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What is AdventureWorks Sample Database?

Yeah! This is very common question among professionals, especially those are learning the SQL Server. And, I often come across one more question, which is relevant to AdventureWorks database – that is, Why do we have so many  different types of AdventureWorks sample databases such as AdventureWorks, AdventureWorks2008, AdventureWorksLT, etc.? Frankly speaking, I got no correct answer from anyone so far. Hence, I decided to write about it today.

So, the story starts since very beginning. Microsoft provided ‘pubs‘ sample database with SQL Server 6.5. This is very basic OLTP database in order to try SQL Server features and learn SQL Server. This smaple database remains there until now. We can run the pubs database script and restore it on SQL Server 2008 as well. In fact, I have got it on my system. But, there were a lot of shortcomings in this database as it was not designed properly. When SQL Server 2000 was released, it came up with new sample database, named Northwind. I’m sure a lot of professionals, especially trainers, do use this sample database till date.

The Northwind was again a sample OLTP database but with little design issues. Still, it was great for learning and trying out SQL Server new features. We can restore this database on SQL Server 2008 as well.                                                                              

But, when Microsoft added new features like Reporting Services, Analysis Services, etc. it felf the need for different sample databases, which can be used to test these features. As a result,  the AdventureWorks sample database was released with SQL Server 2005. If I remember correctly, at first SQL Server 2005 came up with AdventureWorks and AdventureWorksDW databases and it has been an optional feature during SQL Server installation.

With SQL Server 2008, newer versions of AdventureWorks databases came into being – that is, AdvenutureWorks2008, AdventureWorksLT, AdventureWorksLT2008, AdventureWorksDW2008. These are no longer built-in features of SQL Server 2008. We get separate installer in order to install these databases in case of SQL Server 2008.

Don’t worry! I’m going to describe all these versions over here.

AdventureWorks/AdventureWorks2008: AdventureWorks and AdventureWorks2008 are principally OLTP databases. AdventureWorks2008 contains sample data in to test newer features that SQL Server 2008 offers. I normally use AdventureWorks2008 for my training and learning purpose. However, Microsoft has introduced little design complexity in these databases, which make it little harder to understand. But, once you get the concept over here, I’m sure you will definitely appreciate these databases.

AdventureWorksLT/AdventureWorksLT2008: Here, the word ‘LT’ stands for Lite. Actually, these are a subset of AdventureWorks and AdventureWorks2008 databases. Again, these are an example of OLTP model. These are used by a lot of trainers to teach basics of SQL Server. I find it easier too.

AdventureWorksDW/AdventureWorksDW2008: Here, the word ‘DW‘ stands for Data Warehouse. Sorry! but I’m unable to describe what a data warehouse is over here. These databases are used to test and see the Analysis Services features. I would rather say these have have been designed with OLAP approach. These databases get the historical data from AdventureWorks and AdventureWorks2008 OLTP database respectively and create a data warehouse. Therefore, it’s easier to understand these OLAP databases.

I would like to mention one more important point over here. Different editions of SQL Server like SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 Express editions use different versions of AdventureWorks sample database. So, when we download these sample databases, we need to make sure we are downloading appropriate version. 

Click here to download AdventureWorks sample databases.

I’m sure you got overview of AdventureWorks sample databases. Hope, it helps you out.

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  1. hlkjhlkjhl
    December 5, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Thanks for your perfect explanation ! Such a basic and comprehensive information is that Microsoft should put on the download page…

  2. mahesh
    November 28, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Great explanation…thanks.

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