SQL Server 2014

SQL Server 2014
Grey Matter
Issue 63 | Summer 2014
Building on 31 years of software know how
SQL Server 2014
Microsoft’s flagship database offers new
ways to access and analyse your data,
wherever it may be stored
Managing the classroom
Software for schools and colleges
Tooled up
Visual Studio 2013 plug-ins for faster coding
See page 8
for details
Editor:...................................................................... Matt Nicholson
Technical Editors:... Sean Wilson, Paul Edwards
News Editor:....................................................... Paul Stephens
Publisher:................................................................... Andrew King
Contributors:.....................................................Tim Anderson,
Simon Bisson, Mary Branscombe,
Jon Honeyball, Graham Keitch,
Paul Stephens, Simon Williams
Design and layout:...................................... Jason Stanley
Illustration:.............................................................Sholto Walker
Web Design:......................................................... Jason Stanley
Advertising & Circulation
Marketing:....................... Anna Roach, Emma Cottle,
Ash Khagram
Tel: 01364 654100
Email: [email protected]
HardCopy is edited for Grey Matter three
times a year by Matt Publishing of Bristol. It
is printed by Pepper Communications Ltd. of
Plymouth and requested by 15,000 readers.
Copyright © 2014 Grey Matter Ltd. All rights
reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced in any form without prior
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All trademarks acknowledged.
HardCopy is a trademark and Grey Matter a
registered trademark owned by Grey Matter
Limited. While all reasonable attempts are
made to ensure accuracy, Grey Matter and
Matt Publishing disclaim any liability
whatsoever for any use of information
herein. Prices exclude VAT unless specified.
Cover Image: Jason Stanley
Advertisers Index
12 Red Gate
21 Visual Studio 2013
24 Grey Matter Academic
26 Red Gate
27 Office 365
When we look back at the first few decades of the 21st
century, in a couple of decades from now, what will be our
take on the Internet? Like most people, I have always assumed that it
will continue to grow, getting faster and more ubiquitous as
technologies develop, and burgeoning with endpoints as the Internet
of Things comes on line, but essentially the same as now. However
recently I have begun wondering whether the view might be
somewhat different: that instead we will look back with fondness at an
era when the Internet blossomed, before falling apart, an inevitable
victim of the machinations of governments and corporations.
The Internet was recently described by Vladimir Putin as a “CIA
project”, and he does have a point. It did indeed originate in a US
government funded project to link organisations involved in the Cold
War and the Space Race. However those organisations included the
Stanford Research Institute, the University of Utah, MIT and Harvard,
where the students who went on to create many of the technologies
we now take for granted were given unprecedented levels of funding
to research almost anything they wanted.
Military communications moved to MILNET in 1983, and then in
the late 1980s, once what remained had developed into something
capable of handling the traffic, the process of “commercialising and
privatising” began. What we now call the Internet was officially
opened for “private and business use” in 1992, and the first websites
appeared shortly after. Thanks to the original investment of US
taxpayers’ money, and the relatively enlightened manner in which it
was handed over to the private sector, we now have a network that
spans the globe and has in general been driven by a desire to create a
level and secure playing field for everyone.
However that network is now under threat. Snowden’s revelations
reveal that not only the National Security Agency but intelligence
agencies around the world have been ‘hacking the Internet’ with gay
abandon, often with the cooperation of the companies that run it. As
The Economist stated in its article ‘The Snowden effect’ (24 Jan 2014),
“the big consequence ... will be that countries and companies will
erect borders of sorts in cyberspace.” Then there is the Federal
Communication Commission which is looking to allow broadband
companies to charge companies for higher speed connections, so
creating a multi-tier Internet that gives priority to big business. And
finally there’s the shadowy Trans-Pacific Partnership which has designs
on our freedom of speech and right to privacy. These are complex
issues which makes it difficult to raise awareness, but unless we do, we
won’t know what we stood to lose until it’s already gone.
Matt Nicholson, Editor, HardCopy
Grey Matter Limited
Prigg Meadow,
Devon, TQ13 7DF, UK
[email protected]
grey matter
software know how
Software News
Acronis, Embarcadero
Kaspersky and more.
News in brief
and competition winners.
Win an Apple iPad mini!
SQL Server 2014
Inside Microsoft’s flagship
Project management
Going beyond email.
Tooled up
Coding plug-ins for Visual
Studio 2013.
Managing the classroom
Software for schools,
colleges and universities.
Inside Data
What’s on offer from
Oracle Database 12c.
Straight talking
Tim Anderson puzzles out
the future of Windows.
And Another Thing
Jon Honeyball has
problems with the cloud.
Short Cuts
Views from the edge.
Register Now!
HardCopy magazine is published three times
a year. Make sure you don’t miss out by
registering or updating your details at
Read HardCopy online
To view buyer’s guides, news, blogs and
forums go to HardCopy online at
Matt Nicholson
Editor, HardCopy
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
Software News
Kaspersky launches safe browser for Windows Phone
Kaspersky • www.greymatter.com/publisher/kaspersky-lab-uk
Moscow-based security specialist
Kaspersky Lab has added to its growing
mobile app portfolio with the release of
Kaspersky Safe Browser for Windows Phone, a
web browser featuring real-time phishing
protection and content filtering. Back in the
data centre Kaspersky has upgraded its Security
for Linux Mail Center offering, adding new
filtering and threat detection techniques plus
full integration with the company’s Security
Center cross-network management console.
Kaspersky Safe Browser runs on Windows
Phone 8.0 and later, and uses real-time
information from the cloud-based Kaspersky
Security Network to identify and block new
phishing sites and other threats. Meanwhile
parental controls allow blocking of sites by
categories such as pornography, violence and
social networking, with Kaspersky suggesting
that it should be added to Kid’s Corner, the
special safe children’s area on Windows Phone
devices. The new browser follows a version for
iOS released last October, and the company is
rumoured to have a Windows Phone version of
its comprehensive Internet Security for Android
suite currently in certification.
Maintenance Pack 1 for Kaspersky’s Linux
Mail Security package includes integration with
the Kaspersky Security Network, improving the
detection of spam and phishing links. New URL
analysis techniques provide further protection,
especially where legitimate senders have been
recently compromised. Meanwhile a new mail
filtering option allows blocking or limiting of
mass mailings even from legitimate sources not
flagged as spam. Kaspersky Security for Linux
Mail Server is now visible from the company’s
Security Center central administration console,
while existing web console and command-line
interfaces are still supported.
Embarcadero brings C++ to Android
Embarcadero • www.greymatter.com/hc/Embarcadero/
Tools vendor Embarcadero has released
RAD Studio XE6, a new version of its
multi-language, write-once-compile-for-many
development suite which it claims is the first to
offer C++ development across Windows,
Macintosh, Android and iOS platforms. The
suite also includes help for Windows VCL
developers moving to mobile and from
Windows XP, as well as improved cloud
RAD Studio XE6 includes device designer
templates for Google Glass apps.
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
connectivity and in-app purchase support.
In a separate move, Embarcadero has
launched Appmethod, a Firemonkey-only
(non-VCL) version of RAD Studio for developers
targeting mobile without legacy
RAD Studio XE6 comes hot on the heels of
last spring’s XE4 and autumn’s XE5 (see Hard
Copy issue 61), adding the promised
cross-platform C++ app compilation to its
existing Delphi capabilities. Embarcadero
includes Android 4.4 (KitKat) and wearable
devices such as Google Glass and on its list of
deployment targets.
VCL developers wondering how to port to
mobile are helped by new App
Tethering components which
allow ‘companion’ apps on mobiles
to interact remotely with existing
Windows applications, while
Delphi VCL apps running on
Windows Tablets get device sensor
components including GPS and
accelerometer. New VCL components also allow
developers to give Win XP apps a Win 7/8.1 look
and feel with multi-windowing and taskbar
interaction, as well as delivering 64-bit versions
of 32-bit apps.
RAD Studio XE6 includes components for
integration with BaaS (Backend-as-a-Service)
providers Kinvey.com and Parse.com, including
push notifications, storage and user
Also new are features for in-app purchase
and advertising on iOS and Android, with
support for ad networks including Google
AdMod and Apple IAd.
Shortly before the RAD Studio XE6 launch,
Embarcadero announced Appmethod, a tools
suite aimed at developers who are focussed on
mobile and don’t need support for VCL. Using
the RAD Studio IDE and compilers, it’s available
on subscription only, and currently supports
Delphi only for cross-platform development,
although C++ is promised soon.
Intel adds Windows hosting for System Studio 2014
Intel • www.greymatter.com/Intel/
A year ago Intel launched System Studio
2013, a Linux-based compiler-and-tools
suite for developing embedded systems which
added support for Intel’s Core and Xenon
processors to the company’s previous focus on
Atom chips. Now it’s released System Studio
2014, with new features including Windows
versions of the tools, new target platforms
including the Yocto Project and Intel’s Tizen
joint-venture OS, and new target hardware
including Intel’s Quark low-power “Internet of
Things” (IoT) processor.
Intel System Studio 2014 includes C++
Compilers for embedded Linux and Android
(both version 14.0), Integrated Performance
Primitives 8.1, Math Kernel Library 11.1, the
VTune Amplifier 2014 performance analyzer
and Inspector 2014 memory/thread analyzer,
GNU and JTAG debuggers and SVEN event
tracer. Target OS coverage is improved with
support for Intel’s Wind River Linux 4.0 to 6.0,
the Yocto Project 1.5 embedded Linux system
builder, Android 4.0 to 4.4 and Tizen IVI, the
version of the Intel/Samsung joint venture
mobile OS aimed at In-Vehicle Infotainment
New processor support includes the latest
Intel Atom E3000 and Z3000 (Bay Trail) and
C2000 (Avoton) chips, fourth
generation Core (Haswell) and the
32-bit, energy efficient Quark X1000
(Clanton) System on a Chip aimed at
wearables and other ultra-portable
applications. Other new features
include automated Eclipse
integration, improved
OpenEmbedded compatibility,
btrace support in the GNU debugger, Android
NDK R9 integration and new signal processing
features in the Performance Primitives library.
The Windows versions of the tools require
Windows 7 or later.
Intel’s low-energy
Quark X1000
System on a Chip.
Acronis targets VARs with Backup as a Service
Acronis • www.greymatter.com/hc/Acronis/
Massachusetts-based data security
vendor Acronis has launched Backup as
a Service, a cloud-based, multi-platform backup
and disaster recovery system aimed at service
providers and value added resellers who want
to integrate backup capabilities into their cloud
and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings.
Key features include flexible storage, physical/
virtual server support, co-branding options and
a pay-as-you-go business model with no upfront
Acronis Backup as a Service is managed
from a web-based control panel which allows
end users to define departments and backup
management roles. Backups can be made to
Acronis Cloud or to service providers’ own
storage, and the system can be white-labelled
or co-branded. Costs are based entirely on
usage, with no minimum revenue or licence
period commitments. The Service is based on
Acronis’s AnyData and Backup Advanced
cross-platform technologies, and supports
Windows and Linux plus VMWare and Hyper-V
hypervisors. Technical training and marketing
support for service providers is available from
“Our usage-based service eliminates
upfront investments,” said Rene Oldenbeuving,
Acronis’s’ general manager of Cloud business.
“Costs only increase when revenue increases,
giving service providers a competitive solution
that puts them on equal footing with the
biggest cloud businesses. Add in our proven
image technology and you have one of the only
file-based recovery and bare metal recovery
offerings in a single cloud solution.”
CA launches “first management cloud for mobility”
CA Technologies • www.greymatter.com/hc/CA/
Hot on the heels of selling its ERwin data
modelling package to Embarcadero (see
overleaf), New York-based CA Technologies has
shifted its focus firmly to mobile with the launch
of Management Cloud for Mobility, a portfolio of
three cloud-delivered suites covering mobile
device management, mobile application
development and the emerging Internet of
CA’s Enterprise Mobility Management suite
uses the company’s Smart Containerization
technology to secure mobile devices,
applications and data, with features including
access control policies, file synchronisation and
secure access to enterprise data repositories and
email systems. The system also supports
geofencing and timefencing, remote app
locking and wiping, risk monitoring and remote
control of apps.
