CTPs Versus Betas
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp by Michael Otey, mikeo@teca.com

Microsoft recently released several SQL Server 2005 Express Community Technology Previews (CTPs). This is exciting news for SQL Server 2005 Express users because these CTPs provide many new capabilities and program fixes. The CTPs, which have been available since March, include

  • SQL Server 2005 Express Edition Service Pack 1 (SP1) CTP
  • SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with Advanced Services CTP
  • SQL Server 2005 Express Edition Toolkit CTP
  • SQL Server 2005 Management Studio Express CTP

    You can download these CTPs from the Microsoft download site at
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=57856cdd-da9b-4ad0-9a8a-f193ae8410ad&displaylang=en

    Several readers have been confused about the nature of these CTPs. It’s important to remember that CTPs aren't the final release. CTP stands for Community Technology Preview, and the key word is "preview." CTPs are intended to give you hands-on experience with the new features and to test the code in your environment. However, one item to be aware of--you don’t want to apply SQL Server Express Edition SP1 CTP on the same system where you’re running a production copy of SQL Server 2005 Express. Go ahead and install the CTP on a test system, but wait for the final SP1 release of code before you install SQL Server 2005 Express Edition SP1 on your production system. When Microsoft ships the final service pack release it'll drop the CTP moniker.

    So how does a CTP differ from a beta release? Both CTPs and betas are prerelease code--code that isn’t finished and hasn’t gone through the final optimization and quality-assurance process. The main difference between a CTP and beta is that a beta typically follows a predefined release cycle and it's usually available only to selected users. In contrast, Microsoft generally makes a CTP available to the general public soon after the development team completes the code. CTPs are often quite stable so if you mistakenly install a CTP on a production system it'll probably work fine. Once the service pack is released you should uninstall the CTP before you install the service pack. In addition, be aware that CTPs sometimes have a limited active time. As a final note, you can expect to see SQL Server 2005 Express service pack editions and toolkits mid-2006.

    SQL Server Express Jump Start

    Creating Tables, Part 3
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp by Michael Otey

    In previous Jump Start columns, I’ve discussed installing SQL Server 2005 Express, creating a database, and creating tables and columns. Tables group related data together and are the core of all relational database systems. Data in a table is stored in columns, and you assign a data type to each column of data.

    In the March 20, 2006 Jump Start, "Is SQL Server Express Multiuser Capable?" (http://www.sqlmag.com/Article/ArticleID/49736/sql_server_49736.html ), I showed you how to create a basic table for storing media information. The following T-SQL listing shows that table.

    CREATE TABLE \[dbo\].\[Media\](
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp \[MediaID\] \[int\] NOT NULL,
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp \[MediaType\] \[varchar\](10) NOT NULL,
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp \[MediaTitle\] \[varchar\](50) NOT NULL,
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp \[LastUpdated\] \[datetime\] NOT NULL
    ) ON \[PRIMARY\]

    If you're just getting started with databases, one important procedure you need to learn is how to insert a column into a table to include missing information. For example, the preceding Media table tracks basic media information: ID, type, title, and last updated. Imagine that after you create your database, you decide that because the media is stored in different shelves throughout your home or office, you want to track CD location as well. To add a column, you'll need to add to your T-SQL table code the following line:

    ALTER TABLE Media ADD MediaLocationID \[int\] NULL

    You can use sqlcmd or Query Editor from within SQL Server Management Studio for Express (SSMSE) to run this command. ALTER TABLE keeps pre-existing data in its original columns and adds the MediaLocation column to the end of the column list. You can also add columns graphically by using SSMSE, but this utility constructs and runs only the ALTER TABLE command.

    Check It Out

    Calling All SQL Server 2005 Express Heroes

    Have you used SQL Server 2005 Express or Visual Studio Express editions to create something fun or cool? If so, Microsoft is currently running a Microsoft Express Heroes contest for you to submit a story or a project you've worked on that focuses on using SQL Server 2005 Express or Visual Studio Express editions. Microsoft will publish the winners' stories on its Web site each week during the promotion and you'll receive a $100 Amazon.com gift certificate. You'll find more information about the contest at
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/support/hero_promotion/default.aspx

    Document Your SQL Server Database
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp by Blake Eno

    Apex SQL Tools announced Apex SQL Doc, a documentation tool for your SQL Server database. SQL Doc's wizard-based interface walks you through the steps you'll use to convert your SQL Server databases into HTML Help files. The wizard lets you choose between server-level and database-level documentation. You can also enable individual object selection to document objects such as schemas, partition schemas, queues, and XML schema collections. SQL Doc lets you document multiple databases in one Help file. Apex SQL Doc starts at $249 for one to three licenses. For more information, contact Apex SQL Tools at 919-968-8452 or 866-665-5500.
    &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp http://www.apexsql.com