Let’s Make September Our Free Community Tools Awareness Month.

Last week, I was reading a brand new article from a Microsoft employee about how you should directly query sys.dm_exec_requests in order to find out what’s running on your system.

Brent Reading Book
“Step 1: get a stone that looks round.”

I lost my mind.

There was a lot of yelling at the monitor.

In the year 2022, nobody should be reinventing the wheel. There are plenty of free wheels available for you to choose from. You’re literally wasting your time if you start from scratch with a boulder and chisel, and then try to turn it into a wheel.

The Microsoft data platform community is amazing, and has been that way for years. There are so many free resources to help you do your job faster, easier, and more accurately.

And sure, I’ve been around for quite a while, and I take for granted that everybody in the database business knows about all this cool free stuff. I’m not talking about the First Responder Kit, either – I’m talking about a stunning list of resources so large that it’s intimidating just to get started.

That’s where you come in.
What do you rely on every week?

In September, I want you to improve community knowledge about one free tool that you rely on every week in order to get your job done.

Your first reaction is gonna be that everybody already knows it, but trust me, they do not. Just by reading this blog post, you’re already ahead of many folks out there who don’t have the time to keep up with the industry. Imagine that you’re talking to a brand new hire at your organization who needs to get up to speed on how you’re able to do your job so effectively.

Pick one of these things to share:

  • Introduce the tool to readers for the first time
  • Tell a story about how it saved your bacon
  • Share a non-default configuration option that you use, and why
  • Write a review – explain what you like about a tool and what you wish was different
  • Compare several free tools that do the same thing – explain the pros & cons of each one
  • Put together a list of learning resources for a free tool – maybe you like the tool, but it isn’t easy to use, and you want to put together a set of links to show a new user where to begin

And there are any number of ways you can share it:

  • Write a blog post (if you don’t have a blog, write on LinkedIn, SQLServerCentral, MSSQLTips)
  • Record a short video
  • Improve the tool’s documentation

You can schedule it anytime you want during September. When it goes live, leave a comment here with a link to it. I’ll post a roundup post, and I’ll set up social media re-sharing so that I can keep driving new folks to your work over time. I’ll be working on it too – most of my September blog posts will be focused on free community tools.

Let’s make sure that nobody in our industry has to reinvent the wheel again!

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12 Comments. Leave new

  • While it doesn’t follow your rules, could I highlight my sp_helpexpandview & the older related blog posts, for those who struggle with dissecting nested views?

    https://sqlbek.wordpress.com/tag/sp_helpexpandview/?order=ASC

    Reply
  • I like this post, this sounds fun. I’ve always wanted to participate in SQL Tuesdays, but their timelines are too short, and I don’t usually even hear about the new topic right away – whereas many of us follow Brent’s Blog like a hawk! 😀

    A month is also more reasonable for folks who don’t already blog on a frequent basis (and have a harder time fitting it into existing schedules).

    And this is a great topic!

    Reply
  • Douglas Z Coats
    August 3, 2022 4:10 pm

    does this count? Its totally something EVERYONE has their own version of it but I use it multiple times per week. Ive even had other devs in past jobs reach out and say thank you for it. Its especially useful in larger environments or environments youre not used too yet. Its simple, and probably needs a complete rewrite, but its useful. If you agree I can type something up on linkedin for you 🙂

    https://github.com/phesago/stpFindObjectBYString/blob/main/stpFindObjectByString

    Reply
  • I’ve found this tool indispensable for migrations, code and performance testing (looking at you 2008R2 to 2017… what fun but I digress). It uses extended events backed with a SQLite database to do a more agnostic snapshot/replay. You can even build a cluster and perform a replay in real-time with minimal impact. MSFT has their own tool but it was much more cumbersome than I’d hoped.

    https://github.com/spaghettidba/WorkloadTools

    Reply
  • Not mine, but a great place to get a lot of pointers to tools and apps around SQL Server: https://github.com/NajiElKotob/Awesome-SQLServer

    Reply
  • Thomas Franz
    August 4, 2022 8:42 am

    From my collection of sayings: Don’t reinvent the Wheel. Even not if you are *NOT* a professionall wheel engineer.

    Regarding Tools:
    * The first thing I install on a new PC is the Total Commander. I got a licence from my mother as birthday gift / wish maybe 25 years ago (~30 USD) and I still use / love it. It is MUCH more flexible / faster than the Windows Explorer when you have to handle files. And we all have to from time to time.
    * EveryThing – a free tool which treats the NTFS table of your PC as database (instead slowly grabbeling through every single folder and subfolder) and finds files in real time while you are typing a search string (usually parts of the file name). And of course you could add network drives too (saved the day of my coworkers after someone moved an important folder inadvertently to a very wrong place deep in another folder structure, where it would be never be found again, because he / she was using the Explorer :-)).
    Hint: set e.g. Win + question mark as easy to remember hotkey for a new search window in the options.
    And of course Total Commander supports EveryThing too, so you can do the very fast searches there too.

    Reply
  • I just fainted when I saw that list you shared. Just came to with drool all over my keyboard, because I probably lay there for half an hour or so. Wow! What a list! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • My contribution is here:
    https://straightforwardsql.com/posts/my-toolbox-greenshot/

    Hopefully, I’ll write some more before September ends (if not, wake me up).

    Reply

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