Product Review - Document SQL
Visual Studio Magazine, Dianne Siebold
One of SQL Server's most notable shortcomings is its
complete lack of tools for documenting servers and
databases. FMS fills this niche with
(TSA), a tool that allows you to
generate information about your servers and
databases and run reports from that information.
TSA is useful for DBAs who need to document their servers and refine
performance. It's also a useful tool for developers who work with SQL
Server databases. TSA comes with a brief printed user's guide, which is
handy to flip through to find out the product basics. The installation
is simple and straightforward, and the interface is easy to navigate. It
works with SQL Server 7.0 and 2000.
The first thing you need to do in TSA is create a job that defines
the server, connection info, and what objects on your server you want to
document. These objects can be any database objects, such as tables and
stored procedures, as well as server objects such as backup devices,
linked servers, logins, and Data Transformation Services (DTS). TSA
comes with a job wizard that steps you through the process of creating a
job. Once you define a job, you can run it immediately or schedule it to
run at another time. Unfortunately, you can't schedule a job to run on a
repeat basis—for example, every night at 1 a.m. Another drawback is that
jobs are on a per-server basis, so you can't run a report that compares
two databases on separate servers.
TSA keeps track of all the results for a job each time you run it,
and it provides options for managing job results, such as the ability to
delete them, rebuild the storage file, or compact the storage file. TSA
stores job results in an SDB file, which is actually an Access database.
You can't save the job results in a SQL Server database, but you could
probably export the results from the Access database.
The heart of this product is its reports, which you can use to
provide data from the job results. TSA comes with predefined reports
that are created in Crystal Reports, so you can edit them or create your
own. You can export reports only to HTML or Word right now, so support
for other formats in the future would be a good feature.
Another useful feature is that TSA lists possible performance issues
based on which objects it's documenting. However, it flags things such
as columns that allow NULLs as possible performance problems, so it
certainly isn't a substitute for the knowledge of a good DBA.
I can envision how great this tool would be to provide clients with
detailed documentation of their servers and databases. Overall, TSA
fills a glaring hole in the existing SQL Sever toolset and is easy to
use. FMS could make a few minor improvements, but at $499, this tool is
a bargain for the value it provides.
About the Author
Dianne Siebold is a programmer specializing in VB and SQL Server. She
is a regular contributor to Visual Studio Magazine and the author of the
Visual Basic Developer's Guide to SQL Server (Sybex). Reach her at
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