As the new year is quickly approaching I am feeling increasingly worried about what goals I should be setting for 2013 as a database professional. I tried to get a glimpse back into 2012 analyzing trends in the recent software released. And suddenly one thing stood up – lots of productivity enhancements, utilities and tools hit the market! Of course I will not be able to list them all up here, but the most notable are the frequent SSDT releases with tons of unprecedented functionality never heard of before, hundreds of extensions on the MSDN Visual Studio Gallery, CodePex and other popular sites.

So, as you have probably already guessed by now, this is one of the articles about productivity enhancing tools, well it may sound like drugs or steroids, but hey, in 2013 IT market we will ought to deliver even more code in less time and of high quality at the same time.

So how to stay on top?

The answer is very simple: automate, automate, and… automate what you do very often and/or for too long.

Sure as any other database developer or DBA I spend most of my day churning SQL code by hand. Well, this article is not about replacing me with a machine though. So not to worry. Let’s be open minded in how we approach the task.

I initially started thinking about what I can do to automate the process using what I already have. I knew that the SSMS (2008 and up) comes with IntelliSense (TM), but that was not enough because I often type the same code chunks, and that is not a problem again as even the SSMS 2005 allowed a developer to create custom keyboard shortcuts that would allow placing any T-SQL code one wishes:

image

I could see that getting my repetitive code appear in the editor was not a big deal, by the way, I solved the issue of the total absence of any snippets taking functionality this way. Hmm, so then what else remains to automate? I stopped right there and the next morning came in to start another editing session with… reformatting (or beatifying my day old code). Well, I thought we have online formatters, but they are insecure, and a standalone formatter requires me leaving the SQL Server Management Studio editor, not too-too productive and professional. The next item that caught me by surprise was that I needed to navigate through my code quickly and it is too time consuming, you know, the memory seldom can keep track of what was created for too long either, so here was another missing item in the puzzle. 

At that point I went on to a quest of finding my perfect productivity enhancement add-on for SSMS.

After playing around with a couple of tools advertised, I have quickly came to realize that there are many offerings for various budgets and tasks, but what stood out of the crowd was the just released version of Devart’s SQL Code Complete!

The items I liked the most are as follows:

  • Fully customizable look of the suggestion pane (notice the vertical positioning bar that is movable), so neat!

image

  • The suggestions come with the variable type (seen above, too)
  • The suggestions expand further walking through every step in a call image
  • The ability to format the document so it becomes very professional;
  • Go to definition is very useful in finding the object in the Object Explorer: image
  • The Document Outline is just sassy in letting you finding what you need because it has a filer: image
  • The Snippet Manager is impressive, I only lacked the ability to double click on a snippet to insert it into the SSMS: image so I went ahead and submitted my idea to Devart (it is so nice somebody is listening!). If you think you need it too, please vote here.
  • Now the next feature that I dug was really the big deal – customization! It comes with all the possible settings you can apply to your SQL code, just click on edit profile and you get: image  The profile can be saved as a file and thus distributed among all the developers at the shop. Very nice! For example in all code you can instruct to put all the items in a select statement onto a separate line like this: image  These customizations are very thorough and can take a while to set to satisfy your taste, but a very good time investment. I only thought if it is possible to share the settings, then it makes sense to buy this tool for the entire software shop, but I did not see the so called ‘site’ license option. Thus submitted such a suggestion.

Sure this extension has more to offer and explore, as a 30 days trial you can really do so and I encouraged that, so before I forget not not to mention nothing beats SQL Complete in load speed with SSMS!

To sum up here I need to say that toward the end of this article I started to realize that SQL Complete add-on is a very mighty utility in letting you achieve high coding standards if used by the entire development team, something that is not available even in the Policy Based Management, if not coming soon, than rather complimenting it.

Did I mention this add-on exists in freeware form (but not as capable)?

Go get it now!