Executive Summary: In a previous editorial, Michael wrote about the three features he would like to be included in a future SQL Server release: the ability to run SQL Server on Windows Server 2008 Server Core, support for Language Integrated Query (LINQ) in SQLCLR, and a development front end for SQL Server Service Broker. In this month's editorial, Michael discusses some of the features that readers requested, including making Service Broker easier to get started with, an automated forms building tool, a transaction log reader, the ability to compare SQL Objects more easily, and an improved SQL Server Management Objects (SMO).

In “Where SQL Server Should Go from Here,” February 2008, InstantDoc ID 97954, I wrote about some of the features that I think should be included in the next SQL Server release and asked our readers for their feedback. Although it might seem to be too early to discuss future SQL Server versions because SQL Server 2008 isn’t even scheduled to be released until third quarter 2008, Microsoft is already busy planning which features will be included in the next SQL Server release. Some of the features that I would like to see in a future SQL Server release include the ability to run SQL Server on Windows Server 2008 Server Core, support for Language Integrated Query (LINQ) in SQLCLR, and a development front end for SQL Server Service Broker. Here are some of the features that readers believe should be included in the next version of SQL Server.

Several readers shared my frustrations with Service Broker not only because it lacks an integrated design tool, but also because of its restricted example sets that imply there are limitations to the product that aren’t actually there. One reader said “I think Microsoft may be doing themselves a disservice with Service Broker currently. It took awhile (two different SQL Server 2005 manuals and the Service Broker beta preview manual) but I figured out that you don’t have to use explicit XML in broker messages; just plain text can be used.” This reader’s comment reflects the fact that it’s difficult to get started using Service Broker, and its capabilities aren’t clearly documented and discoverable. However, an interactive development tool would make it easier to get started with Service Broker and see its underlying capabilities.

Another feature that readers requested is an automated forms building subsystem that’s modeled after SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). One reader said, “I think that SQL Server needs to come with a data entry solution. Microsoft has revolutionized the way that we do reporting. I think that it might be safe to say that SSRS is the second most important thing to come out of Redmond this past decade. I work for a company that builds SQL Server solutions for large retailers. We spend about 1/10th of our time doing reports and 90 percent of our time building dumb Web-based data entry forms. If Microsoft were to come out with ‘SQL Server Forms Services,’ it could make our offerings a lot more stable, predictable, and logical. Make it look like SSRS and give us 100 different ways to make a data entry form.” This reader’s idea makes a lot of sense to me. An automated forms building tool would not only be useful for organizations of all sizes, but also could be bundled with SQL Server Express to compete with Oracle Database Lite, which includes a similar tool. Typically, the first thing many businesses want to do with a new database is automatically generate Web-based forms.

I received a variety of small requests from readers as well. A reader captured the essence of these requests in the following message: “What would be nice: a transaction log reader, the ability to compare SQL Objects a bit easier (they had a command-line compare tool in SQL Server 2005, maybe this has been enhanced in SQL Server 2008), and an improved SQL Server Management Objects (SMO) (although programming database transfers in SMO is much better than SQL Server Integration Services—SSIS—in 2005, it still dies on databases with lots of objects).” I agree; a utility to view and navigate the transaction log would useful. Although the ability to compare databases exists in Visual Studio Team System for Database Professionals, many organizations would prefer for it to be included with the built-in SQL Server management tools. SQL Server has come a long way in dealing with large databases; however, a better performing management framework would put it in a more favorable position when compared with Oracle or DB2.

Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft’s SQL Server team has done a great job of covering the bases with SQL Server, and SQL Server’s features compare very favorably to Oracle and DB2’s features. However, there’s no doubt that as SQL Server moves forward, it will need to include more useful and practical features. Thanks to the readers that contributed their thoughts on this subject.