A technical blog about my projects, challenges, and discoveries in the world of data warehousing using SQL Server, Power BI Desktop, DevExpress, and more.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Top Ten Things I Learned at SQL PASS on 10/11/11

More lessons from the SQL PASS Summit 2011:

  1. When your laptop is a block or more away, that is the point at which you will most need it urgently.
  2. It is quite a good feeling to be an "alumnus" of the event and be able to help the first timers with getting where they need to be and oriented to the essentials for the best PASS experience.
  3. Although the views I have built for use in the ShelbyQUERY environment of our software are helpful for simplifying query writing, they are not really "data warehouse" structures. They blend too many distinct "dimensions" of data together, and they confuse (at points) the dimension/fact dichotomy. Thus I cannot really use that work as the guideline for a data warehouse database design.
  4. A dimension that is a "role playing" dimension does not have to exist as multiple instances in the data warehouse, not even as views of the different roles. If two keys in the fact table reference the same dimension for distinct purposes, it is a "role playing" dimension.
  5. Pragmatic Works, a SQL consulting firm based in Jacksonville, Florida has actually designed a data warehouse solution for a large Baptist church in that state. I'm sure my jaw dropped when Brian Knight (founder of Pragmatic Works) told me this in today's precon session. How could this be, and I didn't know it?! I will be meeting with Brian at the Pragmatic Works booth later this week to find out more.
  6. The topic "Building a Microsoft Business Intelligence Platform" sounds too ambitious to be effectively covered in a one-day training session because it actually is. Yes, Brian and Devin (the presenters) touched on each phase of the process, but the touches were alternately too light and too technical, leading to frustration on my part and (I suspect) on the part of others in attendance. It was often a case of lingering too long on a technical detail of the process so that the presenters rushed the remaining steps in the current topic to move on to the next.
  7. Subway stores in Seattle do not stock provolone cheese and do not accept the points card that is so handy in the Subway stores in Virginia. On the other hand, they do have the caloric values of all the sandwiches and other menu items displayed on the menu.
  8. There is an interesting similarity in the number of languages one must learn to be a biblical scholar and to be a SQL Server developer. To be a biblical scholar, one must learn Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, German, and Latin (at least). To be a SQL Server developer, one must learn T-SQL, MDX, DAX, VB.net, and the proprietary "expression language" of SSIS and SSAS. And, just like the languages of Hebrew and Aramaic, they can be similar enough to be confusing when you are trying to learn them all.
  9. The PASS Virtual Chapter for Business Intelligence has four to five live webinar-style presentations a month, generally over the lunch hour, and these webinars are then posted for free as recorded webinars the next day. I will definitely be joining this "chapter" of PASS to take advantage of the resources it provides and (perhaps down the road) to find a way to contribute back to the SQL community that has so helped me in my work these last couple of years.
  10. There are people here at PASS who are familiar with Shelby Systems, Inc, even apart from the Pragmatic Works folks who worked with our customer in Florida. I met a man at lunch today from Houston who attends a church where the staff uses Shelby v.5. He volunteers as IT support at his church of about 1000 members. They have been users of v.5 since before the converstion to SQL Server from MS Access, and he confirmed that the move was a tremendous improvement in the stability of the database.

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