The Mobile DevOps suite aims to accelerate
the delivery of custom mobile apps. CA Layer 7
API Portal simplifies the publication of secure
remote APIs for use by in-house and external
applications, while CA Layer 7 Mobile Access
Gateway provides authentication and
datacenter protection. CA LISA Test for Mobile
provides an “exhaustive” list of user scenarios for
web and mobile app testing, while CA Lisa
Service Virtualisation provides simulated mobile
app environments.
CA describes its Enterprise IoT (Internet of
Things) Suite as coming “in the near future”,
saying that it will “enable enterprises to deploy
Internet-connected devices and eventually
manage and secure billions of machine-tomachine (M2M) interactions.” CA is offering
flexible purchase options for the various
Management Cloud for Mobility components.
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
News in brief
The greatest story ever told!
Ever wondered who really
invented the GUI, or how
mainframe giant IBM set the
standard for personal computers,
or how Steve Jobs managed to
turn Apple into the world’s most
profitable company? The answers
to these and many more
questions are all in a new book by
HardCopy editor Matt Nicholson.
It’s no dry textbook. Instead
Matt tells a story, starting in the
early 1970s and populated by
visionaries, geeks, hard-nosed businesspeople and the occasional
wheeler-dealer, as they do battle armed with technology that’s doubling
in capacity every couple of years. When Computing Got Personal is
available from Amazon or to order from most booksellers. Recommended
price £14.99 in paperback or £4.99 on Kindle, ISBN 978-0992777418.
Embarcadero buys CA Erwin data modelling package
Development tools vendor Embarcadero has purchased the CA Erwin
data modelling tool from CA Technologies. CA Erwin traces its roots back
to the late 1980s and is widely regarded as the leading data modelling
system. Its installation alongside Embarcadero’s own ER/Studio package
will make data modelling the largest part of the company’s business.
Meanwhile CA (formerly Computer Associates) will concentrate on core
markets including IT Business Management and Security across
mainframe, distributed, cloud and mobile.
Grey Matter on the road
In February, Grey Matter ran a highly successful Visual Studio event at
Microsoft UK’s offices in Reading, while the end of March saw GM
partnered with
Microsoft, Intel, Flexera
and Embarcadero for
DevWeek 2014 in
London. Closer to
home in Exeter, Grey
Matter supported SQL
Saturday, a two-day (it
actually started on
Friday) event of over 30
training sessions
organised by the South West chapter of the Professional Association for
SQL Server (PASS).
Grey Matter will be at the 2014 Device Developer’s Conference in
Bristol and Cambridge between 20 May and 5 June, and at DDD South
West, a free one day technical event organised by developers for
developers in Bristol on 17 May.
GFI Cloud helps you patch things up
GFI has updated its award-winning GFI Cloud security suite, with
enhanced performance monitoring and extra patch management
features. Administrators can now monitor CPU utilisation, memory and
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
Competition Winner
The winner of issue 62’s competition prize, a Samsung Chromebook
Wifi courtesy of Grey Matter, is Andy Hodgson. Well done, Andy!
disk performance, and use more powerful reporting tools including policy
violation alerts. The service’s patch management system now supports 20
additional third-party applications, including the US National Vulnerability
Database’s 12 most vulnerable applications in 2013. Aimed at SMEs, GFI
Cloud is managed using a web-based console.
Microsoft gets Personal with new Office 365 subscription
Microsoft has launched Office 365 Personal, a new subscription to its
cloud-based productivity suite that allows use on a single computer (PC
or Mac) plus a single tablet (Windows or iPad). The new package slots in
below the five-user Office 365 Home Premium offering, which is renamed
Office 365 Home. Both products include 60 minutes of free international
Skype calls per month and 20 GB of additional OneDrive storage.
Oracle boost for Windows Azure and Hyper-V
Under a new Enterprise Partnership between Oracle and Microsoft, Oracle
software is now available on Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud platform,
and officially certified and supported on Windows Hyper-V virtualisation.
Oracle Database (11g and 12c), Oracle WebLogic Server and Java (JDK 6
and 7) can either be installed on Windows Azure using customers’ own
Oracle licences, or bought as licence-included virtual images from
Microsoft, with Oracle support available in both cases. Oracle Linux is also
now officially supported on Azure and Hyper-V.
SAP goes super-size with world’s largest data warehouse
Business software giant SAP has taken big data to the extreme by building
the world’s largest data warehouse. The 12.1 PetaByte (12,390 terabytes)
installation was built using SAP’s HANA in-memory computing platform
and IQ relational database, running on HP DL580 servers under Red Hat
Enterprise Linux. To ensure its credentials are beyond doubt, the system
has been independently audited and officially recognised by The Guinness
Book of Records.
PRTG scoops multiple honours at Network Computing Awards
This year’s Network Computing Awards in London proved to be a good
night for network management specialists Paessler AG, who scooped two
awards plus a runner up position. Its PRTG monitor suite was voted not
only Network Management Product of the Year but also Product of the
Year overall, beating industry giants Dell and IBM in the process. PRTG also
came second in the ‘Testing and Monitoring Product of the Year’ category.
Condusiv makes acceleration easy to manage
Condusiv Technologies has released V-locity 5, a version of its disk I/O
acceleration package aimed at physical and virtual servers and sporting a
new management console with asset management and reporting built in.
The Windows-based, software-only system uses cacheing and write
optimisation to achieve performance gains from 50 to 300 percent or
more. A simplified installation system can deploy to multiple servers in
just five clicks, and reporting includes email alerts based on customised
application performance profiles.
Now Available
Intel Volume Licensing Program
Benefits of joining the Intel Volume Licencing Program:
Discounted, consistent and predictable pricing spread
over three years
Co-term all licences, so all your renewals and upgrades
are due at the same time
Align your Intel Software Licensing with Microsoft
Visual Studio Open Value Licensing
Better license asset management and compliance
Maintenance and software upgrades throughout the
term of your agreement
The Intel Volume Licencing Programme is available with Intel
Parallel Studio XE and Intel Cluster Studio XE for new and
existing customers.
For more information on the Intel Volume Licensing Program
and to find out about pricing please call 01364 654100.
Access a free 30 day trial of Intel
Parallel Studio XE and start
experiencing the next-generation of
software development tools – visit:
The Intel Volume Licensing Program is only available
for agreements over $15,000 or payments of $5,000 per year.
WIN a 32GB iPad Mini Wifi from Netop!
One of the strengths of Netop’s classroom
management software is its ability to work with the
Apple iPad, so our prize is particularly appropriate. This 32GB
iPad Mini Wifi comes with a 7.9-inch Retina display driven by
the new 64-bit A7 processor, and plenty of apps whether
you’re at work, at play or in the classroom.
We will also accept entries submitted online at
To enter our competition, answer the question below, fill out
the rest of the form and send it to:
Netop iPad Mini Competition
Grey Matter Ltd
Prigg Meadow
Devon TQ13 7DF
entry form
issue 63
iPad Mini Wifi
Question: Which of the following is NOT a feature of Netop Vision 8?
A: Remote shutdown and wake-up
B: Showcase a student’s screen
C: Remote student alarm clock
Your details
____________________________ Postcode_______________________
q I would like to receive HardCopy magazine.
q Please send me information on products or services that I might find
Are you working for an educational organisation?
q Yes
q No
If yes, what is the name of the organisation?
How many laptops and computers are there in your organisation?
Do you currently use any remote classroom computer control
q Yes
q No
useful (note that we keep your information private and will not sell or rent
If yes, what software do you use?
your data for marketing purposes)
1. 2. 3. 4. No purchase necessary for entry to this competition.
The prize is one 32GB iPad Mini Wifi (colour may vary from that shown). There is no cash alternative.
Completed entries must be received by Friday 25 July 2014.
Entries submitted online at www.greymatter.com/hc/competition or completed on a photocopy of
this page will be accepted.
5. Only one entry will be accepted per person.
6. Winner is decided by random draw from correct entries received by the closing date.
7. Winner will be announced on Monday 28 July 2014 and notified by email or telephone.
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
8. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the
9. Employees of organisations connected with this competition are not eligible for entry.
10. Netop and Grey Matter reserve the right to use the winner’s name in promotional
The competition promoter is Grey Matter Ltd, Prigg Meadow, Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7DF.
Teaching with technology
has never been easier
Teachers around the world rely
on classroom management
software to make teaching
with technology easier and
more effective. Netop Vision,
the world’s most popular
classroom management
software, is an essential tool
for teaching with computers
and mobile devices.
Share your PC screen with
student iPads and tablets.
Vision Pro combines powerful classroom management features
with tools for blended learning and flipped classrooms that improve
educational outcomes in today’s digital learning environments.
Vision Pro Learning Centre: new extension to Vision Pro.
Create assessments anywhere, run quizzes during class time, or assign
tests outside of the classroom. The Vision Pro Learning Centre provides
automatic scoring, and compiles results data in easy-to-use reports.
Easily accessible from the Vision Pro navigation bar, no installation
Call our Education Specialist Neil Johnson on 01364 655173
or visit: www.greymatter.com/hc/Netop-Vision for more details
SQL Server 2014
Tim Anderson checks out the latest version of
Microsoft’s flagship database.
A freelance journalist
since 1992, Tim
Anderson covers
a wide range of
technical topics and
is well versed in
modern programming
tools, techniques
and technologies.
His recent work
has appeared in
publications including
Guardian Technology,
The Register,
Computer Weekly,
Hardcopy, vnunet.
com, IT Expert and
ITJOBLOG, as well as
his own popular blog
at www.itwriting.com.
SQL Server is Microsoft’s flagship
database product and has been a key
part of the company’s platform for over 20
years. It comes in multiple editions ranging
from a free Express edition, limited to 1GB RAM
and 10GB maximum database size, up to the
Enterprise edition which is limited only by the
operating system and supports a wide range of
features for scalability, high availability,
management, integration, data analysis and
reporting. The language of SQL Server is
Transact-SQL (T-SQL), and on the
programmability side there is support for .NET
stored procedures. There is also PowerPivot for
Excel for modelling and analysing data.
SQL Server has always been a robust and
fast relational database engine, and Microsoft
has carefully evolved the product to scale to
today’s high data volumes and business
analysis requirements. The new version has two
areas of particular focus. One is a huge new
feature, namely in-memory OLTP, which can
speed up queries by a factor of 30 in certain
scenarios. Real-world examples tend to give less
spectacular but still worthwhile speed
improvements. The other important feature is
its extensive integration with Microsoft’s cloud
platform, Azure.
use new algorithms that no longer need to take
disk reads and locks into account. Indexes are
also in-memory and can be hash indexes rather
than the usual B-trees. Optimistic concurrency
means that waits and locks are minimised.
In-memory tables still comply with ACID
(Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability)
unless you specify non-durable tables.
Non-durable tables are useful for certain
scenarios, such as real-time reporting where
you might not need to store the data
permanently. Otherwise, the in-memory engine
returns data to disk in the form of a transaction
log and checkpoint streams, which between
them enable recovery in the event of a problem
such as unexpected loss of power.
You can mix in-memory and disk-based
tables in a single database, and query across
them. The main requirement is that you add a
memory-optimised filegroup to the database.
Once you’ve done that you can create tables
non-durable table, you can add
There are a few downsides to in-memory
tables. One is that they have to fit in memory.
Microsoft suggests having twice as much
memory as the size of your data. If memory
runs out, there is no failover to disk;
transactions simply stop working. You can use
the SQL Server Resource Governor to assign
and control the amount of memory a database
can use.
In addition, the total size of all durable
tables must not exceed 250GB, and Microsoft
states that systems should have no more than 4
processor sockets and 60 cores for optimal
Another issue is that only a subset of T-SQL
is supported for in-memory tables. Most
existing stored procedures will need some
porting effort, as will tables that you move to
in-memory. For example, IDENTITY columns are
only partially supported, FOREIGN KEY, CHECK
and UNIQUE constraints are not supported,
ALTER INDEX does not work, SELECT INTO is not
supported, and so on. Microsoft has a list of
problem keywords and suggested workarounds
at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/
Finally, in-memory OLTP is only supported
in the Enterprise or Developer editions of SQL
Server. This makes the new features in SQL
Server 2014 rather thin in the other editions.
