Reductionizational innaccurization in acknowledmentary textual material

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/03/17 03:01 -04:00, original URI:

Please read disclaimer; content of Michael Kaplan's blog not approved by Microsoft!

Back in the end of 2000, then internationalization PM lead in SQL Server approached me about a contract.

I was a contractor back then so this kind of thing happened all the time. All in all about 1/3 of such inquiries from people I knew led to actual contracts, so I tried not to ever get too excited about a contract in case nothing ever came of it.

But this one was different.

They were kind of regretting the lack of good internationalization content in SQL Server 2000's Books Online and after securing some money from the SQL Server marketing folks, they thought I would be a good person to write a white paper. You know, something about ten pages or so that would cover the stuff that ought be in Books Online. Did I think this was something I could do, and would I be interested in writing it?

I immediately wrote up an outline of everything I could think of that I thought ought to be in such a paper, and told them that it would be a lot more than 10 pages (I estimated more like 50).

They agreed in principle with my outline and put together the contract. I talked to people all over the SQL Server team and in dependent components that were used by SQL Server, and then wrote up the paper.

They had an editor do a pass and then the marketing folks took a pass to removed my (in their opinion) excessive use of the word unfortunately (such papers, being white papers and not marketing copy, often have to document that which does not work perfectly just yet.

At the time, the person in marketing read the paper was astounded at how I could cover so much of the boundary conditions and point out so many limitations while still clearly having it read like the author really believed in the work. This was nearly four years before there was this blog so this particular talent of mine was quite unknown to them at the time!

Anyway, they were happy with the final document (which only contained three instances of the word unfortunately, thank you very much!), and by the time they added all of the formatting information it clocked in at 57 pages. It went live in April 2001.

You can read the paper right here, entitled International Features in Microsoft SQL Server 2000.

This blog is not about that paper.

In something of an interesting twist, I was asked to write a book on the same subject by Sams that the publisher was originally very unhappy about seeing a white paper from Microsoft that covered a lot of the same ground that they thought Microsoft would object to the book being published (it was indeed Fernando who corrected that notion and let them know that they were ecstatic about the book idea from the author of the white paper and supported the project completely (this project was later canceled for unrelated reasons as I pointed out previously).

Anyway about six years later )in April 1007) the SQL Server UE team decided to release a revised/updated version of this paper to cover the latest version, and they did so.

In fact you can read that paper right here too, entitled International Features in Microsoft SQL Server 2005.

This blog is not about that paper either.

Now I did look at the update and I think they did an upfront job, though something odd happened in the acknowledgments as several factual errors were introduced there in the effort to abbreviate that affected the folks from Windows who were referenced. I thought I'd contrast them in a way that would show the errors, by showing them in red. :-)

Here is the original text in the 2000 White Paper's acknowledgments:

This article would have been impossible without the hard work of many people, and I would be remiss if I did not mention them.

Michael Kung, in his role as a Program Manager for SQL Server with a focus on globalization, provided not only invaluable review material for many different parts of this article, but also helped point me to the right people for all the questions that came up in product areas with which I was less familiar. His broad knowledge of many different areas has always been a great resource, even beyond this article, and I was very happy for his help in this project.

Peter Carlin, a Development Manager whose responsibilities include the SQL Server relational engine, was not only able to find the time to provide more feedback than any other person I contacted, but he also crafted an e-mail that contained a lot of the important information regarding Unicode support in SQL Server. This e-mail was actually the direct inspiration for this piece that exploded into an article almost 25 times the size!

Fernando Caro, a lead international program manager, was not only able to help take me through the OLAP features of SQL Server, but also helped change the discussion on localized system messages from a curt "sorry, not supported" to the helpful pointer to the appropriate resources. I am grateful that this article gave me the opportunity to point out the problem, but even more grateful that Fernando and Peter decided it was important to solve it. It is widely due to people like them who always want to help users in any (reasonable) way possible that SQL Server is such a great product.

I also would like to thank several program mangers and testers for their assistance. Without their help, many of the features that are scattered throughout the full SQL Server product would not have had their international features and issues discussed here. These people include: Michael Rys, Euan Garden, Fadi Fakhouri, and James Howey. I would also like to thank Margaret Li for the insight she gave me into how the Microsoft Search service that sits underneath SQL Server's Full-Text Search does its work.

Many of the hard working people on the Windows 2000 team were also very helpful, both for providing information on how basic issues such as collation and locale support are supposed to work and of course for providing the original data on which SQL Server 7.0 and 2000's collation support is based. I would especially like to thank Julie Bennett, Cathy Wissink, and John McConnell for being around to answer questions and provide encouragement for getting the word out!

Of course, the full list of people who were involved in the planning, developing, and testing of SQL Server's international and multilingual features would probably be almost as long as the list of people who worked on the product, because these features are clearly not an "add-on" but are a core part of SQL Server 2000. Therefore, I would like to thank everyone involved for producing a great product that is so globally useful!

And here is the 2005 version of the acknowledgments:

This paper was originally written by Michael Kaplan for SQL Server 2000, with the assistance of Michael Kung, Program Manager for SQL Server; Peter Carlin, Development Manager for the SQL Server relational engine; and Fernando Caro, lead international program manager. Additional information was provided by Michael Rys, Euan Garden, Fadi Fakhouri, James Howey, and Margaret Li. Information about SQL Server 7.0 and 2000 collation support was provided by Julie Bennett, Cathy Wissink, and John McConnell.

Updated information regarding the features in SQL Server 2005 was provided by the SQL Server User Education team, with the assistance of Fernando Caro and Nobuhiko Kishi.

Notice how they managed to change the team of those three? Let's call it a lateral move. :-)


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