Jerry Dixon

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Top Stories by Jerry Dixon

In today's complex and demanding environments, it is quite common for users to be able to submit requests faster than those requests can be processed. In some situations, this is because the system has an enormous number of users. In other situations, it is because the requests take a long time to process. In both cases, the system needs to be designed so that it can accept the requests immediately, and process those requests later on. Such a system is said to be asynchronous. Asynchronous systems are typically built around queues. Queues function just like those long lines at the bank or movie theater, where people enter the line from one end and exit at the other. In computer terms, this is a FIFO or first-in-first-out data store. In an asynchronous system, the queues accept messages containing data about particular requests. The messages are stored until needed,... (more)

T-SQL Grows Up

Have you ever heard the expression "I want it so bad that I can taste it?" Well, that's the way I feel about SQL Server 2005. I've been looking forward to the official release for quite some time. When people ask me why, I usually say "SELECT TOP X." In addition to generating some funny looks, this response gets my point across rather nicely. The next version of SQL Server supports many enhancements to the T-SQL language, and the ability to pass a variable to the TOP clause is just one of them. While changes such as this may seem small and insignificant, they can have a large imp... (more)

Create XML Easily with FOR XML PATH

Do you love XML? Have you been using XML with SQL Server? Many people have, starting way back when with SQL Server 7.0. Back then, there was no support for XML in the database, so we had to write external programs to convert the relational data into an XML format. This was time-consuming and often inefficient. When SQL Server 2000 came out, with its integrated support for XML, there were a lot of high expectations. Unfortunately, XML still couldn't be easily stored in the database, although it could be created and consumed. XML could be stored in the database as a large string of... (more)

A Point of Order: Organize Your Data with SQL Ranking Functions

Sequential numbers. Sooner or later, you'll find a process that requires you to generate a series of sequential numbers. As a matter of fact, most database engines provide at least one method of producing such numbers. Microsoft Access, for example, has AutoNumber columns, while SQL Server has IDENTITY columns. However, these are features of tables. There are times when you need some sequential numbers, but creating a table is inconvenient or inefficient. So how does one proceed? How does one obtain a list of sequential numbers without creating tables? SQL Server 2000 has always... (more)

SQL Server Web Services

These days, applications built around a service-oriented architecture (SOA) are all the rage. Complex systems can be written as a collection of services that communicate with each other through standard protocols. When implemented properly, these systems can become immensely flexible, scalable, and easy to maintain. The most common SOA designs utilize Web services as the communications medium, because they can be created and consumed by disparate systems and platforms. This highly useful capability has made Web services a very important part of today's information systems. Up un... (more)