I think I may have set myself an all-but-impossible task: to choose ten bloggers who write about SQL Server, and who have been outstanding in the last year. Nearly impossible, not because I can't find ten, but because there are so many more worthy of recognition. In addition, many of those I will not be including are friends and colleagues, so the task may be as thankless as it is difficult.
Nevertheless, having set myself the goal, I may as well get on with it. My method was simple enough. I started with those blogs I subscribe to, and, of those, found the ones I bookmark most often. These were neatly objective measures, but I was still left with about 20 blogs to consider. Then I had to find some more subjective criteria: are the blogs helpful, insightful, original, well written, newsworthy, and so on. I excluded official Microsoft blogs, focusing instead on the community blogs, so there is only one Microsoft team member on the list.
Here then are My Top 10 for this last year. To be fair to the others who so narrowly missed out, I'll publish a longer blogroll later of those who I consider to be essential reading. For now, let me know what you think of my top ten, in strictly alphabetical order.
Like most of the bloggers in this top ten, Bob is an active and excellent speaker and writer. Bob is notably excellent when writing about data access and programmability, areas which require both sound understanding of the database technology and the ability to work with, and explain, the latest programming models. If you're an application developer working with SQL Server, then Bob is essential reading ... and don't miss his conference sessions either!
Rob is the only Microsoft employee on My Top 10 list because his blog is really very independent and hosted with a quite separate presence and identity. Rob has set out to create a compelling blog for the new PowerPivot product and he does a great job synthesizing his years of experience in the Excel world with his detailed knowledge of the PowerPivot technology. Even better, Rob presents compelling, easy-to-understand scenarios with a great sense of humor. If you're interested in PowerPivot, you need to follow this blog.
Kasper de Jonge
This blog has been a revelation to me this year. Kasper works in the Netherlands and blogs on BI topics. One outstanding feature of his blog is his use of copious screenshots. Often, with a new product just out in public like PowerPivot or the new Report Builder, Kasper sedulously records his experience with setup and first impressions, all captured with useful screens and comments. Even I learn stuff about setting up our BI products here! It's not just about installation either: Kasper explores many new features with the same careful approach.
I really enjoy Andy's blog, not just for the technical posts (especially about SSIS), but for the way he writes with a perceptiveness and passion about the community of SQL users. Andy persuades, cajoles and encourages SQL Server users to get out and be part of something bigger: whether blogging, or simply attending a conference or event. Even better, Andy is always very clear about how community support fits in to an often challenging and difficult career path.
Now this is a kick-ass blog. In fact, often times you get the impression that Sean's key motivation in sitting down to blog for the day is just to kick some ass. But he chooses his victims well! Whether it is Microsoft's product teams, officious auditors, or even himself (for delivering a bad presentation), Sean is typically forthright and on target. Sean is also, like Andy Leonard, excellent at supporting DBAs in their career and personal development, with advice in the last year on technical skills, interview techniques and even office politics!
The sheer breadth and depth of Adam's posts are testaments to his knowledge of SQL Server. I have only two things to say: read this blog, and try every code sample Adam posts. You'll be better for it.
Paul is a former Microsoftie who often draws on his detailed understanding of the relational engine's internals to give unique insights on his blog. As an expert on DBCC, this blog is simply essential reading if you are interested in recovery or repair - it's title is, in fact,"In Recovery." Even better, if you want to avoid recovery and repair, you need to read this. Paul also writes very entertainingly, which really helps with the often deeply technical matter.
Jamie's previous blog used to be called "SSIS Junkie." I don't think he has quite kicked the habit, as his technical posts about SSIS are always excellent, but there is certainly a wider range of interests on display here from data warehousing to SQL Azure.
Kimberly is inimitable, both on stage and in her blog. I wouldn't know where to start recommending her work - and if I started I could hardly stop. Let me take one example. Want to know about indexing? Read this blog - for the examples, the technical detail, the good humour, and the sheer practicality of the advice. And that's only one topic. Read the blog, every post.
Chris is an OLAP guy, and if you know OLAP (whether in the form of SQL Server Analysis Services or any other vendor) you really should subscribe to Chris's blog for its breadth. For those specifically in the SQL Server sphere, Chris's posts on the MDX query language, and more recently on the use of PowerPivot DAX, are not only practical and perceptive, but help to stretch your skills and cover challenging scenarios.
So that's the list. What do you think? Anyone I missed out that you feel really needs to be there? And if so, who would you remove? I'd be fascinated to hear from you.