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3 Ways to Increase Your SQL Smarts

All of the data that you are used to seeing in Advantage is stored in a Microsoft SQL Server database.  If you are involved in creating or modifying Advantage reports, then familiarity with Transact-SQL (or T-SQL for short) can help you.  T-SQL is the language you use to query a SQL database and is used by most common reporting tools (Excel, Crystal, SSRS, etc.).  The better you know T-SQL, the quicker and better you can respond to reporting requests from your customers.

I've found these three things to be most helpful in expanding my T-SQL knowledge and expertise. 

  1. working on my MCSA certification
  2. reading SQL blogs regularly, such as these:  ,  
  3. Attending a user group meeting

For Advantage users involved with creating Advantage reports, involvement in an SQL user group will help you expand your SQL "toolbox." I recently attended my first user group meeting, and after reading my report of the meeting, my wife Deb said to me:

“I read your report, honey. Good job! But I can't believe they have groups for this sort of thing.”  Perhaps you are thinking the same (without the “honey” and the “good job”).

All in all, it proved beneficial.  I found the group to be welcoming and generous---at least partly because they provided dinner, which is always a plus for me!  Most members are in IT groups in various industries (health, financial, etc.) vs. consultants or developers at software firms. I enjoyed getting to know like-minded SQL-loving geeks. Even better, though, was everyone's willingness to share information regarding things they've found helpful.

I was most struck by the level of expertise of the speakers.  Jeff Moden presented on "The Devil's in the Data" (just the fact that I can remember the title without looking at my notes is an indication that it had an impact).  Jeff is a frequent contributor to

The main message was that, for testing, you must have enough of the right kind of data to avoid code that causes errors or taking “too long” to run. Often, test data is too small and too uniform. You need to include data that represents possible real data conditions and is of sufficient quantity. You also need a method (including code) to create test data that is both random and validated, and very fast.

I highly recommend any or all of these three avenues to grow in your T-SQL knowledge. Do you have another suggestion? Or questions for me on my experience with the group? Please contact me.

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