Programming SQL Server 2012 – A Review

I just finished reading Programming Microsoft SQL Server 2012, written by Leonard Lobel and Andrew Brust, published by Microsoft Press. This is a very good book that covers developing SQL solutions from queries to deploying to SQL Azure with some Business Intelligence for good measure. I recommend it to all SQL developers looking for an intro to SQL 2012.

I feel that one of the strengths of this book is that it’s not just for programming SQL 2012. Most of it can be used in earlier versions of SQL, some going back to 2005. Chapter 2, on T-SQL Enhancements, covers quite a few earlier enhancements. There’s a section on the MERGE statement, using the OVER keyword for grouping for example, But the authors also discuss the new 2012 features; sequences, the new windowing functions, and one of my favorite new features, the THROW statement.

That being said, the flip side of the coin is that in some sections it doesn’t go far enough. For instance, in the section on using file tables, there’s only a brief mention of how it ties into the Semantic Search. And the section on BI is mostly an overview. But that in no way takes away from value of this book. In most cases you’ll be looking for a book that digs deeper into a specific topic.

The book is written in three sections. The first is Core SQL Server Development and starts you off with an intro to the new SQL Server Data Tools before moving on to the T-SQL changes, CLR integration, transactions and security. The second section, Going Beyond Relational, covers XML, FILESTREAM, geospatial models, and working with hierarchies. The last section on Applied SQL, discusses working with SQL and .NET, from ADO through LINQ and WCF. Here’s where you will learn about SQL Azure. If you’re not familiar with Azure yet don’t worry. Andrew Brust does a great job of walking you through how to get a free trial account to play with and also how to configure it.

Chapter 14, on Pervasive Insight, is my favorite as it ties into my current interests. I don’t have much experience with Master Data Services but it’s covered here, as are Data Quality Services. There’s a brief overview of SSAS and SSIS, even a little on parallel data warehouse appliances. The new Tabular model is here as well, along with the new PowerView.

I like the authors’ style, and I found it easy to follow along with their material. I didn’t have any problems getting the demos to work, and they meshed with the corresponding sections in the book. Even if you have the previous version of this book, there’s enough on the new 2012 features to make it worth your while.