Rendering HTML in Reporting Services Text Boxes in SQL Server 2008

Some time back, I posted about how to do this. Well by the time we got to RTM, this had changed.

There isn't a "create placeholder" option when you right-click a cell any more.

When you drag a field into a cell, it creates a placeholder that contains the field. If you right-click the placeholder that was added, you'll see an option to edit the Placeholder Properties. What threw me for a while was that if you right-click the cell, you won't see this option. Turns out you have to right-click the field-name within the cell, not the blank area beside the name within the cell. Thanks to my colleague Jessica Moss for helping me find it.

This really isn't very good UI work in the report designer. It's quite counter-intuitive and different to how cell selection, etc. works in other products like Excel.

December Books Online for SQL Server

I'm always encouraging people to keep up to date with books online. There's another update out now.

I know when you get to this link: 

it says "September" but it really is the one issued in December. (Of course when it's installed, it says November :-))

SQL Down Under show 42 – Ryan Dunn – SQL Data Services (SQL in the cloud)

I've recently posted up another podcast with Ryan Dunn. Ryan is a senior evangelist with Microsoft dealing with SQL in the cloud.

I keep running across people that suspect that this "cloud stuff" is some sort of fad. I doubt you'll think that after you listen to this show (and alsoshow 40).

It's now available for download from


Iron DBA – New Zealand – 2008

Mai and I got back from New Zealand last night after attending the PASS Community Connection event in Porirua (near Wellington) in New Zealand.

It was a fun weekend as always and congratulations need to go to Nathan Pitcher (PASS Chapter leader from Dunedin) for organising it in conjunction with Adrian, Dave, Amanda, Sue and all the gang from the other local chapters as well as the staff of the local polytechnic where the event was held.

Adam Cogan and I got to present the keynote and decided to have a bit of fun by creating an "Iron DBA" competition, inspired obviously by Iron Chef television program from Japan. Chairman Cogan and Chairman Low then asked the audience a series of SQL Server questions (dispelling many common myths) until we had six Iron DBA finalists. Each was then allowed to nominate someone to help them prepare a submission on how SQL Server 2008 might help in a consulting scenario we had created. Nathan had organised a great trophy to go with the prizes. It'll now be an annual award.

All in all, it was a bunch of fun. Congratulations to the winner for 2008: David Philpott. (David is 3rd from the left, shown with the other finalists).

Ola Hallengren: SQL Server Backup, Integrity Check and Index Optimization

At the PASS Summit in Seattle this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ola Hallengren. I've exchanged emails with him previously and I do want to highlight the tool he provides for SQL Server backup, integrity check and index optimization. You'll find details on it at:


Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008

I've been really busy lately. A big component of that time has been my involvement with the new Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008 program. I was privileged to be chosen to teach six days of the fifteen day program in the recent alpha rotation. In addition, I decided to attend (and pay !) to attend the rotation, do the exams and qualifying lab.

Well it was quite an experience!

Anyone considering this program needs to understand the demands that it will place on your time. The three weeks of classes run from 8am to 6pm daily but most attendees would then spend up to another three or four hours per night studying while there. On the weekends, you have lab work that needs to be completed before the next week and each Monday morning, you have a two hour Prometric exam. On the final Saturday, you have another two hour Prometric exam followed by a six hour hands-on qualifying lab. I was with a wonderful group of people on this first rotation and have to say that all looked exhausted at the end.

Paul Randal and Kim Tripp covered the first week, Adam Machanic, Paul Nielsen, Allan Hirt, Ron Talmage, Andy Kelly, myself and Gert Drapers covered the second week and I covered the third week.

While I obviously can't tell you anything about the exam content, I'd be giving nothing away by saying it's in a different league to the questions you see on the MCITP exams. And the final qualifying lab has some carefully chosen scenarios that you need to navigate your way through, with lots of little (intentional) road-blocks on the way.

If you look into doing this program, you need to block a bit over three weeks of your life completely out. It's also expensive and what might surprise you more is that most candidates don't pass at the first attempt. I was one of the fortunate ones to do so this time but you should not consider it to be any sort of failure if you don't achieve it on the first attempt. You can retake the exams (with similar rules to the other Prometric exams) but you can't retake the qualifying lab until you've passed the exams. You only get two attempts at retaking the qualifying lab or you then need to retake the whole course. (I believe that would happen at a 50% discount but you should check the rules for clarification). Also, don't plan to fly out on the Saturday night at the end. Leave the time to have dinner with the rest of the people in your rotation and avoid any time pressure related to flights. That's the last thing you'll want on your mind at that stage.

Regardless, it's highly recommended if it makes sense for you. I'll be back teaching in the next rotation and I'll look forward to seeing any of you that decide to tackle it.


SQL Server 2008 Systems Views Poster

Another project that Ron Talmage and several other of my colleagues have been working on is a new system views poster for SQL Server 2008. I'm told that it's going to go out with the December issue of SQL Server Magazine.

I got a copy of this at the PASS summit and it's excellent. In fact, stocks ran out before the conference even really got started.

Congratulations to all involved.

SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Technical Reference

I've been working on the SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Technical Reference with a number of my colleagues (Ron Talmage, Aaron Johal, Steven Abraham, Allan Hirt, Herbert Albert, Antonio Soto, Joe Webb, Craig Utley, Dejan Sarka, Larry Barnes, Pablo Ahumada, Kathy Blomstrom) and a bunch of great folk from Microsoft (Arvind Rao, George Huey, Richard Waymire, Siva Harinath, Edward Melomed, Deepika Mistry, Fernando Caro, Goldie Chaudhuri, Max Verun, Vijay Tandra Sistla, Tom Michaels, Justin Erickson, Devendra Tiwari, Jingwei Lu, Fernando Azpeitia Lopez, Ketan Duvedi, Lukasz Pawlowski, David Noor, Matt Masson, Karandeep Anand, Jen Witsoe, Suzanne Bonney, Megan Bradley, Tresy Kilbourne, Bronwyn McNutt).

I am really pleased to see that it has become available and that you can get all 486 pages of goodness here: