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We want to make information in the SQL Server product documentation easier to find. We also want to make sure that the content is consistent, that there is the right amount of information in all areas, and that it is up-to-date. To do so, for SQL Server 2012 we have changed how SQL Server documentation is delivered and structured.

Where can I find the SQL Server product documentation?

SQL Server 2012 product content is available online at MSDN and TechNet. While it is no longer installed with the product, you can easily set up Microsoft Help Viewer to either access the content on MSDN, or to download the product documentation to your local computer. 

For more information, see Get Started with Product Documentation for SQL Server.

What changes have we made?

Beginning with SQL Server 2012, content that has traditionally been included in Books Online is now published to four separate areas on MSDN and TechNet.

  • The new Books Online focuses on how to get tasks done and includes language reference topics.
  • Tutorials provide scenario-based procedural content.
  • The SQL Server Developer Reference provides detailed developer guides and API references for programmers writing applications.
  • When available, SQL Server Technical Guidance will provide more prescriptive information on how to use the product to implement your solutions, and conceptual and architectural information to help understand solutions.

How has Books Online changed for SQL Server 2012?

When you need to get something done, the new Books Online tells you how. It focuses on features and tasks, and provides reference content:

  • Feature descriptions
  • How-to content
  • Tool descriptions
  • Language reference, including Transact SQL, DAX, and MDX

We’ve removed and discarded content that is redundant or obsolete—making it easier for you to find what you need. While many changes have been made to the SQL Server 2012 documentation, it is still a work in progress. You may notice inconsistencies between content areas. For example, not all how-to topics show how to perform a task using different methods.

Where can I find tutorials?

SQL Server tutorials are prescriptive, scenario-based content that enables you to familiarize yourself with SQL Server solutions. SQL Server tutorials are published to MSDN and TechNet separate from Books Online and Technical Guidance, giving you up-to-date content.

How about the Developer Reference?

The SQL Server Developer Reference is available online at MSDN and TechNet, and you will be able to download it as a help package and view it using Microsoft Help Viewer. Moving the Developer Reference outside of Books Online should improve discoverability of the content.

What will the Technical Guidance provide?

When you want to get the full story on SQL Server, you can get it in the SQL Server Technical Guidance area, including:

  • Prescriptive guidance about solutions
  • End-to-end scenarios, including real-world examples
  • Best practices
  • More detailed conceptual information
  • Role-focused information about setup, deployment, administration and management, security, troubleshooting, and performance.

And the community?

As usual, SQL Server community sites like the SQL Server Resource Center, the SQL Server Developer Center, the MSDN Forum, and the TechNet wiki are open for business.

What do you think?

This is a big change for the SQL Server Books Online and work is still in progress. We have made these changes to make sure that you can get the right information when you need it. We want your feedback. Let us know what you think about this change:

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