is now known as Open Query Store.

The first release (Updated release 2017-07-03) was published at the end of June 2017 and provides a background collection of query execution statistics in a database of your choice. The v1.0 release supports SQL Server from 2008 to 2014 and all editions (Express, Standard, Enterprise). There is also a PowerShell installer for those that are so inclined, which will grab the code from GitHub and install OQS into a specified database.

There is also a custom report which can be installed in SSMS (2016 and 2017), which will display information that OQS has collected.

OQS_Report

What is the Future of Open Query Store?

The future of OQS is to get as close to feature parity with “real” Query Store as possible. We’re not sure yet exactly how close that will be, but we’ll do our best!

We have an overview of the current features on GitHub and will be adding features as time goes by.

If you have a specific feature that you want to add, then please provide feedback/suggestions via the Issues tab in GitHub.

Thanks for reading and we hope OQS can help you with query tuning in the future.

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

Growing a community is not easy……

…… But it is a lot of fun!

Last Friday I put on a small community event in my home town (#SQLGrillen). It was no SQLSaturday, with just four sessions and only 2 months preparation time, but it was a lot of fun!

Why would you do this? Why for free?!

I’ve heard those two questions a lot recently in the run up to the event itself, but also over the last year since founding the Emsland SQL Server User Group.

It seems to confuse people greatly that I would want to spend my private/personal time on “work”. I have wondered if this is a regional bias (I live in a quite rural part of Germany), or maybe a cultural one (many people I have met in Germany strictly separate work from private life). If the cultural reasoning holds true, then it would explain some of the difficulties of getting attendees for the user group. Either way, I don’t consider it to be “work”. Of course there is an overlap, it is a SQL Server user group and I work with SQL Server. However, I find the social aspect of a user group/event to be almost as important as the technical side. I probably enjoy exchanging ideas/war stories with fellow data professionals more than the technical content – somehow, even though I’m an awkward geek, the human interaction is the source of greater fulfillment.

Why would I do this for free? Why do people run marathons? Why do they join various other clubs in their spare time? Do they get paid to do this volunteer work? I think this goes back to the work/private life separation thing and people not understanding how I can mix the two.

Why would I not do this?

I have made some great friends and had some fantastic experiences as part of the community and hope to “infect” other people with the community virus. I also gained a lot in my career through the things I have learned (that I would never have been able to see in my normal work day) and have gained so many connections that I now don’t need to really look for new opportunities. If I wanted to swap jobs, I just need to explore the ones that get sent my way on a daily basis.

I am not that good that people want to hire me all the time, but being out there in the community makes me visible to companies/recruiters like nothing else.

We want you!

I realise that I am preaching to the choir when writing here (if you are reading a blog on SQL Server, you are already investing time that 99% of others don’t), but I’d still like to suggest that you get yourself involved in the community somehow. There are a wide range of tasks that User Groups, Events or Associations have that need doing and are too much for their current members/helpers to achieve. Even if you don’t want to speak, there is plenty of opportunity to get involved in another way.

So please, for the altruistic side of you, or for the “get ahead in my career” side of you; get in touch with your local User Group or Association and see if you can help out in some way. You will not regret it, I assure you.

P.S. Thanks to Rob Sewell ( b | t ) for the reminder: A few places for you to start would be finding your local PASS Chapter, or if there isn’t one where you are, there are also the Virtual Chapters.

1 Year Emsland SQL User Group

Moin Moin!

Unser User Group feiert 1 Jahr mit einem Sondertreffen:

Am 04.09.2015 ab 15:00 Uhr finden insgesamt 4 Sessions statt. Es sind 4 Auswärtssprecher am Start die zu unterschiedlichen Themen vortragen werden.

Die Sessions werden gerade festgelegt, aber der Termin steht schon fest. Schaut euch die Details an und meldet euch mit dem unten stehenden Button an!

Eventbrite - Emsland SQL Server User Group: SQLGrillen

Wir freuen uns auf euch!!

P.S. Gebt das bitte weiter, wir wollen so viele Leute da haben wie möglich, danke!

 

Speaking at SQLSaturday 356 Slovenia

SQLSat Slovenia

I have been selected to speak at one of my favourite SQLSaturdays – in Ljubljana. I will be presenting my session “Replication: What, How, Why” which I have presented before at a few other events.

As I understand it, the event is actually full up. This means two things:

  1. You are registered and will be attending: Yay for you, please make sure you do attend. If you can’t attend, please make sure to de-register so that other people may have the chance to attend instead.
  2. You are not registered and would like to come: Put your name on the waiting list and hope that you can attend.

I’m really looking forward to coming to Ljubljana again, it is one of my favourite cities and is especially beautiful in the winter.

If you can make it to SQLSaturday Slovenia, come and say “Hi”. I’ll only be on a flying visit, landing in Slovenia on Saturday and leaving again on Sunday, but I intend to enjoy myself for the brief time I’m there.

See you in 9 days!

SQL Saturday Dublin 2014 – I’m speaking!

I have been fortunate enough to have been chosen to speak at SQL Saturday Dublin. I am especially excited about this one for two reasons:

  1. I will be delivering a different topic to my other speaking engagements of late, although not too far from the usual.  This time my session will be “Replication Troubleshooting and Monitoring“. This is a topic that I wrestle with on a regular basis and know how difficult it can be when you are staring at seemingly useless error messages.  I hope to be able to show some common errors that I have encountered and how to go about solving them.

  2. I will be returning to Dublin! I spent an excellent weekend in Dublin in Decemeber 2013, where I got the chance to take part in a mini-conference at the Dublin SQL Server User Group along with André Kamman ( t | b ) and Mladen Prajdić ( t | b ). Going by that weekend, SQL Sat 310 should be one hell of a time.

So, now I have to get back to making these demos work. I’ll see you in Dublin on the 20th of September!

Speaking at SQL at the Weekend, Southampton UK

I have had this down on my calendar for a while and forgot to mention it, but I will be coming over to speak in the UK again in July this year.

The SQL Soton User Group leaders John Martin (twitter) and Steph Middleton (twitter) are putting on a one-day SQL Server event (not a SQL Saturday, but similar in setup) and asked me if I would come and speak,

I will be presenting my seemingly popular “Replication: What, How and Why?” session along with a bunch of other speakers from around Europe.  We’ll be a single track of one hour sessions, starting in the morning and going into the late afternoon. I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity to chat about all sorts of topics on the sidelines too. It looks like it will be a fun time and it would be great to see some new or old faces around.

The whole thing is taking place in Southampton on the 12th of July – the weekend before SQLBits, so if you can’t wait for that (or can’t make it to Bits), then SQL at the Weekend is the thing for you.

You can check out the line-up and register for the event here: SQL at the Weekend

Hope to see you there!