Build Your Brand Presentation

Tonight I gave my “Build Your Brand with Technical Writing” presentation (slides) to the Triangle SQL Server User Group (Raleigh, NC). I love giving this talk because I typically get one or two people who really want to get started writing ask me for help because of the talk.

Writing has been a passion of mine since I first learned to read around age 6. Back then, I dreamed I would be a writer and a teacher when I grew up. I guess I can tell that 6 year-old that her dreams came true.

I didn’t really think about the impact that writing, especially technical writing, has on others. People all over the world have learned T-SQL from me! When I write, I imaging a beginner sitting next to me as I explain the topics.

Here are some tips I gave the audience tonight:

1. Write about something you would like to learn more about.

2. After writing your post or article, set it aside for a day or so and then look at it with fresh eyes. Also, reading it out loud will help bring out any issues.

3. Network, network, network. Get to know people in the community. You never know when someone is looking for a co-author.

4. If you are a presenter, turn your presentation into an article.

5. Put writing on your calendar.

6. Just start writing even if it’s not clear what you plan to write about.

7. Use a tool like Grammarly to help with grammar, spelling and more.

Being an editor is now my third major career step, and I’m enjoying every minute!

Posted in Life in IT | 1 Comment

Azure Data Studio Notebooks and SQL Prompt

One of the coolest and most useful features of Azure Data Studio (ADS) is Notebooks. If you haven’t seen them, notebooks allow you to combine text with markdown and runnable code in the same document, and they are shareable. Notebooks might be used for teaching, documentation, or runbooks among other uses.

I recently heard about a public preview for Redgate’s SQL Prompt for ADS, and I wondered if the features would work only in a query window or if the features would also work in a notebook. After testing, I found that yes, SQL Prompt features do work in notebooks. It doesn’t matter if you are working in a query window or a notebook, you can take advantage of SQL Prompt!

To try it out, I installed the most recent ADS version and the public preview for SQL Prompt for ADS. The first feature I tested was formatting.


There is some built-in formatting in ADS, but there is just one style. SQL Prompt has several built-in styles, plus it imports styles from SSMS if you have it installed and allows you to create your own custom styles.

You must tell ADS that you want to use SQL Prompt for formatting either for the current operation or as a default. To set it up as the default, right-click in a notebook code cell or in the query window. Then select Format Document With as shown in Figure 1.



Figure 1: Choose a formatter

A dialog will pop up. Click Configure Default Formatter as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Configure the default

Then click Redgate SQL Prompt as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3: Select SQL Prompt

From there on, SQL Prompt will be the default formatting tool for both the notebooks and query window.

One advantage of SQL Prompt is that you have several formats from which to choose. There are five built-in formatting styles and any created in SSMS will automatically import. To see the styles, first bring up the command pallet by typing CTRL+SHIFT+P. You can search for everything related to Prompt as shown in Figure 4. Select SQL Prompt: Change Active Formatting Style.


Figure 4: Find Change Active Formatting Style

Here you’ll see a list of built-in styles plus any of your custom styles shown in Figure 5. You can select any of them to be your default style going forward.


Figure 5: Select a formatting style

Notice in Figure 4 that you can also delete, create, or edit formatting styles. Now, formatting the way you like it is just a right-click away in both notebooks and the query window.

Another feature available in this preview is the well-loved snippets. Learn about that next!


Snippets save SQL Prompt users tons of time. They are as simple as typing in three or four characters to get anything from a SELECT statement to a function definition. Just like formatting, this feature can be seen in the notebooks. Figure 6 shows the famous SSF (select star from) snippet.


Figure 6: Select star from

Snippets are great for things that you type often, like the team’s official comment section for procs. To see the available snippets, go to the command pallet and search for Preferences: Configure User Snippets as shown in Figure 7.


Figure 7: Configure user snippets

You’ll be able to see your custom snippet list and create your own.


SQL Prompt is a popular tool that has worked in SSMS and Visual Studio to save you time writing T-SQL code. Now, there is a preview of SQL Prompt that runs in Azure Data Studio, and you get these features in both query windows and notebook

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Free SQL Server Reporting Services Class

As part of the Redgate Community Circle project, I’m teaching a seven-week class online class, “Introduction to SSRS”.  This class is perfect for people who need to learn SSRS from the beginning. I just completed week three, but you can jump in any time, and the class will continue to be available on Redgate’s University. The class consists of recorded weekly sessions, homework, and a forum where you can ask questions.

Here’s the agenda:

  • Introduction, tools, setup
  • Data sources, datasets, and your first report
  • Parameters
  • Grouping
  • Interactive report features
  • Visualizations
  • Deploying and managing reports

Be sure to check out my class or any of the other Redgate Advocate’s classes. These include:

Kendra Little’s T-SQL for Beginners 

Steve Jones’ DAX and Power BI

Grant Fritchey’s SQL Server Query Performance Tuning

There is definitely something for everyone!

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