The SQL Azure labs site is a great place to explore and play with SQL Azure! You are probably already using SQL Server and may be working with or wondering about SQL Azure. Often when I want to explore a technology, I find reading a blog post or MSDN article isn’t enough to make me comfortable. I need something more tangible to help me grasp a new tool or offering. The SQL Azure team provides a series of videos and labs to help you explore and master different SQL Azure technologies.
There are a number of labs on the SQL Azure site, but I just want to take a minute to point out one in particular that just went live this week.
The Microsoft Codename “Data Transfer” Lab provides an easy-to-use Web application for importing data into SQL Azure or Blob storage. Learn how to transfer structured data and files into Azure using any standard modern browser. One of the goals for this lab is to take the complexity out of typical operations, such as loading structured data in CSV and Excel files into SQL Azure. The lab service provides simple parsing, type discovery and conversion over files in a wizard-like experience.
This is a new lab, and the SQL Azure team wants to learn from you! They will use your feedback to shape the service in the future! So if you get a pop-up questionnaire please take the time to answer, you could identify a feature to include in the next release! You can also post on the SQL Azure Labs Support Forum to give feedback as well.
There are a lot of different ways to learn a product or feature. You can watch videos, you can read blogs and articles. You can download training kits and developer guides. These work very well when you have a sandbox to play in, somewhere you can try out the features and code shown in the articles and blogs. But what if you don’t have anywhere to try it out? What if trying something out requires having a sample project as a starting point? Kind of hard to see how to complete testing faster using Test Manager without a project to test or Test Manager! Hard to try out software architecture features without Visual Studio Ultimate and an architecture to explore!
Technology to the rescue! With the rise in popularity and capabilities of virtual machines, more and more product groups are providing Hands On Labs inside virtual machines complete with all the software and sample projects to make it easy for you to try out lots of cool features. Case in point, Brian Keller, an evangelist for Visual studio wrote a blog announcing the Visual Studio team has a Virtual Machine with Visual Studio 2010 RTM loaded with sample data and they have even provided a set of manuals you can use to complete a series of different hands on lab experiences.
You may only use Visual Studio to edit and deploy your code, but there is so much more hiding in there!
Ever wondered how Visual Studio can help you with testing? Check out these labs
- Authoring and Running Manual Tests using Microsoft Test Manager 2010
- Introduction to Test Case Management with Microsoft Test Manager 2010
- Introduction to Coded UI Tests with Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate
- Debugging with IntelliTrace using Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate
- Using Code Analysis with Visual Studio 2010 to Improve Code Quality
- Introduction to Exploratory Testing with Microsoft Test Manager 2010
- Introduction to Platform Testing with Microsoft Test Manager 2010
- Introduction to Quality Tracking with Visual Studio 2010
- Introduction to Test Planning with Microsoft Test Manager 2010
Interested in how Visual Studio can help you discover the architecture of a project (since we have been talking about how to handle code without documentation)? Check out these labs
- Code Discovery using the architecture tools in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate
- Understanding Class Coupling with Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate
- Using the Architecture Explore in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate to Analyze Your Code
Has ITIL arrived at your company and is everyone asking you about your processes and configuration management? Check out these labs.
- Planning your Projects with Team Foundation Server 2010
- Branching and Merging Visualization with Team Foundation Server 2010
You can download the labs here. You can even choose between Hyper-V, Virtual PC 2007, or Windows 7 Virtual PC! There is more detail about the virtual machines, the labs and how to use them at Brian Keller’s blog post “Now Available: Visual Studio 2010 RTM Virtual Machine with Sample Data and Hands-on-Labs”.
Todays Top 5
5 Reasons to check out Tech Days Canada 2011 (in person or online)
- For the first time, we will have Hands On Labs at the event! (See the top 5 is related to the blog post ). Bring your laptop to the show, try out the features you have been hearing about on the blogs on all kinds of products!
- For the first time, we will have Instructor Led Labs at the event! If you find self paced labs don’t give you enough information, there will be several instructor led labs where you can bring your laptop and walk through a lab with the presenter!
- There will be Hands On Labs online! If you can’t make it to TechDays in person, we will be hosting lots of great labs throughout the year from the TechDays website.
- Free WiFi – yes we heard you, and yes we listened, and yes we will have free WiFi this year.
- Bigger better TechDays Online – We will be launching an expanded and richer TechDays Online later this year to provide you with great content throughout the year!
This blog is also posted on the Canadian Solution Developer Blog