A handy development tool with a powerful find-and-replace feature

Laserweb's SQL Editor 3.0.8 coding tool for SQL Server database developers lets you access and modify tables, views, and stored procedures within a database and even lets you find and replace multiple objects. Version 3.0.8 supports SQL Server 7.0 and 6.5. Laserweb has also released version 3.0.11, which supports SQL Server 2000.

Using Windows Installer to install SQL Editor is effortless and takes less than 2 minutes. Any developer who's familiar with Windows-based applications will find the GUI, which Figure 1 shows, straightforward and easy to use. However, after I installed the software, I noticed its database-connectivity limitation: SQL Editor lets you open and work in only one database at a time. At startup, the program prompts you to select and log in to a database. After you're connected to the database, the only way to connect to a different database is to log off the database you're working in and log in to the new database. You can circumvent this inconvenience by launching a second instance of the application and running it concurrently with the first instance.

Find-and-Replace Highlights


SQL Editor's most powerful feature is the find-and-replace tool, which can simplify the life of any developer who has ever heard a client say, "This is perfect! I have just one change." You can use the find-and-replace tool to search across an entire database and replace code in tables, views, and stored procedures simultaneously. For example, I needed to rename two columns in a table that resides in a database that holds 150 stored procedures. I used the find-and-replace tool to locate all the stored procedures and views that used these columns, as well as any tables that might have a relationship with the columns, then replaced the old name for each column with the new name. SQL Editor provides a distinct advantage over Query Analyzer, which doesn't include a find-and-replace tool that can span an entire database and which requires developers to open each piece of code individually.

Another helpful feature is the software's search capability, which lets you search for objects by name, similar name, and keyword. You can also search for objects created after a certain date. These search methods are especially useful when you work in sizable database environments in which navigating through a large number of tables, views, stored procedures, and other database objects can be difficult.

Help, Tree, and History Features


SQL Editor's Transact-SQL Help, a syntax reference for T-SQL programming, is a boon to programmers who develop in different languages and find it difficult to remember syntax. Because Transact-SQL Help is part of the application, you don't have to launch SQL Server Books Online (BOL) or get up from your desk to look for a book. The reference, which Laserweb presents in the familiar Microsoft Help format, is comprehensive and can help beginners and forgetful programmers.

The application provides convenient devices that benefit the visual side of development, such as color-coding and a tree structure similar to the Windows Explorer tree. The tree structure lets you view objects within a database. By clicking an object, you can see every other object that's related to it. The application lets you save the current tree structure at any point by clicking Tree on the menu bar and selecting Save Structure in the drop-down menu. One of the application's oversights is evident in the Save Structure dialog box: The box lists only .sql (SQL Scripts) as the default extension. However, you can easily save the tree structure in text format by entering filename.txt in the dialog box. Being able to save the tree structure is a handy feature when you want to create a reference for visually organizing object relationships. The application's visual navigation aid—built-in color-coding for T-SQL code that you can deactivate at will—lets you edit the color scheme for comments, reserved keywords, quoted literals, background color, and default text color.

SQL Editor also lets you create and maintain a stored-procedure history file. This feature is useful for debugging and accessing multiple versions of a stored procedure. To create the history file, you select Tools, Set Options, then click the Auto Scripting tab. You can then select the Save work into history file check box. This feature also saves a copy of any stored procedure that the history file references. If you're working on multiple versions of code, this feature is particularly useful. And for those of us who forget what we did 2 minutes ago, the File menu offers the Last Compilation Message option. When you select Object, Last Compilation Message, the screen displays the dialog box containing the message that appeared the last time you compiled a script.

However, the application doesn't have a results pane, an omission that makes testing your scripts more difficult. Testing code to ensure proper results is an essential programming step, so when I write new code, I like to verify the results immediately by testing the script. Because SQL Editor doesn't include a results pane, developers have to open a separate program to test the results of scripts that they develop in the application.

SQL Editor gets high marks for its smooth installation and intuitive GUI. The software is a basic, programmer-friendly application without a lot of fluff and overhead, and it's light on resource consumption. SQL Editor isn't an essential, must-have tool, but at only $55, the application is moderately priced and helpful. The find-and-replace feature alone is worth the investment.



SQL Editor 3.0.8
Contact: Laserweb (44) (771) 276-4264
Web: http://www.sqleditor.com
Price: $55 for a single user; $600 for a domain license
Decision Summary:
Pros: Powerful find-and-replace tool; built-in color-coding palette; intuitive GUI; multiple simultaneous code-search capability; helpful T-SQL syntax reference
Cons: Limited database connectivity; no results pane; only one extension option in the dialog box for saving a tree structure