This is day twenty-three of the SQL Advent 2012 series of blog posts. Today we are going to look at why you should get tools to be more productive.

In the Reinventing the wheel post I already touched upon the fact that having tools is better than writing something from scratch. I really appreciated tools in 2002. My coworker left for India to enjoy a nice vacation, her code wasn’t due till after she would be back. Then the client changed their mind, I had to move the code in production. I didn’t really know what was changed between her stuff and what was on production. Luckily for me I had this fantastic tool by RedGate called SQL Compare. With this tool I literally found out the difference, the tool scripted out the DDL and DML changes for me and I was golden. I love this tool, I use it and I recommend it. SQL Prompt is another awesome tool from the same company. Yes SSMS has intellisense but SQL Prompt does much more, it will detect PK and FK join conditions and suggest that for you. It works against SQL Server 2005 instance and will also work across linked servers. I also love SSMS Tools Pack, I have a nice review here: SSMS Tools PACK, Something Every SQL Server Developer That Uses SSMS Should Have Installed

Notepad++ and EditPlus are two text editors that I use a lot, these are great for when you have hidden characters or when you get char(160) instead of char(32) for spaces. And these are way faster than notepad, try doing a search and replace with 20000 rows in notepad, these two editors do it in a fraction of the time.

How do you know what tools you need if you didn’t need them till now?

That is an interesting question, I am sure the first time you were looking at a mobile phone, you really did not need one. However after you were using it for a week, good luck taking it away. What about multi-tab browsers, you didn’t know you needed multi-tabs, you used FireFox and found out how useful these were, then you had to go back to IE and yep, you were done with IE. The same is true with these tools, once you discover how much time they save you, you come to depend on them and demand these tools at your next job as well.

So how do you figure out if you are missing something? Well, ask the tweeple on twitter, find out what they use and what they like about it. Visit some of the SQL tool vendors, download the trial versions and see if they will help you. The toughest part is as always convincing your boss or manager to pay for these tools. Hopefully you can show this person how much more you can get done by showing what the trial version enabled you to do. Some of these tools should pay for themselves within a week or two.

I have also some tools mentioned in the Reinventing the wheel post, make sure you check that as well

My question to you, what are some of the tools that you use and love? Leave me a comment.

That is all for day twenty-three of the SQL Advent 2012 series, come back tomorrow for the next one, you can also check out all the posts from last year here: SQL Advent 2011 Recap