Category Archives: Database Design

SQL Server for Beginners: Part V – Using SQL Server 2012 LocalDB

In a previous chapter, I described the installation process for SQL Server 2012 Express which included all the bells and whistles of the advanced services package. While it’s great to have all the tools at your disposal to learn from, some people might not want such a large installation on a particular machine or the administration that goes with it but might still want the basic database capabilities of SQL Server on their desktop. In this case, SQL Server 2012 offers a new edition called LocalDB.

LocalDB is a minimized version of SQL Server Express specifically for developers who still need all the programming features including the ability to create stored procedures and other objects within an instance of SQL Server. It has a few restrictions that the average beginner probably won’t be bothered by and you can connect to it with SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) or other tools to create and manage databases. You can even install the AdventureWorks sample database to work with through an instance of LocalDB.

In this article, I’ll describe the process of installing both LocalDB and SSMS in order to create a small desktop database environment to work with as a developer or a beginner in database design.

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SQL Server for Beginners: Part IV – The AdventureWorks Database

In the last part of this series I wrote about SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), the interface that enables you to work with SQL Server objects such as databases and tables. The program enables you to do quite a bit with a SQL Server installation. You can create entire databases and manipulate all the objects within them just through context menus.

Having a graphical interface is nice but the real work of SQL Server is done through commands issued to the service which the menu options in a program like SSMS often do for you. If you really want to be knowledgeable about SQL Server, it’s important to learn the syntax of these commands and how to write and issue them on your own.

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SQL Server for Beginners: Part III – SQL Server Management Studio

Once you have SQL Server and all the necessary updates installed, the next step is to learn how to create databases and work with them. The easiest interface available to the beginner is Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), a graphical environment where you can view and manipulate all of the databases and other objects on your SQL Server instance and perform other advanced functions.

If you installed the Express edition with Management Tools or Advanced Tools as detailed in the last chapter, you should have SSMS installed and showing in the Program Menu under whichever version of SQL Server you have installed. Just click on the program to open it.

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SQL Server for Beginners: Part II – Installing SQL Server Express

Just like with any software, SQL Server uses a standard installation program to install its components on your system. Depending on the edition that you’re using, you will be installing it from media that you purchased or from the free install packages that you can download from Microsoft’s website. Unlike other installs, the SQL Server installation can be a long process as there are a number of components, requirements and options to consider, many of which I’ll be detailing in this article.

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SQL Server for Beginners: Part I – From Desktop to Network

In an earlier series of articles, I wrote about getting started with Microsoft Access, which is one of the foremost desktop database packages available and an excellent tool for small to mid-size database projects. While it was not the first database software that I used, it was the one that took me from novice to professional status. Once I reached that level, however, I had to start learning more advanced tools in order to advance in my career and take on new projects. One important set of tools was Microsoft SQL Server which remains one of the most popular network database systems on the market.

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What You Need to Know About Database Technology

In the modern world, our daily activities follow and leave a rich trail of electronic data from e-mail and text messages to credit card transactions and medical records. At its simplest, the data could be an address book or contact list stored in a text file while more complex information such as a store’s inventory and customer information might take up terabytes of space on network servers and require full-time administrators to maintain it. Most of this data is stored in electronic databases of one kind or another where it can be searched, sorted and easily retrieved as needed.

After a basic understanding of how to work with computers, knowing the basics of how data is stored and manipulated is an important part of being technically savvy in today’s world. Whether you work with large amounts of data and need to organize it better or you need to communicate with the people who do, the better you understand the technology, the more effectively you’ll be able to face the daily challenges that come from living in a data-driven world.

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Installing SQL Server 2012 Express on Windows 8

Doing this tonight. Found out that the .Net 3.5 framework needs to be disabled by turning it off under the System Programs and Features. Otherwise, the installation is still trying to install the setup files after more than an hour. One of Windows 8’s little quirks. See this link for more …

‘Your First Guide to Database Design’ – Now available in Adobe PDF!

firstguidecoverMy latest book is now available on in Adobe PDF format. That means that even if you don’t have a Kindle or a Nook, you can STILL learn how to organize any kind of information and create your own database applications. In a world so completely dependent on the flow of information, this is a valuable career skill and a valuable perspective on how your own information is managed by others. Your First Guide to Database Design is written to present the concepts involved in database design in a clear and logical manner using everyday examples and is available for only $9.99, far less than the average technology guide. Check out the free preview on! If you’d like more information first, you can also check out the book’s official page on which contains links to the free PDF preview and all the locations where you can purchase the book for the Kindle and Nook as well.

