Add helpful package design tools to BIDS: A Codeplex project focus

Among the gems on found on Codeplex, "Microsoft's open source project hosting web site", BIDS Helper stands tall. BIDS Helper is "a Visual Studio.Net add-in with features that extend and enhance the functionality of Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS)."

  • It supports SQL Server 2005 and 2008.
  • It includes helpful tools for Analysis Services (22), Integration Services (14), and Reporting Services (2).
  • It won the "SQL Heroes 2008" contest award as announced at the 2008 PASS conference.

"How can BIDS Helper help me?"

Here are just a few examples.

"I wonder what package properties I mucked up?"

BIDS Helper will produce a report of all properties in the package that have been changed from their default settings. This feature is the Non-Default Properties Report. You can even select the properties that you care about. Here is an example of the output, exported to Microsoft Excel format:

"Rats! My variable has the wrong scope again."

How often has this happened to you? You create a new package variable, you want it to have package scope, then you find out that you had Task X selected on the design surface at the time, and your variable is invisible outside of Task X. So you just change the value in the Scope column in the Variables window and...HEY! It's read-only! No worries. BIDS Helper will move your variable to a different scope. This is a feature of the Variables Window Extensions. Here's a picture of the "change scope" dialog box:

"I tore my hair out writing Expressions and now I can't find the darn things."

BIDS Helper shows you where those expressions are hiding. The Expression and Configuration Highlighter calls out tasks and connection managers that use expressions with a magenta triangle. (The aqua triangle indicates configurations.)

The Variables Window Extensions call out variables whose values are set by expressions with the same magenta triangle:

"My data isn't flowing, it's more like oozing."

A couple features in BIDS Helper can help you to locate performance bottlenecks. The SSIS Performance Visualization tool gives you a picture that's worth a thousand words:

Next, focus on the Data Flow, with the Pipeline Component Performance Breakdown. Run your package once, identify and fix a bottleneck, run it again and compare:

"Just deploy it already and let's move on."

The built-in package deployment feature in BIDS creates an installation package that you then have to run on the deployment target. Sometimes you just want to zap your finished package from point A to point B. The Deploy SSIS Packages  feature of BIDS Helper simplifies this process:

What are the other features of BIDS Helper?

Here is a complete list of the SSIS features of BIDS Helper, copied from the Codeplex page:

Who gets the credit for BIDS Helper?

According to the People page for the Codeplex project, they are, alphabetically by last name:



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