Oct 182013
 

In case you haven’t heard yet, Visual Studio 2013 (RTM) has been made available to MSDN subscribers this morning.  In case you aren’t already familiar with the different flavours of Visual Studio, here’s a link to the product comparison page at Microsoft.com.

One important change which I highlighted when I reviewed the Release Candidate version is that the product now prompts you to authenticate with a Microsoft Account (formerly Live ID, formerly MS Passport). This caused me some concern for those wishing to install Visual Studio in an environment with no Internet access, or with no ability to authenticate against Microsoft servers.

As I was exploring the product keys on MSDN, I noticed that there was a section for Visual Studio 2013.  Under each Volume License (VL) key was a static activation key and the following text:

“The product key is not embedded with Visual Studio 2013. When you launch the product, you can simply sign in with the Microsoft account associated with your MSDN subscription and your IDE will automatically activate. An added benefit of signing in to Visual Studio is that your IDE settings will sync across devices, and you can connect to online developer services. If you’d rather enter a product key, then simply bypass signing in and enter the product key found here by selecting Register Product under the Help menu. “

This is good news for those who prefer not to, or can not use a Microsoft account with Visual Studio 2013. 

Personally, I think that synching my IDE settings “across devices” is a pathetic “benefit” of locking Visual Studio to a Microsoft account; and I have no idea what “online developer services” are – aside from the ability to publish Windows 8 Apps and Windows Phone 8 apps to the app store.

Again, I entreat Microsoft: keep your marketing and licensing teams away from Developer Tools!

Aug 172012
 

It’s been a massive week for Microsoft.  We are really in full swing when it comes to the largest release cycle in Microsoft’s history.

It all began on Wednesday at 10 AM PST (Pacific) which is an appallingly wee-hours 3 AM AEST (Australian East).  Insomnia had gripped me, so with a glance at the clock, I decided to stumble online.  Just on the release time, my machine decided that it had to reboot owing to a security patch.

By the time the damned thing rebooted it was too late – MSDN/TechNet were being pummelled by eager subscribers all intent on downloading the RTM ISOs.  I simply couldn’t get launch an Akamai download.

In the end I had to wait until yesterday afternoon, when the queue had died down.  There is quite a lot to digest, including the dark horse, Team Foundation Server 2012.  Word on the grapevine is that Windows Server 2012 will also go RTM shortly as well.

There are quite a number of considerations confronting the subscriber – platform (x86 or x64), locale (US or UK English?), license (Retail, VL, MSDN) and flavour (Win 8 or Win 8 Enterprise, Visual Studio Ultimate/Professional or Premium?).  As one friend put it to me: “What’s the difference?”

For a good look at the differences, here are some helpful links:

Compare Flavours of Windows 8

Compare Editions of Visual Studio 2012

Noting that Windows 8 Enterprise has the features of Windows Pro but has extra support for large organizations.

There are also quite a few additional installation packages to compliment Visual Studio 2012 including the Test Agents (which I’ve mentioned in previous articles to do with establishing load testing), Intellitrace Collector, Remote Tools and the ever handy TFS Everywhere.

Once Windows Server 2012 joins the fray, we will have a very busy period indeed.  Much to write about, so little time.  You’ll also hear from me (with no undue level of verbosity) as I blog live from Microsoft Australia’s annual tech-fest, TechEd 2012 which is on the Gold Coast this year.

Enjoy the new releases and check back here for more, as I begin my long journey diving into the latest tech.

Mar 082012
 

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Overshadowed, possibly, by the release of the new iPad?  Not in the world of databases.  Yesterday Microsoft officially released SQL Server 2012 “release to manufacturing” (RTM) which means we’re officially out of pre-release editions!

Previously codenamed ‘Denali’, the new version brings to the table some serious changes, some of which have already been documented elsewhere.  If you’re keen to jump right in, here’s a link to the Evaluation version (released 06/03/2012 – RTM).  Those with MSDN accounts should be able to download from the MSDN Subscriptions site.

For those who want something a little less heavy, SQL Server 2012 has been shipped in the Express Edition form, an amazing deal for those looking for Enterprise performance and features, but who can’t afford the full blown solution.

ZDNet has some coverage on the launch here, and some more details around the 2012 Edition can be found here.  Of interest (particularly to me) is the integration with Apache Hadoop, which I’ve previously started to research (notes here).

If you are curious about what to expect in SQL Server 2012, a trip to the “What’s New?” page might satisfy – http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/3783.what-s-new-in-sql-server-2012.aspx

As soon as I can, I’ll post another article with some info as I put the new edition through its paces.  I’m excited about some of the interop potential, plus the opportunity to take the updated Master Data Services (new in the previous edition) and the new Data Quality Services for a spin.

