Monday, March 26, 2012

10 days, 10 free Oracle Data Compare licenses each day

Starting today (March 26, 2012) we will be giving away 10 Oracle Data Compare licenses (a $349 value) for free, every day for 10 days. The promo code ODC10DAYS will be active for a few minutes each day. The starting time and the estimated time interval will be announced at least 2 hours in advance on twitter ( and facebook ( every day. Once the first 10 licenses are claimed the promo code will be de-activated and you will have to wait until the following day to get your free license.

In all, during the next 1o days we will give away 100 Oracle Data Compare licenses or $34,900 in free software.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

xSQL Builder – the tool for software publishers

If you publish software that uses SQL Server on the backend then you are familiar with the pain of upgrading your clients from one version of your software to another. Some of the most common challenges you face include:
  • The customers don't know and they don’t want to know anything about SQL Server or t-sql so sending them a set of scripts to execute on the target server is not going to help;
  • Different customers may be on different versions of your software so you need to provide multiple upgrade paths;
  • You may have customized your solution for certain clients so the "standard" upgrade won't work for those cases;
  • You do not have direct access to the customers' databases;
  • You have hundreds of customers you need to distribute your software to.
Those were the challenges we set out to tackle when we decided to build the xSQL Builder. Here is how xSQL Builder works:
  1. A simple wizard guides you through a few steps that lead to the creation of an executable package that contains all the necessary information required to upgrade your customers’ databases. 
  2. When the customers executes the package the following happens:
    1. If applicable, a set of pre-synchronization scripts is executed against the target database;
    2. The schema of the target database is compared with the schema of the master database which has been embedded in the executable package;
    3. Synchronization script is generated and executed against the target;
    4. If applicable, a set of post-synchronization scripts  is executed against the target;
    5. A detailed log is emailed back to you so that you know exactly what happened at the customer's site.
The beauty of this is that the deployment package "does not care" what version of your database the customer is on.
Of course the wizard is quick and easy but what if you need to tweak something that the wizard does not provide for? We thought of that too – xSQL Builder comes with a set of customizable C# templates (C# classes) that contain the compare and synchronization code that runs on the client machine. xSQL Builder ships with a VS.NET 2005 C# project that you can run or modify as needed.
Download now and see for yourself what you have been missing all this time!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Paypal payment solutions - need improvement

Since Paypal (it’s parent eBay at the time) acquired Verisign’s payment gateway in 2005 we have been a Paypal customer and aside from a complete screw up a couple of years ago that left us without service for 3 days everything has gone smoothly. However, the experience of a few days ago when we decided to switch from payflow link to payflow pro prompted me to write this quick review.
Just to be fair let me say that the service we received from paypal tech support this time was outstanding, the reps we spoke with were knowledgeable and courteous, so Paypal is doing something right. However, as is often the case, satisfaction does not often motivate one to write about it, it is the unpleasant part that provides that motivation. So, here are my grudges:
  1. Since the acquisition of Verisign's gateway services Paypal has made no improvements whatsoever on the payflow link solution, which is what we were using. It was embarrassing to “hand the customer over” to paypal to finalize the payment – the customer was presented with an ugly form (the branding/customization capabilities were a joke) and an un-necessary two step process that left the customers with an un-easy feeling. I think Paypal should either put some serious effort on improving the solution or drop it altogether, it is just not serious to keep it the way it is right now. 
  2. We made the switch to Payflow Pro, or so we thought. A call to Paypal tech support helped us realize that the developer that worked on this instead of implementing Payflow Pro had implemented Website Payments Pro Payflow Edition! How did that happen? The answer is not hard to guess:
    1. Confusing solution names make it hard to tell which one is which
    2. Confusing documentation makes it even harder to distinguish one solution from the other;
  3. Lastly, while implementing all three solutions (we had Payflow Link, mistakenly implemented Website Payments Pro, and finally Payflow Pro) we were surprised by the inconsistent implementation on the paypal side, three solutions – three different sets of parameters even though we are passing basically the same set of data.
Of course we understand that Paypal has every incentive to push vendors like us away from those inherited “gateway only” solutions towards their “full service” solutions but frustrating vendors is not the way to do it.

