Second session at the seminar was on the new features of SQL Server 2005; since I was at the launch party in Indianapolis I didn't feel like there was a whole lot that was really new; but since I'm currently employed at an Oracle shop it was interesting to compare the two. This session was given by George Huey, a Microsoft "Architect Evangelist", whatever that is; but he knew his stuff. The most interesting new feature from my admittedly database-illiterate perspective is the ability to write code in .Net and turn it into stored procedures and code that runs inside the server process. You can also set the code permissions: Safe, Unsafe, or External Access, which I believe means, "hits the file system", but regardless I don't know if anyone actually uses that feature. Another interesting feature is the ability to run "recursive queries", which sounds pretty handy: he gave a demo of calculating the number of levels of management by recurring up the tree until you find the guy with no manager.
A few other features he went over were: Native XML store; Pivots; Top; and Rank; they all seem very nice but I'm not really in a position to judge how useful they would be in my work. I guess we'll see.
The final session was on "Business Intelligence". I didn't have any idea what that might involve, but it turned out to involve reporting. I wasn't aware that you can configure SQL Server to give you a project type of "Report" in Visual Studio fairly easily, and there's also a "Report Viewer" control that you can add in to your own ASP pages. I have to admit that I lost some of this lecture, as the presenter was having some trouble with his computer and the wireless was working nicely - for a change - so I took the time to mess around with some more of the AJAX demos that I was really interested in.
The seminar was held in the Glick Center, where the Indy NDA holds its meetings. It was a good venue to hold the couple of hundred people who showed up. Microsoft sprung for donuts and pizza, and I liked the idea of having a couple of arcade games for people to check out between sessions. I would have traded them for better wireless, though. There were also only power outlets on one end of the room. But there's only one really important highlight: through the door prizes, I am now the proud owner of a Zune :) Welcome to the social! (Hello? Is there anyone else in here?)