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T-SQL vs SQL differences Expand / Collapse
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Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 3:03 AM
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This is a relatively pedantic but necessary question as I have seen differing explanations on the subject.

If I say I know SQL is that different to saying I know T-SQL, for example, T-SQL is obviously the Microsoft adaptation of SQL but if someone says that they know T-SQL does that mean that they know all the programming aspects of this.

The other reason I ask this question is that a company called Learning Tree has two different courses entitled:

SQL Server Transact-SQL Programming: Hands On (532)
Developing SQL Queries for SQL Server: Hands On (534)

There is a different emphasis to the above courses, as in 534 there isn't anything on procedural statements, error handling etc. Is it more honest to say you know SQL rather than T-SQL if you don't have sufficient experience of the programming aspects, but are nevertheless using SQL within SQL Server?
Post #1418090
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 5:11 AM


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If you say "SQL" and "SQL Server" as part your knowledge set, I'd say you know T-SQL. Do you know the new 2012 paging methods? I'm not up on those, so does that mean I don't know SQL or T-SQL? No, I just don't have that construct in my toolbelt yet. But unless we're discussing PL/SQL vs. T-SQL or ANSI SQL vs. T-SQL, then saying SQL when referring to SQL Server is the same as saying T-SQL. But it never hurts to be clear. I do try, most of the time, to type T-SQL when referring to SQL Server, just for clarity.

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Post #1418096
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 5:24 AM
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OK, so on my CV/resume, would I put T-SQL and SQL in the section for knowledge of programming languages or just T-SQL?

I guess my initial idea was that T-SQL was more than the original SQL as it adds aspects of error checking, procedural statements etc.
Post #1418097
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 6:04 AM
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I guess that SQL refers to the ANSI SQL language.
T-SQL to the Microsoft implementation of that language including the programming aspects.
There's also P/L-SQL which is Oracle's implementation of that same language with their own programming language.

B
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Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 6:38 AM


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meridius10 (2/10/2013)
OK, so on my CV/resume, would I put T-SQL and SQL in the section for knowledge of programming languages or just T-SQL?


If you came to me with that on your CV you could well expect to be asked for the differences between them in the interview, and I would not be looking for 'one's MS and one's ANSI', I'd be looking for cases where the ANSI standard says one thing and MS's implementation is different.



Gail Shaw
Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008, MVP
SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

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Post #1418105
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 7:23 AM
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I came to SQL Server from using Access so this is why I am asking these questions... At the same time, algorithms in website search engines are mainly working with keywords so it seems that a large part of the recruitment process is candidates needing to make sure that they put the right one's in.

Just an additional question; what's the norm in working styles, if there is one? Do most developers use views to select as much of the query as possible and then modify the T-SQL or do they just type out the code straight off?
Post #1418107
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 9:20 AM


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meridius10 (2/10/2013)
I came to SQL Server from using Access so this is why I am asking these questions... At the same time, algorithms in website search engines are mainly working with keywords so it seems that a large part of the recruitment process is candidates needing to make sure that they put the right one's in.

Just an additional question; what's the norm in working styles, if there is one? Do most developers use views to select as much of the query as possible and then modify the T-SQL or do they just type out the code straight off?


That's a harder question. It gets to programming methodology, best practices, local practices, and finally, how the optimizer works. As a general concept, think of views as a masking mechanism. They hide stuff for security or for complexity. But, never forget that it's just a query. What happens is that people start thinking of views as tables (and they are absolutely not) and then JOIN one view to another or nest a view inside a view inside a view. Then, you're shooting the optimizer in the head and people are frequently surprised at how bad performance gets. So, in answer to your question, it depends.

As to putting SQL or T-SQL on your resume, Gail might flog you for it, but I wouldn't see it as that big a deal if you had both. Although, honestly, you could just put SQL and SQL Server and most people would just infer T-SQL. For the fundamentals, SELECT FROM WHERE UPDATE INSERT DELETE, the differences between T-SQL and ANSI SQL are minimal. I realize we're trying to match our CVs to what search engines return, but I suspect that's impossible. Especially when people post job requirements that mean you have to be a DBA, a SAN Admin, a developer, a hardware expert, SharePoint guru, network architect and sub-atomic physicist with a top secret clearance, 2 years of experience and they're willing to pay $50k. In short, no one meets the requirements because anyone with all that knowledge and skill has a LOT more than 2 years experience and expects to make MUCH more than $50k.

