Thursday, 9 December 2010

SQL Server Southampton UserGroup

Last night was the first SQL Server Southampton UserGroup (#sqlsoton for those on twitter) organised by Mark Pryce-Maher (Twitter | Blog). It's a difficult job trying to get a local usergroup up and running especially when it's difficult to reach out to local professionals and get a firm idea of who's going to come, and so credit to Mark for making it happen.

Cap'n, we have no power

Despite projector/power lead problems (and there being a million and one kettles in the hired room, none with suitable lead!), it was a great first gathering. Matt Whitfield (Twitter | Blog) kicked off with a session on "SQL CLR Demystified", a look into CLR integration within SQL Server and how it can be used to implement CLR types, stored procedure, functions, aggregates and triggers, with examples on how it can offer better performance over pure TSQL. A great start to what hopefully will become a regular local meetup. Job well done.

It didn't form part of his talk, but having recently tried out one of his free SQL Server related tools (Schema Surf), I think it's worth a shout-out to the tools available from Atlantis Interactive. A number of them are free, so give them a try - I've only had time to try out Schema Surf as yet, but found that to be a very handy tool that can really improve productivity, especially if you're working with an unfamiliar database. Good stuff.

Pizza supplies arrived - an essential part of any usergroup and followed with informal discussions including ones on nice looking features of SQL Server Denali as initiated by Mark.

Support your local groups

For me, it was good to put a real face to those I know through reading blogs and twitter and who I haven't met in person before, namely Christian Bolton (Twitter | Blog), Andrew Fryer (Blog | Twitter) and Mark Pryce-Maher.

Usergroups like this are a great way to learn new things, and get involved with the community around you. Personally, I really enjoy the informal nature of it and the chance just to meet up and have some banter as much as the technical session aspect. It's always interesting to see how other people are using SQL Server, to what extent and hearing their experiences. And I think the benefit of this kind of chance to get together with like-minded people was well and truly demonstrated by the fact the usergroup overran by around 35-40 minutes, showing how immersed we became. That's a big thumbs up in my book.

So, if you don't already attend a local usergroup, why not give it a try?

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