SQL Server 2008 R2 August CTP: download time!

For those who haven’t heard about SQL Server 2008 R2 yet, have a look at its home page: http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/r2.aspx

Download the August CTP to give it a go!

After having had a look at the available documentation in the Books Online, which at this moment is pre-release obviously (R2 is planned for the first half of 2010), following is a list of new stuff that caught my interest.  Well, besides the major new components such as Project Gemini or the Self Service Business Intelligence capabilities.  These are not yet included in this release anyway, you’ll have to wait for the Fall 2009 CTP for that.

Reporting Services


That’s right, maps!  Isn’t that cool?  Now we’ll finally have a way to visualize our two new spatial data types which we have available since SQL Server 2008 (geometry and geography).

These maps will be available in Report Builder 3.0 as well as in SSRS projects in BIDS.  If you want, you can try out Report Builder 3.0 without downloading SQL Server, it’s a separate download in the page mentioned earlier.

This is what the new report template looks like when first opening the new Report Builder:

New report in Report Builder 3.0 shows the Map icon

Indeed, it now shows a third object icon called Map.  Dan English wrote a detailed blog post about the Report Builder 3.0 installation procedure, in case you want to see the wizard before actually running it yourself.

Furthermore, in this tutorial Robert Bruckner shows you how to use the map visualization functionality using Report Builder 3.0.

Lookup functions

Finally, here’s the answer to the "Want to link datasets? Please vote!” article.  Well, not exactly but at least it’s a first step.

The following 3 new functions will be available for us to use in expressions in our reports:

These lookup functions will allow us to fetch data from dataset2 and display it within a data region that’s bound to dataset1.  Of course it’s not as convenient as when it would be possible to join two datasets together but it does overcome the limitation of not being able to display data from more than one dataset in the same data region.  Definitely looking forward to trying it out!  Here’s a blog post by Teo Lachev where he shows how it works.

Report Manager Enhancements

Look and feel plus user experience have gotten an upgrade here, such as "Eliminating the need to render a report before accessing and configuring report properties when in default view.".  Well, that saves us the click to switch to Detail View, as we’re used to doing.  Teo Lachev has posted some screenshots of the new Report Manager, which as you’ll notice has become more “SharePointy”.

Analysis Services

Windows XP Not Supported

According to the release notes it’s not fully operational on XP.  I do hope that this gets fixed by RTM?  More info in the Release Notes.

Database Engine

The relational database engine didn’t get any major functionality changes but I still noticed the following.


The number of CPU cores that a server can use for database operations has been increased from 64 to 512.  Well, I sure would like to try that feature out!  If you’re reading this and have got a spare computer with, let’s say 128 CPUs please do contact me and I’ll give you the shipping details :-)

Unicode Compression

Unicode data that is stored in nvarchar(n) and nchar(n) columns is compressed by using an implementation of the Standard Compression Scheme for Unicode (SCSU) algorithm.  Could be interesting.  I’m always in favor of saving space if it doesn’t cost in performance.  But there is a limitation: Data values that are stored off row or in nvarchar(max) columns are not compressed.
More details: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee240835(SQL.105).aspx

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some downloading to do! :-)


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