SQL Server 2014 Study Guide/Tutorial

I’ve been working on getting familiar in more detail with the new features of SQL Server 2014, and the first thing I discovered is that I’m woefully out of date on all matters SQL.  I’ve worked extensively with versions 7 though 2008, less so with 2012 and none (so far) with 2014.

So, my conclusion is that I need to get up to speed yesterday. And the best way to do so is to a) use it, and b) write about it.  So over the next few months I’ll be posting a multipart study guide, aimed at learning the basics of SQL Server with a focus on version 2014.

I’m going to start with the very basics: what are tables, how to create, modify, delete, views, constraints and more. As my blueprint I’m going to work off the Microsoft Official Curriculum, because as part of renewing my Microsoft Certified Trainer certification, I’ve got to get back up to snuff on my own certifications.

My plan for now is to work off the 70-461 exam (Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012) since the SQL 2014 exams aren’t out yet, but we’ll also cover new features. In the meantime, as of the data of this writing, here are the objectives:

Skills measured

This exam measures your ability to accomplish the technical tasks listed below. The percentages indicate the relative weight of each major topic area on the exam. The higher the percentage, the more questions you are likely to see on that content area on the exam.

Please note that the questions may test on, but will not be limited to, the topics described in the bulleted text.


Create database objects (24%)

  • Create and alter tables using T-SQL syntax (simple statements)
    • Create tables without using the built in tools; ALTER; DROP; ALTER COLUMN; CREATE
  • Create and alter views (simple statements)
    • Create indexed views; create views without using the built in tools; CREATE, ALTER, DROP
  • Design views
    • Ensure code non regression by keeping consistent signature for procedure, views and function (interfaces); security implications
  • Create and modify constraints (simple statements)
    • Create constraints on tables; define constraints; unique constraints; default constraints; primary and foreign key constraints
  • Create and alter DML triggers.
    • Inserted and deleted tables; nested triggers; types of triggers; update functions; handle multiple rows in a session; performance implications of triggers

Preparation resources

Work with data (27%)

  • Query data by using SELECT statements
    • Use the ranking function to select top(X) rows for multiple categories in a single query; write and perform queries efficiently using the new (SQL 2005/8->) code items such as synonyms, and joins (except, intersect); implement logic which uses dynamic SQL and system metadata; write efficient, technically complex SQL queries, including all types of joins versus the use of derived tables; determine what code may or may not execute based on the tables provided; given a table with constraints, determine which statement set would load a table; use and understand different data access technologies; case versus isnull versus coalesce
  • Implement sub-queries
    • Identify problematic elements in query plans; pivot and unpivot; apply operator; cte statement; with statement
  • Implement data types
    • Use appropriate data; understand the uses and limitations of each data type; impact of GUID (newid, newsequentialid) on database performance, when to use what data type for columns
  • Implement aggregate queries
    • New analytic functions; grouping sets; spatial aggregates; apply ranking functions
  • Query and manage XML data
    • Understand XML datatypes and their schemas and interop w/, limitations and restrictions; implement XML schemas and handling of XML data; XML data: how to handle it in SQL Server and when and when not to use it, including XML namespaces; import and export XML; XML indexing

Preparation resources

Modify data (24%)

  • Create and alter stored procedures (simple statements)
    • Write a stored procedure to meet a given set of requirements; branching logic; create stored procedures and other programmatic objects; techniques for developing stored procedures; different types of storeproc result; create stored procedure for data access layer; program stored procedures, triggers, functions with T-SQL
  • Modify data by using INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE statements
    • Given a set of code with defaults, constraints, and triggers, determine the output of a set of DDL; know which SQL statements are best to solve common requirements; use output statement
  • Combine datasets
    • Difference between UNION and UNION all; case versus isnull versus coalesce; modify data by using MERGE statements
  • Work with functions
    • Understand deterministic, non-deterministic functions; scalar and table values; apply built-in scalar functions; create and alter user-defined functions (UDFs)

Preparation resources

Troubleshoot and optimize (25%)

  • Optimize queries
    • Understand statistics; read query plans; plan guides; DMVs; hints; statistics IO; dynamic vs. parameterized queries; describe the different join types (HASH, MERGE, LOOP) and describe the scenarios they would be used in
  • Manage transactions
    • Mark a transaction; understand begin tran, commit, and rollback; implicit vs explicit transactions; isolation levels; scope and type of locks; trancount
  • Evaluate the use of row-based operations vs. set-based operations
    • When to use cursors; impact of scalar UDFs; combine multiple DML operations
  • Implement error handling
    • Implement try/catch/throw; use set based rather than row based logic; transaction management

Preparation resources

The items under “preparation resources” under each heading link back to relevant MSDN articles.



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