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Learn XML

By Steve Jones,

I first learned a lot about XML from the PDC conference in Denver in 1998. I attended a number of sessions and thought this was a great technology that would soon dominate the data exchange markets. At the time I was developing an interface for an EDI system, and we knew XML would be important in the future.

Over the years I've seen XML use grow, especially as a way to move data around between many systems, but I'm not sure it dominates data exchanges. There are still plenty of Excel documents and CSV files produced on a regular basis that must be imported into SQL Server. Many DBAs have an idea of what XML is, but they don't often feel comfortable working with it, especially when it comes to the various XQuery functions inside SQL Server.

As I've seen the use of XML increase in SQL Server. Not inside the database, but in the tools that we use as DBAs and data professionals. Our execution plans are XML documents, and XML is slowly becoming a more prevalent part of SQL Server with every release. There's one place, however, that makes a very compelling case for all DBAs to learn how to work with and query XML: Extended Events.

Understanding eventing will be more and more important over time. Profiler has been deprecated and will be removed at some point. DBAs should understand Extended Events and learn to work with them. That includes learning to query the data returned from the events, which you might have guessed, is in XML. I watched Jonathan Kehayias demonstrate this last year, and I've been following his writing on the topic, which includes

Do yourself a favor, and learn how to work with XML and become comfortable querying them over the next year. We have some great articles on XML here on the site, and I you'll be glad you did in the future.

Steve Jones


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