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RTFM365, Week 1

Big lessons learned this week: 1, its’ always worthwhile to go back and reread the basics. 2, sys.sp_trace_create option 4 doesn’t stop the server side trace, it stops SQL Server itself. Be warned.


For the next year (-10 days now), I will read from SQL Server Books Online a little every day, and blog about it weekly. See my RTFM365 post for the full details on this project, and follow along with the series via the RTFM365 tag.

Reading this week was in SQL Server 2008 Books Online unless otherwise noted. Please note: I’m exploring BOL and learning a little each day; I’m not here to read it to you or review it.

So I’ve had a few people ask me how I’m going about reading…whether I’m picking topics randomly, or alphabetically, or reading down the Contents chain.  The answer is, currently, none of the above. Sometimes I open up BOL and effectively flip through the pages till something catches my eye. Sometimes I’m inspired by a problem or blog, and go seek out information.

The most frustrating part of this project  is not enough time to dig down into what I want…in short, not enough time to read. To mitigate this, I suspect next week I’ll largely stick with a common set of BOL articles. 

I’d like to note that it’s wonderful that my primary fear – that I’d be exceptionally bored reading the freaking product manual – is completely unfounded. 

Here’s an overview of what I felt like reading this week:

  • Weekend: Stored Procedures (BOL link), some of the “A” definitions in the Glossary of Terms (BOL link)
  • Day 6: Understanding XML in SQL Server (BOL Link)
  • Day 7: Troubleshooting HTTP Errors [SSRS] (BOL Link)
  • Day 8: sys.fn_trace_getinfo, and more (BOL Link)
  • Day 9: Query Tuning (BOL Link)
  • Day 10: Limitations of the Missing Indexes Feature (BOL Link)


As it turns out, I’m go0d with reading on the weekend, but bad at taking notes on what I read. I pledge to do better.

Day 6: Understanding XML in SQL Server

Good for: Brief intro to XML
Recommended for: Anyone who cares

Database Engine > Development > Designing and Implementing Semistructured Storage > Understanding XML in SQL Server

It occurrs to me that it’d be nice to have a structured layout of what I have read in BOL similar to the Contents layout – that is, a hierarchy of expandable nodes. This means XML. Now, I can type out a simple XML document myself, but this is NOT going to be simple, so I’d better get reading on how to implement this in SQL.

Note to self: Finish reading Beyond Relational article on creating an RSS feed with XML.

Day 7: Troubleshooting HTTP Errors [SSRS] 

Good for: What it says
Recommended for: Anyone with SSRS-related HTTP errors

BOL Version: SQL Server 2008 R2

Long and short, I’m troubleshooting some HTTP errors in SSRS. So I drilled down: Reporting Services > Troubleshooting > Troubleshooting Concepts > Troubleshooting HTTP Errors.

Now I’d also like to read: How to: Configure Windows Authentication in Reporting Services

Day 8: sys.fn_trace_getinfo

Good for: Setting up server side traces
Recommended for: Admins needing trace data

Someone on Twitter mentioned sys.fn_trace_getinfo, and I was off! If you want to see this and other server side trace functions in action, see my SQLServerPedia article The Server-side Trace: What, Why, and How – SQLServerPedia. BUT, note that I got something wrong in this article! Option 4 doesn’t stop the trace, it stops SQL Server itself!  Gotta edit that article…

I read:

  • sys.fn_trace_getinfo
  • sp_trace_create
  • fn_trace_getfilterinfo
  • How To: Create a Trace
  • fn_trace_gettable

Day 9: Query Tuning

Good for: Digging into performance tuning queries
Recommended for: Absolutely everyone who writes/handles queries

[SQL Server 2008 R2 BOL]

I got a wild hair, and dug down into Query Performance a bit. I had a hard time stopping my reading this day, for sure. I read:

Operations (Database Engine) > Performance > Query Performance > Query Tuning:

  • Analyzing a Query > Displaying Graphical Execution Plans (SQL Server Management Studio) > Graphical Execution Plan Icons
    • Nested Loops > Nested Loops Showplan Operator 
  • Advanced Query Tuning Concepts
    • Understanding Nested Loops Joins
    • Understanding Merge Joins

Want to read:

Querying and Changing Data (Database Engine) > Accessing and Changing Database Data > Query Fundamentals >

  • Subquery fundamentals
  • Join fundamentals

Operations (Database Engine) > Performance (especially Query Performance).

Day 10: Limitations of the Missing Indexes Feature

Good for: Understanding the missing indexes DMVs
Recommended for: Anyone involved in DB/index tuning

I happen to like the missing  indexes DMVs.  Limitations of the Missing Indexes Feature caught my eye, and confirmed some suspicions I’d had about the DMVs.  Go ahead, read the article.


Happy days,
Jen McCown

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Tim of Angle says:

    Reading BOL is no less interesting than reading the D&D manual … if you’re seriously interested in the tool (or the gaming system).

    The best way to read is to ask yourself, “Why did they do that? Why that way? How would I have done it?” That gets you thinking.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jen & Sean McCown, Jen & Sean McCown. Jen & Sean McCown said: I know you've all been waiting for it, & here it is: #RTFM365 Week 1! http://bit.ly/fIYg7f …wherein Jen learns a valuable lesson or four. [...]

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