Finally Published!

firstguidecoverIt’s finally here!  Your First Guide to Database Design is now available on and  Another PDF version will soon be available for purchase on

Your First Guide to Database Design is a clear, easy-to-use guide to relational database design for both beginners and I.T. professionals who need to know how to organize and store any amount of information on any subject. Whether you’re using SQL Server, MySQL or another database software, this book will show you how to model the data, create a system of tables and use Structured Query Language (SQL) to read and write to your new database. Your First Guide to Database Design uses multiple examples including the Job Search Plus database to help the average user understand the principles behind database design.

For more information, check out the official book page or the support page on The support page includes full-size diagrams of example databases used in the book and will be updated with answers to reader questions so be sure to bookmark it!

On software design …

firstguidecover In my upcoming book, Your First Guide to Database Design, my goal is to provide a clear guide for users at all  levels of experience on how to organize their data into an efficient database, regardless of whether they’re using a desktop database like Microsoft Access or a network software such as MySQL.

The first chapter starts out with the basic definition of a database and the various ways in which information is stored and transferred in modern systems. The rest of the book takes the user through clear, logical steps of modeling the data and creating a new database that can be used for analysis and reporting.

One of the perks of writing a book, and especially of being a self-published author, is that you can occasionally speak out on things that are important to you. An example of this can be found in the chapter on designing a user interface for your database application …

“Software users don’t like surprises as much as some designers seem to think and what looks cool and innovative to you as the designer can confuse and annoy the user. Many people have experienced this annoyance first-hand in the last few years as a certain leading software company has repeatedly reorganized the look and feel of its software products, leaving many users with the burden of having to re-learn how to do the same things they’ve always done.

“In my experience, many everyday computer users know enough to get their jobs done and that’s as much as they want to know. These people find more delight in getting their work done so they can go home to their families or out for the evening than they do in the latest tech trends. They’re far more interested in their own hobbies and diversions than they are in the ways in which a software company has found to make its products look more exciting in order to stay relevant in the marketplace. They find no joy whatsoever in playing hide-and-seek with the software functions they need. Some of them, like me, are getting to a point where the ever-escalating pace of change isn’t quite as thrilling as it used to be and familiar things are a lot more comforting. Maybe they have certain disabilities that make radical changes harder to cope with.

“What all this means to you as a designer is that your first priority, after making sure that the program doesn’t crash on start-up, is to design an interface that your users can be comfortable using everyday. It doesn’t matter if you are a lone developer creating database applications for your office to use, a corporate programmer designing enterprise software for the entire company or a software engineer designing the next software sensation; your users are your customers. Without them, your work is an intellectual exercise at best. If you deliver a product to them that causes confusion and pain, they will eventually find a way to go elsewhere.

“Does this mean that every program should look the same and that no new designs should ever be tried? Absolutely not! In over 20 years of working with computer technology, I’ve seen incredible changes in the way people interact with software. The keys to the successful changes are that they are incremental, they are useful and they are somehow already familiar to the user, whether they evolve from current designs or resemble something else in the user’s life. The concept of a desktop with folders and documents wasn’t hard for the average user to grasp. Users love relatively simple menus with clear options that they can navigate through the same way they navigate streets and building corridors. They don’t love lots of keyboard shortcuts they have to memorize or ‘helpful’ features that intrude when they’re trying to do something else. Touch screens that enable a user to move between pages or programs with a swipe of a finger or enlarge a picture by using two fingers to stretch it are fun and intuitive meaning that the steps make sense to the user because they’re likely what the user would have tried anyway.”

Writing a book, or at least doing it properly, is a fair amount of work and I’ve been working on this one for a a few months now. My goal is to have it published as an ebook by the first week of October. Check out the book’s official page for continuing updates.