Despite these limitations, the potential
speed increase from in-memory OLTP is such
that users will be able to live with some issues
in this first release.
In-Memory OLTP
Codenamed ‘Hekaton’, in-memory OLTP
(On-line Transaction Processing) is more than
just SQL Server with its data all held in memory.
It is better to think of it as a new in-memory
database engine that supports a substantial
subset of T-SQL, and has the ability to compile
stored procedures to native code for a further
performance gain.
The reason Microsoft needed to create a
new database engine is that such techniques
require a different approach. A disk-based
engine copies data from disk into memory,
does something with it, and then saves it back
to disk. By contrast, the Hekaton engine knows
that all its data is already in memory and can be
accessed directly. The engine is optimised to
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
Creating an Azure storage account for a SQL Server database.
Integration with Azure
A key feature of SQL Server 2014 is its
integration with Microsoft Azure. There are
several ways you can do this.
One, which sounds odd at first, is the ability
to create and attach a database whose files
reside on Azure blob storage. You can do this
using SQL Server either running on-premise or
from an Azure virtual machine (VM), although it
is more the latter scenario that Microsoft has in
mind, since attaching SQL Server files over the
Internet gives poor latency. That said, smart
caching means that performance can be
tolerable, and let you easily transfer data in or
out of Microsoft’s cloud.
Used in the context of SQL Server running
on Azure VMs, blob storage does have
advantages. This approach avoids Azure
additional disks, and uses the virtual network
driver directly to access the database files,
increasing the available IOPS (I/O Per Second). It
is also easy to detach database files from one
SQL Server instance and attach them to another,
enabling high availability, which is particularly
useful since failover clusters are not supported
by Azure VMs.
There are some limitations too. In-Memory
OLTP is not supported, Filestream (data which
resides in external files rather than in the
database files) is not supported, and Azure blob
storage cannot use geo-replication. The
maximum size of a single file in blob storage is
1TB, though you can use as many blobs as you
You implement SQL Server data files in
Azure by generating a key string called a Shared
Access Signature, which gives limited access to
Azure storage, and storing this in the SQL Server
credential manager. Once done, you can simply
use the URL of the blob storage as the filename
for database files in T-SQL. There is also an
option to encrypt the database for security
using Transparent Data Encryption (TDE).
SQL Server 2014 also has new support for
instances running on Azure VMs, without the
use of blob storage. A Deploy SQL Server
Database to Windows Azure VM wizard walks
you through the steps and will even create a
new VM. There are some preparatory steps, such
as setting up an Azure management certificate
or downloading a publish profile and opening
the necessary management port on Azure.
Backup to Azure is a feature introduced in
SQL Server 2012, but now enhanced. Using
Backup to Azure, you can backup or restore
using Azure blob storage. The main requirement
is simply an Azure blob storage account. You can
use T-SQL, or select ‘Back up to URL’ in the
Management Studio Back Up Database wizard.
A related feature is Managed Backup. This is
SQL Server licensing options
There are six editions of SQL Server, each of which can be licensed in various ways.
The first licensing model is server plus CAL, where you buy a license for each server installation and a Client Access
License (CAL) for each user or device accessing the installation. One CAL covers multiple SQL Server editions up to the
version of the CAL, so a 2014 CAL allows you to access SQL Server 2012 or 2008, but not vice versa.
Alternatively, you can license SQL Server per CPU core. You buy a license for each core in the server, with each
physical processor considered to have a minimum of 4 cores. No CALs are required. SQL Server Enterprise Edition can only
be licensed per core.
Installing SQL Server on a virtual machine brings more options. You can license with server plus CAL (for editions
which support this), or you can license per core, based on the number of virtual cores, again with a minimum of four per
VM. Alternatively, you can fully license the host server or server farm with Enterprise Edition core licenses and Software
Assurance (SA), in which case you can run unlimited VMs with SQL Server. This last option is the best for a private cloud.
For more complex scenarios, contact a licensing specialist such as Grey Matter for advice.
SQL Server Enterprise is the premier edition with many exclusive high availability and scalability features, including
always on availability groups, mirrored backups, hot add memory and CPU, table and index partitioning, resource
governor, and the hot new in-memory OLTP. You also need the Enterprise edition for high performance adapters for
Oracle, Teradata, SAP and others, high performance transforms such as fuzzy grouping and lookup transformations, and
data warehousing features including xVelocity memory optimised columnstores.
Enterprise has a maximum database size of 524 Petabytes (equivalent to 524,000 Terabytes). Memory and compute
capacity is defined as “operating system maximum”. Licensing is per core only.
The Business Intelligence edition is designed for data analysis and reporting, and has some features for which you
need either this or the Enterprise edition. These include full Reporting Services, Master Data Services, Data Quality
Services, Tabular BI Semantic Model features, PowerPivot for SharePoint, Data mining features such as cross validation,
advanced data mining configuration and tuning, parallel model processing and sequence prediction.
This edition is limited to 128GB memory per database engine instance, and the lesser of 4 CPU sockets or 16 cores,
but there are no other compute limits. Licensing is Server plus CAL only.
The Standard edition is designed for general purpose use with the same core engine and T-SQL language, and many
of the same management tools as Enterprise. It has Failover Cluster support for 2 nodes only, replication support, full
programmability, Multidimensional BI Semantic Model, basic data mining tools and basic reporting services.
The Standard edition is limited to 64GB memory per database engine instance and the lesser of 4 sockets or 16 cores.
Licensing is either per core, or server plus CAL.
The Web edition is designed for third party service providers hosting web applications. It has the same compute and
RAM limits as the Standard edition, and similar features though with some restrictions, such as subscriber-only replication,
and no BI or Data mining support. Licensing is only available through a Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA).
The free Express edition is for small-scale applications and websites, and is limited to a database size of 10GB, 1GB
RAM per database engine instance, and the lesser of 1 socket or 4 cores. The Express edition with Advanced Services
includes full text and semantic search, SQL Server Data Tools and basic Reporting Services.
SQL Server Developer Edition has the same features as the Enterprise edition, but is licensed only for development
use. Licensing is per-developer. There is also ISV Royalty Licensing For ISVs and SIs building unified solutions on SQL
a service accessed from SQL Server
Management Studio, and is aimed at small
businesses needing a simple solution for off-site
backup. Managed Backup is built into SQL
Server 2014 using stored procedures and also
relies on the SQL Server Agent. Presuming you
have set up an Azure blob storage account, you
can run the wizard and simply specify a
retention period (default 30 days) in order to
have the service backup all databases to Azure.
There is also an encryption option.
The documentation states that “The type of
backups scheduled and the backup frequency is
determined based on the workload of the
database.” Looking in more detail, this include a
full database backup at least weekly, and a
transaction log backup every two hours, or
more often if the database is particularly active.
You can monitor managed backup by
running queries using specified stored
procedures, and by enabling Database Mail and
configuring email notifications. If you set it up
using T-SQL you can configure Managed
Backup per-database, rather than to backup up
all databases.
Managed Backup works for both
on-premise SQL Server and instances running
in Azure virtual machines, but it is particularly
recommended for Azure virtual machines since
latency is low.
Clustered Columnstore Indexes
Microsoft introduced columnstore indexes in
SQL Server 2012. Columnstore indexes are
in-memory indexes that are oriented
column-wise, which is more efficient for
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
12 tools for simpler, faster SQL Server
development with the Red Gate SQL
Developer Bundle
Individually, each of the 12 tools target and help to simplify a
specific point problem. In the bundle, the tools come together
to comprehensively support your core SQL development activities.
Tools in the SQL Developer Bundle:
SQL Source Control
SQL Compare Pro
SQL Data Compare Pro
SQL Prompt
SQL Data Generator
SQL Dependency Tracker
SQL Multi Script Unlimited
SQL Search
SQL Packager
SQL Connect
SQL Test
The SQL Developer Bundle not only gives you a complete range
of SQL developer tools but also offers up to 60% saving off the
individual tool purchase price.
Find out more visit www.greymatter.com/hc/SQL-Dev-Bundle
or call 01364 654100
Choosing the right Edition
Business Intelligence
Target Users
General purpose
database applications,
same core SQL Server
Data analysts,
business users
needing advanced
applications, larger
businesses, private
Application developers
using SQL Server with
Microsoft tools and
Unique features
Management tools,
full programmability,
basic data mining
tools, basic reporting
services, Failover
Cluster support for 2
nodes only.
Full Reporting
Services, Data Quality
Services, PowerPivot
for SharePoint, Data
No memory or CPU
limits, In-memory
OLTP, always-on
availablity, data
warehousing, full
partitioning support
and more.
All the features of
Enterprise Edition but
licensed for test and
development only.
Download any edition
of SQL Server for test
and development.
Some compute and
memory limits. no
in-memory OLTP.
Must be licensed
Server+Cal. Some
compute and
memory limits.
Only choice for
commercial user of
full-featured SQL
MSDN may be better
value if you need
other Microsoft
resources. No
commercial use.
Developer access to all
SQL Server editions
comes with all Visual
Studio with MSDN
subscriptions, and with
MSDN Platforms.
selecting only a few columns from a table. They
are best suited for queries which scan the full
table, typically for data warehouse applications,
rather than queries which fetch only a small
subset of data. In the right application, they can
boost performance by up to ten times. Another
advantage of column-wise indexes is better data
compression, since values in each column tend
to be similar.
The columnstore indexes in SQL Server
2012 are non-clustered and cannot be updated,
other than by completely rebuilding the index.
Non-clustered columnstore indexes can be
combined with other indexes, and can be
configured to index a subset of the columns in
the table.
New in SQL Server 2014 Enterprise edition
is the clustered columnstore index. This is an
updateable index that is also the primary
storage method for the table. It must index all
columns and cannot be combined with any
other index. Like the nonclustered columnstore
index, it is an in-memory technology capable of
excellent data warehouse performance.
Another way of looking at this is to view a
clustered columnstore index as a specialist
in-memory table type suited for data
warehouse queries and updates. You create a
clustered columnstore index from an existing
row-wise table, at which point the table is
converted. If you then drop the index, SQL
Server converts it back to a row-wise table.
Although they are updateable, clustered
columnstore indexes become fragmented over
time if updated, so a periodic index rebuild is
Worth upgrading?
The ‘What’s new’ list for SQL Server 2014 is
dominated by the in-memory OLTP feature,
which can deliver remarkable performance
benefits, provided that you have the Enterprise
edition and a suitable application. This makes it
a must-have upgrade for those who can use it,
but less compelling otherwise, although
improved Azure integration is also a significant
The updateable clustered columnstore
index is an important data warehousing feature.
Another feature worth a mention is the Buffer
Pool Extension, which lets you use SSD (Solid
State Drive) storage as extra memory.
The core of SQL Server is little changed in
this release, and while that is no bad thing
considering what a solid product it is, it does
make this a minor release in the event that you
are not in a position to make good use of the
big new features – especially for Standard
edition users for whom some new features do
not apply.
None of this takes away from the
excellence of the product, which has a broad
and deep range of features as well as
strong performance.
In-memory OLTP, combined with native code stored procedures, can deliver remarkable
performance improvements.
Find out more
More details on the Grey Matter website at www.greymatter.com.
To discuss your database requirements further, call Grey Matter on
01364 654100 or email [email protected]
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
Project management
Going beyond email – Mary Branscombe looks at tools for getting
everyone doing the right thing at the right time.
Mary is a freelance IT
writer who’s worked
on both sides of the
fence, from writing
manuals to developing
a technology area for
a major online service.
She’s also the editor of
IT Expert magazine.
[email protected]
Project management isn’t as specialist
as you might think. Almost every
business needs to manage projects that have to
be completed by a specific time, fit specific
needs and have specific people working on
them, whether that’s shipping a product,
moving offices or changing Internet provider.
Getting such projects done on time and on
budget is beyond the scope of a simple to-do
list. It involves handling requirements and
constraints and changing priorities, working
out which competing ideas are possible and
which will be the most valuable to the
company, tracking how different parts of a
project are going, and keeping everyone
That doesn’t mean you want to put
full-power project management tools on
everyone’s desk. Not only can that be
prohibitively expensive, but you don’t want to
make an executive who only needs to monitor
progress on a number projects wade through
Oracle’s Primavera P6 has a complex interface for setting up
projects, but the iOS apps for users are somewhat simpler.
