Last week, Microsoft released the July update of SQL Server 2005 Books Online (BOL). I know you’re busy, but do yourself a favor: Download this refresh to make sure you have the latest and greatest copy of what is arguably the single most valuable source of SQL Server information you can have. The full download is available at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/sql/2005/downloads/books.mspx .

Microsoft also released an updated copy of the SQL Server 2005 Samples and Sample Databases that support BOL. The download is available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=E719ECF7-9F46-4312-AF89-6AD8702E4E6E&displaylang=en . Alternatively, if you google “SQL Server 2005 Samples and Sample Databases (July 2006),” you’ll quickly get to the correct download site. At risk of beating a dead horse, I urge you to take advantage of these great learning resources.

How do you know what version of BOL you have? Checking is easy. Simply look in the title bar of the BOL version you’re running. Most Microsoft products make you look in the Help, About menu. BOL’s title-bar check is easier. You can use the title bar to see whether a new BOL version has installed correctly, too. If your title bar doesn’t update to show the month of the new version you just downloaded, the BOL refresh didn’t install properly for some reason. Don’t forget that you can simply check the topic “New and Updated Books Online Topics” for a comprehensive list of changes in the new version.

Please note that starting with the July 2006 refresh, a separate version of BOL for SQL Server Express is no longer available. Instead you’ll want to use the SQL Server Express filter in the contents pane to filter out information that doesn’t apply to SQL Server Express.

Finally, don’t forget that under some circumstances, you might end up with two versions of SQL Server BOL. First, installing a local copy of the MSDN Library (for example from an MSDN subscription) will install a copy of BOL. This MSDN version isn’t affected by new versions that you manually install, and it’s updated whenever you install the latest quarterly update to your MSDN Library. Second, if a user installs Business Intelligence Development Studio, SQL Server 2005 BOL, and the MSDN Library, two copies of BOL appear in the table of contents. One of these copies was installed by the MSDN Library and the other by SQL Server. You can remove the MSDN Library copy of BOL to avoid duplicate BOL topics in search and index results. Here’s how; open Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel, select MSDN Library for Visual Studio 2005, and click Change.

Who needs the latest summer-reading thriller for your vacation getaway when there’s a new version of BOL to peruse? Download, read, and enjoy!