Code You Would Hate To Live Without (T-SQL Tuesday #104 Invitation)

Published on: 2018-07-03

The recent news about Microsoft acquiring GitHub has me thinking about how amazing it is for us to be part of today’s online code community.

Before modern online programming communities, finding good code samples or sharing your own code was challenging.  Forums and email lists (if searchable) were good, but beyond that you had to rely on books, coworkers, and maybe a local meetup of like-minded individuals to help you work through your programming problems.

Check out this month’s T-SQL Tuesday invitation in visual form!

Today, accessing and using code from the internet is second nature – I almost always first look online to see if a good solution already exists.  At the very least, searching blogs, GitHub, and StackOverflow for existing code is a great way to generate ideas.

For this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, I want you to write about code you’ve written that you would hate to live without.

Maybe you built a maintenance script to free up disk space, wrote a query to gather system stats for monitoring, or coded some PowerShell to clean up string data.  Your work doesn’t need to be completely original either – maybe you’ve improved the code in some open source project to better solve the problem for your particular situation.

There’s probably someone out there in the world who is experiencing the same problem that you have already solved; let’s make their life a little easier by sharing.

And don’t worry if your code isn’t perfect – just explain how your solution works and if you are aware of any caveats.  If it’s not an exact solution for someone else’s problem, at the very least it may help them generate some ideas.

Finally, here’s a reminder of the official rules for T-SQL Tuesday:

  1. Publish your contribution on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Let’s use the “it’s Tuesday somewhere” rule.
  2. Include the T-SQL Tuesday Logo and have it link to this post.
  3. Please comment below with a link to your post (trackbacks/pingbacks should work too but…comments ensure I don’t miss your post)
  4. Tweet about your post using #tsql2sday.
  5. If you’d like to host in the future, contact Adam Machanic.

Thanks for reading. You might also enjoy following me on Twitter.

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Contributing to Community

Published on: 2018-05-08

This post is a response to this month’s T-SQL Tuesday #102 prompt by Riley Major. T-SQL Tuesday is a way for SQL Server users to share ideas about different database and professional topics every month.

The prompt I’ve chosen to write about this month is how and why I got started contributing to the SQL Server community.


About a year ago, I was determined to improve my presentation skills.  I knew that in order to do that I needed to get more practice speaking.

I already was at my max for presenting at local user groups, conferences, etc… because at some point it becomes too cost and time prohibitive to travel to more events.  As an alternative, I decided that if I couldn’t get more practice by speaking in person, I could at least film myself presenting.

And I figured if I’m already filming myself presenting, I might as well put a little extra polish on it and make the content available for others to watch.

And that is how I started filming weekly videos about SQL Server.

SQL Server Videos

There are already plenty of great SQL Server presentations on YouTube, spanning a plethora of topics from a variety of experts who know way more about SQL Server than me.

Whenever I want to learn about a SQL Server topic, I search for something like “SQL Server backups” or “SQL Server columnstore indexes” on YouTube.  There are plenty of great recorded presentations, virtual chapter screencasts, Q&As, and other tutorials for learning almost any topic you can imagine.

However, sometimes I’m not in the mood to watch in-depth hour long presentations.  Sometimes I want to watch a short, informative, regularly scheduled entertaining SQL videos – and this is where I saw a gap in programming.

So what better way to get what you want than by scratching your own itch.  I figured if I want to watch that type of SQL Server video, then I’m sure other people out there want to watch those same kinds of short SQL videos too.

Bert, the Director

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a movie maker.  In particular, I was entranced by special effects, so I made movies with friends that involved plenty of lightsabers, explosions, and green screen effects all throughout middle school and high school.

So while making SQL videos wasn’t going to be totally new territory, I sure was unprepared for all of the initial work involved.

For the first three months, I was spending 15-20 hours per week writing, creating demos, shooting, editing, publishing, and marketing my videos.  Over time I’ve cut this process down to 8-10 hours a week, a more manageable amount of work that I can mostly get done on weekend mornings before the rest of the house wakes up.

Results

Making videos about SQL Server has been an amazing experience.  Not only do I personally feel fulfilled creating something week after week that improves my own skills, but it’s rewarding to receive positive feedback via comments, messages, and emails that I’m also helping others become better SQL developers.

Contributing has also made me appreciate how amazing the #sqlfamily community truly is.  Everyone I talk to is wonderful and supportive, and everyone I meet wants to see one another succeed.

Your Turn

If you aren’t already, I hope you consider contributing to the community .  Whether it be via blog posts, code contributions, presenting, tweeting, or making videos, giving back to the SQL Server community will grow your own skills and allow you to meet some really great people.

It can be scary putting yourself out there publicly, but don’t let that stop you.  If you give it your best then the SQL Server community won’t let you down.

Thanks for reading. You might also enjoy following me on Twitter.

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3 Essential Tools For The SQL Server Developer

Published on: 2018-04-10

This post is a response to this month’s T-SQL Tuesday #101 prompt by Jens Vestergaard. T-SQL Tuesday is a way for SQL Server bloggers to share ideas about different database and professional topics every month.

This month’s topic is about what essential SQL Server related tools you use on a regular basis.


SQL Server Management Studio is an excellent tool for my day to day SQL Server developing needs.

However, sometimes I need to do things besides writing queries and managing server objects.  Below is a list of my three most used tools I use on a regular basis when working with SQL Server.

Watch this week’s episode on YouTube.

1. WinMerge

Often I need to compare the bodies of two stored procedures, table definitions, etc… to find differences.

While there are some built-in tools for doing difference comparisons in Visual Studio and SSMS source control plugins, I prefer using the third-party open-source tool WinMerge:

The tool is a pretty straightforward difference checking tool, highlighting lines where the data between two files is different.

It has some other merge functions available in it, but honestly I keep it simple and use it to just look for differences between two pieces of text.

2. OnTopReplica

When on a single display, screen real estate is at a premium.  This is especially true if you are forced to use a projector that’s limited to 1024×768 resolution…

OnTopReplica to the rescue!  This nifty open-source tool allows you to select a window and keep it open on top of all other windows.

This is great for when I want to reference some piece of code or text on screen while working in another window:

In addition to forcing a window open to stay on top, it allows you to crop and resize that window so only the relevant parts are visible.

The OnTopReplica view is live too – that means it’s great to use as a magnifier on your SSMS result sets when presenting (instead of constantly having to zoom in and out with ZoomIt):

Look at those beautifully zoomed in results!

3. ScreenToGif

Sometimes explaining concepts with pictures is hard.  For example, wouldn’t that last screenshot be way better if it was animated?

ScreenToGif is an open-source screen capture tool that does an excellent job compressing your recorded videos into gif animations.  It also allows editing individual frames, allowing the addition of text, graphics, and keyboard shortcuts.

Thanks for reading. You might also enjoy following me on Twitter.

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