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
The uncluttered interface of Project 2013 includes an at-a-glance project overview.
an interface designed for juggling details.
Instead you want a system that lets you
communicate the costs, goals and progress of a
project, and the availability of the people
involved to everyone who needs to be up to
But those who are running projects do
need to work with detailed calendars; they do
need to assign resources and manage conflicts,
measure progress and track what’s changed,
see multiple projects and consolidate them if
necessary, and possibly manage a whole
portfolio of projects in a co-ordinated way. They
also need to be able to give managers their
schedules, get the latest costs for the finance
team, and give their bosses the strategic
overview, and that means being able to check
whether everything is on track and on budget
– and if not, why not.
Meanwhile, those working on projects
need to see their allotted tasks, fill in timesheets
where they can see costs, constraints and
potential results across multiple projects,
allowing them to set priorities at a higher level
and have that cascade down to specific projects
and workers. And all of this needs to be done
not necessarily in the same tools, but in a set of
tools that work together seamlessly and give
you the features you need, rather than swamp
you with everything that’s possible.
Furthermore, with the increasing drive for
mobility and collaboration between partners,
suppliers and customers, you need to look at
cross-platform tools and may want to consider
a cloud-hosted system that can make it easier
to get everyone connected.
and flag up problems, both before and after
they happen, preferably without leaving the
tools they’re actually working with. Executives
and strategic planners need a portfolio view
integrate with Oracle enterprise applications,
including cost control apps and enterprise
document management. There’s also an API for
customisation, and if you want more than the
Oracle Primavera P6
At the high end are large-scale portfolio
management packages such as Oracle
Primavera P6, which has optional modules for
risk analysis and contract management and can
integrated reporting you can add the Primavera
P6 Reporting Database to export information to
your existing business intelligence tools.
Although Primavera P6 Enterprise Project
Portfolio Management 8.3 runs on premise, it’s a
Java server and (unlike older versions of the
software before Oracle bought it), you work with
it through a web interface rather than desktop
applications. There is a free Primavera Team
Member app for iOS and Android to let users to
view and update schedules, plus a web view
optimised for use on tablets where you can also
delegate tasks.
Mindjet ProjectDirector
At the opposite extreme, Mindjet has a version
of its mind mapping software called
ProjectDirector that lets you draw projects as
connected maps of tasks on virtual whiteboards,
linking in files stored on cloud services such as
Box or OneDrive. You can still allocate tasks and
see calendars and a ‘health view’ showing if the
project is on track, but this is a much more
free-form way to input projects.
ProjectDirector builds on the project
management tools already in MindManager,
which lets you import Word documents or drag
emails, tasks and contacts in from Outlook (via
MindManager Server) to build a project plan.
You can also import from Microsoft Project to
get a new way of looking at your project, or
export the plan you make in MindManager to
Project when it’s time for formal project
Choosing a Solution
Cloud support
Strong points
Target users
Microsoft Project 2013
Project Professional 2013
is available through
Office 365 as Project Pro
Full-power project
management with
strong built-in reporting
tools that go from fast
overview to full detail
SME & Enterprise
Microsoft Project Server
Available as Project
Online on Office 365,
with project or project
portfolio management
options. On-premise
version includes Project
Web App
Friendly SharePoint
interface. Goes beyond
sharing projects to full
collaboration. Strong
integration with other
Microsoft tools from
Lync to Power BI
Midrange, enterprise
Seavus Project Viewer
Integrates with Project
Online. Share projects
on GoogleDrive and
Budget option for
viewing and simple
updates. Strong
MindManager Server
installs on Sharepoint, or
you can use the simpler
Mindjet Connect cloud
service. ProjectDirector
has cloud integration for
importing files
A very visual way of
working that includes
resource estimation and
Gantt charts
Oracle Primavera P6
No, but web interface
Scales up to the largest
and most complex
Team Foundation Server
No, but web access
shows key information
and lets you access code
Code repository with
collaboration tools,
including Azure, that
integrate with many
Microsoft products
Midrange, enterprise
Visual Studio Online
Basic and Professional
subscriptions available
Code repository and
collaboration tools in
the cloud. Integrates
with Visual Studio,
Eclipse, Xcode, MSDN
subscribers can join
projects without charge
SME, enterprise
Microsoft Project 2013
Microsoft Project Professional 2013 is the latest
version of the best-known and longest surviving
project management tool, available as desktop
software and as a cloud service that integrates
with a wide range of other Microsoft tools. There
are also multiple viewers and third-party tools
that work with the Project file format.
Project 2013 shares the uncluttered
interface of other Office 2013 products, and
although there are plenty of new features, the
emphasis is on collaboration through
integration with other Microsoft tools, and
through the cloud. You get the choice of using
just the desktop client (if you have only a couple
of users), letting multiple Project users
collaborate through SharePoint, running Project
Server to give you web access as well, or paying
monthly for the Project Online version. This runs
on Office 365 and comes with your choice of
web-only access or standard and professional
versions of the Project application, which you
can stream on demand to PCs that you’re using
The new Project Overview makes it easy to
check the state of a project, while the new
reports for dashboards, resources, costs and
tasks in progress give inexperienced users the
most useful toolset, without having to drop out
to Excel or Visio as was necessary with previous
versions. There’s even a project to teach you
how to run projects, if you’re starting one from
the standard templates. Visualising events is
much easier too: instead of only being able to
highlight the critical path, you can now
colour-code different levels of importance, so
you can see at a glance all the tasks that are OK
to slip, for example.
You might still want to drop into Excel,
message or make a VoIP call straight from
Project. However the most important
integration is with SharePoint.
The Project Web App that comes with
Project Server and the Project Online service
looks remarkably like SharePoint – which is not
surprising as that’s what it’s built on. The latest
version of SharePoint itself also has basic
project management features built in. As well
as the familiar SharePoint tasks, team sites
include timelines showing how those tasks fit
together in a schedule.
And you can blur the lines between
SharePoint and Project even further. If
though. For example, you can use Excel’s Power
Pivot and Power Query to make burn-down
charts showing how much you have left to do
before project end date. Project also integrates
with Lync, so you can check whether a
participant is free to talk, then send a text
something you’ve been managing as a
SharePoint task list starts to get too
complicated and you need more control, you
can use Project Web App to turn it into a full
project. You can create a workflow in Visio or
SharePoint Designer to choose how you want
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
Project apps from the Office Store (and you can
run that as a controlled company catalogue so
you’re in control of licensing costs).
The Project ecosystem
The Project Web App interface in Project Online is similar to the desktop Project interface, but simplified.
approvals to work, rather than having to do it in
Project. But you can still look at the project as if
it were a SharePoint site, and you can use
information from Project to create business
intelligence reports using the Office 365 Power
BI service.
That means a business manager can
outline the stages of a project and set the
project rules. The project manager can then
take over without having to recreate it all, and
the business manager can still keep an eye on
how things are going.
A decade ago, project management
software was the preserve of the experts. Now,
with its web interface and a more
straightforward set of reporting tools, Project
2013 has become a general-purpose business
tool. If you’re running it all in house you can let
people work in SharePoint or Project as they
prefer, while in the cloud, being able to mix and
match subscriptions for basic features and full
portfolio management on Project Online lets
you keep the costs down, as well as giving users
the appropriate tools. There’s even a new
Project Lite subscription for users who only
need to create and assign tasks, fill in time
sheets and see schedules.
More and more of those users will be on
mobile devices. Microsoft doesn’t yet have a
Project client for iOS or Android, or even for
viewing projects on a Windows 8 tablet.
However, if you have Project Server or Project
Find out more
Full details for all these products are available on the Grey Matter
website at www.greymatter.com. You can also call Grey Matter on
01364 654100 or email [email protected] if you would like
to discuss your needs further.
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
Online, you can use the Project Web App in any
browser to create projects, view and update
tasks, approvals, project summaries and
calendars, and view reports.
Because Project Server and Project Online
are now so closely integrated with SharePoint,
the SharePoint app model works, so you can
write your own add-ins or get third-party
There are also many third-party apps that give
you views of your project, sometimes with basic
editing capabilities. For example Seavus Project
Viewer is available in the Windows Store, and on
volume licensing from Grey Matter, as well as
for Windows, Mac and Android devices, and
there’s a free view-only web version. Seavus
doesn’t have all the features of Project but it lets
users view projects, including charts and tables,
and edit their own tasks. You get a similar
ribbon interface, and you can open projects
from older versions right up to Project 2013 and
Project Online, and then share them through
SharePoint, Google Drive or OneDrive. You can
even share projects directly with other Seavus
users without having a server.
The rich ecosystem that’s grown up around
Microsoft Project, and the popularity of the
Project file format, means that you can use a
mix of Microsoft and third-party products to
give different users the tools they need
to participate in projects.
Managing software projects
Microsoft Visual Studio is increasingly including tools to help with software project
management, primarily through integration with Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual
Studio Online.
Visual Studio 2013 introduced the team room feature. This is a permanent chat room
where programmers in different locations can leave each other questions. It also added
CodeLens, a ‘heads-up display’ of information about your code. Update 2 comes with a new
version called the Incoming Changes Indicator that shows you changes happening in other
branches of the codebase, without you having to leave your code.
If you want to co-ordinate a team more closely, TFS gives you a source code repository,
using either Team Foundation Version Control or Git, so you can audit changes. It includes tools
for collaboration in Team Explorer, ranging from team rooms to marking work items with tags
and creating charts that show how your backlog is split between bugs and new features. It also
supports Agile techniques like Kanban boards and burndown charts. TFS has a Web Access view
that lets you see source code, backlogs, builds, tests, team rooms and other useful information,
without having to launch Visual Studio itself.
You can connect TFS to Project so you get much more accurate estimates for the
development stage of a project. TFS integrates with Project Server workflows, so if a manager
sets the duration for a task and the developer changes that in TFS, the new time propagates
back to the Project Server approval workflow.
Having the durations and completion dates coming direct from the live system means
project planning can be much more accurate, and it’s easier to see straight away when things
are getting off schedule. You can also use TFS for collaboration with managers and the business
teams. If you’re under pressure to deliver more than you can actually fit in, you can expose your
backlog and start a discussion about what’s achievable.
The cloud version of TFS is Visual Studio Online. The basic Visual Studio Online plan
includes Visual Studio Express, while the professional plan gives you a monthly subscription to
Visual Studio Professional. Visual Studio Online is particularly good value if several of your
developers have MSDN subscriptions for Visual Studio, as they can join Visual Studio Online
projects without paying an extra monthly fee.
Tooled up
You can code better and faster by adding plug-ins to
Visual Studio. Simon Bisson looks at some of the
tooling for .NET and C++ coders.
Simon is a
freelance IT writer
and technology
consultant who has
worked on large scale
Web architectures,
mobile Web projects
and XML solutions
for clients in both
the private and
public sector.
[email protected]
Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE is not just a
proprietary tool for building .NET and
native code on Windows and Windows Phone.
It’s an extensible platform that lets you add
support for new languages, for delivering apps
to additional platforms, and for managing cloud
services. This is down to its Visual Studio
Industry Partner (VSIP) programme which gives
third parties access to the Visual Studio IDE,
allowing them to integrate their own tools and
features into Visual Studio.
With VSIP extensions you can be building
Ruby on Rails apps, driving Azure, and working
with a source control platform while delivering
a UI on an iPad, all from the same familiar IDE.
So why not use extensions to improve the way
you code? There’s plenty of scope here: tools to
help you make your programs more secure,
tools to help you refactor and rework your code,
tools to help you deliver applications that take
advantage of the multi-core, multi-processor
Telerik’s JustCode identifies a missing bracket.
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
world we live in.
There’s an ever growing array of VSIP
partners and extension developers, and it’s
likely to grow as Microsoft continues to open
source key Visual Studio elements through its
.NET Foundation. That includes its new Roslyn
compiler, which opens up the internals of the
compiler to tools, giving you new and better
ways to visualise changes to code, and the
ability to quickly test and debug sections of
code as you write them.
