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Preparing for and Taking Microsoft Exam DP-201 (Designing an Azure Data Solution)

On January 31st, 2019, Microsoft released two new Azure Data exams: Implementing an Azure Data Solution (DP-200) and Designing an Azure Data Solution (DP-201). If you pass both of these exams, you become a Microsoft Certified Azure Data Engineer Associate. On June 17th, 2019, I passed DP-201: Designing an Azure Data Solution! Yay :)

In this post, I share how I prepared for the exam and what my experience was like on the day of the exam.

(I have previously also written about Exam DP-200 :) )

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Biml Tips and Tricks (SQLBits 2019 Session Recording)

At SQLBits 2019, I presented my Biml Tips and Tricks: Not Just for SSIS Packages! session. The session recording has been available for many months, but I only just now realized I never blogged abut it :) You can view the slide deck on my SlideShare and download my Biml Demos if you want to dig into my code examples.

Biml Tips and Tricks: Not Just for SSIS Packages! Session Recording

Watch the full video on the SQLBits website:

Biml Tips and Tricks Session Recording (SQLBits 2019)

You can increase or decrease the speed, enable closed captioning, and even download the video for offline viewing.

(If you want a laugh, I recommend watching in 2x speed with the not-quite-accurate captions. You’ll see gems like “This is Bemmel. Tips and tricks not just for exercise packages!” :D)

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Tips for Improving Your Presentation Skills (DataGrillen 2019 Session Recording)

At DataGrillen 2019, I presented a session called Uhms and Bunny Hands: Tips for Improving Your Presentation Skills. The wonderful Amanda Debler (@texmandie) was kind enough to record it, yay! :)

The session recording is now available on YouTube, and the slide deck is available on SlideShare.

Tips for Improving Your Presentation Skills – Session Recording

Watch the session recording on YouTube:

(As this was an unplanned session recording, we didn’t have any microphones. The sound quality could be better, but I decided to share this video anyway. I hope it can still be useful for others!)

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Preparing for and Taking Microsoft Exam DP-200 (Implementing an Azure Data Solution)

On January 31st, 2019, Microsoft released two new Azure Data exams: Implementing an Azure Data Solution (DP-200) and Designing an Azure Data Solution (DP-201). If you pass both of these exams, you become a Microsoft Certified Azure Data Engineer Associate. On May 24th, 2019, I passed DP-200: Implementing an Azure Data Solution! Yay :)

In this post, I share how I prepared for the exam and what my experience was like on the day of the exam.

(I have later also written about Exam DP-201 :) )

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Comparing Mapping and Wrangling Data Flows in Azure Data Factory

In 2019, the Azure Data Factory team announced two exciting features. The first was Mapping Data Flows (currently in Public Preview), and the second was Wrangling Data Flows (currently in Limited Private Preview). Since then, I have heard many questions. One of the more common questions is “which should I use?” In this blog post, we will be comparing Mapping and Wrangling Data Flows to hopefully make it a little easier for you to answer that question.

Illustration of Person Comparing Mapping and Wrangling Data Flows in Azure Data Factory

Should you use Mapping or Wrangling Data Flows?

Now, we all know that the consultant answer to “which should I use?” is It Depends ™ :) But what does it depend on?

To me, it boils down to a few key questions you need to ask:

  • What is the task or problem you are trying to solve?
  • Where and how will you use the output?
  • Which tool are you most comfortable using?

Before we dig further into these questions, let’s start with comparing Mapping and Wrangling Data Flows.

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Generating SELECT statements in Biml using GetColumnList

Biml logo representing the blog post "Generating SELECT statements in Biml using GetColumnList"

In a previous blog post, we looked at how to generate SQL using Biml. (If you haven’t read that post, you may want to start there and then come back here.) In this post, we will go through how to generate SELECT statements using the Biml column method GetColumnList.

Using Biml column methods

Biml column methods return code fragments. These code fragments can be used as building blocks to generate custom T-SQL statements. For example, the GetColumnList method returns a list of columns, separated by commas, that you can use in a SELECT statement. You can filter the columns and customize the output by passing parameters.

