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The Baker's Dozen: 13 Tips for SQL Server 2008 and SSRS 2008

SQL Server 2008 gets new developer features, and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services gets a facelift and new architecture that no longer requires Internet Information Services.

lthough the temperatures are still warm, it's Christmas Day here at the Baker's Dozen, and we're about to unwrap thirteen major SQL Server/SSRS 2008 gifts from Microsoft. A major software release either contains a substantial number of enhancements, or a small number of substantial enhancements. The last two releases of SQL Server remind me of the two types of Christmases: SQL 2005 was like receiving a large number of presents, and SQL Server 2008 is like receiving a smaller number of big gifts. Those of you who asked Santa for the ability to INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE in one SQL statement, or to specify multiple GROUP BY statements in a single SQL query, will be very happy. If you wanted a hierarchical data type, you will be ecstatic. SQL Server 2008 also includes a new and completely re-written version of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)—complete with a new interface, new charting features, and (get ready to applaud) no more reliance on Internet Information Services (IIS).

Confessions of a Data Guy
When Microsoft releases new language or .NET Framework features, I go through my little circle of life. One can almost hear Elton John singing "Can you feel the code tonight?" I go through a few iterations of the grokking phrase, I talk to others about it, and then I try it out in a few prototypes before taking the production plunge.

I confess—I get just as stoked when I read about new capabilities in SQL Server to store data, query data, and visualize data. I was pretty excited about the language offerings in SQL Server 2005, and I'm just as fired up about what Microsoft has done with SQL Server 2008. The new enhancements demonstrate that not only do they listen when people ask for new language statements; they also care about making developer tasks more seamless.

What's on the Menu?
Let's get right to the menu. (Or, using the Christmas analogy, let's open the presents under the tree!) This Baker's Dozen article will cover eight tips for using new developer functionality in SQL Server 2008, and five tips for new capabilities in Reporting Services. Here they are:

  • Some T-SQL Server 2008 "stocking stuffers" (do you get the feeling I'm anxious for Christmas?). These are new T-SQL language features to simplify basic operations, such as Insert Row Constructors, Assignment Operators, and Variable Initializers.
  • The new GROUP BY extensions so that developers can specify multiple groupings in a single result set.
  • The new MERGE keyword that allows developers to perform INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE operations in one SQL statement.
  • The new Hierarchy ID system data type.
  • The new Table data type, for passing table-like structures as parameters.
  • The new Date and Time data types. (Yes, you can have a Date column that's just the date!)
  • Other miscellaneous SQL Server 2008 enhancements.
  • The new architecture for SSRS 2008.
  • Exploring the new development environment in SSRS 2008.
  • The new SSRS Tablix control (table plus matrix controls, plus more!).
  • New charting features in SSRS 2008 (courtesy of Dundas).
  • New export/delivery capabilities.
  • Better SharePoint integration.
Editor's Note: This article was first published in the July/August 2008 issue of CoDe Magazine, and is reprinted here by permission.

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