Online Tools For Data Professionals

Cathrine Wilhelmsen lists five interesting online tools:

When I need to quickly create smaller sets of test data or dummy data, I use Mockaroo. It is highly configurable with over 140 built-in field types for locations, personal information, product information, technical information and much more. Every field type can be customized, and you can also use your own regular expression to generate data. The data can then be exported to CSV, JSON, SQL, and Excel formats. The interface is simple to use and understand, and you can save your schemas and data sets for later reuse.

I’m fond of Coblis and was aware of the last two, but the first two were new to me.

Tools For Various SQL Server Stacks

Warren Estes breaks out some tooling recommendations by stacks—that is, common use cases:

The Admin stack is probably the most important stack here. You still using maintenance tasks via SSMS? stop doing that. Rebuilding indexes every night? Maybe rethink that.

How you keep track of, monitor and do basics DBA tasks?

CMS server 
Ok so this can involve SSMS, but a feature not a lot of people may not use. We use it to keep track of all of our instances and push things..oh baby baaaby!  It also allows me to combine PoSh to do work against instances, gather data (historical, dmv…etc) and do a boat load of admin stuff without pointing and clicking. Heck I don’t even have to open SSMS to use my CMS server at all.

SentryOne SQLSentry
SQLSentry can automatically defrag indexes for you and update stats. You could use this instead of the below choices for this aspect if desired. Although not free, it’s an option we have in our environment and I love me some options.

Ola hallengren/Minionware
Both amazing options for backup, reindexing and checkdb. Although most places i’ve worked use Ola’s scripts by default. HOWEVER…. Minion has some pretty nice options that are FAR more configurable than Ola’s. We have mitigated some large DB issues by rolling our own code on top of Ola’s scripts. We could avoid this by simply using Minionware!

I’m a huge fan of the Minionware suite.  And several other things Warren mentions.

Essential Not-Quite-SQL-Server Tools

Chrissy LeMaire has some great tools “adjacent to” SQL Server:


Documentation is an important part of every DBA’s job and Snagit Screen Capture is my screenshot tool of choice. I don’t know how I ever lived without it. Snagit is awesome for both pics and videos – wayyy better than the built-in (but still useful) Snipping tool.

Click through for several other tooling recommendations.

Essential SQL Server Tools

Tracy Boggiano has a top 5 list of tools she uses on a day-to-day basis:

This T-SQL Tuesday is brought to us by Jens Vestergaard (b |  t), and we are asked to share our favorite SQL Server tools. Hint Profiler will not be on the list. But where do you start there are so many tools out there. In alphabetical order here are my top 5 tools because I can’t pick which one is better than other.

Click through to see Tracy’s top 5 list.

Using Telegraf To Display SQL Server Metrics In Grafana

Tracy Boggiano has a writeup showing how to use Telegraf + InfluxDB + Grafana to view SQL Server metrics:

We have in the middle an open source time series database called InfluxDBis designed for collecting data that is timestamped such as performance metrics. Into that, we feed data from an open source project called Telegraf which can feed in more than just SQL Server statistics. And to be able to show us the data in nice pretty graphs that we can manipulate, drill-down on, and even set up alerts we display it using Grafana. Links to all of these products you find as we go through the setup of the solution.

Tracy’s post is dedicated to installation and configuration more than defining metrics, but it does get you on the road to custom metrics visualization.

Actual Execution Plan Enhancements

Pedro Lopes points out some additional data available in the properties section when you generate an actual execution plan:

Looking at the actual execution plan is one of the most used performance troubleshooting techniques. Having information on elapsed CPU time and overall execution time, together with session wait information in an actual execution plan allows a DBA to use showplan to troubleshoot issues away from the server, and be able to correlate and compare different types of waits that result from query or schema changes.

A few months ago we had introduced exposed in SSMS some of the per-operator statistics, such as CPU and elapsed time per thread. More recently, we have introduced overall query CPU and elapsed time tracking for statistics showplan xml (both in ms). These can be found in the root node of an actual plan. Available using the latest versions of SSMS v17, when used with SQL Server 2012 SP4SQL Server 2016 SP1 and SQL Server 2017. For SQL Server 2014 it will become available in a future Service Pack.

Also be sure to check out Geoff Patterson’s Connect item asking that the execution plan results show the top ten waits in descending order rather than ascending order.  That’s the appropriate ordering in my mind:  show me the most important things first.

Data Lake Tools For VS Code Updated

Jenny Jiang announces Azure Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio Code’s July update:

Local Debug enables you to debug your C# code behind, step through the code, and validate your script locally before submitting to ADLA.

  • Use command ADL: Start Local Run Service to start local run service and set a breakpoint in your code behind, then click command ADL: Local Debug to start local debug service. You can debug through the debug console and view parameter, variable, and call stack information.

Click through to see the other improvements.

Using OStress

Nikhilesh Patel explains how to use OStress to generate artificial database loads for stress testing:

OStress is a Microsoft tool comes with RML utilities package and it uses to stress SQL Server. This is especially useful when you want to troubleshoot SQL Server while SQL Server is under heavy load.

It is a free tool for SQL Server developers and DBAs. It is designed to assist with performance stress testing of T-SQL queries and routines. The tool automatically collects metrics to help you determine whether your queries will perform under load, and what kind of resource strain they put on a server. In short, it also allows putting a serious load on your database.

OStress isn’t the easiest thing in the world to set up, but it works well.

SQL Server Updates For MacOS

Kevin Feasel



Meet Bhagdev has a couple MacOS-related announcements for SQL Server.  First, the SQL Server team has released command line tools:

We are delighted to share the production-ready release of the SQL Server Command Line Tools (sqlcmd and bcp) on macOS El Capitan and Sierra.

The sqlcmd utility is a command-line tool that lets you submit T-SQL statements or batches to local and remote instances of SQL Server. The utility is extremely useful for repetitive database tasks such as batch processing or unit testing.

The bulk copy program utility (bcp) bulk copies data between an instance of Microsoft SQL Server and a data file in a user-specified format. The bcp utility can be used to import large numbers of new rows into SQL Server tables or to export data out of tables into data files.

Second, there’s a new ODBC driver available:

  • Azure AD support – You can now use Azure AD authentication (username/password) to centrally manage identities of database users and as an alternative to SQL Server authentication.

  • Always Encrypted support – You can now use Always Encrypted. Always Encrypted lets you transparently encrypt the data in the application, so that SQL Server will only handle the encrypted data and not plaintext values. Even if the SQL instance or the host machine is compromised, an attacker gets ciphertext of the sensitive data.

  • Table Valued Parameters (TVP) support – TVP support allows a client application to send parameterized data to the server more efficiently by sending multiple rows to the server with a single call. You can use the ODBC Driver 13.1 to encapsulate rows of data in a client application and send the data to the server in a single parameterized command.

Multi-platform is the catchword of the day.  If you’re a MacOS user, this might be a portent of things to come.

Community Localization For Crossplatform Tools

Mona Nasr and Andy Gonzalez are looking for tool translation support:

Community has completed the translations for VScode SQL Server extension for six languages: Brazilian, French, Japanese, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.

We still need help with other languages. If you know anyone with language expertise, refer them to the Team Page.

Your contributions are valuable and will help us improve the product in your languages. We hope to continue working with the community in future projects.

Hit up the Team Page link to learn more about how to contribute.


April 2018
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