Microsoft SQL Server Survival Guide

I don’t know if you are like
me but I like to have document and coding examples to help me manage
applications and Microsoft SQL Server. I am not sure what I would do without
good documentation and a few code examples to help me maintain my SQL Server
environment. Microsoft has done a great job of providing both documentation
and coding examples for SQL Server.

The SQL Server documentation
is referred to by Microsoft as SQL Server Books Online. SQL Server Books Online
is a collection of HTML documents that Microsoft has provided with SQL Server
and is an excellent place to find out anything you want to know about SQL
Server. It has overviews and detailed information on a large number of topics
related to SQL Server.

Anytime I have a problem
understanding the syntax for a T-SQL statement, I open up Books Online (BOL),
and normally am able to solve my problem. BOL provides all the information you
should need to help get you started solving your T-SQL syntax and/or SQL Server
problems. BOL has a wealth of information; it goes well beyond just the syntax
of T-SQL commands. BOL covers just about every topic one would need to know to
build applications that interface with SQL Server, and maintain a SQL Server
database from a DBA perspective.

However, as we all know
document and examples are not always delivered correctly the first time around,
or even the second time. On January 20, 2004, Microsoft released an updated
version of BOL, as well as SQL Server 2000 Samples, and Microsoft Analysis Services
Samples. The update versions of documentation and code samples can be
downloaded from Microsoft. Here is the URL http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=a6f79cb1-a420-445f-8a4b-bd77a7da194b&displaylang=en#filelist
where you can find more information about the updated BOL documentation and
code sample downloads can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=7824BA50-3E29-45CF-8C02-5597C014A707&displaylang=en

Installing the code samples and
BOL is a very simple process. Just read the “Instruction” provided on the
Microsoft website. Once you have updated your BOL documentation on your
machine, I would recommend you verify that you have the latest version
installed. The information for how to verify that your BOL installation went
ok can be found at the site listed above.

So what has changed in the
documentation? If you click on the “Contents tab, and then open the “What’s
New” book, by clicking on the “+” sign, you will see the first item says, “What’s
New In SQL Server Books Online”. If you review this item, it will outline what
has changed. This BOL topic will explain what items have been updated, and
addresses what new topics have been added to BOL documentation. If you really
want to find out exactly what items where updated with the January 20th
release of BOL then search for “January 2004” from the search tab in BOL. When
I ran this search, I found that 202 topics have been updated.

From time to time, some of you
might find errors in Books Online. If you find an error, do you know how to
report the errors you find to Microsoft? There is an extremely easy way to
provide documentation feedback to Microsoft regarding BOL. You can provide
feedback by clicking on the little letter icon on the top left corner of each
BOL page. Below I have outlined in red where you can find the letter icon to
provide feedback.

When you click on the letter
icon, “Documentation Feedback” information is placed at the bottom of your
current BOL page. See below what this documentation feedback section looks
like.

As you can see you are
allowed to rate the topic if you choose. To submit your feedback with comments
click on the “Submit feedback” hyperlink. This will launch a mail session
where you will be able to enter comments and send them to Microsoft.

Errors reported in
Microsoft’s documentation by customer increased the value of the BOL documentation.
Microsoft does a good job of taking your feedback and improves the BOL
documentation when errors or unclear information is found. Please if you find an
error, or even think you have found an error report it to Microsoft. Through
this feedback method, that Microsoft has provided, everyone that finds a
problem with BOL can make BOL a better documentation for everyone in future
releases of the documentation. However, you can only make this difference if you
report the problems you find.

I hope that you have already
found the “Pot of Gold” that Microsoft SQL Server Books Online provides. If not
then you should check it out, since I’m sure your will find it to be your
survival guide to understanding SQL Server and resolving SQL Server related
problems. Now if you have been using Books Online and/or the code samples, but
do not have the latest release I would recommend you get the updated versions
and install them on your machines. Nothing like trying to get something to
work when the documentation or examples are incorrect and just plan don’t work.

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Gregory A. Larsen

Gregory Larsen
Gregory Larsen
Gregory A. Larsen is a DBA at Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Greg is responsible for maintaining SQL Server and other database management software. Greg works with customers and developers to design and implement database changes, and solve database/application related problems. Greg builds homegrown solutions to simplify and streamline common database management tasks, such as capacity management.

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