Summary — SQL Prompt 3.0
PROS: Auto complete for database objects used in T-SQL queries; seamless integration with Query Editor and Query Analyzer; support for code snippets
CONS: No auto complete for T-SQL syntax
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars
RECOMMENDATION: SQL Prompt 3.0 is a valuable tool that will benefit both SQL Server newbies and grizzled SQL veterans.
Contact: Red Gate Software
Red Gate Software's SQL Prompt 3.0 is designed to provide the long-missing T-SQL code completion capability for SQL Server 2005’s SQL Server Management Studio’s (SSMS) Query Editor and SQL Server 2000’s Query Analyzer. Installing SQL Prompt 3.0 is quick and simple; I had the product running in less than a minute. The installation adds a SQL Prompt 3.0 menu option to the Start menu and a SQL Prompt Query Analyzer Integration shortcut to the All Users Startup folder; the shortcut runs automatically when the system starts up. Running SQL Prompt Query Analyzer Integration from the Start menu adds a SQL Prompt 3.0 icon to the system tray and enables SQL Prompt 3.0 in Query Editor. You can also use the system tray icon to shut down SQL Prompt 3.0, which removes it from Query Editor.
SQL Prompt's real power is evident when you fire up Query Editor and begin writing queries. After you type a T-SQL keyword, SQL Prompt 3.0 opens an auto complete dialog box that lists the available database objects you can use in your T-SQL statement, as Figure 1 shows. Pressing Enter selects the highlighted object and closes the dialog box until you finish typing the next keyword.
SQL Prompt provides table, view, and column name completion. For column completion, the program displays a column picker that lets you specify the columns you want to include in your query. The product also provides database object completion for USE and JOIN keywords and for stored procedures . You can press Ctrl+Spacebar to open the SQL Prompt suggestion dialog box at any point while editing code in Query Editor.
One significant feature that SQL Prompt lacks is the ability to help you write the actual SQL syntax that’s required for SQL statements. To help compensate for this omission, SQL Prompt 3.0 includes a code snippets feature: Enter a snippet name, and SQL Prompt 3.0 displays a basic-statement template. For example, if you enter the snippet name ssf and press Enter, SQL Prompt writes the core SQL SELECT * FROM statement in the Query Editor window. You still need to fill in any additional statement keywords that are needed, such as any column selection, WHERE clause, or JOIN information, but SQL Prompt helps you select the required database objects. SQL Prompt comes with 66 built-in snippets—some, such as yell, are fairly humorous. You can also add your own snippets.
As you write queries and change databases and tables, you see an animation of the SQL Prompt system tray icon reading each new piece of metadata. Although there was a brief delay while SQL Prompt read each piece of metadata, the delay was quite acceptable and I liked the immediate feedback the animation provided.
The SQL Prompt, Options menu item that's added to the SSMS menu can be used to manage and configure SQL Prompt 3.0. The Options menu lets you configure a wide range of SQL Prompt settings, including its availability and display characteristics, the T-SQL style and auto insert characteristics, and its alternative connection authentication. In addition, you can use the Options menu to manage snippets and set up database object aliases.
SQL Prompt 3.0 is a valuable tool that will benefit every SQL Server professional. SQL Server newbies and grizzled veterans alike will find the tool's prompts helpful and its database object names auto fill useful. However, it lacks SQL syntax completion and at $195 per user I found it a little too expensive for the functionality it offered. You can find out more about SQL Prompt 3.0 and download an evaluation copy from http://www.red-gate.com/products/SQL_Prompt/index.htm.