A First Look at SQL Server 2016

I received the email from Microsoft a few days ago letting me know that SQL Server CTP 2 was available for download. You can get it here if you are interested. This is the first time we can actually get our hands on SQL Server 2016, and probably a bit earlier than we expected.

If you have access to Azure, you can also find a VM template with SQL Server 2016 CTP 2 installed. That is the route I took, which saved quite a bit of time. You can start reading about the new features if you aren’t ready to install it at this point.

I am always interested in new T-SQL features, but I was pretty disappointed to see that either there is not much new T-SQL planned or maybe some features are not implemented yet. I remember that early CTPs of SQL Server 2012 didn’t have all of the new functions that were eventually released, so I hope this is the case with 2016. There is, however, a lot to be excited about.

One interesting feature that is related to T-SQL is the ability to return results in JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format. This is really easy. All you have to do is add the phrase “FOR JSON AUTO” to your SELECT query.

Have you ever wished that a table automatically kept a record of changes? It can with the new temporal table feature. With temporal tables, you can automatically send old values to a history table without changing your code. You can also query the main table for versions of the data for any point in time in the past.

I’ve presented on the new Project Deployment model that came out with SSIS 2012 several times over the past couple of years. I am always asked if one SSIS package can be deployed instead of the entire project. The answer was no, if you wish to deploy to the SSIS Catalog. Guess what, starting with 2016, you will be able to deploy a single package. I guess this was holding some shops back from adopting the catalog.

Probably the most exciting feature for query tuning geeks like me is the new Query Store. This will allow us to see plans that are already gone from the cache and to force queries to use a particular plan. There is also a query tuning feature called Live Query Statistics. It’s similar to the Actual Execution Plan, but you can see what is going on while the query runs. These really look interesting, and it will be fun trying them out.

One thing I was really wondering about is Profiler. Will it finally be gone? Nope, at least at CTP2, it is still there. I’ve made a commitment to myself not to use Profiler or Trace going forward regardless.

I will be exploring these and the many other new features over the next few months.

About Kathi Kellenberger

I am the editor of the online journal Simple Talk. I love talking about SQL Server to anyone who will listen, just ask my seven year old granddaughter. I love to write and teach. I am so humbled and honored to say I am a Data Platform MVP, a volunteer with LaunchCode and co-leader of PASS Women in Technology Virtual Group.
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2 Responses to A First Look at SQL Server 2016

  1. Ash says:

    I liked your comment about your granddaughter. I also have one … going to be 2 in a couple of months. Right now, she is not interested in SQL, only demolition derby as she goes around demolishing any and everything in the house.

    But granddaughters aside, do you think we will ever get a good way to debug T-SQL, at least in the sense of block code debugging, i.e at least see intermediate results at a least possible block size of code. While we do it manually, but it would be great to see something in various “output” windows. What do you think?

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