T-SQL Tuesday #101 is hosted by Jens Vestergaard (@vestergaardj), and the topic is The Essential SQL Server Tools in my stack. There are several tools that I use every single day, such as Notepad++, Redgate SQL Prompt, and BimlExpress. In fact, there are so many amazing tools out there for data professionals that I created an entire session focusing on Tools and Tips For Data Warehouse Developers! Since I have already covered my favorite tools in other blog posts, I want to take a slightly different approach this time and share some of my favorite online tools.
5 Useful Online Tools
Ok, I admit it, these online tools are not just for data professionals :) However, they are essential to my work day as a data warehouse and business intelligence consultant. I use them for data modeling, test data generation, accessibility tests, documentation, and task tracking.
One of the newer online tools I have started using is SQL Database Modeler. This tool allows you to design SQL Server database models directly in your browser. You can forward-engineer your model to create all the scripts necessary to create the physical database, or you can reverse-engineer an existing database to create a model from it. The tool is easy to learn and use, and I like how the interface looks. As I’m writing this, SQLDBM is still in beta, so I’m looking forward to seeing what new features will be added.
When I need to quickly create smaller sets of test data or dummy data, I use Mockaroo. It is highly configurable with over 140 built-in field types for locations, personal information, product information, technical information and much more. Every field type can be customized, and you can also use your own regular expression to generate data. The data can then be exported to CSV, JSON, SQL, and Excel formats. The interface is simple to use and understand, and you can save your schemas and data sets for later reuse.
Coblis, the Color Blindness Simulator, allows you to view how someone with a color vision deficiency sees images. I use this when creating reports, documentation, and presentations. Does everything still make sense if the colors are changed or removed, or have I relied too much on my perception of color? With tools like Coblis, it’s easy to check these things before someone else points it out to you.
While working on projects, including personal projects, I track all the time I spend on tasks with Toggl. The time tracker keeps me focused on the task I’m working on, the dashboard gives me a quick overview of my day or week, and the reports can be used when invoicing clients. And the best part? Toggl reminds me when I forget to track my time or if I leave a timer running on accident. Yay for helpful online tools!
Finally, I have started running all my blog posts, e-mails, and documentation through Grammarly. While I’m confident writing English, it’s not my native language, and I make mistakes. Grammarly helps me reduce spelling and grammar errors, and I have even learned a few new grammar rules! A word of caution, though: never trust any tool blindly. On several occasions, and especially when writing about technical topics, Grammarly has notified me about “errors” that are not actually errors.
While these online tools are not specific to SQL Server development, they are extremely useful in my day-to-day work. If you are more interested in specific tools that work with SQL Server, SSMS or SSDT, check out my complete list of resources on cathrinew.net/efficient :)