Here’s some snippets I’m interested in, from the TechNet site:

New: to SQL Server 2012

Introducing Data Quality Services

SQL Server 2012

The data-quality solution provided by Data Quality Services (DQS) enables a data steward or IT professional to maintain the quality of their data and ensure that the data is suited for its business usage. DQS is a knowledge-driven solution that provides both computer-assisted and interactive ways to manage the integrity and quality of your data sources. DQS enables you to discover, build, and manage knowledge about your data. You can then use that knowledge to perform data cleansing, matching, and profiling. You can also leverage the cloud-based services of reference data providers in a DQS data-quality project.

Enhancement: Programming Changes

14 New Functions and 1 Changed Function

SQL Server 2012 introduces 14 new built-in functions. These functions ease the path of migration for information workers by emulating functionality that is found in the expression languages of many desktop applications. However these functions will also be useful to experienced users of SQL Server.

The new functions are:

Conversion functions

Date and time functions

Logical functions

String functions

In addition to the 14 new functions, one existing function has been changed. The existing LOG (Transact-SQL) function now has an optional second base parameter.

Enhancement: SQL Server Express LocalDB

SQL Server Express LocalDB is a new lightweight edition of Express that has all its programmability features, yet runs in user mode and has a fast, zero-configuration installation and short list of pre-requisites. The LocalDB edition of SQL Server is targeted to program developers. LocalDB installation copies a minimal set of files necessary to start the SQL Server Database Engine.

Once LocalDB is installed, developers initiate a connection by using a special connection string. When connecting, the necessary infrastructure is automatically created and started, enabling the application to use the database without complex or time consuming configuration tasks.

Developer Tools can provide developers with a SQL Server Database Engine that lets them write and test Transact-SQL code without having to manage a full server instance of SQL Server. An instance of SQL Server Express LocalDB can be managed by using the SqlLocalDB.exe utility. SQL Server Express LocalDB should be used in place of the SQL Server Express user instance feature which is deprecated. For more information, see SQL Server 2012 Express LocalDB.

Enhancements: SQL Server Management Studio

SQL Server Management Studio introduces the following features in SQL Server 2012:

  • SQL Server Management Studio supports two keyboard shortcut schemes. The new default keyboard shortcuts are based on the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 keyboard shortcuts. You can also configure Management Studio to use the keyboard shortcuts from SQL Server 2008 R2. SQL Server 2012 no longer includes the SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Manager shortcuts. For more information, see SQL Server Management Studio Keyboard Shortcuts.

  • The Database Engine Query Editor introduces enhanced functionality for Transact-SQL debugging and IntelliSense.

    • The Transact-SQL debugger introduces the following new features:

      • You can now debug Transact-SQL scripts running on instances of SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later.

      • Transact-SQL breakpoints now support the following functionality:

        • A breakpoint condition is a Transact-SQL expression whose evaluation determines whether the breakpoint is invoked. For more information, see Specify a Breakpoint Condition.

        • A breakpoint hit count specifies the number of times a breakpoint is encountered before it is invoked. For more information, see Specify a Hit Count.

        • A breakpoint filter limits the breakpoint to operating only on specified computers, processes, or threads. For more information, see Specify a Breakpoint Filter.

        • A breakpoint action specifies a custom task that is performed when the breakpoint is invoked. For more information, see Specify a Breakpoint Action.

        • You can edit a breakpoint location to move a breakpoint from one Transact-SQL statement to another. For more information, See Edit a Breakpoint Location.

      • The Watch window and Quick Watch now support watching Transact-SQL expressions. For more information, see Transact-SQL Debugger Information.

      • When you move the cursor over a Transact-SQL identifier, a Quick Info pop up displays the name of the expression and its current value. For more information, see Transact-SQL Debugger Information.

    • Transact-SQL IntelliSense introduces the following new features:

      • Breakpoint validation prevents setting a breakpoint in an invalid location.

      • Transact-SQL code snippets are templates you can use as starting points when building Transact-SQL statements in batches and scripts. For more information, see Insert Transact-SQL Snippets.

      • Transact-SQL Surround with snippets are templates you can use as staring points when enclosing sets of Transact-SQL statements in a BEGIN, IF, or WHILE block. For more information, see Insert Surround-with Transact-SQL snippets.

    • Many known database restore issues and enhancements requested by customers have been addressed. The major enhancements include:

      • The algorithm used to construct restore plans has improved significantly and a lot of edge cases, including forking scenarios, are dealt with more efficiently than in previous versions of SQL Server.

      • Point-in-time restore has been improved by the addition of a visual timeline that allows you to identify a feasible point in time as a target time for a database restore operation. When you select a point in time, a restore plan that includes setting relevant restore operations is automatically generated. For more information, see Restore a Database Backup (SQL Server Management Studio).

    • The new Page Restore dialog enables you to check database pages for corruption and to restore selected corrupt pages from a database backup and subsequent log backups. For information about page restore, see Restore Pages (SQL Server).

There’s so much more.. check it out today.