Hyundai Getz <> BMW Sports Series

Got a Slashdot link today to a Builder article by Steve Turvey comparing databases for small companies. By the time I got to the paragraph that said: “SQL Server Express is one of two free databases we tested and is actually Microsoft’s replacement for its earlier free offering the Microsoft Desktop Engine (MSDE) which was based on the old Access technology. “, I was groaning. The MSDE is very close to Express, is a version of SQL Server 2000 and a long way from Access. That’s just nonsense.

It then goes on to mix up concepts of numbers of connected users vs numbers of users of a web site, etc. etc., totally ignoring concepts like connection pooling.

He then later draws the conclusion that “There is no denying that SQL Server Express is the weakest of the databases in this group” (without justifying why) and then goes on to talk about it being expensive to upgrade to standard edition (completely ignoring workgroup edition which is targeted at enterprises like the target of the article and ignoring Small Business Server premium edition which also would target this area). He also never even justifies this “expensive” claim, even though he then goes on to compare it with software that costs $39,000 odd. SQL Server Standard Edition sure doesn’t cost anything like that and Workgroup Edition owns the low-end (but not free) territory now.

The most common use of SQL Express is an embedded database with an application. Unlike MySQL which is endlessly described as free but isn’t really, Express really is free. MySQL is only free for companies pulling it down themselves for their own use. If it’s shipped with an app, the person writing the app is meant to license it. That isn’t free.

In the summary pane, Express is described using words like “limited” or “very limited” or “good features set” whereas MySQL is described with words like “brilliant” and as having a “very strong feature set”. I’d love to see the basis on which the feature set of Express could ever be described as “good” with MySQL described as much stronger. Not on the planet I live on. The feature set in Express is “stunning” compared to MySQL, on any rational assessment.

I love the comments like “While version 4.x of MySQL did not trap data input errors, for example alpha characters in a date field, and only issued “warnings”, version 5 now has a strict mode that rolls back the transaction if a violation is encountered.”. What a novel idea! I suppose we can ignore all the other nonsense like accepting the 31st February as a valid date, etc. I’m told that’s not a bug because they’ve documented how it works. And endless other examples at:

I’m also struggling with both of them being described as having a “very good user interface”. Sorry, but there’s no comparison whatsoever between the tools that come with MySQL and the cut-down version of SQL Server Management Studio for Express.

Steve then proceeds to compare Express to Oracle 10g, which costs over $19,000 AUD. Guess what? The Oracle version is superior. What a surprise. Why wasn’t this compared to a relevant SQL Server edition instead? My step-daughter’s Hyundai Getz isn’t much of a comparison to my neighbour’s latest BMW either but she’s never felt the need to compare them. And wasn’t the article meant to be comparing performance on 2 processor boxes? Doesn’t the Oracle license cost jump up to much higher figures (like over $30,000) because of the way they count “processors”?

In the DB2 section, he offers golden nuggets like “While DB2’s 512GB per table may appear a little small when compared with MySQL’s 64TB for example…” Again, on what planet is that an issue? The target comparison was for “a relatively small e-commerce company with less than 200 employees. The company sells DVDs and books over the Internet and will initially have around 1000 customers and an online inventory of 50,000 items.” Hard to imagine them blowing out a 512GB table here, well not in the near future at least…

And again in the DB2 section, poor old Express (free) is being compared to a database server that’s $8106 AUD per processor.

On the specifications page, there are just endless errors. Simple example: MySQL is listed as having FULLTEXT indexes and Express is listed without them. However, full-text indexing is supported on Express and it’s far superior.

Anyway, couldn’t just let this one go through to the keeper without comment.

Reporting Services Book

Yesterday I read Anthony Mann’s book “The Rational Guide to SQL Reporting Services“. I quite enjoyed it. Although it’s brief, I like the short punchy style of this series of books. They just tell you the main things you need to know to get started with a topic and at a pretty low cost. The last Rational Guide I read was Roger Wolter’s Service Broker book, although it had more meat in it.

Anyway, Recommended if you want a short sharp introduction to SQL Reporting Services!

Joe Celko’s SQL Puzzles and Answers

Got to finish another book recently. It was Joe Celko‘s SQL Puzzles and Answers. I have to say I enjoyed it. Much of the syntax is a bit too strictly ANSI SQL for SQL Server’s liking but I just love the fact that Joe is writing on these topics and has again provided a thought-provoking book. It would be hard to imagine any SQL developer or DBA reading it and not picking up some ideas for something they’re working on.

It also made me think of several things I wish T-SQL had, like the following:

INSERT sometable (columna,columnb) VALUES((a,b),(c,d),(e,f))


Another Great Tour By The Local DPE Team

It has been great to get to speak to so many people around the country over the last three weeks. Frank Arrigo’s team (particularly Andrew Coates) put together a good show. Once again, I got to see all the effort that went on in the background to make it happen. I hope all enjoyed it. Two things stand out for me:

1. Having the opportunity to chat with people about possible future directions for SQL Server. Great option from Dave Lean with Nick Ward’s help.

2. Getting the guitar from Chuck and the team. Thanks folks and thanks for the opportunity to be involved!


The Da Vinci Code

While on the houseboat, I couldn’t only read a technical book. No-one would have forgiven me. So I read “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. I presume I’m close to the last person on the planet to actually read this book but I decided it was time to do so before the movie comes out.

It certainly is a great little yarn with lots of breath-taking action but I have to say the mathematical side of me kept cringing every time he’d draw a completely unwarranted conclusion.

The arguments in the book are told by a pair of academic characters. This allows Dan Brown to make amazing statements but have someone else say them like they’re fact. It sounds so authoritative. However, it’s the logic that gets me. It goes something like:

1. Authoritative character says “A” is true.

2. 2nd Authoritative character says “B” is true.

3. One of them points out that if “A” and “B” were in fact true, “C” would be true.

However, “C” is something Dan Brown already knows to be a fact so he keeps using this sort of “reverse inference” to make points. He completely ignores the fact that there could be a huge number of other possibilities as to why “C” could be true. In general I find that the most obvious reason is usually the right one, not some convoluted or conspiracy theory. If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, odds are it’s a duck.

Great SQL Server Service Broker Book

Over the weekend, I got to do some more reading while we were out on a houseboat. Much to the chagrin of my family, one of the books I read was “The Rational Guide To SQL Server 2005 Service Broker” by Roger Wolter. What can I say? This is THE book to read for those using (or looking to use) Service Broker. I loved reading many of the insights that only one of the members of the product team can provide. Roger is the product manager for Service Broker and for SQL Server Express. I did a podcast interview with him a while back on SQL Server Express. It’s up at