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Tibor Karaszi

We've come a long way ...

For various reasons I decided that I want virtual machines with older (pre-2008) SQL Server versions available on my various machines. For me, virtualization (in this case VPC) is great:

  • I rarely use these installs, most often I just boot it and check some detail.
  • I don't have to litter the host OS.
  • I don't pay anything (performance) in the host OS, except for some disk. The overhead for an extra XP install is some 1.5 GB which nowadays isn't that bad.

So I did a several copies of my XP VPC folder (I don't do diff drives for various reasons).

And then started with installing SQL Server 2000 (I already had VPCs with 2005). I do work with 2000 now and then, but I mainly use SSMS to connect to 2000. So it was a bit of flashback to play around with EM again.

Next was 7.0. OK, 7.0 didn't look that different from 2000...

Installing 6.5 was more fun. I had forgot for instance that SQL Server Agent was called "SQL Executive" back then. Also, Enterprise Manager was a totally different tool compared to 7.0/2000.

I decided to skip 6.0 since the 6.5 BOL is basically 6.0 BOL with added "What's new" section. So having above 6.5 VPC for me also covers 6.0.

The most interesting part was to 4.21a for NT:

I first realized I made a mistake when copying the files from diskettes to CD - I put all the files in same directory. Setup expects some folder structure like DISK1, DISK2 etc. And since I don't have the diskettes anymore, how to know what files go in which folder? What I ended up doing was to copy the setup files locally (a whopping 4.4 MB !) and modify SETUP.INF. Interestingly enough I did figure out how to modify the INF file successfully. Imagine doing that today - without knowing anything about the installation...

Anyhow, installation was successful and I checked out what tools we had. Hehe, this is where nostalgia kicked in. I already have a OS/2 VPC with SQL Server 1.1, but I can barely navigate that OS nowadays. And there were no GUI's at all with SQL Server 1.x. Since I hadn't seen SQL Server 4.x for many many years now, I think this was more fun than re-living 1.1.

What strikes you are of course the tools. Looking at the engine (using "Books Online") you mainly see that a lot of todays functionality wasn't there of course. But using the GUI makes it so much more apparent what was there and what wasn't. And of course the whole feel of the GUIs were totally different.

The help file start page has some 9 buttons, for various sections like Datatypes, Expressions, LIKE and Wildcards, Transact-SQL Statements etc. No tree-like structure...

The release notes explain for instance that Extended stored procedures are a new thing and with that came SQL Mail.

What we nowadays call SQL Server Agent was called "SQL Monitor".

The "SQL Administrator Win32" tool had some very rudimentary dialogs for looking at "devices", "DB", "Login" etc. There are some dialogs available from the menus like "Database Consistency Check", "configure SQL Server". I could not find for instance where to schedule backups with SQL Monitor...

The "SQL Object Manager Win32" tool wasn't actually that bad. The "Objects" window list one row per object in the database and you can double-click it to "edit" it. Interesting enough I believe this is the first version where we had "Generate Script" functionality in the tools, for instance. Hehe, there's even a GUI for assisting in creating a SELECT statement with rows allowing you to type text for the WHERE clause, the ORDER BY clause etc.

There's a separate tool called "SQL Transfer Manager" which functionality over the years have been exposed in various places (EM, DTS, SSIS, DMO, SMO etc).

Back to reality. Firing up SSMS 2008 I realize how much has changed... The engine has so much more functionality. Perhaps only, say, 10-15% of what we have today we also had in, say, 4.x - if even that. Not to mention things like SSAS, SSIS, RS, etc. So, even though it was fun nostalgia to fire up an old version, I really enjoy being where we are today. :-)

Published Wednesday, August 27, 2008 12:02 PM by TiborKaraszi
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