Monday, March 12, 2012 is now

We are very excited to announce that as of March 10, 2012 the primary domain for xSQL Software is  Here are a few housekeeping items:
  • Email addresses: all email addresses have been changed to the new domain so is now and so on. The old addresses have been forwarded to the corresponding new addresses. 
  • License activation: if you have an older build of any of our tools and you have acquired a license you might not be able to activate the license as the license activation services that were running under the are no longer available. In such case you can either download a new build of the tool or generate a license request file and email it to us (instructions are provided on the license activation window).
  • Links to our site: if you have linked to our website from your blog or your site we would be grateful if you would make the effort of updating the url with the new domain. The old url should work fine too but it would be very helpful to us if you did update the url.
Chronology for the curious: when we launched our first web site in 2004 our desire was to get the domain but unfortunately we were not able to secure it then so we decided to go instead with In 2007 after a complete revamp of our site and our key tools we decided that we did not like the dash in the url anymore and thought that it was better to have a longer url without dashes than a short one with dashes. Hence, our main domain became Now, 8 years later we have what we wanted in the first place – the easy to remember, easy to type, elegant url: And yes, this is the end of our quest for the perfect domain - no more changes.
If you have any questions or concerns don't hesitate to contact us and don't forget to check out our tools:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

RSS Reporter fails to install on machine with IIS 7

Installation of RSS Reporter V3 may fail with a generic message: “The installer was interrupted before RSS Reporter could be installed. You need to restart the installer and try again.” But, as you can easily guess, restarting the installer is not going to do any good. If you check the event viewer you will see an MsiInstaller event 1033 that misleadingly states that “Windows Installer installed the product…Installation success or error status: 1603”.

The cause of the problem is a missing IIS component (Metabase) that by default is not installed in IIS7 but, the Visual Studio installer that we use for RSS Reporter requires it. In  IIS7 this feature can be found in setup under Internet Information Services->Web Management Tools -> IIS 6.0 Management Capability Feature. Check the “IIS MEtabase and IIS6 configuration compatibility”.

Once the installation of the metabase component is finished re-run the RSS Reporter installation package and it should install successfully.
RSS Reporter is a simple tool that generates standard rss feeds from SQL Server. Predefined SQL job feeds allow you to monitor SQL jobs on multiple servers from a single rss feed. Ad-hoc query feeds allow you to generate rss feeds containing the data that the query returns.

RSS Reporter is free for a single SQL Server instance and very inexpensive for multiple SQL Server instances. You can download your copy here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lookup table changes

Whenever you publish a new version of your application chances are that in addition of the database schema changes you also need to publish changes you have made on your lookup tables. xSQL Object makes the publishing of the schema changes a breeze but how about the values on those lookup tables? The answer is xSQL Data Compare which allows you to:
  • Select the tables you need to compare and sync
  • Filter out the rows that you might not want to sync
  • Review the differences 
  • Generate the sync script 
  • Execute the sync script (this step in the process will publish all the data changes you made on development into the production database).
In addition of the granular control over the process there are three features that make xSQL Data Compare the ideal sql tool for the job:
  1.  “Configure once”: xSQL Data Compare saves all your comparison configuration settings in a comparison “session” so that next time you can launch the comparison with one click and complete the whole data synchronization process with two more clicks (one to generate the sync script and one to execute the sync script).
  2. Command line utility: allows you to run the comparison and synchronization in one step from the command line. 
  3. It is completely free for SQL Server Express without any limitations and it is also free for other editions of SQL Server as long as the number of objects in your database does not exceed certain limits.
Download your copy today and discover for yourself why thousands of users around the world swear by this simple but extremely helpful sql tool.