Nice article on setting up the December CTP has just gone live on the SSWUG website:
Troubleshooting SQL Server 2005 Express Edition installation
Way to go Alexander!
Aaron Weiker post drew my attention to Sahil Malik posting about SQLCLR UDTs, and Shawn Wildermuth's response. My response grew into this article. My advice is to listen to Warren Zevon warning...
I can saw a woman in two, but you won't want to look in the box when I am through.
Jeff Brand posts a groan about the possibility of Yet Another Workflow Framework (YAWF). And he wonders if anybody remembers “Grizzly,” the code name for a workflow system that used SQL Server 7.0 as the back end.
Yeah, I remember trying to use it... once. And that's exactly why we need something better. Sure, you can develop workflow applications based purely on Exchange. You could also assemble your own car from parts. Two words: Rubber Cement. I really don't see BizTalk as being a good fit here either -- its much more of a process integration controller than a workflow framework.
Of course, you could design and build a workflow system based on SQL Server 2005 Service Broker. That'd be complex but not hard depending a couple of factors: if you need dynamic routing and how many variable paths there are in the processing flow. A “starter kit” would help make this more accessible.
A good workflow system really needs five things that are difficult to achieve with what we have today.
- It must be easy to design, test, deploy and maintain -- preferably with a GUI.
- Delivery must be guaranteed and tracked.
- Must support phased attachments -- ones that can be added at any point and can be versioned.
- End-to-end Status Reporting has to be there.
- It must feature dynamic routing based on simple rule processing (of course, scripting or calling an assembly would be nice)
Most of these things exist someplace in the Microsoft portfolio: use Whitehorse for design, test and deploy; Service Broker for the transport; SharePoint for attachments and Reporting Services for the reporting. Dynamic Service Applications for Service Broker would certainly be interesting to see.
I've been reading Rocky Lhotka's posts from today on Remoting, SOA as RPC and Services having tiers. I think he's right about a lot of what he has to say and that got me thinking about SQL Server 2005's Web Services and Service Broker (again).
I'm getting cranky today because I'm trying figure out the behavior of some code that's NIH but I have to support. I'm not having much luck because I can't reproduce the root error that's causing my error handling stuff to work right. Starting to get frustrated, I decided to take an actual lunch break and do something refreshing: read.
And what was at the top of my reading stack?
Test-Driven Development in Microsoft.NET.
How cool is that? A day long SQL Server 2005 lovefest in the Twin Cities! I gotta imagine they'll be doing these in the other districts too, so go check I'm out.
And to my fellow SQL fantantics in the heartland, you'd better show up. Geek Dinner, anybody?
Since Mike Champion asks what we want to see in future versions of XML, I thought I'd give him my list. It's my opinion that XML's greatest strength -- amazing adaptability -- is also its biggest weakness -- too few rules. Today, we're getting more benefit from XML's minimalism than its costing us to cope with, but I think we're already starting to see it run into some pretty hard to solve limitations because of it.
Examples? Okay, how about Tim Bray's assessment about XML's as an impedance in many ways to the development of rich semantic systems, like Knowledge Portals. In a simple human-to-human conversation, its reasonably easy and common to have a shared, state-based understanding of what a term (like an element name) means relative to the problem domain. Although schema by example serves a great role in the format description and validation of stateless conversations between non-humans, it is just not getting the job done as a way for applications to share problem domain definitions and semantics blindly. Sure, technologies like OWL try to close that gap using XML and XML schema, but that leads me to another problem...
In order to really do anything with XML, I have to learn more than just XML. For a minimal as XML is, these tooling technologies are frequently maximal approaches to a problem. Seemingly to compensate to boot! Consider what should be a simple task like converting XML in one schema to XML in another schema. For a procedural language, that might be complex, but it is not hard to figure out how to do efficiently and effectively. Instead what we got is XSLT, an imperative language that's hard to learn but produces wonderfully simple, very efficient and darned effective solutions. Once you climb its learning curve. XSD is another example IMHO. Really powerful stuff, but mind-numbingly complex until you really grok its Tao.
So what do I really want here? OWL for the Masses! Or maybe just OWL Lite Lite. Make it easier to share both definition and semantics, but make that it as easy to learn as XML (and just XML) is. And make it a formal part of XML, not just something else to learn. Accomplish that and I think you create the potential for a quantum level of improvement in XML.
Secondly, get XQuery done and move on standardizing change/update/delete semantics and methods with it. We've got two standard (DOM, Streaming Push) and one "better than standard" (streaming pull) APIs to read XML and exposing it for processing. We've also got a great way to navigate it with XPath over loaded DOMs and streams, but modification today -- in a standards-only API approach -- means DOM bloat. Bad! XQuery (at least as some folks are talking version 2.0 of it) at least holds the promise of changing and streaming. We need that. Get it done.
Finally, we need some sort of standards-based and enabled way to put XML on diet. Optional tokenization/compression seems like a pragmatic way to deal with the verbose nature of XML over the wire. Pick some set of open standard methods that essentially any parser worth its weight could do and recommend their implementation. I don't think there's much to be gained from compressing the prolog, but there's much to had from doing it on down.
Ruest and Ruest talk about here: http://www.ftponline.com/reports/vslivesf/2005/ruest/. My favorite part?
"In addition, the componentization of IIS will allow Microsoft to build the service onto a set of public application programming interfaces (APIs). Because the APIs will be public, they will allow third-party vendors to build their own functionalities into the Web server. And because each functionality is a specific component that can be added to or removed from IIS, these third-party add-ons will be completely transparent to the system."
Nice! That's going to enable a lot of stuff (both good and bad) to be done.
And if you're saying "Uh, its that what what good old ISAPIs did...?" likely your right. Of course, writing an either an Extension or Filter isn't all that easy or that transparent. It'll be interesting to see if this is just new asphalt on the old cow path or something truly "new and different."
Looks like its going to be a busy month for the IT Communities in the Greater Omaha area:
- First up is OLUG's monthly meeting on the 1st. The topic of discussion? Asterisk!
- Omaha SPIN should be having a meeting on the 15th, but I've not heard a topic yet.
- NebraskaCERT CyberSecurityForum will be meeting on the 16th for breakfast and a general disucssion of Security Trends.
- Bummer! The Omaha Macromedia group is having the renowned Kevin Towes come speak about Flash Communication Server on the 17th. Not that this is a bad thing but...
- Also on the 17th, the Greater Omaha SQL Server's Users Group will be meeting. Group Co-Founder and SQL Guru Luke Schollmeyer will be talking about the T-SQL enhancements in SQL Server 2005.
- Monday the 21st, the Omaha Java User's Group will having a presentation by Dave Burchell about the PayPal API.
- Thursday the 24th is a .NET-DoubleStack. In the afternoon Mike Benkovich will be visiting town to present the quarterly MSDN event. Following that, FunWith.NET should be meeting at Creighton West. This session will be a bit different -- it's show and tell night!
- Bummer! That's the same night that the Omaha PerlMongers meet up.
Just heard from the conference organizers that my session on SQL Server 2005 XML and CLR features has been approved for the Midwest's leading IT Conference -- InfoTec 2005 at the Qwest Center in Omaha. I'll be speaking at 10:30 on Wednesday, 6 April.
Here's the session description:
Pushing the Envelope: XML and CLR in SQL Server 2005
You've probably heard alot about Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 product offering, but what's hype and what's real? In this session, we will look at the how the nature of data and applications has driven changes in SQL Server 2005 and how you can take advantage of them. We will exploring using XML as a data type as well as using the .NET runtime within SQL Server.
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