Microsoft Virtual Academy: Database Development

Data makes up anything having to do with hardware, software, and everything in between. It is all about the transfer of information – what is coming in, what is going out, and where it is going. Database Management Systems (DBMS) have been used since the 60’s, but with the explosion of home computing, the internet, and the “information superhighway”, as it were, database architecture and structure have been changing massively.

Online Databases

Online Databases

These days, with Big Data being a driving force and issue, database development is more important than ever. Since a database in an organized collection of data, and Big Data is the opposite of that, there is still a lot of work to be done. And the ones who are making sense of all of it are the database developers, who work tirelessly to keep this worldwide network of data and information running properly, be it for a company, agency, organization, or small office.

Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) has a relatively small section on database development. Courses on database development have been available at MVA since 2014, but there are only seven courses in the library. These courses cover topics like SQL Server, LINQ, NoSQL, Microsoft Azure storage options, and others.

Course Review: Querying with Transact-SQL

The most popular course on database development is Querying with Transact-SQL, instructed by Graeme Malcolm and Geoff Allix. This course is an introduction to T-SQL, which is a query language designed to work with data in SQL servers and Azure SQL Database. T-SQL is considered a fundamental skill that any aspiring database professional or application developer should acquire.

Instructor Graeme Malcolm

Instructor Graeme Malcolm

The topics covered in this course are:

  • Introduction to Transact-SQL
  • Querying Tables with SELECT
  • Querying Multiple Tables with Joins
  • Using Set Operators
  • Using Functions and Aggregating Data
  • Using Subqueries and APPLY
  • Using Table Expressions
  • Grouping Sets and Pivoting Data
  • Modifying Data
  • Programming with Transact-SQL
  • Error Handling and Transactions
  • Recommended Resources & Next Steps

This course has no prerequisites, and anyone who wants to learn more about querying with SQL or Azure can enroll and begin to further their career. This course is worth 106 points, and runs about 8 hours. There are 13 modules in this Level 100 course, and they include assessments and slideshow presentations. There is also a link to the course lab files, which can and should be downloaded by those who wish to make the most of the training.

Instructor Geoff Allix

Instructor Geoff Allix

This course is also meant as a recommended prep course for those who are about to sit for their 2012 70-461 exam – also known as Querying Microsoft SQL Server – on their way to becoming MCP, MCSA, or MCSE certified. The course offers a solid foundation and understanding of Transact-SQL, and is rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Malcolm is senior content developer at Microsoft. He is a data professional who specializes in Microsoft data technologies. Malcolm is a consultant, trainer, and author, who has been invested in SQL since Server 4.2 (1992).

Allix is a SQL Server specialist, author, consultant, and trainer. He is Principal Technologist at Content Master.

Course Review: Implementing Entity Framework with MVC

Another very popular course is Implementing Entity Framework with MVC, instructed by Adam Tuliper and Christopher Harrison. This course’s purpose is to provide information on Entity Framework (EF) 6, which is an open source object/relational mapping (ORM) framework. The course teaches exactly what EF 6 is, and how it can create, maintain, and manage databases for its users. The course also goes in-depth, and explores advanced topics such as transaction management and integration of stored procedures. Plus, the course provides a glimpse of the features which are part of the soon-to-come EF 7.

Entity Framework

Entity Framework

The course covers the following topics:

  • Entity Framework
  • Beginning Code First
  • Managing Relationships
  • Managing the Database
  • Managing Transactions
  • Integrating Extra Features and Looking Forward
  • Recommended Resources & Next Steps

This course has no prerequisites. It is worth 60 points, and runs about 6 hours. There are seven modules in this course, and they include assessments and course slides. The level of this course is Level 100, but in order to get the most out of it, it is recommended to have a foundation of ASP.NET MVC knowledge and experience. The course is rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuliper is a Senior Technical Evangelist with Microsoft, focused on web, data, gaming, and cloud tech. He has 20 years of experience as a software architect for enterprise, startups, public sector, healthcare, defense, and financial industries. He is a regular contributor to Channel9, and a certified geek.

Harrison is a content developer for Microsoft, focused on ASP.NET and Office 365 development. He is a SharePoint and SQL trainer and consultant, and a regular presenter at TechEd. Side note: he is a keen blogger and avid marathoner!

Managing data effectively is the key to having a successful, smooth-running, high-performing, and flexible application. Another very important weapon in any developer’s arsenal is an ORM tool. For this reason, training and becoming skilled with EF is recommended of anyone who is developing in an ASP.NET environment.

The database development section of MVA might be small, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. These courses are presented by the industry’s top instructors and data developers, and they provide students with the skills and tools they need to become better database professionals.

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