Modernizing Your T-SQL: String Aggregation

This is another in a group of several posts on modernizing T-SQL code with new features and functionality available in SQL Server.

SQL Server 2016 gave us the STRING_SPLIT() function, but what about the reverse – compiling a set of values into one delimited string? We only had to wait 15 months for the release of SQL Server 2017, and the STRING_AGG() function.

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T-SQL Tuesday #123: Lifehacks to Make Your Day Easier

This month, Jess Pomfret (blog | twitter) is trying to beat the winter motivation slump by exploring, and asking us to share, our lifehacks that make daily life a little easier.


So here we are, the first Tuesday of February. I personally always find February to be the month where my motivation is a little low. I live in the northern hemisphere so it can be a pretty dreary winter month where it still feels like there is a long way to spring (I will say this January I moved from Ohio back to England and the distinct lack of piles of snow is helping this cause somewhat). This makes my topic even more relevant as we need a little extra help to be productive and get through the month.

My topic is looking for your favourite ‘life hack’, something you use to make your day easier. This could be anything from a keyboard shortcut in SSMS that runs sp_whoisactive, to a technique you use to get and stay organised.  It doesn’t have to be directly related to a technology, just whatever you use to make your life easier.


I’ll admit, this post was kind of difficult for me to build as these are things that I don’t put a lot of thought into anymore. They’re just natural parts of my daily workflow. They are, or are becoming, habits. Which can be a very positive thing. But it can be difficult to explain to someone how you do some of these things when they’re muscle memory. It can also be hard to distinguish between “here’s a tool I’m using” and “here’s how I’m using this thing ” so I had to cut a few out.

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Modernizing Your T-SQL: Splitting Strings

This is the first of several posts on modernizing T-SQL code with new features and functionality available in SQL Server.

Last year, you finally retired the last of your SQL Server 2008R2 instances. Congratulations! But are you taking advantage of everything that your new instances have to offer? Unless you did a review of all of the T-SQL in your applications, I’m guessing not.

At one time or another, we all find ourselves having to do some string parsing, especially splitting strings on a delimiter. Nearly all of us have one (or two or a dozen) functions for doing this somewhere on every instance of SQL Server. But since SQL Server 2016, we’ve had an official way to do it – the STRING_SPLIT() function.

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Slides & Links from SQL Saturday Cleveland

Thank you to everyone who came out to see my presentation Keys to a Healthy Relationship with SQL Server at SQL Saturday Cleveland. I had a great time and I hope each of you learned at least one new thing.

Here are the links I mentioned in the session, as well as a couple that contributed to some of the things I mentioned.

Thank you to everyone who made SQL Saturday Cleveland possible – the organizers, sponsors, my fellow speakers, and all our attendees. Special shout-out to Eric Blinn (blog | twitter) and Paul Popovich (twitter) for finding a way, against all odds, to pull my name three times in the closing raffle.

T-SQL Tuesday #122: Imposter Syndrome

Kicking off T-SQL Tuesday for 2020, Jon Shaulis (blog | twitter) challenges us to talk about imposter syndrome:


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I want to read your stories about when you’ve experienced, seen, or overcome imposter syndrome! Was there a job that you felt you were ill-prepared for? Did you make a mistake or did someone say something that made you question if you were a true data professional? Maybe there was a particular task you ran into that made you question your experience? Did you resolve your tasks and succeed in your job? How did you overcome that feeling of being an imposter and solve your challenges? Maybe you haven’t experienced it yourself but you saw someone who was feeling imposter syndrome, were you able to help them?


At the risk of going too meta here, I find myself asking “have I even experienced imposter syndrome? Am I qualified to write a blog post about this?” Which…yeah, ok, that’s probably unfounded because everyone has experienced this, and I’ve probably been experiencing it for more than half my life in one way or another. I can probably trace it back to…

Wait. This 👏 Is 👏 Not 👏 A 👏 Therapy 👏 Session 👏

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Upcoming Speaking Engagements

I presented a few times in 2019, and I’m starting off 2020 with several as well. Here’s what’s on the schedule for Q1.

  • 2020-01-06 1Yep, ISO8601 format. That’s how I roll. – I’ll be giving a lightning talk at work titled “What Does a Database Administrator Do, Anyway?” This one isn’t open to the general public (though I might tweak it for use at community events), but The Bobs and “It Depends” both make an appearance in the deck.
  • 2020-02-01 – I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be presenting Keys to a Healthy Relationship with SQL Server at SQL Saturday Cleveland. This is incredibly exciting while at the same time, nerve-wracking. Cleveland is home to quite a few people who I look up to in the SQL Server community, and being selected to speak there is an honor. At the same time, getting up in front of those same folks…I have to keep reminding myself that they’re my friends, they want me to succeed, and they’re in my corner.
  • 2020-03-27 – I will be presenting Keys to a Healthy Relationship with SQL Server via webinar for SQL Professionals of Chattanooga. I met Heather Durham (twitter), one of the group organizers, at PASS Summit 2019, asked if the group would be open to me presenting remotely for them, and a few weeks later we were setting things up! Travel isn’t always easy for me, so if this works well hopefully I can add more presentations to my schedule.

That’s what’s booked so far for 2020. I’m hoping to submit sessions to a few more SQL Saturdays later in the year. Once I get another session worked out I’ll be presenting that (those? we shall see…) at our local user group and hopefully adding them to my SQL Saturday submissions. I’m shooting for couple more lightning talks and lunch & learns at work as well!

T-SQL Tuesday #121: Gifts Received This Year

Closing out 2019’s T-SQL Tuesday, Mala (blog | twitter) is asking us to reflect on the past twelve months:


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This is a time for material gift giving, for many of us. It might also be a time to consider the many gifts we have received through the year, and perhaps use this opportunity to appreciate people or situations that we were blessed with. So my question would be – what are a few things would you consider as gifts, and why?


I’m publishing this a couple hours late and I’ll admit, I’ve seen a few other folks’ posts which have inspired a few thoughts of my own.

  • An amazing job opportunity came along at the end of the summer. I wasn’t looking to make a change, but amazing things happen when you least expect them. The jump was completed in mid-October and every day, I’m discovering more things to learn and do.
  • I know a few others have written this, but meeting more people in the SQL community and deepening the connections with people I already know has been wonderful. Y’all know who you are, and I am so grateful to know you 🙂
  • To celebrate a milestone anniversary, my wife & I enjoyed a short vacation. This was the first vacation we’ve had where it was just the two of us since our honeymoon. It was pretty nice.
  • I got a lot more comfortable with saying no. This applies to several contexts, but the most important one is saying no to myself. Over-committing is a habit I’m slowly breaking out of. I’ve learned that it’s OK to not force something into my life just because people expect me to do it. It’s OK to skip a weekly activity every now and then if you decide you just need a break. In a way, 2019 was about the things that I didn’t do as well as the things I did do.