Without tools, most of the work would be much harder to do or could not be done at all. Write a blog post about the most helpful and effective tools you use or know of.
If you do not own the blog – Tweet your contribution or post on LinkedIn with #tsql2sday and put the link back in the comments here.
Tools are great
Can you imagine your day without them? How do you make your coffee or slice the bread? How do you cook breakfast or dinner?
We are surrounded by tools, and there is a special class of them called “tools of the trade”. Those are needed to do your job whatever it is.
I would like you to write about the tools that help you at work, those that helped you the most or were the most effective. It can by anything really, does not have to be related to SQL at all. Here is the list of example, but you can go beyond that and share the tools you cannot live without. Are you…
recording videos or streaming live sessions?
creating podcasts or taking pictures?
migrating loads of data or environments?
maintaining the open-source projects?
managing the team?
travelling a lot (well, not currently)?
learning a new language?
Everyone has its own experience and workstyle. The goal of this post is for everyone to learn about a new tool, or starting to use one, so life gets easier a little bit.
So here we are, the first Tuesday of February. I personally always
find February to be the month where my motivation is a little low. I
live in the northern hemisphere so it can be a pretty dreary winter
month where it still feels like there is a long way to spring (I will
say this January I moved from Ohio back to England and the distinct lack
of piles of snow is helping this cause somewhat). This makes my topic
even more relevant as we need a little extra help to be productive and
get through the month.
My topic is looking for your favourite ‘life hack’, something you use
to make your day easier. This could be anything from a keyboard
shortcut in SSMS that runs ‘sp_whoisactive’, to a technique you use to
get and stay organised. It doesn’t have to be directly related to a
technology, just whatever you use to make your life easier.
Now, I’m personally a huge proponent of using keyboard shortcuts to
get things done faster. In the last year or so I’ve started using Visual
Studio Code as my editor of choice and the number of little ‘life
hacks’ I’ve found has grown incredibly. I’m going to share a couple that
I use often to get your ideas flowing.
Multiline Select – Ctrl + Alt+ Direction Key
This is something I love for formatting queries, among other things. I
know you can use T-SQL to generate some queries from the metadata but
if you have a list of tables you want to truncate, for example, you can
easily accomplish this. Select the start of each line by using Ctrl +
Alt + down direction key, add the TRUNCATE TABLE text and then press end to get to the end of each line, no matter the length, to add the semicolon.
The other use I have for this hack is to generate names and
descriptions of Active Directory groups for tickets to have them
created. At my previous job we created read and admin groups for
databases that users could then request access to. Multiline select made
this really easy to generate the required information.
You can use multiline select at the beginning of the row. Start by
selecting the first word and copying it (Ctrl+C), then you can type to
format your group name. For example, I put SqlDb- before the database name and then -Read
afterwards. Pressing enter at the end of the group name will create a
second line for all three groups where you can add the description.
Notice I can now use paste (Ctrl+V) to add the database name that we
copied from each line.
This ability to change multiple lines at once is really powerful and
once you get the hang of what you can do with it you’ll find so many
Change all occurrences – Ctrl + F2
A similar hack to my first, VS Code also lets you change multiple
occurrences of characters. I say characters because you can select whole
words, parts of words, or even punctuation. This is really handy, for
example, for formatting a comma separated list on one row into a list
with each value on a separate row.
Carrying on from my previous example, now that we have formatted the
group names and description. I can select the word ‘Read’ and replace
all with ‘Admin’. Just like that I have all I need to get the group
request off to the help desk for creation.
Command Palette – F1 or Ctrl+Shift+P
VS Code also has a really great Command Palette that offers a lot more for you to explore. A few of my favourites are: – Sort Lines Ascending/Descending – Select some lines in VS Code and easily alphabetise them.
– Git: Undo Last Commit – Rescue that last commit back from your source
control. Useful if you realised a second too late you committed to the
wrong branch. – File: Compare Active File With – This clearly highlights differences between two files.
Over to you
I hope my VS Code life hacks have got your ideas flowing, so now it’s over to you.
Besides SQL Server Management Studio and Visual Studio Data Tools we all have our own set of tools that we use for everyday chores and tasks. But how do we get to know which tools are out there, if not for other professionals telling us about them? Does it have to a fully fledged with certification and all? Certainly not! If there’s some github project out there, that is helping you be double as productive, let us know about it. You can even boast about something you’ve built yourself – if you think others will benefit from using it.
Basically I think, that by establishing awareness about what kinds of tools that are out there, new professionals will not have as steep a curve getting the pace up, as they would have had. But I suspect that even some veteran guys could have an “a-ha” moment from reading the summary.
Additionally, you can (read: should) share how you came to depend on said tool – and of course you are encouraged to give credit, where credit is due in terms of making you aware of the tool.
Another approach for this topic, is to approach it as kind of A Day in the Life of kind of blog post, as has been done before by Erin Stellato (b|l|t). Writing with the specific angle to describing how your everyday is made easier by the use of your tool stack.