Instead, I'd focus on honesty and clarity on your CV. Let me know what you've done and what you know. Lies and exaggerations will burn you.


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SQL Server Execution Plans

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Post #1418113
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 1:50 PM
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You are right about the honesty bit but there is always a fine line between promoting oneself for the employment market in order to get an interview and going over the top and this is only learnt over time.

I started a short assignment last year on reporting in SQL Server using a vendors adaptation of SSRS which was nowhere near as good as the Microsoft version (in fact it was a dummed down version of the application with no possibility of creating a matrix). I passed their verbal test on what is an INNER JOIN etc. at interview. I had been used to creating views and practising using AdventureWorks on SSMS at home. Then when the role started there was the choice between a blank compiler or a GUI which produced SQL that could not be reversed back into the interface once it had been modified, no database diagram and many many tables. I am surprised I lasted as long as I did, but it gave me an opportunity to go back to basics and actually practise typing out SQL and trying to understand the code rather than just copying and pasting views or using queries as I had done in Access.

In fact I had taken other tests through agencies but they were mainly multiple choice and had more DBA type questions than those for a data analyst or possibly a developer (although I am not sure exactly what is required for those roles). Part of the problem was coming from an Access background where there is a lot of hand holding. It was good having that experience because now I am preparing these skills for the future.

Employers are very demanding in the current job market and there is quite a lot to learn around SQL Server in general in order to be appealing to them. In many jobs they are looking for T-SQL, SSRS, SSIS, SSAS for BI, DBA experience skills for DBA and .NET and T-SQL for developer roles. and as you hinted, candidates also need to prove that they are capable of flying to the moon and back in less than two minutes.
Post #1418132
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 2:20 PM


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meridius10 (2/10/2013)
If I say I know SQL is that different to saying I know T-SQL, for example, T-SQL is obviously the Microsoft adaptation of SQL but if someone says that they know T-SQL does that mean that they know all the programming aspects of this.


First, if someone say that they know T-SQL, you have to consider the source and the level. I know a lot of good people that have taken certification exams and have studied T-SQL on their own and they still don't "know all the programming aspects of this". For example, I've been working with and studying T-SQL since 1996 and, just yesterday, I learned a new very high performance trick for counting concurrent sessions in a log file. Someoe who has only taken a course in T-SQL (including certs) or have actually attained a certification might only be qualified to say they can use the basics. They are not necessarily worth a hill of beans when it comes to "really" knowing T-SQL. I currently know of no MS course that teaches how to use a Numbers or Tally table (for example). I currently know of no MS course that teaches the very high performance method of calculating the difference between two differently partitioned ROW_NUMs to calulate the number of concurrent sessions at a given oit in time.

To wit, taking courses in T-SQL simply qualifies you to move onto the next step. It's like a high school diploma that says you did some time and you know some stuff but not necessarily a lot of stuff.

So far as someone saying they "know" SQL... they can't know "ALL" SQL because every engine has its own dialect and extensions. Something as simple as returning a result set to a GUI can be as simple as a SELECT (T-SQL) or as complex as having to write a reference cursor (Oracle).

SQL is NOT SQL. Most engines don't even follow the ANSI standards 100%.

So far as specialization goes, it depends. I've seen some people who are ok at a couple of things do very well for themselves. I've also seen hard core T-SQL-only folks do very well (like me, for example).


--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

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Post #1418140
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 4:14 PM
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I personally decided against Microsoft exams because as well as beginning to learn T-SQL and SQL Server, I also wanted to learn programming languages and widen my experience in applications and IT, so needed to divide my time according to my own needs. Unfortunately, I haven't been writing T-SQL as long as you but am just building up my experience bit by bit.

There seems to be a gap between training and what an employer can actually ask you (which can be anything!). What I am finding good though is downloading videos from youtube and have learnt a lot from these on technical subjects. I am wondering if there are any good and downloadable video resources you can recommend in terms of a series of videos? (I know joes2pros do some but these are pay products!). I have some from learnvisualstudio.net but these are for SQL Server 2005.

What I am finding interesting is actually getting explanations of coding from videos rather than going through vast amounts of written and poorly or unexplained code or heavy texts that are not realistic based on the time frame required to learn a particular subject. Technical writing has improved but many books are still not up to scratch.

I guess though that if you learn something over a number of years and get good experience in what you are doing, that is the best thing.
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