SQL Server Management Studio, or SSMS, is the standard and widely used tool for the development and management of Microsoft SQL Server components. But did you know that there are many 3rd party add-ins available for SSMS to provide features and enhancements to the tool? SSMSBoost is one such add-in, and provides several useful additions and enhancements to SSMS to make tasks simpler and increase productivity.
I originally used an alternate SSMS add-in, the SSMS Tools Pack, which offers some of the same functionality of SSMSBoost. It is also a good product and fit my needs pretty nicely, but I decided to try out the newcomer to the market SSMSBoost when I started using SSMS 2012 and the SSMS Tools Pack started to charge money. SSMSBoost is a free add-in even for SSMS 2012, and I have found that I make use of more of its tools than I did with the alternative. The SSMSBoost team seems to be pretty responsive to queries on their forums too, and I have found some of my feature or enhancement requests get included as they release updates to their product.
The editor history options are by far what I like and use most in SSMSBoost. I usually have at least a couple instances of SSMS running at one time to organize what I’m working on. I’ll usually have several things open in each of those SSMS instances. Therefore, it’s important to me that what I’m working on doesn’t accidentally get lost.
Now, I love the sleep mode of my work laptop, but it’s inevitable that occasionally I will have to shut down my computer. With SSMSBoost, I don’t have to worry about trying to save off all of the temporary stuff I’m playing with to work with it later. I just close down SSMS, and the next time I open it up I can go into the “Recent tabs” toolbar item and restore the session tabs I was last working with. SSMSBoost even restores MDX scripts, something I’ve had a problem with the SSMS Tools Pack not doing in the past.
How often have you been in a scenario where one of your clients is asking you for data similar to something you’ve provided for them in the past? You have an idea of when you last provided them with the data and the general tables that you would have accessed to get it, but you don’t think you saved off any of the queries you used. If you’ve had SSMSBoost installed, you’re in luck! SSMSBoost can keep a history of the contents of your editor windows (and of any queries you execute if that’s what you want) in SSMS, and provides a simple search interface for that information. So search for a table name in a given date range and skim through a list of code snippets shown for different editor window time snapshots until you find something that looks familiar. This can be quite a time saver over having to completely recreate a query from scratch.
Another nifty feature I make use of often: the ability to format your T-SQL code. You know I’m a fan of the Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter, which I’ve covered in the past, and you’ll be happy to know that SSMSBoost has integrated Poor Man’s to do the formatting work.
The Locate Object tool is also useful. Right click on a table, stored procedure, or other object in your script and choose Locate Object and it will find and make that object active in your object explorer. What a time saver when you have many scripts open against different databases and you want to take a look at a table you’re using in a particular script.
There are also a variety of new options provided by SSMSBoost to manipulate the data displayed in the results pane after a query is run. Performing a search on the results is one I find myself using often. Scripting the results out into various different formats is also useful. I will sometimes use the results or part of the results of a query to create a release script to insert specific data into a table, or perhaps use an XML-formatted version of the results as a static data source for an ETL example.
These new features and enhancement to SSMS that I’ve described just scratch the surface of what the SSMSBoost add-in offers. Any of these options sound useful to you? I encourage you to go and try SSMSBoost out – it is free after all, and feel free to share your thoughts on the tool with us here.