An auto-updating SQL Server Release History spanning the entire product line.

Exposed to Microsoft’s new Data Explorer I was impressed by the power of Microsoft’s new tool!  Using a WSIWIG data manipulation tool one can create filtered, shaped, pivoted, purged, and preened data sets within Excel – and have them auto-update when data connections are refreshed.

Data Explorer

During client site audits I invariably find need for a list of SQL Server versions including interim patches and cumulative updates to accurately determine how current a platform is.  I find myself creating a spreadsheet from web-references which is painstaking and quickly obsolete.


Microsoft’s Data Explorer can consume data from almost any common data source, however it also consumes web pages and HTML tables as a data source – which gave me an idea…

I frequent as they maintain a detailed list of SQL Server releases broken up by version, and frequently updated.  I grew tired of manually reviewing each table for updates whenever I needed the latest list.  I wanted something automatic.

Data Explorer proved very versatile in this task – I pointed DE it to the URL, created a query per table (which translates to one query per SQL Server version), and the persistent queries refresh when Excel data is refreshed.

The M code required to download/capture the HTML table is trivial:

It was just as simple to join the version-dependent tables into a master list spanning the complete release history of SQL Server since inception, also using a persistent query, also refreshed.  Joining the HTML tables together is a one liner.

In a matter of minutes I created a solution which automatically updates itself as the web site updates.  Below is an embedded copy of the spreadsheet courtesy of SkyDrive.

Download Microsoft Excel 2013’s Data Explorer.