Earlier this year I began working with Microsoft SQL Server for the first time. Until now I’ve always been in open source databases, either MySQL or PostgreSQL.
At the time I looked around for a SQL Server-specific tool that simplified the process of sorting through table data (basic column sorting, filtering and the like), since SQL Server Studio seemed to focus primarily on managing query results. I tried a couple of tools like EMS’ SQL Manager, but nothing really stood out. Nothing worth paying for at least.
In the end I went back to my old standby, Minq’s DBVisualizer, which I’ve been using on-and-off since it was released back in ’99. It’s extremely convenient to have all one’s working databases, no matter the server, accessible from a single DBVis interface.
Recently, however, an Oracler tipped me off to Quest Software’s Tool for Application Developers (TOAD). Somehow all my googling last spring didn’t turn this up. Despite being a bit sluggish for a native Windows app, so far TOAD seems to be considerably more powerful the DBVis. I’m just scratching the surface, but TOAD’s inline editing of data is certainly more transparent, and includes nifty little touches like a popup calculator for numeric fields, date selectors, etc. The “group by column” feature is especially handy. Searchable built-in knowledgebase is a godsend for folks jumping back and forth between databases. The built-in session monitor is enlightening.
I’ll post more as I explore TOAD’s built in functionality, which seems to include a host of data differs, graph generation, and report designers.
I still wish I could view all my databases from a single dashboard — TOAD has different versions per database. But if you’re working in Windows, and spend a lot of time sifting through and managing data, then I have to say that TOAD has DBVisualizer beat hands down. Certainly worth the price of free.