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.
The not-so-smart phone era
I admit it, I was late to the smart phone party. In 2012 I still had a Sony Ericsson G502, and I was perfectly happy with it. I could call and send text messages, and it had the familiar T9 keyboard that I knew how to use without looking at the phone. I searched for smart phones for years without finding one that I really wanted.
The happy Windows Phone years
Then I found the Nokia Lumia 800 and immediately fell in love. The Windows Phone operating system really appealed to me with its minimalist design. And it was pink! I bought one in February 2012 and loved how simple, fast and responsive it was. I loved it.
In 2014, I broke it :( The screen cracked. I may have cried a little.
After a short period using a borrowed HTC One Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 930 was finally released in Norway. No pink version this time, so I bought the bright acid green one instead. Because colors :) I was once again really happy with my phone. The phone itself is wonderful, I love the look and feel of it, and the upgrade from Windows Phone 7.5 to Windows Phone 8 came with a bunch of great improvements.
The “only 1% of our users use Windows Phone, so we don’t have an app for you” stage
I was patient. I waited. I defended the Windows Phone – and I still like the look and feel of it. Windows 10 would make everything so much better! I don’t need all those apps I can’t get anyway! Things will be better Soon™
But two years later, I changed my mind. It was a difficult decision, being a Microsoft girl. I really wanted the Windows Phone to be awesome. But it wasn’t. It was slowly dying. Sorry, Microsoft! I tried, I really, really tried.
It wasn’t fun to feel left out because I couldn’t see all the pictures and videos of my niece and family on SnapChat. It wasn’t very productive having to click Select → Move → Trash to delete my Gmail e-mails because the Delete button actually only archived the e-mail and labelled it “Deleted Item”. (Oh, that wonderful day when I discovered that and had to sort through several thousand e-mails that I thought I had deleted. SO FUN!) It was sad only having beta version of apps for several years, apps I needed, apps that crashed frequently, apps that were never fixed or updated. Sure, there were workarounds to many issues. But too many workarounds are cumbersome.
The “OMG Android!?” future
In 2016, I finally made up my mind and bought a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Android phone.
IT’S A WHOLE NEW WORLD!
(A new fantastic point of view! ♫)
I was worried that it would take me a long time to get used to Android, that it would feel chunky and cluttered, that there were ten thousand things I had to dig through to find what I wanted. All based on my brief experience with Android phones back in 2012. And I’m happy to say that I was very wrong.
The phone is extremely easy to understand and use, and it’s very fast and responsive. I did spend some time customizing and tweaking things, but I did that on my Windows Phone as well. (I could never decide how to move those tiles around!) In less than a day, it felt like my phone.
It’s a beautiful phone. I adore the vibrant colors and the crisp and clean look and feel. The fingerprint sensor is such a relief to have after typing the wrong pin code approximately 2147483647 times. Both cameras take fantastic pictures. The edge panels gives me even easier access to the things I use the most. The speech-to-text and “OK Google” features actually work really great. It’s such a great user experience that I’m fine with Google knowing more about me and my life and my habits than me :)
More importantly – it makes me productive. (Or… well… at least when I’m trying to be productive and not just playing with all the new, shiny apps and features!) It has all the apps I need, everything is integrated seamlessly, and it all feels smooth and responsive.
It just works.
I don’t think I’ll regret switching :)
Notepad++ has some great features for working with text, like macros and column editing. But what about finding information about your text, such as document length and word count? There are several ways to do this in Notepad++.
Notepad++ Word Count
If you have no plugins installed, you can use the built-in Summary function. If you are using the TextFX plugin you can use the Word Count function:
- Double-click on Status Bar (shortcut to View → Summary)
- View → Summary
- TextFX Tools → Word Count
Differences between Notepad++ and TextFX
The Notepad++ Summary only shows the total word count. If you have text selected it shows you how many characters you have selected, but not how many words are in your selection.
TextFX only works when you have text selected, and shows you how many words and characters are in your selection.
More importantly, Notepad++ and TextFX counts words differently. Notepad++ counts hyphenated words as two words, while TextFX counts hyphenated words as one word. (TextFX and Microsoft Word counts the same way.)
Redgate recently released SQL Prompt 7.1. I try to be an efficient developer (read: I’m a lazy and often impatient developer), so I’m a huge fan of any feature that can save me some clicks here and some time there. In this version, SQL Prompt comes with new Results Grid Features. And let me tell you… I rarely hear so many business users and business analysts ask me: How did you do that!?
Well, let me show you :)
(Like this video? Check out the other 14 Super SQL Tips!)
Do you work on projects in Visual Studio? Are you looking for a free and simple way to source control your projects without sharing them with the whole world? Would you like to be able to manage your projects online and still be able to work on your projects offline? If so, you may want to look into using Visual Studio and Git.
As a speaker and blogger, I create projects for demos, videos and screenshots. When I only had a few projects it worked quite well to “source control” my projects: I kept them in a OneDrive folder, created copies of demo code for new presentations and maintained versions manually.
However, the projects grew in number and size and became more difficult to maintain. There were no easy ways to track how I changed and improved my code over time, and I couldn’t revert to previous code. I kept telling everyone else to use source control, so I decided it was finally time to source control my personal projects.
In this post I will show you how I added my first project to source control with Visual Studio and Git.