And So It Begins: PROJECT SQLImaginarium


This is a post for T-SQL Tuesday #102. #TSQL2sday was created by @AdamMachanic. This month is being hosted by @RileyMajor – Thanks Riley! The core theme is giving back…


I am into virtual reality. Last week right after a drug test for my new job, I went straight to Best Buy and bought the new Oculus Go. Don’t I look happy?

This is a solid piece of equipment. I opted for the 64GB version at $270 but you can buy the 32GB version for $200. I have a SteelSeries bluetooth gamepad controller to use for my Unreal Engine creations. After some tweaking, I was able to get my #SQLMemorial temporarily loaded on to it which included a picture of the late Robert Davis aka @SQLSoldier

And Now the Public Commitment…

Now that the Oculus Go is finally here I want to go public with a goal I have had for a few years and with your help to hold my feet to the fire. To get it done. And to give me ideas. And help with content. And maybe some sponsorship dollars.

And So It Begins: PROJECT SQLImaginarium

Please use the hashtag #SQLImaginarium and @SQLImaginarium to tweet and publicly document your ideas and feedback.

What is it?

SQLImaginarium will be a virtual reality (VR) experience to introduce people who are new to SQL Server. It will run exclusively on the Oculus Go. A desktop version can easily be made as well.

But Why Use VR?

Several reasons and here are some.

  1. 100% attention and concentration. With your entire visual field being used, you will NOT be able to multi-task and take resources away from learning and exploring. Since it will be built using Unreal Engine we can use the full power of a video game engine. Not just shoehorning PowerPoint into VR (yes, I have done this in the past) but to take advantage of this new VR medium using decent and affordable hardware.
  2. Storytelling instead of PowerPoint to explain technical topics. VR allows one to build mind palaces to help with remembering things. Using 3D artwork, one can walk around and see things from many angles, sounds, animations, you name it- Unreal Engine can do it. Want to walk around INSIDE a flowchart? No problem.
  3. PowerPoint has reached its age. Remember a time before PowerPoint? You must be old. But there was a time before slide shows and presenter performances were all the rage… We need new and novel ways to learn things and VR can do that and more. NOTE!!! I love PluralSight and have had a subscription for several years now. Using one’s public library card, Lynda is free too. But looking at people running code and providing an audio commentary to slide shows only goes so far. One has to watch and sling the code too in order to truly understand the content. Ever seen anyone at a PASS session or a SQL Saturday event in the audience following along and running the code in sync with the live presenter? Information fades quickly. <rant>I would like to give tests AFTER a SQL Saturday event to see how well people were paying attention and taking notes</rant>
  4. The younger generation has grown up on video games. The ubiquitous gamepad is now the universal interface for many. We need to provide navigation mechanisms for them to navigate around environments and the gamepad easily does the job. While the simple Oculus Go controller is functional, a gamepad offers greater utility. More controllers are on the way but they can’t be used on a plane, train, bus or automobile or sitting down as easily as a gamepad for now.
  5. SQL Server is a vast and complex set of software parts. Being able to see how all of the parts work together and to be able to explore those parts further simply cannot be done with both more SQL Server Documentation and PowerPoint presentations. We need a new map. We need to be able to see the whole thing. And to see how it all works together.

What Will SQLImaginarium Have In It?

I want to see areas to help new people whom have never used SQL Server to begin to understand how SQL Server works.

To use VR to help train a new generation of data professionals.

To pay tribute to the fallen in the #SQLFamily and to keep their memories alive.

To build something bigger than me, by the community, for the community.

Sponsorships and Funding SQLImaginarium

If this idea gets traction, I could use some of the money to buy assets from the Unreal Engine Marketplace. Mainly architectural visualization stuff and things beyond my technical skills. Training assets. Utilize outsourcing when appropriate. While I have not done a gofundme or a kickstarter before, this would be something I would commit to getting set-up and going. Plus the money would give me a serious kick in the pants instead of trying to build all of this on my own and putting it out there for the world to see. Money would also be used to set-up subscription software tools like Trello and GitHub. I would use a lot of tools and techniques from the gamedev community like regular Game Jams as a type of sprint. I have my own GoToMeeting I can use for the core team.

Paying customers has a way of helping one to focus attention. Kinda like VR 🙂

In Closing

I cannot create SQLImaginarium alone. I need your help. Your ideas, input, feedback, and money. I believe the #SQLFamily needs to explore new ways of training up the next generation of data professionals using technologies like VR to help them learn SQL Server from scratch. So many people cannot afford the super cool and expensive in-person events (which are incredible!) but now that affordable VR technology like Oculus Go is here, the time is right to build new ways of learning SQL Server. VR is going to affect so many things and I believe training and education is one of those areas the #SQLFamily can utilize. So many possibilities await the bold!

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6 Responses to And So It Begins: PROJECT SQLImaginarium

  1. Hahaha I really like this idea!

  2. Scott Dragoo says:

    I am digging this idea. one interface that I always thought could be leveraged for complex documentation is something similar to the Music Plasma bubbles with links that show relationships by distance. Move that into a 3-d virtualized world and the possibilities become endless. I’ll be following along as this develops and will watch for opportunities to help out where I can.

  3. Andrew Wheeler says:

    Walking through a 4 dimensional array would be very awe inspiring. You could also visualize objects. A people table could be a crowd. Good luck.

  4. Excellent idea. And you found another unfilled niche – PowerPointVR. We could have fonts that are meters high! And.. graphs that zoom in from behind use, the away in some blocky 8bit fade. 🙂
    Seriously though, best of luck with this project. I hope it takes off like wildfire and those of us in Windows Mixed Reality can watch it too! (I suspect you wont port to Playstation 4 VR)

  5. Pingback: PROJECT SQLImaginarium – 1 Year Update | Todd Kleinhans

  6. Pingback: T-SQL Tuesday #133: What (Else) Have You Learned from Presenting? | Todd Kleinhans

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