SSMS 2012 Feeling Intellisense-less? dbForge Can Help

Think Ahead with IntellisenseWhen I first begain working in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) 2012, I noticed one thing right away – intellisense seems to be much less reliable than it was in SSMS 2008. It doesn’t seem to “intellisense” anything most of the time.

So off I go to search google, looking into what might be wrong. I find I am not alone in my experience. Many people have experienced the same problem, and no antidote to the problem appears to exist. You’ll find a few things people recommend trying, but it’s mostly obvious stuff you’ve probably already tried to tinker with yourself in the SSMS settings before going out to search for a better answer.

I remember with SSMS 2008 if you installed Visual Studio 2010 SP1 it broke intellisense and and a SQL Server update was required to get it working again. But that broke intellisense in a more obvious way, where nothing would ever work, and the update was absolutely required to get it working again. That’s not the case with SSMS 2012, where it just works poorly. I will note that I’m mostly connecting to SQL Server 2008 databases at this time. Perhaps SSMS 2012 intellisense works better against 2012 databases?

After failing to be able to get acceptable performance out of the vanilla SSMS 2012, I decided to check if there was perhaps an addon for SSMS to replace the default intellisense functionality. So I did a little looking, preferably for something free, and I found SQL Complete 4.0 Express by dbForge. So I got it installed, and was immediately impressed by how much better my intellisense was working.

When you first connect to a server with an SSMS session, you’ll see in the SSMS statusbar that SQL Complete does a short caching operation, pulling all of the objects it requires to do its sensing. After that, you’ll notice intellisense offering snappier, more frequent object completion recommendations. For people with lots of databases with multiple schemas and sql objects with nice, descriptive, easily understood, and consequently long names, this better working intellisense can be quite a time saver.

SQL Complete also provides a SQL code formatter, but I’m not too keen on it’s output. I prefer the Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter, which I review in “Dirty SQL? Clean It Up With Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter”. It has several configurable options and formats the code more to my liking. The standard paid version of SQL Complete does promise to have better formatting features, however, so it may be worth investigating.

Go try out dbForge’s SQL Complete 4.0 Express yourself and see if it improves your intellisense experience. And chime in if you have any questions or comments about intellisense or SQL Complete.


  1. Your article mirrored my exact thoughts and thought processes; all the way down to, “Well maybe SMMS 2012 intellisense works better with MSSQL 2012 databases.” I’ve been having this problem with SMMS 2012 over the last year, with remedy including everything from installing a standalone version of SMMS 2008 to attempting a complete windows installation, thinking installing earlier versions of SQL/Visual Studio side-by-side corrupted/overwrote something.

    At the time of writing this reply (and I almost never comment on websites like this), your solution is the ONLY thing that’s worked. I only installed it a few minutes ago and although the intellisense looks a little different (maybe not as nice? who cares), it’s very functional – and that’s more than I can say for Microsofts.

    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *