Data Quality Services SSIS component error

Debugging Errors in SSIS Data Quality Services Cleansing Component

As part of Microsoft’s push to include business users in the Business Intelligence space, the addition of Data Quality Services to SQL Server’s feature set opened up the ETL process to the people who, arguably, know the data best.  Integration with SSIS was a great move, meaning that this user control extends to automated processes, further closing the gap between data and the business.

However, like most new components, Data Quality Services has some teething problems, and these can be quite hard to find when debugging your SSIS packages.  Here’s a quick tip that should help solve some of those tricky to find DQS issues. Continue reading “Debugging Errors in SSIS Data Quality Services Cleansing Component” »

SQL Server example of datetime and datetime2

Mapping C# DateTime to SQL Server datetime2 via SSIS

With SQL Server 2008, Microsoft introduced the new, improved datetime2 format.  This newer time storage format is great, because it takes up less storage space, plus you have control over precision and can define your field to the exact specification required.  Database columns defined as datetime2 can be mapped in SSIS by using the DT_DBTIMESTAMP2 type.  However, in the scenario where you may have a Script Transformation in your SSIS package, and want to assign a .NET DateTime type to a Data Flow column that is mapped to a datetime2 field, you might encounter a DoesNotFitBufferException.

The reason for this is likely down to your specified field precision, and is easily fixed. Continue reading “Mapping C# DateTime to SQL Server datetime2 via SSIS” »

Case sensitivity in SSIS Lookup Transformation

Something that catches out a lot of new SSIS developers.  The caching mode used for a Lookup Transformation may affect case sensitivity.

The Full Cache option is case sensitive by default.  Partial and No-cache options use the Collation setting of the database (or table) to handle case.

Of course, using Partial or No-caching results in the SSIS package issuing a call to the database for each row in the data flow, so use them wisely!

SSIS OLE DB source using table or view access mode

Optimising SSIS to read from a view using OLE DB Source

I’ve really been neglecting the blog of late and have been taking a bit of a break from a lot of extra curricular business intelligence and data reading.  I figured it was about time to get back to posting though, and as luck would have it, my colleague Stephen came to me with an interesting SSIS performance issue that presented the perfect opportunity for a quick blog post. I’ve not written much about SSIS lately, having been drawn off by the shiny sparkle of developments in the self-service BI sector such as Power BI, and playing with Big Data tools like Hadoop.  But I still do a lot of work with SSIS and it’s still my go-to large scale ETL tool. Continue reading “Optimising SSIS to read from a view using OLE DB Source” »

Screenshot of the "Installation Type" page in the SQL Server 2012 SP1 setup wizard

Installing SQL Server Data Tools – Business Intelligence for Visual Studio 2012

As if renaming the accurately titled Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) to the rather ambiguous SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) wasn’t bad enough, in December, Microsoft’s latest SSDT release only brought half the expected capabilities to Visual Studio 2012.  Yep, the December 2012 SSDT download was missing a key component: the project and item templates for developing MS BI projects in Visual Studio.  Thankfully, the newest release (5th March, 2013) has finally added all of the MS BI templates to SSDT, so you can now develop SSIS packages, SSAS cubes and SSRS reports in the Visual Studio 2012 environment.

Which version?

Unfortunately, they’ve not made the whole process easy.  Searching for “SQL Server Data Tools” will likely lead you to a download which, upon installation, will add connectivity and server management tools to VS 2012 – making it like an up-to-date version of SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), but without the BI project templates.

The latest release (with the BI templates) is actually called:

Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools – Business Intelligence for Visual Studio 2012

So make sure that if you’re trying to get SSDT for BI development work, that you download the correct version.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the issues, as I had a bit of trouble with installation that I felt needed sharing.

Installation woes

Begin by downloading the correct installer for the BI enabled version of SSDT from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36843 (782 MB).

Screenshot of the "Installation Type" page in the SQL Server 2012 SP1 setup wizard

Fig. 1: On a 64-bit SQL instance, be sure to select “Perform a new installation of SQL Server 2012”

Once you execute it, the installer will unpack and run the SQL Server 2012 SP1 setup wizard.  Don’t worry about this, remember that SSDT, like BIDS before it, is actually a component of SQL Server based upon the Visual Studio shell, NOT actually an extension to Visual Studio itself.

The trick with the installation is when you reach the Installation Type step (see Fig 1.).

If you’re running an x64-based SQL instance (64-bit), make sure to select “New Instance” on the Installation Type page, and NOT “Add features to an existing instance”.

This is because although the SQL Server instance is 64-bit, the Visual Studio 2012 shell is actually 32-bit.  If you attempt to upgrade a 64-bit instance with a 32-bit component, it fails the Installation Rules checks and won’t allow you to proceed.

Choosing “New Instance” will work but don’t worry, it doesn’t actually require creation of a new SQL instance, it just allows the installer to get past the pre-installation checks.

If you’ve got a 32-bit instance of SQL Server, it doesn’t matter what option you choose here.

Installation complete

Screenshot showing adding a new Business Intelligence project in Visual Studio 2012

The new Business Intelligence Project templates in action

Once the installation has completed (may require a restart), you can open Visual Studio 2012 (or the new SQL Server Data Tools 2012 item on your start menu) and get developing.  Click “New Project” in the File menu and check for the “Business Intelligence” templates to confirm that it’s worked.

I’ve yet to find any real differences between the Visual Studio 2012 based SSDT and the Visual Studio 2010 based version that shipped with SQL Server 2012.  At the moment, the main advantage of using this release seems to be to take advantage of the improved features of Visual Studio 2012 over its 2010 counterpart, rather than any advancements in the Business Intelligence templates/tools themselves.

They might be there, however, I just haven’t come across them yet.  Let me know in the comments below if you’ve spotted any improvements over SSDT 2010 and what they are.