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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

Maps

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.

CPUs

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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10.0.2531.0

Right.  10.0.2531.0.  That’s the version number that my SELECT @@VERSION statement is reporting when executed on my SQL Server 2008.  How come?  Well, I installed Service Pack 1.

In other words, SP1 for SQL Server 2008 is out and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center!

Besides fixing several bugs there are some new features to the installation package itself:

  • Slipstream
    You can now integrate the base installation together with service packs or with hotfixes. Therefore, you can install in a single step.
  • Service pack removal
    You can now uninstall only the service pack without uninstalling the whole instance.
  • ClickOnce capability
    You can now deploy Report Builder 2.0 by using the ClickOnce deployment technology.

I especially like the slipstream feature.  This should wipe out a problem which I encountered with 2005.  Some time ago I got a machine that had SQL Server 2005 installed, including SP2.  However, the Management Studio was not installed.  Ever tried getting it installed in such a scenario?  The install DVD complains that there’s already a newer version on the machine and refuses to install SSMS.  So I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling everything.  This problem should now be avoidable, or at least, that’s what I hope.  I haven’t actually tried it out but that’s how I understand slipstream.

Together with SQL Server, the Express Edition of 2008 has also gotten an update to SP1.  And the same goes for the SQL Server 2008 Feature Pack which is now dated April 2009.

Other updated downloads include Report Builder 2.0, Data Mining add-ins for Office, Reporting Services add-in for SharePoint and the Upgrade Advisor.

Update: the BOL have gotten their update as well.  Now available for download: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Books Online (May 2009).

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BOL JAN 2009 update

The SQL Server 2008 Books Online have gotten a new update.  This time they are dated January 2009 with version number 10.00.1601.22.  So if you like to have the latest information available under that F1 button in SSMS, you have some downloading to do.

The download is available here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=765433F7-0983-4D7A-B628-0A98145BCB97&displaylang=en

In case you’ve missed the small issue related to the BOL that shipped with the RTM version of SQL Server 2008, have a look at this article on Tibor Karaszi’s blog.

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Microsoft has released an early Christmas present in the form of Service Pack 3 for SQL Server 2005.

The SP can be downloaded from the Download Center.  Same for the updated Books Online.

As I’m a fan of version numbers, SP3 upgrades your SQL Server to version 9.00.4035.

Besides all the fixes from the cumulative updates, the service pack also contains some enhancements.  The one that caught my interest is the following:

In SharePoint integrated mode, reports typically run slower than the same reports run in native mode. The main cause of this latency can be attributed to SharePoint object model calls that are made. In SQL Server 2005 SP3, the number of SharePoint object model calls that SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services (SSRS) makes are optimized. This optimization reduces some of the latency when you compare report performance with native mode.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some downloads to do :-)

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