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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a data mangler in London working for Dunnhumby

Move BOL examples please!!

Earlier on today I tweeted the following message:

Anyone think #sqlserver BOL should have the examples at the top? That's the only bit people read, right?


In other words, the examples that appear in SQL Server Books Online are the most useful things in there so perhaps they should go at the top of the pages rather than right at the bottom.

It was only a throwaway comment but it created, by some distance, more retweets than I’ve ever seen before for anything I’ve said

image image image 

so that got me thinking that maybe I was onto something. Brian Kelley (kbriankelley) had an equally useful take on the problem when he suggested:

I would prefer a set of links at the top the contents of each section for BOL. That would serve better for all.

Hence I have submitted a case to Connect requesting Microsoft make it easier to find the good stuff in BOL.


Its true to say that the most used parts of BOL are the examples and hence it seems daft to have them stuck down at the bottom of the page where they are most difficult to get to.
This creates lots of unnecassary mouse scrolling - think of all the carpal tunnel syndrome cases you could solve in DBAs if this weren't the case. :)

Proposed Solution

a) Move the examples to the top of the page or
b) provide a link at the top that takes you straight to them

Click through and add your weight if you’re so inclined. Every little helps!


UPDATE 2009-09-04: It seems the powers that be have had similar thoughts themselves. They have a prototype available that exhibits some of the behaviour talked about here at

Published Wednesday, September 2, 2009 1:04 AM by jamiet

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dmmaxwell said:

I would disagree with this, completely.  There are often a lot of 'gotchas' in the more detailed explanation that you're going to miss if you skip right to the examples.  "People are going to do it anyway" is not a reason to make it any easier.  I've learned from first, and second hand experience that the content of the BOL entry is far more valuable than the examples when it comes to understanding what you are trying to accomplish.

September 2, 2009 7:09 AM

jamiet said:

dmmaxwell, Fair enough. personally I also go straight to the examples and if I need any more I go read the rest.

Feel free to click through to the Connect submission and add your comment there.

September 2, 2009 7:36 AM

a.m. said:

I also disagree... The "notes" are the most important part for me. Perhaps an option in the reader would be best if this is actually something people are interested in seeing...

September 2, 2009 10:16 AM

Linchi Shea said:

Different people have different cognitive styles in their learning. The same person's cognitive style often evolves/changes as he/she progreses through his/her learning. So always placing examples at the top may not be a good idea for all. But I'd think that providing a table of Contents at the top is a good idea for all.

September 2, 2009 10:56 AM

Armando Prato said:

I agree with dmmaxwell. The example provided is usually a cursory one.  I'm more interested in the Remarks section.  I move to the example to help with syntax.

September 2, 2009 1:24 PM

Danijel Ilievski said:

I think that people should be given a choice straight away. Link at the top of the page pointing to examples on the same or other page is definitively a good idea. If someone is interested in the details (s)he can dig through or go directly to the examples, depending on the preferences or needs at the moment.

I'd also suggest that SQL Server documentation team replaces dull colored (dark blue on grey background) code examples with colored code as in SQL Server Management Studio.

September 23, 2009 8:52 AM

George said:

What's wrong with CTRL + END ?

Shortcut keys FTW :)

October 6, 2009 10:52 AM

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