Common ground THe integration between SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 opens SQL Server up to a wider range of development options through the CLR (Common Language Runtime) in the database server. The CLR allows developers more language flexibility for developing database applications, with a choice of Transact-SQL, Visual C++, Visual Basic .Net and Visual C# .Net.The CLR also will allow developers to tap the arrays, classes and exception handling available through programming languages such as Visual C++ or Visual C# for use in stored procedures, functions and triggers. Ultimately, this will mean more dynamic database applications, more efficient reuse of code and faster execution of complex tasks. We particularly liked the error-checking powers of the CLR environment, which reduces run-time errors.Another major overlapping area between SQL Server and Visual Studio can be found in the SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio, a development environment within Visual Studio for building SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) packages . SSIS replaces the DTS (Data Transformation Services) in SQL Server 2000 with a more approachable drag-and-drop environment for developing BI and data mining applications. In a nod to the difficulty of replacing entrenched database servers and Oracles prevalence in enterprise applications, Microsoft allows administrators to use SQL Server 2005 and the Business Development Intelligence Studio as a front end for building OLAP (online analytical processing) cubes and prepackaged analysis applications of Oracle databases. XML is now natively supported in SQL Server, with XML data stored as binary large objects. Applications now can query data contained within an XML document and modify it in place, rather than just query an XML header or contiguous blocks of XML data. XML support extends to Analysis Services, where it is the native protocol for the Analysis Server. Next Page: Management makeover.