Tooling for .NET
The release of Roslyn at BUILD 2014 marked
something of a resurgence in the fortunes of .
NET, which had languished as Microsoft pushed
development of WinRT applications for
Windows 8. But now WinRT and .NET apps can
work together, and there’s even the option of
delivering native .NET code. At last the future
for .NET is clear. And it’s not just Windows that’s
benefiting; Microsoft’s relationship with
cross-platform .NET vendor Xamarin is going
from strength to strength, letting you build .
NET apps that run on iOS and Android, as well
as Windows.
Microsoft’s own .NET tooling is powerful,
but not perfect. So how can we go about
making Visual Studio better for .NET
developers? One option is JetBrains’ ReSharper,
which works to improve your code across the
whole range of .NET languages and associated
One of the more important features of
ReSharper is its on-the-fly code quality analysis.
It’ll monitor the code you’re writing, whether it’s
for a XAML C# application or an ASP.NET web
app with CSS and client-side JavaScript, letting
you know if your code contains errors or can be
improved using any of ReSharper’s other
capabilities. You’re not limited to just the code
you’re writing either, as ReSharper is aware of
the files that make up a project, and the
structure of the code in those files. You can
jump to any place in your code at any time, and
track specific variables, functions and types
throughout your code.
If ReSharper spots an error in your code it
warns you, and at the same time provides
quick-fixes that can help solve problems before
they affect your application. Its helpers go a lot
further, with a whole range of add-ons. Some
extend Visual Studio’s IntelliSense code
completion tools, while others handle code
transformations and importing namespaces
– or simply keeping your code tidy and making
sure you have access to the right
Keeping code tidy isn’t just about making
it more readable – though that helps when
you’re handing code over to co-workers or to
test and production. It’s also about handling
coding standards when working as part of a
team, and making sure that you don’t clutter up
Intel Parallel Studio XE 2013
Most development support extensions for Visual Studio are platform agnostic, in that they can be
used with Intel, AMD, and even ARM processors. That’s not the case with the latest release of
Intel’s Parallel Studio, as it’s most definitely targeted at Intel’s own silicon, with the intent of
helping you build code that can take full advantage of all the features offered by the current
generation of multi-socket, multi-core motherboards. If you’re building large scale mathematical
modelling or simulation apps, you’re going to need a tool to help you fine tune your code to get
the absolute best from your silicon. It’s also cross-platform, so you can use it to build apps for
Windows or for Linux.
Parallel Studio includes not just diagnostic and language tools. There’s also three new
compilers: one for C++, one for C and one for Fortran. There’s no compiler support for .NET
languages, which run through a JIT compiler (though there is some C# support in Parallel Studio’s
analysis tooling). Instead the compilers and language features in Intel’s tools are targeted at
native code, with libraries that aim to help you get the most from multi-threaded applications.
The most important part of the suite is Advisor XE, a threading prototyping tool. You can use
this to analyse your code and determine where you’ll get the most performance boost from
parallelism, and to highlight where you might get thread synchronisation issues.
Intel’s libraries make writing parallel code easier. This is especially the case for its core
Threaded Building Blocks library, which in conjunction with graph-based design tools simplifies
the process of implementing key parallel-programming algorithms. While you can always write
your own parallel libraries, using proven industry standard tools makes a lot of sense, especially
when they’re designed to work well across multiple processors and multiple cores. Threaded
Building Blocks come with tools for working with shared memory and for handling scheduling,
allowing code performance to scale as you add cores and memory.
You can get additional performance from your parallel apps with another Parallel Studio
module, VTune Amplifier. This analyses your code, profiling a range of languages with parallel
constructs, including C, C++, C#, Fortran and Java. It will even work with assembly language.
VTune Amplifier collects GPU as well as CPU data, and will help you sort and visualise its results.
There’s also the option of working outside the IDE to automate tests, and to collect data from
remote servers.
Finding problems in parallel code can be an issue, as it can be hard to replicate the
conditions which cause a crash. Intel’s Parallel Studio includes tools for finding threading errors, in
the shape of Inspector XE. Used in conjunction with existing compilers and debugging tools, you
can isolate intermittent and non-deterministic errors, as well as monitoring the system heap. Used
with Intel’s compilers you also get support for static analysis and pointer checkers, which can help
ensure application security.
Intel Parallel Studio is a powerful tool, and one that’s well worth considering if you’re
building large and complex parallel processing applications. While you might not yet use it for
consumer apps, it’s worth considering for cloud services, and for large and complex mathematical
modelling and simulation apps – so ideal if you’re building code for oil exploration or for Formula
1 teams.
an application with unused code.
ReSharper is probably best known for its
refactoring tools. These automate the process of
identifying sections of code that can be
refactored – identifying methods that can be
shared, or elements that can be split into smaller
methods. The result is code that’s easier to
maintain and easier to extend, especially if it’s
refactored to take advantage of common design
patterns. ReSharper’s built-in unit testing tools
ensure that refactored code maintains
functionality, keeping applications running
while you rejuvenate your legacy code.
Telerik is probably best known for its UI
tools, but it also offers a range of tooling to help
you write code. Its JustCode Visual Studio
extension is a suite of tools that aid with various
common coding problems. The result is a
powerful tool with one aim: to make you a
better coder, and save you time. You’ll find it
useful if you work on different test machines,
but want a consistent development
environment wherever you are: settings are
stored in the cloud and applied to all your
JustCode installs.
One of JustCode’s key features is the ability
to quickly navigate around your code. With
many projects now targeting multiple platforms
(something that’s going to become more
common with the arrival of Windows Universal
Apps), there’s a need to quickly get to the right
symbol and to the right error. You can also jump
straight to the implementations of an interface,
or to the type of an expression, so you can
ensure you’re using them consistently.
Coding standards are an important part of
making sure application development is
consistent throughout an organisation. Telelrik’s
tools help enforce those standards, with the
ability to ensure formatting is consistent
through all your and your colleagues’ files. It
doesn’t just handle spacing and line
indentation; it also manages just how code
constructs are ordered, as well as automating
the creation of Using directives in your code.
A helpful suggestion from JetBrains ReSharper
JustCode helps you customise the Visual
Studio environment. It can colour-code code
elements that aren’t managed by IntelliSense’s
colourings, making them clearer and easier to
spot amongst hundreds or thousands of lines of
code. It’ll even close braces for you
automatically, so you don’t have to go back and
check to find just where you left out a set, and
giving your code a chance to compile first time!
JustCode’s formatting tools will also
automatically format your code when you close
a set of braces.
Making code easy to read and understand
is a perennial problem, especially if you’ve been
working on an app for some time. How about
getting rid of unused code? JustCode will
highlight unused sections of code, allowing you
to quickly remove dead code that only makes
your code unreadable. Similarly it identifies
types that are missing, and prompts you to add
the appropriate Using statement. It’ll even help
rename files so names match types they
contain, making it much easier to go right to
the file that contains the class you want to edit,
or share with another project.
There’s also integration with other Telerik
tools, including the JustTrace profiling
framework. Using JustTrace in conjunction with
JustCode’s unit tests means you can make app
performance part of your test cycle; after all,
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
NCover’s tools help you create effective tests.
slow code that passes unit tests will still need
reworking to pass user acceptance!
PostSharp takes a different approach to
helping you write code, guiding you in working
with Aspect Oriented Programming and
automating certain key design patterns. It’s a
technique that helps identify common code
elements that can be shared across different
applications. Such common code elements or
‘crosscuts’ are called ‘aspects’. Taking crosscuts
and embedding them in aspects makes it easier
to write business logic that is clearer and easier
to understand, with much of the repetition
handed over to aspects.
You do need to change the way you think
about code to use PostSharp, but it’s a
beneficial change. Once installed it works
alongside the Visual Studio .NET compiler to
handle the deployment and compilation of
aspects, including obfuscating aspect code in
applications that you plan on sharing. There’s
support for automating certain key aspect
patterns, for example aspects that handle
exceptions. Aspects are implemented as
attributes on a method, with the associated
code applied on compilation. That way you get
the benefits of the code, without having to
write it.
One advantage of Aspect Oriented
Programming is the ability to declaratively
apply aspects to a range of methods with a
compiler directive. This lets you use aspects in
your code without having to modify existing
code; an approach that makes PostSharp an
Tooled up for C++
While Visual Studio is often viewed solely as a
.NET development environment, Microsoft’s
C++ compiler remains a key part of the
package, delivering native code to Windows
and Windows Phone. C++ is compiled directly
to machine code, so it’s important to have good
code from the start. That’s where Gimpel’s
FlexeLint and PC-lint come in, adding tooling to
Visual Studio for handling static analysis.
Building on the familiar UNIX lint tools,
Gimpel’s family of Windows Lint applications go
further than the syntax checking tools built into
Visual Studio. Designed to analyse all the files
in your code, including C modules, the tools
deliver messages that indicate the quality of
your code, highlighting errors as well as
displaying informational messages.
While PC-lint is for Windows and DOS only,
FlexeLint is for cross platform developers, and
runs on most common flavours of UNIX. It’s
distributed as source code and you need to
integrate it with Visual Studio yourself. PC-lint
doesn’t just support Microsoft’s C++ compilers;
it’ll also work with gcc.
Once installed, PC-lint will handle the
checking of variable initialisations, types
checking, and the semantics of your code.
There’s even the option of creating your own
semantic rules, as well as finding unused
macros, types, classes and the like in your code;
giving you cleaner, easier to read code without
confusing non-functional sections.
While you can run PC-lint from inside
Visual Studio yourself, a range of third-party
tools helps integrate PC-lint more effectively.
Cleanscape’s C++ Lint wraps PC-lint and gives
you a graphical user interface, with hyperlinks
to code editors, as well as automated
integration with Visual Studio and access to the
familiar PC-lint command line. Similarly
Riverblade’s Visual Lint and LintProject
automate static analysis of your code in Visual
Studio, with LintProject able to work against
Visual Studio solution files.
Visual Studio remains the premiere
Windows development environment. But it can
always be improved. These extensions and
add-ons offer deep integration and a range of
features that can be combined to help you
write better, more readable code. It also helps
you create code that’s easier to test, and can be
proved to have been tested. If you’re working
on a large project with a team of developers,
it’s well worth considering make them part of
your standard installation: it’ll make your
life a lot easier.
Find out more
Full details for all these products are available on the Grey Matter
website at www.greymatter.com. You can also call Grey Matter on
01364 654100 or email [email protected] if you would like
to discuss your needs further.
ideal tool for adding
instrumentation and
exception handling to
applications. Other
common code that can
be implemented as
aspects include
role-based security,
ensuring only the right
user gets access to
specific functions and
NCover’s tools add
code coverage to Visual
Studio. Understanding
what code has been
tested, and more
importantly, what code hasn’t, is an important
part of ensuring code quality. If you can see the
code that isn’t being tested, then you’re in a
position to write better tests. Using NCover Bolt
from inside Visual Studio lets you launch tests
without leaving your code, with a graphical
view of all the possible paths that can be taken.
You can use this to define new tests, or ensure
that you’ve set up the appropriate starting
conditions for your test so that all your code is
tested. You can also change the order in which
tests run, ensuring that tests which have failed
are the ones that run first.
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
PostSharp makes use of Aspect Oriented Programming techniques.
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or call 01364 654100
Read Grey Matter’s on-line
Visual Studio 2013 supplement at
to find out about the new features.
the classroom
Educational software is not just for
the pupils – it can help schools and
colleges manage the whole teaching
process. Simon Williams investigates.
Simon has been a
technology journalist
for over 25 years,
writing for many
leading magazines
and websites. He also
writes and performs
poetry and runs
monthly open mic
sessions in pubs.
[email protected]
There are plenty of ways in which
software can help with the learning
process. The most obvious is as an e-learning
tool, but there are also educational copies of
business software for training, administration
applications to smooth timetabling and project
management, security software to ensure
compliance with data protection legislation and
guard against malware, and assistive
technology for students with physical or
learning disabilities. And much is extremely
cost-effective, thanks to special licensing
options available to educational
Business software
Training in the basics of office software – word
processing, spreadsheet, database and Internet
use – is a core skill for most young people going
into employment. Providing industry-standard
applications to learn on is essential in most
secondary level institutions and training
With the rapidly changing ways in which
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
people use office software, the most efficient
ways of equipping a classroom can easily
involve several platforms. Although desktop
machines may still be the most suitable for IT
labs, laptops and tablets can be more
convenient in the general classroom.
