For a number of projects I work on, I make use of Microsoft’s Integration Services (SSIS) solution to run some queries and drop output into a formatted Excel file for our various end users. I’ve only been using SSIS for a little under a year, so I know there’s lots to learn.
One trick I’ve found to be very handy is the use of Variables in the the packages. Specifically for this post, I’m focusing on using the expression to make the variable dynamic and using that value to output a file and change the name.
After starting the project, create a variable, making sure that the scope is for the package.
Click the ellipses next to the line you want to create an expression for to bring up the Expression Builder.
In the Expression text box, use the location of the output file (local or network) and concatenate with a date to keep it fairly unique.
!!! One important item to note is that if your package works across the network, you will need to be wary of the escape character. When building the expression, you’ll need to double-up on the ‘\’ for each one used. For example, if you’re output directory is \output, the package will interpret it as “\o”. That’s bit me a few times before I figured out to use “\\output”. See the pic above to see what I mean.
Once you’ve decided on the value for the expression, click ‘OK’ and then the variable will use whatever the calculated value is.
In SSIS, I’ve typically used this for naming the products of the ‘Excel Output’ task [I will detail that in another post]. The variable can be used in the “File System Task” object as the ‘Destination Variable’ or ‘Source Variable’
If the path ever needs to change, you only have to update the variable.
I’m going to start off with a little something I use at work to keep track of the requests my team and I are working on.
Based on the ‘Kanban’ priciples, I use one of my cubicle windows as a board with sticky notes to easily represent what is going on with my team. Below is a snapshot of my board.
The way I have it set up, There is color-coding for the different departments we support. Working from Right-to-Left (I only do this because of the location of the wall, i’d rather go left to right):
- Ideas: Thoughts to use later but don’t have time at the moment. Sometimes a random thought will be of benefit to someone else.
- To-Do: Requests that will need to be done. Typically, they’re in the To-Do until the priority moves or resources become available.
- In Progress: What the team is working on “Right Now”. I try to group by priority/assigned/department depending on how things are moving.
- Testing: Anything that is out of our hands and needs to be approved to be moved to production or back into the in progress queue.
- Complete: The request is done! It’s nice to see progress with everything going on.
How the note is laid out:
- The upper left highlights the Department the request is for.
- The upper right displays the request number. I use this number to reference any documentation written up as well as a secondary list of requests to the team.
- The center boasts a short but meaningful title so I can quickly recall what it is about.
- The bottom right is usually the initials of the person assigned to the request.
For as small as my team is and the relatively low complexity of the requests we get, I’ve found this method to work really well. It has evolved and will continue to do so as time goes on. I personally prefer it to the endless spreadsheet solutions that I’ve encountered from others around me, which brings up an interesting benefit. Since this is not the norm and highly visible, it gets people talking and in some cases inspires others to get more organized. This is nice, since it’s a part of my job to improve processes!
Just search the web for Kanban and see how it works.