Although SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1) isn't out yet (and no, I have no idea when it will be), you can already get a new-and-improved version of SQL Server 2005 Books Online (BOL) at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=1DD54:7B3DA .You can download the updated BOL or view it directly from your www browser.

The new BOL has a lot of great new content. The topic "New and Updated Books Online Topics" gives you a concise list of all the recent changes and makes it easy to see topics that are brand new as well as topics that have been modified in some way. Another convenient way to track down new content is to look for tags that indicate recent updates; new topics are marked with the tag "New: 5 December 2005," and updated topics are marked with "Updated: 5 December 2005." These tags appear directly in the subjects that have been changed. A handy feature for digesting the reasonably large number of new changes is the Change History Log, which shows up at the bottom of each entry that has had significant changes. I'm not sure what the official Microsoft answer is, but it seems that these change log is intended to be cumulative as new BOL releases are made into the future. The Change History Log summarizes new content and modifications to the existing topic, so you can quickly read up on new changes as the product matures over time.

Although I can't cover the scope of all the new and updated content in this small space, the new BOL edition summarizes its most important changes:

  • Setup and upgrade instructions
  • Information about new features and backward compatibility
  • Conceptual descriptions of the technologies and features in SQL Server 2005
  • Procedural topics describing how to use the various features in SQL Server 2005
  • Tutorials that guide you through common tasks
  • Reference documentation for the graphical tools, command prompt utilities, programming languages, and application programming interfaces (APIs) that are supported by SQL Server 2005
  • Descriptions of the sample databases and applications included with SQL Server 2005
  • I've always been a geek, interested in decoding the mysteries of SQL Server by studying system tables and other related metadata sources, so one of the new topics that piqued my interest was a new FAQ about how to query the System Catalog to perform certain commonly requested tasks such as:

  • How do I find all the tables that do not have a clustered index in a specified database?
  • How do I find all the entities that belong to a specified schema?
  • How do I find all the tables that do not have a primary key?
  • How do I find all the tables that do not have an index?
  • How do I find all the tables that have identity columns?
  • How do I find the data types of the columns of a specified table?
  • How do I find the dependencies on a specified function?
  • How do I find all the tables that do not have a clustered index?
  • I think it's great that Microsoft is adding more practical to BOL. But I hope they don't take it too far, or people might want to stop reading magazines.