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TechNet Update The SQL Server Ecosystem
Graeme Bennett


It is fascinating to watch the ecosystem grow up around market-leading products. A walk through any computer hardware or software section highlights the fantastic variety of products built upon and for the Windows® platform.
A similar phenomenon has grown in the SQL Server™ market space as third-party products and services build on the capabilities of the technology. Much of this action has occurred because SQL Server 2000 didn’t include much in the way of diagnostic tools or Web-based administration options. Providers of these and other add-on capabilities found an eager audience.
The pro users gather at various SQL Server-oriented events around the world, such as TechNet-sponsored events or the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Community Summit conference. The latter is billed as the industry’s largest user-run educational event exclusively dedicated to SQL Server, and it attracts thousands each year to a mix of educational sessions, peer and expert solution exchange, and networking opportunities.
In 2006, PASS events are slated for Barcelona, Spain, and Seattle, Washington. Attendees can reliably expect a highly educational event (usually running an intensive three days) where the focus is on community.
Another example of the way this healthy ecosystem benefits IT pros can be found in the SQL Server section of the TechNet Script Center. There, you’ll find some great resources—many of them community-authored or inspired—aimed at system administrators interested in utilizing scripts to create and manage SQL Server databases.
You might wonder, though, why most of these scripts don’t mention SQL Server 2005. This isn’t because of a lack of community interest. Nor should you infer from this that there are limited scripting capabilities within the 2005 edition of the product; quite the opposite is true of the eponymous structured query language. The real reason has to do with the fact that the scripting capabilities of SQL Server have changed markedly in the years between the release of SQL Server 2000 and the new SQL Server 2005. Back in the day, Visual Basic® Scripting Edition (VBScript) interfaces for SQL Server were the primary script vehicles.
Now you might say that SQL Server scripting is in that awkward transition phase between old and new paradigms. The old VBScript model is no longer supported in SQL Server 2005, which uses Transact-SQL (T-SQL), common language runtime (CLR) integration, and various XML options for server-side programmability.
Of course, blogging plays a huge role in the SQL communities on both MSDN® and TechNet. Almost everyone at Microsoft, it seems, has a blog, and SQL Server blogs are among the most popular and useful. (See the "Related Resources" sidebar for links.)
And if you know anybody using Access databases, here’s a URL they should look up: Introducing SQL Server Express Application XCopy. In this post, Ken Brubaker describes how to deploy real, robust databases via SQL Server Express Edition as quickly as you could the easily corruptible Access database files. There are also quite a few good SQL training resources on TechNet and elsewhere.
Interested in learning more about SQL Server? Try the new SQL Server 2005 Express Edition. The install includes 50 product licenses, meaning that up to 50 programs can use the Express Edition engine for the price of a free download. Enjoy.

Graeme Bennett is the editor of the TechNet Flash newsletter and the TechNet home page at Microsoft. You can reach him at graemeb@microsoft.com.
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