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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a freelance data mangler in London

My SQL Server gripe at SQL Supper

On 17th February 2014 (3 days ago) I visited an event called SQL Supper held at Microsoft’s central London office, Cardinal Place. The event was basically a QnA session with Mark Souza, Conor Cunningham, Nigel Ellis, Hatay Tuna & Ewan Fairweather and one part of the evening was loosely termed the gripe session where the attendees were invited to stick their hand in the air and when asked have a good old whinge about something in SQL Server that, well, frankly pissed them off. Given the members of the panel this was inevitably focused on the database platform in SQL Server rather than the BI stuff and this is what I was only too happy to gripe about:

Microsoft seem to have dropped the ball on database developer productivity, both in the language and the tooling. A decade ago this is something that SQL Server was renowned for, I put it to you that this is no longer the case.  SSDT came out with SQL Server 2012 and its a great tool, I love it, but in the two years since there have been various maintenance releases but hardly any new features. SSMS has hardly changed for years, extensibility is still not truly supported. Intellisense does not work properly 100% of the time. As far as I can recall T-SQL has had only two major features (TRY/CATCH & windowing functions) in the last ten years.

Please fix this. Show database developers some love again.

I could write pages and pages of gripes just under the banner of developer productivity but I’ll leave you with that concise summary. It is of course a matter of opinion, feel free to agree or disagree.

Published Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:32 AM by jamiet
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David Peter Hansen said:

Could not agree more. Really wish it would be easier to do SQL Server and BI development, and that I could up my productivity.

February 20, 2014 5:58 AM
 

James Snape said:

I moaned about it on internal e-mail lists when I was there but for some reason SQL devs are not seen as people who are usually part of a bigger software development team.

My biggest gripe at the moment is source control - ever tried using Git with a team of people for SSIS packages? Merge hell. (Actually I would say completely impossible).

February 20, 2014 7:08 AM
 

Mike Henderson (@mhenderson442) said:

My biggest gripe also stems from productivity and tooling. It's something of a cruel irony that a tool used to create SSIS packages (SSDT) could be so poorly integrated with the Visual Studio release cycle.

February 20, 2014 7:57 AM
 

wolfgang strasser said:

I totally agree.

I like the two tools (SSMS and SSDT) but there could be sooooo much more productivity. ....

What is really confusing for me (and our customers too) is the naming confusion - SSDT, SSDT-BI... what is included where (hint: Visual Studio SKU integration) etc. etc.

February 20, 2014 8:53 AM
 

jamiet said:

Hi Mike,

just by way of clarification, the tool used to create SSIS packages is called SSDR-BI. Yes, its confusing. Yes, whoever chose to overload the term SSDT is an idiot. But hey, its what we have.

JT

February 20, 2014 9:02 AM
 

Mike Henderson (@mhenderson442) said:

Jaime,

Thanks for the clarification. My confusion underscores by initial gripe. I work on SSIS packages regularly and even I can't keep it all straight.

Those involved with BI tools might do well to treat some people in the ASP.Net group to a pint and pick their brain. They seem to be more mindful and sensitive to how they foist changes on the that developer community.

February 20, 2014 11:11 AM
 

jamiet said:

*typo

SSDT_BI

not

SSDR-BI

February 20, 2014 11:14 AM
 

Adam Machanic said:

Microsoft does not seem to believe that database developers exist. Case in point: BUILD, Microsoft's "premier" developer conference.

Here are all THREE of the "data" sessions from last year:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2013?sort=sequential&direction=desc&term=&t=data#theSessions

And here are the three from 2012:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2012?sort=sequential&direction=desc&term=&t=data#theSessions

And here are the "SQL" sessions from 2011. (Six of them! But only one has anything to do with SQL Server.)