Microsoft offers several different ways in
which you can obtain Office for educational
use. In particular the company is pushing its
online solution Office 365 and the subscription
model is the way it wants us to pay for software
going forward.
There are three Education Plans on offer,
namely Office 365 Education A2, A3 and A4.
These each offer web versions of Word, Excel,
PowerPoint and OneNote, with A2 being free of
charge. They also include spam and malware
protection, 50GB of email storage and 25GB of
online storage on OneDrive for each person.
These plans include web conferencing,
24/7 phone support and office app support on
Windows phones. The A3 and A4 versions
extend this coverage to iPhone and Android
phones, include 99.9 percent guaranteed
uptime, and add desktop versions of the eight
main office applications on up to five machines
per person. The A4 version adds PC-based voice
phone calls.
It’s not just Microsoft which is heading into
subscription software. Adobe has the Education
Enterprise Agreement (EEA) which offers the
complete suite on a subscription basis to
primary and secondary schools. For colleges
and universities there is the Enterprise Term
License Agreement (ETLA). There are also
schemes tailored for bodies responsible for
multiple schools, such as local education
Creative Cloud is a massive resource,
comprising nearly 30 applications and services
including industry standards such as Acrobat
Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign for page
layout, Dreamweaver for web design, and
Premier for video editing. Applications are
available for both Windows and Mac platforms
and you can mix and match, depending on your
mix of devices.
There is also Creative Cloud for education,
Computerising many of the most regularly used administrative documents, Teacher’s
WebFolder streamlines everything from roll call to assessment.
which now offers the whole suite in smaller
quantities suitable for classroom deployment or
even named individuals.
If you are not concerned with web design
then there is Corel’s License for Learning which
provides CorelDraw, Paint Shop Pro and Painter.
CorelDraw is still a very powerful vector graphics
editor, while Paint Shop Pro has many similar
features to Adobe Photoshop, and Painter is a
natural media drawing tool for budding
electronic artists.
There are plenty of other desktop
applications that can make working with Office
and Adobe products in a learning environment
more convenient. These range from SmartDraw,
which produces quick and easy diagrams of all
kinds, and ABBYY OCR, which converts printed
documents to editable electronic ones, to
MathMagic the equation editor, and Parallels,
which enables Windows to be run on a Mac.
With such tools the full workflow of a typical
office or design studio can be easily simulated in
the classroom.
Administration tools
Running a modern school or college requires
the support of quality administration software.
There are many areas where applications can
help, but we’ll look at two of them here to give
an idea of what’s available.
Monitoring student progress, in academic
terms as a result of tests and exams, behavioural
incidents, both good and bad, and attendance
via the use of registers are requirements
throughout the education system. BromCom’s
Teacher’s WebFolder is an interface which can
be used to access live data from systems such as
Capita SIMS, installed across one or more
educational establishments. It enables
attendance registers to be taken electronically
and replaces the need for paper registers to be
physically carried between classrooms and
admin office. Teachers can access historical
attendance data within the classroom to assess
changes in attendance patterns, and it
promotes good timekeeping with features such
as pupil photo display during the taking of the
The attainment and achievement module
does a similar thing for test results and gives
immediate access to the pupil’s past history to
help assess any changes in attainment patterns.
Behavioural details can also be kept live, and
with an intuitive interface, complete with
appropriate password safeguards, make it easy
for teachers and administrative staff to gain
quick access to all this information.
Work on new projects within schools often
involves brainstorming sessions for staff.
Software such as Mindjet’s MindManager helps
visualise ideas related to a core project. For
those who haven’t used mind mapping
software, it enables thoughts to be organised in
relation to others, so that you gradually build
up a map of the things that need to be done to
achieve a particular goal.
In higher education, MindManager can
also be useful as an organisational tool for
students. Anybody involved in research, having
to make use of a series of disparate sources and
to organise them into a logical whole to
support an essay or paper, will find it extremely
useful. Some students have claimed that using
MindManager to organise research can improve
speed of access to information by a factor of as
much as four when compared to holding the
same information in a multi-sheet spreadsheet.
The very process of mapping the information
can also create the paper’s structure, reducing
the need for separate outlining software when
approaching the writing.
These are just two of the large category of
administrative tools suitable for education.
Others include to-do lists, referencing tools and
desktop classroom management.
There are many places in which conventional
‘front of class’ whiteboard teaching may not be
the best medium. For distance learning and for
distributed lessons to a classroom of tablets, it
may be better to have a recorded teaching
Office 365 at Sandymoor School
Sandymore School in Runcorn, Cheshire is a secondary Free School that currently has 110 students in
Foundation 1 and Foundation 2. The school was set up with the intention of putting a lot of the day-to-day classwork into
the Cloud. To this end, Office 365 is the main platform for course work. As Principle Andrew Green-Howard says, “The
reason I’m so excited about Office 365 is that we can take everything we do in school and where absolutely possible, put
it in the Cloud.”
The school has 50 Surface RT tablets which form the core of their student computing devices, although they also
have a policy of system “agnosticism” so students can use their own, if appropriate. The Office applications are based in
the Cloud so they can be accessed through a browser on Mac or Android platforms, just as well as from a PC.
This policy of ‘anywhere computing’ benefits the staff as well as the students. Green-Howard sites the process of
getting comments on a document:
“Doing it the old way, I’d create a document then email it to three people to ask for comments. They’d all work on it
and I couldn’t until it came back. Working on a shared version in OneDrive means everyone can see the changes.”
The students are enthusiastic too, and there’s a keen group who helped set up the system and offer ‘tech support’ to
staff. James says, “Sometimes, if I want to change something, I can just edit it on my phone.” Aaron adds, “If you’re stuck
with homework, you can email them and they will usually email you back during the same weekend.”
As a new school, Sandymore has benefitted from the ability to create a teaching environment from the ground up.
Office 365 and its associated infrastructure has enabled a new way of implementing a comprehensive learning
For more information, see http://bit.ly/1iwhxud.
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
session, so that individual help can be offered to
those with particular needs. There are a number
of tools for creating electronic lectures, such as
TechSmith’s Camtasia Relay, Adobe Captivate
and iSpring Presenter.
Camtasia Relay grew out of Camtasia
Studio, one of the top-selling screen recording
utilities. As well as being able to record actions
on-screen, which is useful in ICT and computer
training, it also enables live video recording and
can combine the two in various ways to, for
example, show a procedure on-screen with a
tutor talking it through in an inset.
Recorded videos can be hosted on a school
or college server and accessed from any device
with suitable permissions. Teachers and
lecturers can build in quizzes at the end of a
recorded session, to evaluate the level of
understanding individual students have
attained. These results can be exported for
tabulation and graphing in applications such as
Microsoft Excel.
Netop Vision is a desktop and classroom
manager which enables teachers to monitor
and assist a complete class of students, each
working on his or her own PC or device. The
teacher’s computer screen shows thumbnails of
all the student screens, and at any time the
teacher can select a thumbnail to display full
screen exactly what the student is seings on his
or her screen.
The teacher can chat to a single student or
to a group, and can take control of any screen
remotely to help a student complete a given
task. Messages can also be sent by students to
ask for specific help.
Teachers who have used Netop Vision say it
is an improvement over walking round the class
and hovering over a student’s shoulder. The
students become more self-reliant, only
referring back to the ‘help
desk’ provided by the
teacher when really
necessary. They are more
inclined to experiment
and find their own
solutions to minor
problems that they might
Although suited best
to ICT sessions, Netop
Vision can be used to
monitor any class using
computer assistance. For
Virtually anybody who has trouble reading a computer screen will benefit from the
example, a class
large text and improved pointers available through ZoomTextExpress.
undertaking Internet
research to complete an
assignment in any subject can benefit from the
appropriate software fitted to their computer or
whole-group monitoring and assistance
tablet device. Applications such as Ginger,
provided by the management software.
which provides a contextual grammar checker
Netop Vision Pro also includes Learning
as well as a spell checker and text-to-speech
Center, a cloud-based tool that is particularly
facilities, can help people needing extra
useful for ‘blended learning’. This is an education
support in English.
system formalised some ten years ago that
Addressing dyslexia, literacy difficulties
allows students to take some control over not
and English as a second language, Text Help
only the pace and direction of delivery, but also
Read and Write Gold offers a text-to-speech
when and where content is delivered, so
screenshot reader, phonetic spell checker,
blending the face-to-face classroom with
speech recognition and a picture dictionary, so
web-based solutions. Vision Pro Learning Center
that students can locate words through images.
helps with delivery and assessment under such
The software can also tint out areas of the
screen, so the phrase being read is effectively
Alternative teaching aids include the music
highlighted on the page.
notation software Avid Sibelius, and Keep I.T.
Physical disabilities, such as visual
Easy Flowol, a small but feature-rich application
impairment, can also be helped through
for making flowcharts.
software. Apart from the assistance available
within Windows – such as the text magnifier
Assistive technology
and Narrator for basic text-to-speech – there
Students with learning difficulties such as
are third-party applications available that can
dyslexia, or those who suffer from a visual
take things further.
impairment, can often be helped with the
AI Squared’s ZoomText Express also
magnifies text, like Windows, except that it
anti-aliases the fonts, so that they look as sharp
at double size as they do at normal
magnification. Additionally, the program can
tint backgrounds to applications to cut down
screen glare, or reverse pages to white on black.
It can also enlarge pointers and cursors to make
them easier to find.
Audio Notetaker from Sonocent can help
both visually impaired and normal-sighted
students with note taking. The software uses
the microphones built into many laptops and
tablets and enables students to annotate what
they hear, so key parts of a lecture can be
After the lecture, any recorded passages
can be extracted, or reordered as best suits the
individual student. Images and other text can
be added to help illustrate points from a
Giving full control of multiple computers in an e-learning classroom, Netop Vision helps
lecture, too.
teachers to monitor and help students on an individual basis.
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
Careful choice of assistive software can
help students with difficulties integrate into
mainstream learning environments.
Data protection
Securing student data is both vital and required
by best Data Protection practice. One of the
easiest ways to do this is to encrypt it. DESlock+
uses 256-bit encryption on all hard drives
within a system, and also on removable devices
such as recordable DVDs and USB drives. The
encryption runs as the computer starts up, so
insuring against intruders trying to boot from
an independent operating system.
The program also encrypts email for
anybody using Outlook and is linked to a Cloud
service so that, in the event of a local
encryption server failure, access to data is still
maintained until the hardware is fixed. Another
popular encryption solution for schools,
Find out more
Further details of all the products mentioned can be found on the
Grey Matter website at www.greymatter.com. You can also call Grey
Matter on 01364 654100 or email [email protected] for
specialist advice.
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
colleges and universities is Becrypt DISK
Protect. This provides both full disk encryption
and pre-boot authentication, and is claimed to
be up to the standards required by NATO and
the Ministry of Defence.
Additionally, of course, it’s important to
protect not only the servers and networks in
any educational system but also the computers
used by students from malware attack. This is
particularly important if students are allowed to
bring their own devices to school and use them
in the classroom.
There’s a surprisingly large number of
Internet Security suites that can be employed
to protect these systems, but names like AVG,
F-Secure and Kaspersky rank high in the results
from organisations like AV-Test. These labs
spend their time testing the efficacy of software
in detecting and eradicating viruses and other
The networks installed within educational
establishments, particularly larger colleges and
universities, is every bit as complex as those
found in business, and arguably subject to even
more stress. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a
popular tool for monitoring the performance of
a network and identifying problem areas before
anything actually crashes. It comes with
real-time dashboards to monitor status and
performance, and can alert administrative staff
in a number of ways including by email and
SMS text message. There is also Impero which
combines the network management features
of PRTG with the classroom management
features of Netop Vision.
Also important is data backup which, in all
but the smallest of schools, needs to go
beyond the capabilities of the tools provided
with the operating system. There are a wide
range of solutions available, many of which can
work with cloud-based services, so providing a
further layer of security.
