T-SQL Tuesday #135 – Awesome Tools

tsql2sday150x150It’s blog party week for T-SQL Tuesday, and I think this is a good choice for a topic. The host this month is Mikey Bronowski, and his invitation is on tools. I work for a tools vendor, and I’ve used a lot of them in my life, so I want to share what I think in 2021. I’ll also say that Mikey has a good list in his invitation of what he uses. I especially like his use of PoSh things and Greenshot.

I’ve going to tackle this in a couple ways as I really have two parts of my job here, so I’ll look at tech tools and then productivity tools.

Technical Tools

I work for Redgate Software, so I use the Redgate Toolbelt a lot, as well as some of the Deploy tools. Specifically for me, I use these every week:

  • SQL Prompt – can’t live without it, and struggle to write t-sql when this isn’t working.
  • SQL Source Control / SQL Change Automation – I use these regularly, and while I tend to prefer SQL Source Control for many tasks, I love migrations. Slowly, I am moving to Flyway for some things, as I think this is our future.
  • SQL Clone / SQL Provision – I copy and mask databases regularly. This makes creating test copies quick and easy.

Outside of Redgate, I really like VS Code for lots of editing, whether C#, Python, or PowerShell. I’ve been trying to use Azure Data Studio more, but I just prefer VS Code. No real good reason here. I have Sublime Text as well, which I use for text/html/markdown, but I think I am slowly going to move to VS Code for more, and I might not install Sublime on my next machine.

I still live in SSMS most of the time, rarely in VS, but sometimes. However, as I do more DevOps stuff, I also have a few other major tools that I use every day and continue to learn about:

  1. git – I do a lot of command line stuff, and continue to get better, even with the VSCode client. I used GitHub and AzDO for repos, but lots of basic git stuff is important for my work
  2. Azure DevOps – I used other tools, but my goto, and the one I used for SQLMemorial.org, is Azure DevOps
  3. Chocolatey – package manager and install tool for Windows. This let me set up a machine in an hour or so, as opposed to a day.
  4. Docker – I use containers more and more rather than installing software.

I may use other items, like tsqlt, but these are the big tools that help me get code written.

Productivity Tools

More of my job is writing related. I essentially run a newspaper at SQLServerCentral, and I produce a lot of content. As a result, I have some tools that make that easier, and help me coordinate with others.

Here’s a list with a few comments:

  1. Evernote – I subscribe and use this to keep random notes for editorials and work things. I drop notes in here from meetings. I also have various items for my personal life, like logging maintenance on vehicles, license plates, recipes for cooking, and more. Worth my $$$. There are other good note apps, but I’ve been living on Evernote for 6-7 years, so no one has made a good case for my to switch
  2. DropBox/OneDrive – I sync stuff between machines and my phone. I’ve used DropBox for years, but their changes on mobile, which don’t make files stored and available, have me considering a fulltime move to OneDrive. A sync tool is important. Pick any one, but use it.
  3. Password Safe – Everyone needs a password manager. I’ve had this one since its release in 2002. free, secure, works across platforms, I see no reason to change. Use something here.
  4. Greenshot – I’ve tried various screen capture tools, but this one is lightweight, stable, and easily installed.
  5. Live Writer – I use the open source project for blogging. A drive sync tools keeps drafts on all machines.
  6. Camtasia – While there are lots of ways to capture screen video, Camtasia just works for me. Not the best, but simple enough and stable enough for building presentations and other recordings of my screen. I can record something quickly, and then edit a video or animated gif in minutes.

While I certainly use Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint), those are less of my day than these tools. I usually outline and build some stuff in Evernote before it goes into PPT. I do a little spreadsheet work, and some Power BI, but I’m really productive with these tools.

The last tool I lightly mention is Spotify. I love music, and I appreciate having it in the background sometimes. My wife prefers Pandora, but whatever helps get you in a good mood, use it.

My advice, try a few things, learn how one works well, and get better at it.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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5 Responses to T-SQL Tuesday #135 – Awesome Tools

  1. Pingback: Technical and Productivity Tools – Curated SQL

  2. Glenn Berry says:

    That is an interetsing and useful list you have Steve.


  3. Jeff Moden says:

    I work on machines for a lot of customers. I’m usually not allowed to walk in with my laptop and so have to rely on what they have available. So, for things like SQL Prompt, I can’t do what you did and get to the point of “I can’t live without” because I do, in fact, have to live without it.


    • way0utwest says:

      Limitations for clients/employers are a fact of life, though I hope that we can start to get past some of that as more companies adopt tools that are not provided by vendors.


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