Dan English's BI Blog

Welcome to my random thoughts in regards to Business Intelligence, databases, and other technologies

Archive for February, 2008

Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope video

Posted by denglishbi on February 29, 2008

Just received a posting from a colleague and had to check it out.  Microsoft unveiled a new technology they have been working based on the work of the late Jim Grey and it is amazing technology.  Sometimes we get caught up in our everyday lives and don’t realize just how small we really are in respect to the entire universe.  It is amazing technology and the images are breathtaking and I can’t wait to download this in the Spring.  Way to go Microsoft!  Watch the video for yourself and read more about it and download it from the site.



Posted in News and politics | Leave a Comment »

MSDN Reader download now

Posted by denglishbi on February 27, 2008

A few weeks ago I downloaded and installed a project from the new MDSN Code Library called MSDN Reader.  This application uses the Syndicated Client Experiences Starter Kit to be able to exploits the push capabilities of RSS and allows the content to be synced down to the client application and presented in a very cool and intuitive way.  This is utilizing the WPF (Windows Presentation Framework) for the UI and it really adds a great user experience.  The ability to search and add articles to your reading list (this is the caching and offline functionality) by right-clicking on an article along with being able to easily navigate and find MSDN articles (not sure how recent you can get though, still trying to determine that).

There are a couple of good articles on Analysis Services Data Mining, one on Integration Services fuzzy lookups and grouping, and quite a few on Reporting Services (creating custom report items, setting up custom code libraries, etc.) that you can read up on if you haven’t seen them already.  The code is also available to download if you would like to see how it was created or make a few modifications of your own.  This does use a new beta product called Subscription Center which you will see running that will update the content that is available.  Download this now and test it out for yourself.  I think I am going to take a look at this and create a BI Blog Reader version (maybe include a few other topics, but make it configurable)!

msdnreader_databasemsdnreader_search msdnreader_article

Posted in Downloads | 1 Comment »

Book Review – The Rational Guide To Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007

Posted by denglishbi on February 25, 2008

Just got done wrapping up another book today and finished the book by Nick Barclay and Adrian Downes titled The Rational Guide To Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.  This book was also a quick read once I dived back into it; I took a short break over the holidays and read a few fiction books.  This covers two of the three portions of the PerformancePoint Server product (Monitoring and Analyzing).  This is an excellent read and I loved the format.  The Rational Guides are typically under 300 pages and this one was 250, so it does not drag out like some books.  It is concise and has really good tech tips, notes, and caution items.  There is also bonus material to download that includes a list of additional resources, additional chapters, and the examples so you can follow along with the book.

Nick and Adrian pointed out a few bugs, if you want to call them that, that are included in the RTM of the product.  One in regards to adding more than one target metric for a KPI and the other in regards to getting strategy maps to accept multiple features.  The additional target metrics will be added with a calculation property of No Value instead of Default and in order to setup strategy maps to accept multiple filters you need to modify the workspace XML file and change the AcceptsMultipleFilterLinks value for the EndPoint.

The content in the book is right on and the examples are just not your basic ‘Hello World’ ones either.  I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.  I would definitely recommend adding this book to your collection and I can’t wait to read their other book The Rational Guide To Planning with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.

The Rational Guide To Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 (Rational Guides)
by Nick Barclay, Adrian Downes

Read more about this book…

Posted in PerformancePoint | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

BI Blog Aggregator

Posted by denglishbi on February 23, 2008

Just did a search on BI blog sites on Google and came across this site – http://www.biblogs.com/.  This site is currently aggregating over 60 BI blog related sites and is an excellent source of information and makes it much easier to manage.  It easily replaced more than 20 of my pre-configured blog sites that I have setup in RSS Bandit and introduced me to another 30 or 40 that I was unaware of.  I sent them an email to include my blog in their site.

Follow-up: I am not sure how far back this aggregator goes, so for the time being I am not removing any of my current feeds.  Here is how the feed works for the BI aggregator:

…the feed provided by the BI Blogs site only contains the most recent 40 posts that have hit the site so you can only pull the most recent data into your aggregator…

If you want more than that you will have to visit the site.

