Microsoft recently released the SQL Server 2000 Resource Kit, which easily makes my "must have" list. My copy came in the mail a few days ago, so I haven't had time to read it cover to cover. But even after a quick run-through, I found the resource kit full of valuable content for any SQL Server professional, regardless of skill level or area of specialization. The resource kit consists of a book with more than 1100 pages of information and a CD-ROM that includes 60MB of online Help files, tools, sample code, and e-books.

Members of the SQL Server product team and Microsoft Consulting Services wrote the printed version of the book, which includes 37 technical chapters organized into the following topic areas:

  • Planning
  • Database Administration
  • Availability
  • Data Warehousing
  • Analysis Services
  • Digital Dashboard
  • Replication
  • Web Programming
  • Designing for Performance and Scalability

The text is a wonderful companion to SQL Server Books Online (BOL) content and provides a nice mix of high-level, big-picture planning topics alongside detailed, getting-your-hands-dirty technical information.

I recommend the resource kit for the book alone. But the resource kit's utilities, sample code, and online Help files make it indispensable. One of my favorite tools is the online version of the SQL Server 2000 System Table Map. This compiled HTML Help file organizes system tables into logical groupings, such as "log shipping tables in the MSDB" or "system tables in every database," and lets you visually inspect the relationships between tables and drill down into the underlying schema behind each table.

The resource kit's CD-ROM contains 39 tools and sets of sample code. Some of the more interesting tools include:

  • Analysis Services Thin Web Client Browser, an Active Server Pages (ASP) application that lets you browse Analysis Services cubes without installing Analysis Services components on the client side.
  • Database Hammer, a customizable Visual Basic (VB) 6.0 sample that tests various load conditions against your database server.
  • The Federated Toolkit Samples, a simple data-dependent routing solution that uses distributed partitioned views. This tool includes samples that show you how to build efficient middle-tier objects that route SQL requests to the correct distributed partitioned view node.
  • The Desktop SQL Server Configuration Tool, which demonstrates how you can use Microsoft Access 2000 to programmatically connect to and manage SQL Server's Microsoft Desktop Edition (MSDE).
  • Simple Log Shipper, which provides a simplified log-shipping approach for sites that can't justify the expense of SQL Server Enterprise Edition.
  • Stored Procedure Builder, which lets you schedule the synchronization of the physical database with a Visual SourceSafe (VSS) source tree that contains SQL Server code and database objects.

In the past, most Microsoft resource kits were available as part of a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription. However, it appears that for now the new SQL Server 2000 Resource Kit won't be available from MSDN. You can order the kit (ISBN 0-7356-1266-8) from your favorite online bookstore for $69.99. The resource kit pays for itself if you find just one of its tools a useful addition to your DBA or developer toolbox. Great technical reading, handy sample code, and utilities—what more could a SQL Server geek ask for?