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Rob Farley

- Owner/Principal with LobsterPot Solutions (a MS Gold Partner consulting firm), Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft MVP (SQL Server), APS/PDW trainer and leader of the SQL User Group in Adelaide, Australia. Rob is a former director of PASS, and provides consulting and training courses around the world in SQL Server and BI topics.

Sometimes it’s the little things...

The easiest way to convince someone to use SSMS 2008 over SSMS 2005 was to right-click on a results grid. They’d see “Copy with Headers” in the context menu and be sold immediately. I’d happily show them that they could configure this option in SSMS 2005, but to have it immediately available in SSMS 2008 was enough to convince many people to install the newer tools right away.

The new version (Denali CTP3) of Management Studio has a few little things that I don’t mind, even though none of them are quite as compelling as the “Copy with Headers” option.

I’m going to pick three:

Cycle Clipboard Ring

This is handy stuff. I copy & paste far too often when writing queries. I’ll be refactoring as I go, that kind of thing, looking at plans, copying out of the plan properties into comments, and so on. Invariably, I’ll think I have something on the clipboard, and find myself having to find it again because I will have replaced my clipboard with something else. So now I should be able to use Ctrl+Shift+V to get back to something which used to be in the clipboard. Brilliant. :)

Bear in mind, it’s in the Edit menu, but not in the Context menu (so you don’t see it if you right-click in the query pane).


This is handy, but doesn’t go quite far enough for me. At the bottom of the query window, above the results, to the left of the horizontal scrollbar, it says “100%”

It’s a zoom function, so that I can make the text of my query bigger or smaller. This is great. I normally write queries in a surprisingly large font, and this means that when it’s just me looking at the screen, I can easily zoom out more and see what’s at the end of the longer lines.

I only wish that it would zoom the results too. Maybe that’s so we can tell our clients “Trust me – those results are correct”

Plus, it feels ironically small. Fortunately, you can use ZoomIt to make the Zoom button bigger.


Compare the following images:


In the interest of readability, I like to colour selected text in yellow, not blue or grey or whatever. It was a tip I picked up from Andrew Coates many years ago.

See if you can spot the difference between the SSMS 2008 Options dialog and the Denali one.


The Denali one is on the right, and you might notice that “Item foreground” is disabled. In SSMS 2008, it wasn’t. And we ended up with all the selected text being black on yellow.

In Denali, they’ve changed that. The yellow is made fainter (not sure why, but it is – this is as yellow as I can make it), and the text stays the colour that it was before we selected it. Useful stuff.

But I’m disappointed with this feature.

Notice – this line is commented out, but I can run it by selecting the commented text and hitting one of the many Execute buttons. The selected text is coloured green, because that’s what colour it was before it was selected.

But I can run it. Wouldn’t it be useful to have it coloured based on what’s selected? That way, you’d have a better idea about the parts of a selection were still commented out, and what you were actually about to run. This is particularly handy when you use the Alt-select option. It had always frustrated me that selected text was all the one colour, and I’m really glad they have fixed this – now I just want them to take it one step further.

Like this:


Am I asking too much?


Published Tuesday, August 30, 2011 11:10 PM by Rob Farley
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Dylan said:

Can you select multiple lines without selecting the entire line?  I mean to say that I can't reproduce this image in management studio, I always end up selecting the --.

August 30, 2011 4:48 PM

Rob Farley said:

Hi Dylan,

Yes! Hold down the Alt key.


August 30, 2011 5:08 PM

Dylan said:

A whole new world has just opened up to me!  Thanks Rob!

August 30, 2011 6:08 PM

Rob Farley said:

No worries - that's not a new thing, you realise...

August 30, 2011 6:14 PM

Geoff said:

It's the little things that make all the difference. I've used Oracle a bit and I've used SQL Server more. The main difference in terms of why I like SQL Server is Management Studio. It's just easy to use.

It even makes file system management relatively easy.

And this is my exact opposite experience with SSIS. I have abandoned using SSIS in favor of Pentaho.

August 31, 2011 10:56 AM

Random DBA said:

You want it to parse selected text?  Yeah, that is asking too much.

August 31, 2011 12:30 PM

Rob Farley said:

Hi Geoff - sorry to hear about your SSIS experience, but it's good you have something you like in Pentaho.

Hi Randy (is that a legitimate abbreviation?) - Well yeah, I figured it probably was, but also thought there could be a significant crowd of "Yeah, that'd be nice, and not too hard either" feeling people. Thanks for your thought though. :)

August 31, 2011 5:32 PM

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