Those particularly suited to educational
environments include BackupAssist, which
offers special Education and Not-For-Profit
licences, and Symantec Backup Exec through
its Academic Program. CA ARCserve Backup
offers component-based licensing, so you only
pay for what you need, and has a Government
Licensing Program (GLP) that covers academic
institutions. Finally, Veeam Backup is available
in a number of versions, including Veeam
Backup Essentials for smaller organisations, at
reduced rates to qualifying educational
establishments and to students and
teaching staff.
Have you discovered the
new Office for education?
For schools that want to modernise their
communications and productivity infrastructure
on their terms.
Office 365 brings together all aspects of what a student
or educator needs to do - create, learn, connect, discover
and work. Available on up to 5 devices, including Windows
phone, Android and iOS, your students and teachers can
benefit from cost-effective solutions and collaborate and
work on the go.
The Student Advantage for Volume Licence
Customers programme makes Office 365 Education
readily accessible to students and staff everywhere.
When your establishment signs a new ESS or OVS-ES
agreement, your academic and admin staff get Office
365 Education, and all your students get it too at no
extra cost.
Support for Office 2003 ended on the 8th April 2014.
We are now using Office 365 ourselves and we can
help you with migration. Upgrade to Office 365 with
Grey Matter today.
To find out more about Office 365, how we can help
and for a free trial, call us on 01364 654100 or visit:
Inside Data
Graham Keitch takes us through the new
features on offer from Oracle Database 12c.
IT projects don’t always allow you to
start with a clean sheet, and this is
especially true where database technologies are
involved. More often than not, you will be
working with the data infrastructure which
underpins the company’s existing systems, and
for which expertise is already in place. A lot of
today’s modernisation projects are being driven
EM Express for managing Oracle Database
by a business requirement to exploit new
mobile technologies and reach across multiple
platforms including the cloud. It is important to
ensure your data framework can grow to
support these new technologies and scale in
terms of capacity and performance. In recent
years, databases have evolved to support the
Internet, business intelligence, data
warehousing, complex data types such as
spatial, unstructured data, and now the cloud.
Software and hardware upgrades or a
migration may become an important part of the
project if the incumbent database is unable to
deliver in its current state. To help address this,
Oracle Database maintains code compatibility
across all editions, from the free XE version
through to the top-end Enterprise Edition,
which makes it easier to scale when the need
arises. Oracle has also been a consistent industry
leader when it comes to technology innovations
and enabling users to adopt such innovations
with minimal code reworking.
The latest Oracle Database 12c was
released in July 2013 and continues this
tradition. Most of the key new features relate to
the Enterprise Edition for which a number of
add-on options are available to handle the
needs of the most demanding database
environments. The most pressing issues for both
IT and the business relate to manageability,
performance and security. There is a growing
need to minimise the complexities and costs
associated with handling ever increasing
volumes of data. A single major new feature of
12c Enterprise Edition goes a long way towards
tackling nearly all of these
requirements. This is the
multi-tenant support
which I covered in issue
61 (Winter 2013).
The multi-tenant
architecture allows you to
plug multiple databases
into a single container
database which handles
all the memory and
background processes.
The DBA only needs to
deal with the single container instance for
upgrades, patching, monitoring, tuning and
other administrative tasks. At present, only the
Enterprise Edition offers full support for
multi-tenant with the ability to host up to 252
pluggable databases. This is the architecture of
the cloud and is quite likely to be increasingly
adopted for on premise and hybrid systems too
as an ‘in-database’ virtualisation solution.
Security should no longer be a project
afterthought. It is a key part of most project
specifications and Oracle continues to innovate
with new security features. Data Redaction
allows you to obscure data using a policy that
specifies who may view sensitive information.
Other security enhancements include the ability
to specify which program units may invoke a
procedure, and to attach invoker rights. For the
most advanced security requirements, Oracle
provides Advanced Security, Label Security,
Data Masking and other Options that address
auditing and role based access to data.
Turning to performance, multi-tenant
allows you to allocate a percentage of CPU
power to each pluggable database. Oracle
shared objects such as PL/SQL can be shared
across all the pluggable databases using object
stubs. This can also be thought of as a type of
‘in-database’ virtualisation of resources – in this
case shareable code.
Increasing quantities of data puts pressure
on storage and the costs associated with it. The
Advanced Compression Option tracks usage at
row and segment levels to produce a Heat Map
that shows database hotspots. Automatic data
compression and other optimisation tasks make
use of Heat Maps to improve performance.
Partitioning tables into smaller chunks also
helps optimise storage and improve speed. Less
active partitions and those containing historic
data can be offloaded on to cheaper and slower
disks, reserving high performance kit for
frequently accessed and important data.
Smaller partitions also allow queries to execute
faster and are beneficial for loading data,
backup, recovery and other such tasks. The
Partitioning Option is available for the
Enterprise Edition.
Other new features include Basic Flashback
Data Archive in all editions. Optimisation for
Flashback Data Archive requires the Enterprise
Edition and Advanced Compression option.
Transaction Guard ensures a known outcome
for every transaction despite outages that
would otherwise cause work to be lost without
the user knowing something was wrong.
There have been enhancements for Big
Data and analytics too, including SQL Pattern
Matching which allows you to find patterns in
subsequent rows of the result set using regular
expressions. SQL has been enhanced and there
is better integration with PL/SQL and JDBC.
XMLDB now provides improved compatibility
with other Oracle technologies such as
Dataguard and GoldenGate.
Find out more
Graham Keitch is the database pre-sales specialist at
Grey Matter and has been working in IT for 30 years.
For further information and advice on Oracle Database,
call him or one of his colleagues on 01364 654129, or
email him at [email protected]
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
Straight talking
Tim Anderson puzzles out the future of Windows, and
why XAML development in Visual Studio falls short.
Businesses today are still buying
Windows 7, judging by the number of
PCs and laptops I see advertised as “Windows 8
with Windows 7 downgrade pre-installed” or
equivalent. That is hardly a good omen for
Microsoft’s bold touch-friendly reinvention of
Windows, and a shame considering that,
whatever you think of the tiled ‘Metro’ user
interface and Start screen, Windows 8 improves
on Windows 7 in the core operating system, and
is highly compatible on the desktop side. But
given the poor take-up for Windows 8 ‘Modern’
apps, what is Microsoft’s future strategy on the
client side?
That question was largely answered by two
recent events: the annual Build developer
conference, and the launch of Microsoft Office
for iPad a few days earlier. The arrival of Office
on Apple’s tablet signals that Microsoft is
serious about supporting non-Windows clients
in its wider mission to run cloud services. The
significance of Office for iPad is not just that it
exists. The high quality of the suite, which fits
smoothly into iOS rather than looking like a
port, shows that Microsoft’s engineers can do
excellent work beyond Windows. Office for
Android is promised, and an improved web
version will even make its way into Google’s
Chrome Web Store.
These developments indicate that
Microsoft has some sort of game plan for a
post-PC world. But what of Windows itself? At
first glance, the company appears to be in a
conciliatory mood when it comes to Windows 8
complainers. Attendees were shown the latest
Windows 8 update, which integrates the
taskbar across both Modern and desktop
environments, and then a glimpse of a future
free update which will restore a desktop Start
menu alongside a new ability to run Store apps
in a desktop window.
Is this the end of Metro? On one level, it
does make Windows 8 more like Windows 7, so
you can frame it as a kind of retreat. Look
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
deeper though, and it is apparent that
Microsoft is not going back on its plan to
persuade developers to target Store rather than
desktop apps. Another way of looking at the
forthcoming changes is that, from the user’s
perspective, a Store app can look like a desktop
app, as in started from the taskbar or Start
menu, and running in a window. No longer will
users be pushed into a different environment
merely to run a Modern app.
There are also changes to the sandbox in
which Modern apps run. If an app is sideloaded – that is, installed via PowerShell or a
company portal, rather than from the public
Store – then it can be configured to interact
with desktop applications and libraries via two
new features. One, called Network Loopback,
lets Modern apps call web services on the local
machine. These web services might query a
local or remote database and return results to
the Store app, for example. The other, called
Brokered Windows Runtime Components,
allows Store apps to load desktop libraries
specifically coded for that purpose. Both these
feature are available now, via the new Windows
8.1 Update. They are reserved for side-loaded
apps to ensure they do not compromise the
security of general users installing Store apps.
At Build, Microsoft also introduced
Universal Apps. These are implemented with a
The pleasure and the pain of XAML
In my copious spare time (ha!) I have been developing a Windows Store app. I picked XAML and
C# over HTML and JavaScript, despite hints that the latter is an easier approach, mainly because
I prefer the C# language (and more so after learning at Build of interesting new features like
true native code compilation).
The exercise of developing a Store application of even moderate complexity soon reveals
both the power and the awkwardness of putting together a user interface in XAML. In XAML,
any user interface element can be customised and transformed, and I found myself learning
how to change a ListView from a scrolling vertical list to a fixed horizontal panel, through the
magic of Styles and Templates.
The snag is the challenge of puzzling out the XAML. This isn’t helped by Visual Studio and
Blend’s habit of generating large amounts of code which you then have to wade through to
find what you want to change. In my case, the simple task of disabling the check mark that
appears when you click an item in a ListView requires steps beginning with right-click and Edit
Additional Templates, to find the hitherto hidden attribute SelectionCheckMarkVisualEnabled.
I had a conversation with a XAML speaker and expert at Build. He advised me never to
change anything using the visual designer in Visual Studio, since it generates height and width
attributes which mess up auto-scaling. He prefers to live in the code view, so get used to lots of
angle brackets.
It is not the easiest environment to learn, especially given additional tasks like behaving
nicely in split views, or when the user changes from horizontal to portrait, to say nothing of
dealing with Suspend and Resume in a transparent and user-friendly manner.
Microsoft has made several attempts to create simpler development environments, such
as Project Siena which is an app-building app, and the online App Studio, which now supports
Windows 8 as well as Windows Phone, but these tend to be over-simplified to the extent that
developers cannot accomplish what they want.
My preference would be for an improved development environment within Visual Studio
itself. The tools for the C# language are now wonderfully productive, but those for XAML fall
short. If Microsoft is serious about making the Windows Runtime the target of choice for
developers, a better development experience in its premier tool, rather than a proliferation of
alternatives, would assist the transition.
new Visual Studio 2013 project type which lets
Windows Phone and Windows 8; in other words,
start for the Windows 8 Store.
you add multiple targets to a Store app. The
it is a Universal App.
There is one large problem with Microsoft’s
main additional target is Windows Phone 8.1,
The arrival of Office as a Store app is
strategy. Businesses, as noted above, are still
now in preview, though adding a target for
significant for several reasons. First, it means
choosing Windows 7, which cannot run Store
Xbox One was also demonstrated. A Universal
that Microsoft itself is implementing a large and
apps, making it unlikely that we will see
App has three projects in a single Visual Studio
complex app in the new environment (using
immediate huge growth in custom Modern app
solution, one for Windows Phone, one for
C++ and XAML, we were told), which means
development. This is why the company’s efforts
Windows 8, and a third which is shared. If you
that the internal teams will have a strong
to make Windows 8 more appealing to desktop
create or move code into the shared project, it is
incentive to improve the performance and
users are also critical, since it has to win them
merged into both of the other projects when
over in order to establish the newer platform.
“Microsoft remains a long way
compiled. This means you can share most of
Another issue is that, although the new
the code in a multi-target application
behind iOS and Andriod in mobile” Universal App project makes it easy to port a
(including user interface code if you wish),
Store app to Windows Phone, it does little to
but still keep target-specific code when needed.
reliability of the platform. Second, it will bring
assist developers in porting existing Windows
Underlying the Universal App is a
true touch-friendly productivity to Office for the
Phone apps based on Silverlight.
near-complete implementation of the Windows
first time (as opposed to the nod towards touch
Microsoft remains a long way behind iOS
Runtime, the engine underneath Windows Store
users found in Office 2013). Third, it removes the
and Android in mobile: hence its dual strategy
Apps, for Windows Phone. This means greater
main reason for the inclusion of the desktop in
of first, trying to fix Windows 8; and second,
compatibility between the two platforms,
Windows RT, the ARM-based version of
offering strong support for its cloud services on
though the old Silverlight platform for Windows
Windows 8.
those other client platforms.
