SQL PASS Summit 2011, Day 1

I was very fortunate to get last-minute approval to attend the Summit. This is my third year attending, but the first time that I’ve represented my employer.PASS 2011 button

I arrived late on Tuesday evening, so I couldn’t go to the Welcome Reception. I heard it was a lot of fun, with everyone receiving a coloured sticker with a number on it. The goal was to find the other person with the same number.  In a room with a thousand people, that can be quite daunting! But apparently someone added an index to the crowd,which helped things along.

This year the keynotes of the Summit are being broadcast live so everyone who isn’t able to attend can join in on the fun. See the Summit home page.

First up in the morning was the keynote. There was a fair bit of derision on Twitter about the content of the keynote, as Microsoft seemed to be intent on wowing a customer with cute charts, instead of providing the technical meat wanted by their audience. Some of the demos were badly done, with fonts that were too small to read, but no zooming done by the demonstrator.

The highlight of the keynote was the official announcement of SQL Server 2012, formerly known as Denali. They also demoed Data Explorer and the link to Apache Hadoop. Microsoft will be contributing to the Hadoop project.

The wowser announcement of the morning was Redgate’s DBA in Space contest. They’re going to send a DBA into suborbit!


I attended the following sessions:

Karen Lopez (Twitter| website) – Five Physical Database Blunders and How to Avoid Them

Database design will always come down to cost, benefit and risk. Can you justify why you’re doing what you’re doing? There can be many ways to accomplish something, but each method has pros and cons that have to be taken into account when making design decisions.

Denise McInerney (Twitter) – “BEGIN… COMMIT” is not Enough: Understanding Transactions

This was a great demo-heavy session. I use transactions, but they always frustrate me. This explained some of the unexpected behaviours and how to use transactions correctly.

Andy Warren – (Twitter | blogBuilding a Professional Development Plan

Do you have a professional development plan? I should, but I don’t (yet). Goals need to be written down, along with milestones and tasks, just like a project plan. You should treat your employer like a client with a one-year contract – do you have the skills to renew that contract? You need a minimum of 100 hours just to learn one new skill well, so if you want to move into a new role, you need a serious investment in time to get up to speed in new skills.  Make a budget every year for how you will spend money to develop – conferences? books? courses? speaking engagements?

I must remind myself – networking is an investment, networking is an investment….

Brent Ozar (Twitter | website) – BLITZ! The SQL – More One Hour SQL Server Takeovers

Brent’s presentations are always a hoot to attend, with half the fun being on Twitter as friends tweet comments throughout. Brent has such an infectious enthusiasm for his topics that you can’t help but get excited along with him. I was aware of the script that he posted about how to investigate servers that have been tossed your way with no documentation, but he’s gone much further by bundling his code into a single stored procedure that generates a very readable report that’s easy to archive or point the boss to.


Every year at Summit my goal is to get a bit better at networking. I was pleasantly surprised that a few people do remember me from previous years, so it was good to chat and catch up. I also talked to a few new people, some of them first-timers, offering to answer questions for them, or recommended some sessions to attend.

An early night tonight, despite invitations to SQL Karaoke. Save that for Thursday night.

SSMS Configuration Tips

Recently my install of Management Studio decided to reset itself back to the defaults. After a bit of hunting around for the blog posts that listed some great configurations, I decided to make note of my preferred settings here, for future reference.

Open a new query page at Startup

Tools | Options |  Environment | At startup: – Select Open Object Explorer and new query

Create DMV shortcuts

Tools | Options |  Environment | Keyboard | Query shortcuts:

I add “select * from sys.dm_exec_sessions” and “select * from sys.dm_exec_requests” to Ctrl keys.

Display line numbers

Tools | Options |  Text Editor | All Languages | Display | Line Numbers

Know where you are through colour coding

Save yourself some grief by making group connections an obvious colour (bright red!) so that you don’t execute some script on a bunch of servers accidentally.

Tools | Options |  Text Editor | Editor Tab and Status Bar | Status Bar Layout and Colours | Group Connections

I usually move the status bar location to Top to make the colour even more obvious.

I also find Mladen Prajdić’s SSMS Tools Pack to be invaluable for colour-coding windows of specific servers.

More readable tabs

I find the tabbing in SSMS to be frustrating because it’s so hard to see what’s on a specific tab.

Tools | Options |  Text Editor | Editor Tab and Status Bar | Tab Text – Set all to false except Include file name.

Reduce wait times

Tools | Options | SQL Server Object Explorer | Table and View Options | Value for Select/Edit Top <n> Rows

I rarely need to see 1000 rows when I do a select on a table. It’s usually just a shortcut to the query text so I can start modifying it for other purposes.

Avoid some costly mistakes

Set up a Query Template (via SSMS Tools Pack) such as “BEGIN TRAN/ROLLBACK”.


Want more than you see here? Check out Kimberly Tripp’s Favorite SSMS Options – and some gotchas and Brent Ozar’s Fixing SQL Server Management Studio’s Tab Text. Have a favourite? Let me know in the comments.

These are simply my preferences, I’m not recommending them.