Posted in Business Intelligence | Leave a Comment »

Book Review – Business Intelligence with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007

Posted by denglishbi on February 23, 2008

I just finished reading Craig Utley’s book titled Business Intelligence with Microsoft Office PerfomancePoint Server 2007.  This is a really quick read and it is a really good resource for someone that is not familiar with the product and is wondering what is included.  This starts out with a quick introduction to business intelligence and then dives into the product and talks about the two main components, Monitoring and Analyzing along with Planning.  If you are not familiar with ProClarity there is a good section in the book explaining the majority of the reporting options (grids, charts, decomposition trees, perspective charts, and performance maps) within ProClarity and how they work. 

The book also explains how to configure the dashboard and utilize filters to be able to dynamically change the data within the scorecard, charts, and reports.  There is a chapter in regards to deployment and how to properly configure the different Windows services.  At the end of the book it discusses Excel PivotTables and PivotCharts and how to use SSRS to report against a cube.

Overall I would probably give the book a 4 on a 1 to 5 scale (5 being the highest rating).  There are some grammatical mistakes, but no technical mistakes that I saw.  I didn’t like having to flip between pages to view the screenshots that were being explained throughout the reading.  It seemed like the majority of the images were always on the next page which is always a pain when you are reading a book.  This is a really introductory book in regards to the PerformancePoint Server product (no deep dives in regards to the technology), but it goes through each portion of the product and explains how they all work.  I also thought that the book was a little overpriced (49.99 retail, but Amazon has it listed for 31.49) for the content, but I would definitely recommend it if you want to get up-to-speed with how the product works and what functionality you get.

Business Intelligence with Microsoft® Office PerformancePoint Server 2007
by Craig Utley

Read more about this book…

Posted in PerformancePoint | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

SQL Server Intellisense (CTP6) vs Red Gate SQL Prompt – Part II

Posted by denglishbi on February 23, 2008

  This is a quick follow-up in regards to my initial blog entry,  SQL Server 2008 Intellisense (CTP5) vs Red Gate SQL Prompt, comparing the Nov CTP5 intellisense against Red Gate’s SQL Prompt.  Sorry to say, I still have to tip my hat to Red Gate.  They include more features, functionality, and intelligence with their intellisense.  I guess that is what is going to differentiate them and possibly push people to still buy their product.

Here is the first screen of the new and some what improved CTP6 intellisense:


Some things to point out are the error indicators and the intellisense with the stored procedures that is included now, still no dropdown lists with stored procedures as far as I can tell, but you do get to see what parameters are needed along with their datatypes (one thing that SQL Prompt 2.0 doesn’t do).  The intellisense for the stored procedure did not show up until I placed the ‘exec’ command in front of the stored procedure.  In regards to the error lists, I though one cool feature would be if it warned you that there was a datatype mismatch within the WHERE clause (ReportID would be expecting an integer value, not a string).


The error list is nice since this is now done prior to actually executing the statements and it will display your laundry list of issues that need to be corrected and you can double click on an item and it will bring you to that specific spot in the query window.

sqlctp6intell_sort1 sqlctp6intell_sort2

Just wanted to point out the sorting of the dropdown lists.  Really no rhyme or reason to the output.  Initially it looked like all of the tables were at the top of the list like SQL Prompt, but after further review they were not.  Really disappointed, so if you are not sure what you are looking for exactly then good luck because the object types are not grouped together and put in a logical order.  Same holds true once you go on to your where clause.

Sorry to say that intellisense still does not work with DELETE or INSERT statements, there are no more additional options available in the Tools Options menu, and no intelligence in the dropdown lists (so if you highlight the table ‘Batch’ you are not provided with a preview of the column names and datatypes).

Have to say that I still favor the Red Gate product, but still love the fact that this will now be bundled with the product.

Posted in SQL Server | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

SQL Server 2008 Feb CTP6 Installation Experience

Posted by denglishbi on February 23, 2008

Last week I installed the February CTP6 of SQL Server 2008 and I just wanted to share some clips of the new install screens.  Lots of new options and I was really impressed with the entire install process.  I know this only gets run once, but I just want to say way to go SQL Server Team!  One of the initial requirements was the .NET framework 3.5 and I am assuming that is because Visual Studio 2008 is now the version of BIDS that is being installed instead of Visual Studio 2005.




