Becoming Proficient with MS SQL Server
June 16, 2021 9:11 AM   Subscribe

As a follow up to this question, what are the best resources for becoming proficient with MS SQL Server as thoroughly as possible?

I'm willing to pay a moderate amount for a good resource (book, online tutorial, whatever). Fast is great too but I'd really like something fairly thorough. Thank you!
posted by an octopus IRL to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This is a difficult question to answer as-is because SQL Server is a huge+sprawling product with many areas you could specialize in (like most major RDBMSs). Let's see if we can narrow it down a bit.

Do you know which areas of SQL Server you need/want to be proficient in? What do you hope to do with it?

Will you be interacting with it as a developer or more as a DBA? Will you be setting up a server from scratch or just running queries on a server that someone else maintains?
posted by ripley_ at 11:08 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is a really great clarifying question, thank you -- running queries on a server someone else maintains, mostly doing ETL tasks. Is that helpful?
posted by an octopus IRL at 11:16 AM on June 16

That helps, thanks.

Pluralsight has a number of courses focused on writing queries against SQL Server; I have not taken them but their courses are generally quite good and reasonably priced. If I were in your shoes I'd set up a small local SQL Server Express database then take a few Pluralsight courses, making sure to follow along in SSMS* for hands-on experience.

*SSMS is still far and away the best client to use with SQL Server; it's deeply integrated with SQL Server in a way that Azure Data Studio and more generic DB client apps aren't. If you're on Windows, I strongly suggest using SSMS.
posted by ripley_ at 11:25 AM on June 16

Reusing an answer I gave previously but I think it is actually more suited to your question than the original.
For a ... range of experience/exposure I'd recommend T-SQL Fundamentals by Itzik Ben-Gan. It is thorough without being too tedious, includes exercises and solutions, and it recent enough that I haven't got any real qualms with feature coverage.

T-SQL Querying (same author) is a more interesting book, in my opinion, delving deeper into topics like query optimization, statistical analysis in SQL, and generally "fancier" SQL. If the target audience were not entirely new to SQL I would recommend it instead. It is however much longer and would serve as a poor introduction to SQL for being too much in the deep end.
I think if you are comfortable with an advanced-beginner/intermediate knowledge of SQL and T-SQL more specifically (I would say: you know how and when to use window functions, can pivot data, are comfortable with basics of transactions and isolation levels) you can skip the first and move directly on to T-SQL Querying.

Fundamentals is the shorter book and has a lot of exercises, which I like; I would say it has the faster return on investment because the whole book is only ~400 pages and has plenty of information to help even knowledgeable SQL users.
posted by noop at 11:29 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]

From what you've said, SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is what you're interested in. Of course, to make best use of this, you'll want to have a firm grounding in Transact SQL and stored procedures.
posted by SPrintF at 12:57 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]

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