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Category: Documentation

Finding Guidance on Power BI

James Serra puts together a compendium:

Recently there has been a number of great articles published on Power BI that I wanted to make you aware of that go beyond the features descriptions found in the Power BI documentation. These new articles fall under the Power BI guidance documentation and are designed to address common strategic patterns.  Below is my summary of the articles, and check out Power BI guidance from the CAT by Matthew Roach for a more detailed summary.

If you’re interested in Power BI administration and strategic deployment, there’s a lot of good information here.

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Power BI CAT Guidance

Matthew Roche advises customers:

I’ve written previously about some of what the Power BI CAT team does, but the Power BI guidance documentation only gets a passing mention… and it’s worth going into more deeply.

A lot of what the Power BI CAT team does involves working with large enterprise customers. These customers are often trying to achieve difficult goals that often involve complex data architectures, and Power BI is often a significant part of their end-to-end information supply chain. We get involved when these enterprise customers need help achieving their strategic goals, and this help often includes helping them effectively use the existing capabilities of Power BI.

Read on to learn more about this guidance documentation.

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Running Diagnostic Notebooks via Powershell

Tracy Boggiano kicks off a notebook:

As part of starting a new job you need a way to get a good inventory of basic information of SQL Server instances.  Once you have done what I outlined in this blog post.  I find it helpful to run Glenn Alan Berry’s Diagnostic Notebooks against all the instances to get a static point in time snapshot of all the properties and some performance information.  While dbatools has commands under the Community Tools section for running the data into spreadsheets and creating notebooks for the newest queries I like to go get Glenn’s because he has all the comments in there of what the mean and links to resources about things.  So you can explore that route if you like but I’ll be manually downloading them from Glenn’s site for that reason.  To able to open the notebooks successfully in ADS look for the tip on my blog post on Tools I Use on My Jumpbox for opening large notebooks.

Click through for a script Tracy uses to kick off the notebook regardless of the SQL Server version.

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Finding and Documenting SQL Server Instances

Tracy Boggiano continues a series on things to do at a new job as a DBA:

In my previous post, I expounded on my first 30 days I had at four jobs in the last four years. and how to setup your jobs box. I commented and got quoted on the fact that if it’s documented I don’t support it. So, these are methods of getting things documented, some including just having to have meetings, others running code.

One I believe in having a Central Management Server (CMS) where you can register your servers. Put them in as many groups as you desire but have core group such as Dev, Test, QA, UAT, Prod, Prod Sec, etc. The rest could be by application name if needed. I always have a set of names that are for the DBAs to use to do our work, other teams can have theirs for their work, i.e., deploying code.

If you aren’t using dbatools yet you should be. While not every shop can use to manage everything it is works every well for most tasks and that includes scanning the network for SQL Instances. Because unless you could into a well oiled machine there will be instances they don’t know about and one day someone will come knocking asking to fix it. Warn your security team before you run this.

Read on for examples of how you can find instances (assuming the security team is okay with it!), some of the information you’d want to document, and more. I would also recommend the most recent episode of the SQL Data Partners podcast, in which we talk to Jen and Sean McCown about documenting and managing your SQL Server inventory.

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Searching Database Metadata in SQL Server

Phil Factor has a lookup function:

Finding things in databases isn’t always straightforward. You might think that you can just search the database objects in SQL Server. No, because user types, for example are stored elsewhere, despite being schema-bound. You might want to search in the scheduled jobs too, but there is no way of working out whether the code in a job step relates to a particular database. You might think that the information_schema represented a consistent industry standard, providing a rational logical layer over the seething reality underneath. You might be wrong.

Click through for the script and explanation.

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Building a “Solution Summary” Card for Developers

Ben Brown gets the new developers up to speed:

Solution Summary cards are the name I have given to simple 1-page documents we provide to developers to get up-to-speed on a particular solution.

The primary use-case for these cards is to provide better on-boarding for new team members.

An additional benefit is that crafting these short summaries forces people to review how your teams are working and you will often start seeing areas which would benefit from standardization or simplification.   

Click through for an example. I like this idea a lot for a few reasons, which I’ll enumerate here because I’m feeling it:

  1. Developers often won’t read really long documents. They might scan through the documents, Ctrl+F a few words, and refer back to it on occasion but rarely will they read through a document in its entirety.
  2. Long documents get out of date too quickly, as developers are typically bad at keeping documentation up to date, especially as deadlines loom.
  3. An artificial constraint like “Your summary must fit on one printed page” (either front-only or front-and-back) helps focus the mind. It makes you think about what the most important things to include are.
  4. If you are a consultant or just work on a lot of different projects, it can be painful trying to remember the details. Which jump box do you need to go to? Which were the most important bits of code? How do you run the unit tests and deploy the app locally? Even if nobody else ever sees the card, it can help you in the future.
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Filling in GitHub Repo Details

Kevin Chant practices GitHub hygeine:

To clarify, GitHub hygiene is a term that I use to describe the practice of keeping GitHub repositories healthy.

Some of you have probably noticed I have been doing this more recently. With this in mind, I thought I would share what I have been doing in this post for a couple of reasons.

First of all, to help raise awareness about some of the best practices I have been doing.

Secondly, because I am interested to get feedback from other members of the Microsoft Data Platform community about this. For example, do you also follow the same practices?

This is a reminder that there’s a lot you can include in a GitHub repo aside from the code itself.

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Building a Reproducable Example with SQL Server

Erik Darling wants to help you ask questions more effectively:

What no one wants to get into when it comes to performance questions is a giant wall-of-text word problem.

You may be the most eloquent question-asker in the known universe, but having the above items is worth hundreds of millions of words.

Click through to see what Erik would like to see. This is a really good post to read if you ever use Stack Overflow (or DBA Stack Exchange) or any other method of asking a bunch of randos how to solve a problem.

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Database Code Reviews: a Process

Kenneth Fisher reviews some code:

I’ll be honest, ever since I did a SQL Homework about doing code reviews I’ve wanted to do a blog post about them. Recently Emily Krager (TikTok | Twitter) did a TikTok about code review suggestions which seemed like a good excuse for me to do this. If you don’t follow her I recommend it, she does a great job of combining humor and technology and is just a lot of fun to listen to. Here is her list as best I was able to transcribe it.

Click through for Kenneth’s thoughts on the topic.

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