Microsoft provides many resources to help you use SQL Server 2005, but some, such as the Feature Pack for Microsoft SQL Server 2005, are easily overlooked. Updated in February 2007, the feature pack contains more than 20 downloadable programs, drivers, and utilities that let you do more with SQL Server 2005. You can download the feature pack here. I think you'll find many of the tools helpful, especially the following five.

Related: Feature Pack 2005

5. Microsoft Exception Message Box

For developers, this tool is one of the coolest in the feature pack. It's a programmatic interface that you can drop into your applications to give your users a consistent, feature-rich, error handling experience. The tool also lets users save error message text.

4. SQL Server 2005 Management Objects Collection

Another developer-oriented feature is the SQL Server Management Objects collection, which addresses SQL Server 2005's use of a completely new set of .NET-based management APIs. SQL Server Management Objects programmatically manages SQL Server 2005, Analysis Management Objects manages Analysis Services 2005, and Replication Management Objects manages SQL Server 2005 replication.

3. SQL Server 2005 Backward Compatibility Components

One of the biggest hurdles in moving from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005 is migrating Data Transformation Services (DTS) packages. In SQL Server 2005, SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) replaced DTS. SSIS can migrate many but not all DTS packages. To clear this hurdle, the SQL Server 2005 Backward Compatibility Components includes the Data Transformation Services 2000 runtime, and two APIs— the older SQL Distributed Management Objects API for managing SQL Server 2000 and the Decision Support Objects API for managing Analysis Services 2000.

2. SQL Server 2000 DTS Designer Components

Although SSIS supports the migration of many DTS packages and can run most of the others using the DTS runtime, many IT departments still have DTS packages that can't be migrated and still need to be maintained. SQL Server 2000 DTS Designer Components let you edit and update old DTS packages even after you've moved to SQL Server 2005.

1. SQL Server Management Pack for MOM 2005

One of the best tools in the feature pack, the SQL Server Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 lets you use MOM to monitor and manage SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2000 servers. MOM monitors crucial services, database state, and database mirroring state; collects and saves performance data; and ensures database availability.

Related: SQL Server 2005 Management Tools