Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates unveiled the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Web Services Toolkit during his keynote at VSLive! in San Francisco last week. The toolkit packages XML for SQL Server (SQLXML) Web Release 3.0 with a rich set of Webcasts, white papers, and sample applications designed to help people leverage SQL Server's native support for XML and integrate SQL Server with the Microsoft .NET Framework.

The Web Services Toolkit delivers technology that lets developers create XML Web services on top of existing or new SQL Server 2000 databases, without requiring any coding in the database or on the data tier. Developers can then use these SQL Server 2000-based XML Web services from Visual Studio .NET applications. How does this technology work? The newly released SQLXML 3.0 lets you publish a SQL Server stored procedure or server-side XML template as a native Web service. SQLXML then creates the Web Services Description Language (WSDL) information you need to integrate those Web services into the .NET Framework.

As a SQL Server professional, I recognize that I need to become knowledgeable about .NET technologies as they relate to SQL Server. Unfortunately, I don't have a particularly strong development background, which makes it difficult to know where to start learning database-related .NET content. That's why the toolkit's white papers are so helpful; they include

  • "ADO.NET Primer"
  • "Inside SQLXML Virtual Directory Structure"
  • "Introduction to SQLXML Managed Classes"
  • "Using SQL Server 2000 to Build Database Applications in Visual Studio .NET"

In addition, the following two white papers also include working code samples:

  • "XML Bulk Load Overview"
  • "Optimizing SQLXML Performance"

You'll find a complete application example built around a Project Task tracking system; the example includes a supporting white paper that describes how and why the developers built the application the way they did. The toolkit also includes the "SQLXML—XML Technology for SQL Server" Webcast, which runs about 1 hour. The Webcast provides an overview of SQLXML's current and future features, including the ability to "work with SQL Server through an XML abstraction, query relational databases with XPath and Xquery, retrieve XML or HTML to publish SQL Server data on the Web, update XML changes back to SQL Server, and load data by shredding XML files into relational tables."

The Web Services Toolkit is available for download from Microsoft's Web site and will soon be available on CD-ROM. For better or worse, .NET is here to stay, and it will change your life as a database professional. I encourage you to download the toolkit and start learning today; the future is here.