Examples of GetColumnList code fragments

If you have a table with three columns, the default output will look something like this:

[PersonID], [FirstName], [LastName]

But what if you don’t want to select all three columns? Or what if you want to use an alias for your table? No problem! The customized output can look something like this instead:

p.FirstName, p.LastName

We will go through the different ways of customizing the output a little later in this post.

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Bullying, triggers, reactions, and reflections

After spending a week at MVP Summit with old and new friends, I feel energized. My brain has been refilled with lots of happy memories :)

And one not-so-happy memory:

One. Just one negative experience during an otherwise fantastic week. One negative experience that objectively really wasn’t that big of a deal, followed by an absolutely overwhelming number of replies full of love and support. (Thank you 💙) And yet, this one negative experience has dominated my thoughts and feelings for days.

It’s easy to say that I refuse to let one stranger and one negative experience take over and push my happy memories away. Actually doing it is a whole different situation. No matter how determined I am or how much support I get, dealing with an experience like this is never easy for me.

I have trained my brain for many years to respond in a certain way, to gnaw at the negative even when it’s surrounded by positive. That habit does not change overnight just because I want it to. It’s something I need to actively work on to improve, and that requires determination and effort over time.

Writing is my way of dealing with things like this. Structuring my thoughts, describing my feelings, and reflecting on why I reacted the way I did is all part of my process.

But why are you sharing this publicly?

I’m very aware that my social media accounts are mostly highlight reels. I choose to focus on the positive things in my life, and so what most people see is the happy, bubbly, super excited version of me. I wish life was like that all the time :) But it’s not. Most days are not. Some days, you get flat out told that you suck, and instead of being strong and brushing it off, you end up crying and withdrawing from everything and everyone.

And that’s ok. That’s life. We’re flawed, and if we weren’t flawed, we wouldn’t be human. But being human also means we have choices. We can choose to take responsibility for our own feelings, get back up, try to learn from our experiences, and keep going.

Writing helps me. If I can also help someone else by sharing this publicly, whether it is helping one person understand why someone can react strongly to something seemingly small, or showing another person that they’re not alone in experiencing similar feelings, I will count that as a double win :)

So what happened?

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Technical Accomplishments and Happy Memories (T-SQL Tuesday #112)

Technical Accomplishments and Happy Memories (T-SQL Tuesday #112)

The March 2019 edition of T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Shane O’Neill (@SOZDBA). This month, Shane wants us to share our cookies. Wait… what? Yes! Cookies :) In this analogy, cookies are accomplishments or memories you can look back on when things get tough. Something that will give you an energy kick to keep you going when you think you’re completely done.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this since the topic was announced. My cookie jar definitely consists of two types of cookies: technical and non-technical. There are more of the latter, which I believe is a good thing :)

In this post, I’ll highlight some of the technical accomplishments I’m proud of, and share some of my happy memories that always make me smile. (I mean pictures. I will share lots and lots of pictures.)

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Why I’m a Business Intelligence Consultant (T-SQL Tuesday #111)

T-SQL Tuesday #111: Why I'm a Business Intelligence Consultant

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Andy Leonard (@AndyLeonard). Andy wants to know what is our “why”, or why we do what we do. Before I can answer the why, I will briefly explain the what :) I work as a Business Intelligence consultant, focusing on Data Warehousing, Data Integration, and Data Visualization.

The short answer to “why?” is because the work is both challenging and rewarding. As a Business Intelligence consultant, I get to use all my skills from programming to design. I get to satisfy my instinctive need to group, organize, and sort things when working with data. Then I get to make things shiny and pretty. Finally, I get to work with other people, learn about their industries, and help them do their jobs better.

The long answer is… longer :) I absolutely love my job now, but I ended up in the world of data completely accidentally. I’ve gone from Web Development to Graphic Design to Interactive Design to Java Programming to SharePoint Development to Data Warehouse Architecture to Community Evangelizing… And now I’m here :) (Phew!) So why am I a Business Intelligence consultant?

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