SQL Server's long-awaited next release, code-named Yukon, is scheduled to ship in late 2004. As you might expect in a version that has been in development for more than 3 years, Microsoft has added many new features to its flagship database product. Here are seven of the most important features that Microsoft has announced for Yukon.

7. CLR Integration


Yukon's most pervasive new feature is the integration of the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR). This CLR integration gives you the ability to take advantage of any .NET-compatible language, such as C# or Visual Basic .NET, to create stored procedures, user-defined functions (UDFs), triggers, and other database objects.

6. SQL Server .NET Data Provider


Database objects that you develop with the CLR use the ADO.NET data-access classes in the .NET Framework to connect to databases. However, the Visual Studio .NET classes use network libraries and route their connections to SQL Server across the network. To make server-based connections more efficient, Yukon will include the new SQL Server .NET Data Provider to make in-memory connections to the SQL Server database.

5. SQL Workbench


Yukon's new SQL Workbench, which will replace Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer, uses a version of the Visual Studio .NET IDE to let you manage SQL Server and develop T-SQL database objects. SQL Workbench includes full IntelliSense support and might be renamed before the final version ships.

4. Direct Support for Web Services


In Yukon, SQL Server will have direct support for Web services. This enhancement will let SQL Server process incoming HTTP requests, letting you forego the need for a Microsoft IIS server to support Web services.

3. Native XML Data Type


Yukon will provide a new XML data type capable of directly storing XML documents to and retrieving them from the relational database. Web services, XPath queries, and xQuery will give end users access to XML documents stored in the new XML data type.

2. Revamped DTS


Data Transformation Services (DTS) in Yukon will be totally revamped. Since its introduction in SQL Server 7.0, DTS has become one of SQL Server's most widely used utilities. In Yukon, Microsoft will implement DTS's extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) functionality as a managed process and incorporate a better visual workflow designer.

1. Reporting Services


SQL Server Reporting Services will be released early next year as a Web download for SQL Server 2000 but will come built in to the Yukon release. The report creation, distribution, and management service can use either a push or pull model to deliver information to users in a variety of formats. To learn more about Reporting Services, see http://www.microsoft.com/sql/evaluation/bi/reportingservices.asp.