While some newsgroups are not available at all ISP's, the two listed below are popular, which means they can be found on virtually every ISP.To find others, query the Usenet archives at the www.deja.com/usenetWeb site. Newsgroups to check out include:
- comp.databases-This newsgroup provides generic database technology discussions or discussions referring to a database for which a specific group does not exist.
- comp.databases.ms-sqlserver-This newsgroup provides Microsoft SQL Server discussions.
Microsoft offers newsgroups at www.microsoft.com/technet/discuss/support.asp, which includes forums for discussion of its SQL Server and Access database products. (Hint: SQL Server is in the BackOffice products section, and Access is under the Office section.) The archives of all microsoft.public newsgroups are also searchable via www.deja.com/usenet.These newsgroups are broken down into more specific topic areas than are the Usenet database groups. For example, there are over 20 Microsoft Access newsgroups pertaining to various aspects of the product and over 10 SQL Server newsgroups. Other newsgroups on Windows NT, Visual Basic, and other topics might be of interest to those pursuing SQL Server certification as well. The following list contains a sample of the available newsgroups:
- microsoft.public.sqlserver.server-This newsgroup provides general discussions about SQL Server functionality.
- microsoft.public.sqlserver.setup-This newsgroup discusses SQL Server installation and configuration information.
- microsoft.public.sqlserver.programming-This newsgroup discusses accessing and maintaining SQL Server databases via programming.
Without taking anything away from the Oracle and DB2 mainframe professionals, there are more PC users working with databases then there are mainframe professionals. SQL 7 can scale down to run on a Windows 95 laptop. This creates a great demand for Microsoft SQL publications. If your favorite magazine is not in the following list, try searching for it by title on www.altavista.com to locate its Web site.
- SQL Server Magazine (www. awitp.org)-The online companion to SQL Server magazine, this site includes current articles as well as archived articles from past issues, all of which are searchable. It includes a FAQ on SQL Server and a user community with end-user discussions.
- SQL Server Professional (www.pinpub.com/sqlpro)-The online home of SQL Server Professional, this site includes current and past articles and source code archives.
Web sites of interest to database designers and administrators tend to fall into two categories: database vendors' technical support/marketing sites and user-to-user sites. The Microsoft SQL Server product home page, which contains support links to content, such as the Microsoft Knowledge Base, Microsoft newsgroups related to SQL Server, training information, and product information, can be found at www.microsoft.com/sql.
Additionally, some end-user maintained sites related to Microsoft SQL Server include:
- SQLWire (www.sqlwire.com)-This site features news and technical information about Microsoft SQL Server.
- Swynk.com (www.swynk.com)-Named after its founder, Stephen Wynkoop, this site has evolved into a significant source of BackOffice information with Web-based user-to-user discussion groups, a FAQ (frequently asked questions document), sample SQL scripts, a tips and tricks library, and regular columns on Microsoft SQL Server, among other things.
- SQLServer Superexpert (sqlserver.superexpert.com)-This site offers a community of SQL Server experts and contains SQL Server-related news, technical information, and job postings, among other resources of interest to those working or learning about SQL Server.
Many technical professionals are involved with local or national newsgroups related to Microsoft products including SQL Server. In addition to groups specific to SQL Server, user groups that cover all of Microsoft BackOffice (of which SQL Server is a part) might be of interest to those working with SQL Server. The following list contains some of these groups:
- The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) can be found at www.sqlpass.org.
- The BackOffice Professionals Association's Web site is located at www.bopa.org.
- SQL Server Magazine maintains a list of regional and local SQL Server users groups on its Web site at www.sqlmag.com.
As noted earlier, Microsoft SQL Server is a very popular RDBMS, and its popularity is growing as it is adopted by more sites, including e-commerce-based organizations and Web-hosting companies. There are many resources, such as Web sites, magazines, and books, available for learning the product and maintaining your skills. Microsoft recognizes that individuals working with SQL Server may choose either a database administration or a database development career emphasis. Consequently, it includes challenging certification tracks that reflect the different career paths, each of which requires passing at least four exams to achieve certification. The demand for Microsoft SQL Server experienced professionals is strong and is expected to remain so in the future.