Monday, 29 April 2013

SQL Server 2012 Querying Exam 70-461 - Christopher Harrison - Train Signal

SQL Server 2012 Querying
Exam 70-461

Christopher Harrison
Train Signal

This course is designed to prepare you for Microsoft Certification Exam 70-461. It should teach you what you need to know about SQL Server 2012 databases, querying, using joins, aggregations and a bit about optimization. It also includes some instructions on management of SQL objects and the SQL server itself. The 23 lessons are:

1. Introduction to SQL Server 2012
2. Introduction to Relational Databases
3. Introduction to SELECT Statements
4. Filtering Results with WHERE Statements
5. Utilizing Joins
6. Executing Subqueries and UNION Statements
7. Aggregating Data
8. Advanced Data Aggregations
9. Built-In Functions
10. Query Optimization
11. Modifying Data
12. Advanced Data Modification
13. Managing Transactions
14. Implementing Error Handling
15. XML Basics
16. Retrieving XML
17. Importing XML
18. Creating and Altering Tables
19. Data Validation with Constraints
20. Creating and Modifying Triggers
21. Creating and Modifying Views
22. Creating and Modifying Stored Procedures
23. Creating and Modifying User Defined Functions

Now I must admit, this course was frustrating almost from the get-go. For the beginning, every time Christopher did a query or anything in the management studio, I tried to do it also. I soon found that I had the wrong version of the Adventure Works Database. At first I tried the Adventure Works 2012 Database that comes with the MS Press book, Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Training Kit, since that is the book for the same exam. But soon my queries were not getting the same results as Christopher. Next I tried the other 2012 Sample DBs, then the 2008 R2 and 2008, and finally found that Christopher was using the Adventure Works 2005 R2 database. Well, after spending hours installing and testing databases to find the correct one, I could finally follow along with Christopher and perform all the queries as he was, and verify my results. I find it hard to imagine an SQL course without some hands-on experience. You need to spend time in the management studio, playing, learning, querying and making mistakes in order to really learn it. The way this course was structured and prepared, it just made that vexing and disappointing.  In many ways, it really felt like Christopher just took his knowledge, used an old database and showed us how to do the stuff he knew and then showed us new stuff.

Yes he does teach a lot, and his style is engaging.  But between the database issue and other inconsistencies, I spent the rest of the course feeling short- changed. An example is: in lesson 11 it gives warnings, and one is to always start with the Where statement, but for the first 10 lessons, it was not done this way. So it was just thrown in out of the blue. Not a bad course but not great.  If I had to give it a rating of 5 stars it would only be a 2 or 2.5 at best. It is the only time I have done a course from TrainSignal that, if I had bought it as a standalone, I would have requested my money back and gone and tried a different provider.

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