I recently applied for a job that would require some knowledge of Structured Query Language and SQL Server, so I decided to do some homework on the subject. I got a book from the library (SQL Demystified, which is a good enough intro but leaves a bit to be desired in terms of readability), started learning about relational databases, and decided to download a free version of the software to play with. Database management is a great skill for the tech-savvy librarian to have, and besides I’ve learned new technologies from books before – everything I know about web design is thanks to the wonderful series of O’Reilly books. What could go wrong?
To sum up a friend’s take on the situation, “Why do you want to learn SQL? So you can be annoyed daily… hourly… by the minute? You are only just beginning to understand the pain of SQL.”
Immediate response: “Pssh, it can’t be that bad.”
Revised response, after spending an entire day on SQL Server 2008 download and setup alone: “Okay, you may have a point.”
Microsoft’s documentation was very poor, there were compatibility issues where there should be none, the files were confusingly named, and the installation wizard was unintuitive at best. I’ve never needed to consult two separate tutorials simply to download a piece of software before, but I won the battle and now I can begin the process of learning the language. SQL doesn’t seem so bad. SQL Server, however, seems like a formidable opponent.
For anyone looking to avoid the frustration I just endured, here’s what I found to install SQL Server 2008 Express and SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) on my Windows 7 machine:
- Make sure your operating system is up to date. Go to Start > All Programs > Windows Update, and make sure the latest Service Pack is installed, otherwise you’ll get an error when you try to install SQL Server.
- Go here to download SQL Server 2008 Express (this is the free edition – there’s a 2012 free edition out now, but I went with 2008 because there’s more support and guidance available for the older edition).
- The installation wizard’s instructions are fairly self-explanatory, but there are a few configuration steps you’ll need to know to set up your network, which can be found here.
- If you do step 3 correctly, SSMS should be installed along with SQL Server 2008, however you can install it separately if you mess up like I did. Go here to download the file, and keep in mind that the installation wizard is exactly like the one for SQL Server 2008 – which confused me until I found this tutorial that guided me through installation.
- Now you should be good to go – click Start > All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server 2008 > SQL Server Management Studio. I had an issue connecting to the network (error code 2) and resolved it by revisiting the configuration manager from step 3, clicking ‘SQL Server Services’ on the left-hand column and starting SQL Server, which had for some reason been stopped.