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Easy or Hard

By Steve Jones,

Should we make SQL Server easy or hard? Does it make more sense to make things easier for people to do. OR will this lead to more problems because people will pick these features, enable them, and not understand how they work.

I've talked a lot about the tools and how they work over the last few weeks and as much as I hear that the platform is easier than ever for people to install and get working, I feel that it is also more and more complex with every release, actually requiring more DBA resources over the lifecycle of an application.

As new tools are designed, I think it's important to conduct usability tests. I know that as new screens and features are built, actual DBAs are brought in and their use of the tools tracked and my employer, Red Gate Software, actually does a lot of usability testing in their development. However my feeling is that there's always a goal of making things easier to use, which is good, but is it what we want?

I often see and hear of people using tools incorrectly and making bad choices (often accepting defaults) without understanding the implication of what they are doing. It's easy to say that someone should read the documentation or research their choices, but that's not how things often work. And my making things easier to use and marketing them that way, you imply they are simple systems.

And they're not.

My vote is that the tools we use should be ergonomic, but not simplistic. They should smooth the process of doing something, but not simplify to the point that very inexperienced users get into trouble. Defaults should make sense for 80% of the people out there and advanced users should deal with that. I think we're OK with that, just be sure that you don't make it cumbersome to get around the defaults when we need to do so.

Steve Jones

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The podcast feeds are now available at sqlservercentral.podshow.com to get better bandwidth and maybe a little more exposure :). Comments are definitely appreciated and wanted, and you can get feeds from there.

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Today's podcast features music by Everyday Jones. No relation, but I stumbled on to them and really like the music. Support this great duo at www.everydayjones.com.

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