#SQLSat41 <–That’s how you refer to it on TWITTER.

This past Saturday I attended SQL Saturday 41 in Atlanta, GA.  I began the day grumpy, tired and ashamed.  Ashamed because I was supposed to present and had to withdraw my presentation, tired because I’ve switched jobs 3 times in the last 8 months and that can be mentally draining as you might guess, and grumpy because of the former two adjectives.  But by the end of the day, I am happy to report I was inspired to go back out there into that great big bowl of stupid we all call life and FIX IT “Datachix Style” ( queue—“To Dream the Impossible Dream”). The day was just what I needed to recharge the battery on my metaphorical propeller hat.

I loved seeing familiar faces of those I’ve met in the last year and a half and further build on those relationships and also of course I got to meet some new folks.  Jen McCown of MidnightDBA was a hoot and she simply must come back to Atlanta so we can drink some 420’s together and annoy the general public with poorly executed, overly loud Monty Python quotes.  By the way Jen, I’m TOTALLY stealing your “I throw candy to people who pay attention” bit: GENIUS!  In all seriousness, I was very impressed with Jen’s presentation and floored that it was not her 100th.  She had the demeanor of an old pro at speaking.

I enjoyed David Rodriguez’ second presentation (he did three that day I believe, all on a laptop he had built the night before– HERCULES!).  David did an engaging presentation on what’s new in SQL Server 2008 R2.  This session focused on Reporting Services.  I really appreciated the content of this session, as I find that having a person show me with his computer what the new features are, what they look like, how you might use them, all the while fielding questions and ideas from a group of 30 people builds my trust of a product faster than 20 printed articles ever could.

Here is an EXTREMELY abbreviated list of what’s new with Reporting Services from my notes and recollections of that day.

  • Report Builder 3.0 – the next in the series, has more robust visual features.  Mapping from MS’s purchase of Dundas which beautifully materialize the new spatial datatype, and “spark lines”, which are adorable little “mini” bar charts which fit inside an individual cell in Excel.
  • Ability to publish Report Parts –You can now individually publish each piece of any report including, and this is the cool part—Datasets themselves. Report parts are published with their dataset as one entity.  So a map could be used by another report, with its data intact. 
  • A more modern look and feel to Report Manager.  Now it looks more like it came from the 21st century.

The session was lighthearted and one participant asked about the role (or lack thereof) of BIDS in Reporting Services R2, given all the attention that is being placed on Report Builder, Excel and SharePoint in the new release.  David explained that the directive Microsoft was working under was to make BI more accessible to end users, not just C levels, and this was the answer to that demand. (Then everyone in the room shared an “mmmmmkay” moment and we all moved on.)

And last, but most assuredly not least I want to speak to you all for just a minute about my co-blogger.  Audrey Hammonds presented The Art and Science of Data Modeling.  I greedily squirreled away a copy of this presentation and will keep it with me for the rest of my career.  Audrey took the crowd through a miniature data model from conversation with boss to conceptual model, logical model, physical model and briefly, even dimensional model.  She focused on practical, sound advice, imparting easy to remember rules and guidelines.  The room was packed and the folks attending were really engaged.  She did a great job. 

Ps—the most culturally relevant result of the event was that Audrey and I received quite a bit of flack for our lack of Twittering.  In response I am happy to report we are now both on Twitter (@Datachix1 Julie, @Datachix2 Audrey) and checking our Tweets/Tweeps/Twits regularly.

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Julie Smith

One half of the Datachix.com. ETL person. This picture is the best of me ever taken. Don't be too sad when you meet me for real :)

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