Phone is still supported.
It is reasonable to speculate that a future
Perhaps the most popular session at Build,
Another significant demonstration at Build
equivalent to Windows RT may actually run the
outside the keynotes, was Miguel de Icaza (the
was Microsoft Office implemented as a Store
Windows Phone OS. Users will still get Modern
original developer of Mono, open source .NET)
app. Attendees saw an early build of
apps and Office, but the unpopular ARM-based
explaining how to code for iOS and Android
PowerPoint, with a look and feel more like that
Windows 8 may not exist in future.
using C#. Like Microsoft, even core Windows
of PowerPoint for iOS than Windows, but with a
Putting this together, it seems that rather
platform developers are getting the message
fuller set of features. The new Office (which
than diluting its focus on Modern apps,
that they can no longer live in a
looks at least a year away) will run both on
Microsoft is emphasising it, despite the slow
Windows-only world.
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
…and another
Jon Honeyball doesn’t appreciate Microsoft’s
efforts to make him use Microsoft’s cloud.
into this thing. So much is simply not there,
leaving barely more than the skeleton of a file
reader with a few basic editing functions
thrown in. Yes, it is free – and that’s all it
deserves to be.
Office for iPad looks considerably more
interesting at first glance. Somewhat more
actually works here, and I could be convinced
that a fair amount of care and attention was put
into this. I accept it is free if you don’t have the
appropriate subscription, and in that mode it is
read only. But what’s this? It syncs only to
OneDrive? Just hold on a cotton-pickin’
solutions, coupled with the increased speed of
the Internet, has been a godsend. Just four
short years ago, I lived in a small village just
west of Sudbury in Suffolk. My internet
Has Microsoft found its mojo? That’s the
connectivity was an unreliable ADSL
big question spinning around the
connection which topped out at about 2Mbit.
industry, in the wake of the departure by Bad
So bad was it that I had three of them, and tried
Boy Ballmer. It’s hard to find anyone who has a
to juggle them to get the best from the
bad thing to say about the newcomer, and it is
dreadful trio.
not helped by a number of product releases
I moved house to a village in
and changes which have arrived just after Steve
Cambridgeshire four years ago. My ADSL speed
went. It would be overly simplistic to suggest
leapt to about 18Mbit per second, and it was a
that these were all on hold waiting for Steve to
revelation. And last week, Fibre To The Cabinet
walk out for the final time. Things simply don’t
(FTTC) appeared, taking my speed up to around
move that quickly, especially in Microsoft land,
70Mbit a second. Now I have more speed than I
where things go slowly, and often seemingly
An emotive issue
can actually consume – even a 4K Netflix stream
Storage is an emotive subject. It’s where we put
consumes less than 20Mbit a second. Moving a
On the one hand, I am pleased with the
everything. I accept that sometimes the storage
few hundred gigabytes of data into a cloud
changes – more aggressive pricing on the Azure
metaphor gets a little blurred when we are
service, in my case Dropbox, is something that
family, finally releasing Office for iPad, making
talking about Exchange Server or SQL Server.
is now a possibility, not something which was a
noises about Office for Android, and so forth. All
But we accept that we need these extra layers
wild dream.
of these are things you would want to see in a
for the additional capabilities that they bring.
So we take our file systems seriously.
company that, finally, has a clear
Applications which sync data to and
vision of where it wants to go, and
from our file systems are serious things
an understanding of what
too, whether they be corporate archive
solutions that drive multi-headed tape
compromises it needs to make to
libraries, or a more simplistic replicate
get there. Clearly it cannot force
and archive to the cloud.
Windows, and Windows apps, down
We don’t expect our choice of
everyone’s throats moving forward.
sync tool to be driven by any factors
And these changes do follow that
other than a choice we make based on
script, and point the way forward to
our own priorities. I happen to like
a rosy future.
Dropbox, despite its recent
For myself, I veer between hope
appointment of an American political
and despair. Yes, it’s good that
apparatchik. I like that it works on all of
Microsoft is finally bringing out
my devices, irrespective of platform,
Office apps to other platforms. But
Microsoft Office for iPad ties you in to OneDrive, which is not
and that upgrades come across all
have you looked at OneNote for
so handy if you use Dropbox.
platforms at the same time too.
Mac? It is truly disgusting when
I have no particular beef with
compared to its equally free
File systems are where we keep our crown
OneDrive. Well, that’s not quite true. Firstly, I
Windows version. It’s not that it is lacking in a
jewels. It’s what we archive, backup, tend
hate the way that there is OneDrive itself, and
few features: it has been hung drawn and
carefully and fret over. It is the final bastion of
an entirely different thing called OneDrive for
quartered. And then gutted. And put through a
our company and our personal data.
Business. Ah, this is the one you must use if you
mincer. It is laughably bad when you sync any
The arrival of cloud-based archive
have Proper Grown Up Versions of Office 365,
sort of advanced OneNote data from Windows
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
such as my E3 accounts. OneDrive won’t talk to
E3 account storage, because OneDrive is
designed for Small People. That’s OK, I can go
download OneDrive for Business. Except there is
no OneDrive for Business for the Mac platform
yet. Windows, yes, but not Mac. Microsoft still
has no clue about cross platform synchronicity.
So I can use OneDrive For Business storage from
my iPad for my Office for iPad device, but I can’t
sync files on that device to the file system on my
desktop because Microsoft hasn’t bothered to
write that bit just yet.
I understand why Microsoft wants to force
all Office users into using OneDrive, or OneDrive
for Business. It makes things much easier for
them, especially when it comes to supporting
such technical marvels as Office Web
Applications. It’s so much easier for Microsoft if
the document that this server-side web app is
attempting to open is on another Microsoft
server. Google does the same thing with its
Google Docs – try finding an easy way to open a
file on OneDrive from Google Docs, and you will
soon be burying your head in your hands and
gently whimpering.
And that’s where I hit an impasse. I don’t
want to have my choice of storage forced upon
me by my choice of tools. I don’t want to have to
use Google Drive simply to use Google Docs.
Think of the utter mess you will get into if you
try to use Office 365 web apps from inside a
ChromeOS laptop. And it really isn’t any better if
I want to use the web version of Pages from
Apple to reference a file that isn’t in their
storage space.
The truth is that in old fashioned, insecure
operating systems, you can have tools which
can read and write to almost anywhere in the
file system. And I understand why it must be
that on iOS, an app cannot write outside of its
own space, and certainly cannot gain access to
the storage belonging to another app. That’s
why we need tools which can act as
gatekeepers to storage, and then hand it over in
a controlled, verified way.
I don’t mind companies taking a grip over
our choice of apps – I understand that some
people like Office, others like Google Docs, or
Apple’s apps. But we shouldn’t be moving to a
world where our choice of tools determines our
choice of storage. That way lies a real mess
where it is impossible to know where things are,
or where you last left something.
And are we happy at the thought that, as it
appears to be the case, that OneDrive For
Business is actually rewriting the data within
files when it syncs them, without changing the
file saved date and time stamp? I accept that
OneDrive for Business is actually an active
repository based on Sharepoint technology,
rather than a ‘simple’ file sync system. But why
am I being forced to accept these solutions
simply because the vendor wants it that way?
There are many tough questions to be
asked of companies as we move into the cloud.
Some argue that these are early days, and that
it will take time for things to settle down. That
OneNote for Mac is a version 1 product, neatly
ignoring the fact that Microsoft has been
shipping Mac software for nearly 30 years.
We also need to tackle the question of
“what is Excel?” What functionality level should
we expect on different platforms? It is simply
not going to be enough to have Windows as
the flagship version moving forward. After all,
by any reasonable viewpoint, an iPad today is
easily as powerful as a Windows desktop
running XP from a decade ago, if not more so.
Features cannot be divided out to favour
specific platforms. The companies that gain our
trust moving forward are the ones who deliver
the best experience on all platforms, at the
same time. Anything less will be judged
Grey Matter • 01364 654100 • HardCopy
Short cuts
Paul Stephens takes a sideways look at the world of IT.
Once as popular as an iPad: the
Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
All our yesterdays
Misty-eyed nostalgia all round in the Short Cuts office this month
as we read HardCopy Editor Matt Nicholson’s excellent book When
Computing Got Personal: A history of the desktop computer (see page 7).
The story begins in 1972, with Xerox scientist Alan Kay describing a
hand-held, wirelessly connected device (the ‘Dynabook’) which was pure
science fiction at the time but which bore a remarkable resemblance to the
kind of large-screen smartphone that gets thrown in free with a £30 a
month contract today. Clearly the period since then has been one of
transition, but even if you were there at the time it’s easy to underestimate
just how big an influence the hobbyist/garage sector had on firstgeneration microcomputer architectures, the staggeringly low power and
capacity (by today’s standards) of those early devices, and the extent to
which pure chance played a part in shaping the way things developed.
Reading this book will put you straight, albeit at the cost of some sleepless
nights worrying about how it might so easily have turned out.
Something that’s worth the cover price on its own is a definitive
account (at last) of how Apple had the nerve to sue Microsoft for nicking
the idea of the GUI from them when everyone knew that Apple had nicked
it from Xerox in the first place. Opinion here at Short Cuts has tended to
vary from ‘barefaced cheek’ to ‘cheek of a barefaced nature’, but deep down
we knew there had to be more to it than that. The book explains exactly
what it was, and whose cheeks were really being bared. (You’ll have to read
it to find out!)
Another great mystery laid to rest is how the late Gary Kildall became
the official Unluckiest Bloke of the Past 40 Years. In the late 1970s Killdall’s
CP/M operating system had created the single OS, multiple hardware
vendor market that IBM and
Microsoft so successfully
commandeered in the
1980s. It could have been
CP/M running on that
Big Blue hardware,
but Gary passed
on the option,
leaving him in a
situation similar to
those who passed on the
Beatles and JK Rowling, only a good
few billions dollars worse off.
As the book explains, Gary did have his reasons, not least
that the IBM guys turned up with a non-disclosure agreement which said that
they couldn’t disclose who they were representing, while any product secrets he might disclose
to them instantly became their mystery employer’s property. This didn’t, however, bother
quick-witted young Harvard dropout Bill Gates, who didn’t actually have a product to disclose at that
point, but knew where he could get one. The rest, as they say, is history.
Rule Britannia
Then, of course, there were the Brits. Sadly we stayed true to form, building brilliantly elegant
designs that weren’t compatible with anything and were eventually swamped by cruder but
strangely more effective products from our American cousins. Our most successful machine, in unit
sales at least, was specified by the organisation that also brought us Play School (the BBC), while our
highest-profile digital entrepreneur was, not to put too fine a point on it, Sir Clive Sinclair.
Sir Clive doesn’t come out of it all that well (although better than he did in the BBC docu-drama
Micro Men, when comedian Alexander Armstrong played him as a
half-crazed loon with a stick-on ginger beard). Builder of numerous home
computing devices featuring Z80 processors and rubber keyboards (this
was before he moved on to battery-powered trikes), he seems to have
been obsessed with small size and low prices, but less so with whether
the devices actually worked.
In the end his exasperated design chief, Chris Curry, left to form
Acorn, the firm which built the BBC Micro and eventually, via a few twists
and turns, became ARM, which today designs the processors which Intel
would dearly (OK, desperately) love to replace in most people’s
smartphones and tablets. The lesson for us Brits, it seems, is “do brilliantly
elegant stuff, but leave the packaging, manufacturing and marketing to
someone else.”
When Computing Got Personal covers a lot else besides, including the
emergence (from a shadowy background) of the Internet, how Steve Jobs
was sacked from Apple then came back and saved it, the rise of the open
source movement and the modern day shift to mobile. Here at Short Cuts,
however, we like it most because it reminds us of just how tough we had
it back then. Next time we hear someone complaining that their phone
only has 16GB of storage, we’ll be able to tell them that in 1983 an IBM PC
XT cost $5,000 and came with a 10 MB (yes, ten megabytes) hard disk.
IBM’s PC XT – a tough machine for tough times (picture: Ruben de Rijcke, CC licence).
Kids today don’t know how lucky they are. (OK, your job’s safe – Ed)
Summer 2014 • Issue 63 • HardCopy
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