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/BUILD2011?sort=sequential&direction=desc&term=&t=sql#theSessions

... TechEd has a bit more SQL content, but it's not a developer conference. It's an IT conference. Therefore (prove me wrong, someone, please!) Microsoft believes that SQL Server people are all IT/infrastructure people. The SQL Server developer doesn't exist. I don't exist. Jamie doesn't exist. The Data Dude is dead. Long live the mindless data consumer with zero data management skills? *sigh*

February 20, 2014 4:37 PM
 

Gavin Campbell said:

I think you'll find that the term SSDT has been temporarily consigned to the history books, having been replaced by VS2013 database projects! And SSDT, whenever it's delivered, will only refer to the tool for creating SSIS packages etc., aka BIDS.

And every time Microsoft do annoying stuff like this with SQL tools, or indeed with EF, somebody new decides to check out the alternatives.

February 20, 2014 5:28 PM
 

jchang said:

there are database developers?

DB dev training/certification:

Thou shalt use stored procedures.

Dev:

CREATE PROCEDURE p_Universal @P1 nvarchar(4000)

AS

EXEC (@P1)

GO

certified!

February 20, 2014 6:17 PM
 

Greg Low said:

I've been having the same discussion with so many people internally. When assessing a new version, I'm always asking "is it any easier or more productive to write code for?". That doesn't seem to even be a question that's considered any more. The perception seems to be that improving T-SQL doesn't help you sell to new customers, it just makes existing customers happy.

Many of the ISV customers that I work with now see SQL Server as their "grandfather's" database. The most obvious reasons they cite are things like the lack of JSON support. We got XML support in 2005, the world pretty much moved to JSON in 2006. Most web apps send/receive JSON all the time and we still don't have any native support for it, unlike competitive engines. For example, in Postgres I can just pass a lump of JSON to an INSERT statement.

It's a real perception issue. For example, this will now be two full versions since a single enhancement to SSRS appeared. Unfortunately for SSRS, that meant it completely missed the whole mobile BI story at most organisations. We still don't even have an HTML5 report viewer.

Even if they did great work on SSRS in the next version, that would be 6 or more years since the last work was released. In this industry, most customers that I deal with would consider that an abandoned product, not something they would invest it.

Power BI isn't a general corporate BI story and while the add-ons for Excel are interesting (particularly Power Query), where is the corporate story for them? Why can't I paste an M language script into an SSIS data source? Why can't I use an M language query as a tabular source in SSAS? etc. etc.

February 21, 2014 5:34 AM
 

Chris Adkin said:

Jamie,

I'm interested to know of there were many other grips which struck a chord with the 'Audience'. Personally, I feel that in light of the new core based licensing model:

- There should be more parallel DML options in 2014, other than SELECT INTO .

- There should be better query scalability as you increase the DOP . . .

- MySql and Oracle have had result set caching for a while, SQL Server does not, I've seen things in 2014 which suggest this should be on the way, in should be here now.

BTW, the canteen at my current gig is serving Fish, Chips and "Yorkshire Cavier", you should know what this is ! ;-)

Chris

February 21, 2014 6:40 AM
 

Simon Millar said:

How about Service Broker? So much potential for scale out, but after 3 major releases, it's still limited to Point-to-Pount (no Pub-Sub), no compatibility with WCF or JMS. Still way behind Oracle AQ. It's beginning to feel like it's been added to the Deprecation Heap...

February 26, 2014 6:19 AM
 

Greg Low said:

Hi Simon, Service Broker is another one that I'm quite sad about. However, apart from the items in your list, we did get broker priority in 2008 and multicast in 2012. But point taken, the pace is basically glacial.

There seems to be an endless process where new ideas are introduced, in an incomplete state, never get filled out, then get abandoned because there's not enough interest. I wish we could break that cycle.

The best example I have in that in 2012, the biggest reactions I got from any "what's new" crowd came from the realisation that "undo" now actually worked in SSIS. Yet you won't ever see that on a marketing brochure.

February 28, 2014 7:59 PM
 

jasoncarlson said:

I completely appreciated with you. SSDT is a really great tools of SQL Server 2012. I just love to discuss this type of topics. I have a topic about SQL Service 2012, if you are interested to read this topic, then click here: http://forerunnersoftware.blogspot.in/2014/03/create-project-with-sql-service.html

April 3, 2014 2:56 AM

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