A few weeks ago, my friend Jim called me. His company was ending its relationship with a major client, and as a result, his position was likely to be reduced (or eliminated — I don’t remember which one he said) over the long term. He knew that I’d done a lot of work with SQL Server (mind you, I don’t know enough to be an expert, but I know enough to get by), and had some questions for me — mainly to the effect of, “I want to learn SQL Server. How do I get started?”
I see this question come up a lot in various forums, especially on SQLServerCentral.com (which, by the way, was one the first references that I gave Jim). I suggested that he create a free account on the site so he could access and ask questions on the forum.
I suggested that he obtain and install a copy of Microsoft SQL Server Developer Edition, which is a free download. I also mentioned downloading the famous (infamous?) Northwind/AdventureWorks sample databases. Practice makes perfect, after all, and if he could get hands-on experience with SQL Server in a sandbox environment, all the better.
Side note: Jim (a Red Sox fan) and I (a Yankee fan) are both big baseball fans (yes, we argue frequently!). When I think of databases on which to practice, my preference is to download a copy of Sean Lahman’s baseball database. I have nothing against either the Northwind or AdventureWorks sample databases; my thinking is that if you’re going to learn a new technology, you might as well make it fun!
And, of course, no introduction to SQL Server would be complete without Books Online (frequently abbreviated “BOL”).
Those are my suggestions. Do you have any more? If so, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!