Now that SQL Server 2012 is the final name of the upcoming release, even more presentations are being offered online, at numerous user groups meetings, and other events such as SQLBits, SQL in the City, PASS SQLRally Nordic, and various SQLSaturdays. Most of the sessions are short (50-90 minutes) and try to cover long lists of features. Some are a bit more focused, offering the chance for demonstrations and a deeper discussion of the usage scenarios for the new features.

I have been asked to give a half-day session next month at an event in Tel Aviv, which is longer than any of the sessions I’ve seen presented so far on SQL Server 2012. I have been reading about and experimenting with several of the new SQL Server 2012 features, but for a half-day presentation I’ll need to do more than just some basic experimentation. I need to decide whether to try to mention as many new features as possible or to just discuss the topics that are meaningful to me and that fit in with my SQL Server focus areas.

Just today, I started planning the upgrade of my course ( SQL Server Internals and Tuning) with my friend and colleague Tibor Karaszi, who is one of the two other people (beside me) who is authorized to teach my course. We could come up with only about five new features in SQL Server 2012 that fit in with the current topics that are taught in the course. These topics include the following:

  • Columnstore indexes
  • FORCESCAN hint and enhanced FORCESEEK hint
  • Windowing functions with the OVER clause
  • Indirect checkpoints
  • Unicode compression

The following are other topics that are in my areas of interest and expertise but that might not fit with the current course topics:

  • Contained databases
  • Metadata discovery
  • Filetable storage
  • Semantic Search
  • Fulltext search enhancements

These topics are intentionally listed as simple feature names, with no further description. I would be surprised if many of my readers know what most of these features refer to, but that’s the nature of new features and why there are so many presentations about new features.

There are probably another four or five topics I could dig up with a bit more reading in the SQL Server 2012 documentation. (And obviously, there are lots of new features in areas that I don’t usually write or teach about.) So if I have three hours to talk about 15 features, that’s about 12 minutes per feature. Or I could talk more about some of the features and less about the others.

Those of you who know me know that I’m very demo-oriented. I love to show how things work, not just talk about them. So there would be very few features I could talk about and demo in 10–12 minutes. So what should I do?

How do you like to find out about new features? Do you enjoy presentations that are just lists of features? Do you prefer to read about new features in documentation or blogs or have someone explain the features and demonstrate their actual use? Do you prefer hearing about more features in less depth or to hear about one or two features in great depth? Let me know how you prefer to learn about new features in an upcoming release.