BIDS Helper

When you are a BI Monkey like me, you probably spend a fair bit of your time buried deep in Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) and probably wishing it was a little less frustrating to work with.

Enter… BIDS Helper

Over at codeplex there is a project called BIDS Helper, which adds some useful additional functionality to the standard BIDS environment.  It improves the development environment for integration, analysis and reporting services.  In this post I will focus more on the SSIS capabilities that are added.  The additional functionality is fully documented on the codeplex site, and I will highlight some of the more useful functions below – the links are to the documentation which is nice and visual, making it easy to understand.

Expression and Configuration Highlighter – this adds a highlight to components, connection managers and variables that are controlled by an expression and / or configuration, which allows you to rapidly see what is subject to change at runtime.

Expression List – this lists every property that is set by a variable (though currently not expressions that set the value of variables) – great for finding out what is actually in the package, as these things can be easily overlooked otherwise

Non-Default Properties Report – this lists any property in the package that is set to a non-default value. Very handy for debugging and seeing what is non standard.

SSIS Performance Visualization– this executes the package and presents a gantt chart of the execution time, and also can present performance over time – useful when performance tuning.

Variables Window Extensions – this adds the functionality of being able to change a variables scope – very handy for when you create a variable at the wrong scope (something I do all the time).

BIDS Helper is a handy little tool that adds a few nice functions for SSIS developers without intefering with the existing UI or design environment – I thoroughly recommend installing it, especially as it’s free!

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