The first screen is the install center which provides lots of nice options and links to additional information – very nice.

Feature selection which included options to install the Microsoft Synch Framework and install the client tools separately from BIDS.

New default install directories that allow you to see what is installed one level higher than before (more intuitive) — MSSQL10, MSAS10, MSRS10.




Setting up the account information for the different services, startup option, and the ability to set one account to run them all at the bottom.

Set the directories for the database engine, for the tempdb and the backup directory right out of the gate.

Setting the security mode for the database engine and specifying an administrative account (this is required and provides button to simply add the current user).




Set the directories for analysis services and setting the temp and backup directories.  You also need to specify an administrative account similar to the database engine. 

Specify the configuration for SSRS — native, SharePoint, or don’t configure.  Remember IIS is no longer a requirement to run SSRS.

New items in Mgmt Studio now for auditing, encryption, and policy management.





And last but not least Visual Studio 2008 instead of 2005!



Posted in SQL Server | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

VB Power Pack 3.0 – DataRepeater Control

Posted by denglishbi on February 23, 2008

I know this isn’t BI or database related, but I still enjoy checking out the development stuff from time-to-time.  The VB team has released a new Power Pack for Visual Basic and the new item that they have added is the DataRepeater control.  Very cool.  This allows you to drag-and-drop a dataset within the control and lay the data out the way you want it displayed.  You are not restricted like with a grid control.  You can put the data in a vertical or horizontal format and then in runtime the data will simply be repeated within the control for each row just like you placed it on the form. 

Check out a quick 9 minute video on it on the MSDN “How Do I” Videos site if you are interested in this new control.

Watch the screencast(WMV)  Go to the main site for this video to download it or get the code – http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vbasic/cc411420.aspx.

Check out other great videos here – http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vbasic/bb466226.aspx.

Posted in Development | 1 Comment »

SQL Server 2008 Feb CTP6 is now available!

Posted by denglishbi on February 20, 2008

Just woke up and checked the blogs quick and saw that Andrew Fryer made a post saying that CTP6 is available.  Microsoft wanted this to be available prior to the L.A. launch at the end of the month and here it is.  This is supposed to have all of the functionality that is going to be in the end product that will come out later this year in Q3.  Enjoy!  Go to the SQL Server 2008 download area here.  There is supposed to be a RC1 released in Q2, so there will be one more release prior to the official one later this year.  I am just downloading the product now, but Andrew did state that some of the new functionality in this release are:

  • Data compression.
  • Integrated full text search – indexes are now part of the database making for easier backup and faster mixed mode queries.
  • Filtered indexing –  indexes with a where clause.
  • Partition aligned indexed views
  • Policy based management (the feature formerly known as declarative management framework)
  • Sparse columns so you can many more columns in a table
  • Gauges in reporting services

Download it now and get ready for the launch!

Just read another blog posting and I guess Microsoft has a bug bashing contest (you can win an Xbox Elite) going on for this CTP too. There are different product and levels of categories for the bug entries.

Check out the details here.

Posted in SQL Server | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 advanced lectures and white papers

Posted by denglishbi on February 19, 2008

Now that Microsoft’s BI, PerformancePoint Server, is tied into SharePoint, I thought this information could become rather valuable:

Advanced lectures and white papers

Watch lectures delivered by experts in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, and download and read supporting white papers.

Title Description Streaming Video White Paper
Overview: Office SharePoint Server server farm architecture Describes how to plan server farms for reliability and scalability, and how to deploy Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 on a server farm. None Download
Overview: Configuring server farms Describes configuration steps needed for server farms after deployment. Watch Download
Securing server farms Describes how to help control access to information and how to help protect deployments from malicious users. Watch Download
Configuring performance options Describes how to set up caching, IIS compression, and other options to help maximize performance of an Office SharePoint Server server farm. Watch None
Backing up and restoring Office SharePoint Server server farms Describes how to back up and recover Office SharePoint Server server farms. Watch Download
Operations and management Provides information about common operations and management tasks. Watch Download
Capacity planning Describes how to determine requirements to support your capacity requirements. Watch Download
Search architecture and configuration Describes how to plan for and configure search for Office SharePoint Server. Watch Download



Posted in Training | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »