Undoubtedly, SSMS is a proven database management and administration tool that does its job well. Yet we all tend to expand our capabilities as much as we can, tailoring this tool to our specific needs. That’s how we get a wide range of SSMS add-ins and extensions at our service.
In this article, we will be dealing with two productivity-focused add-ins that help us deliver results faster. They fill the gaps in the SSMS functionality, they make it more flexible, and—last but not least—they enhance our SQL coding with numerous useful tricks, such as autocompletion, snippets, and refactoring. These are dbForge SQL Complete and SSMS Tools Pack. First, we will briefly overview both of them, and then we will scrutinize and compare them feature by feature to help you see whether SQL Complete is a superior SSMS Tools Pack alternative or vice versa.
dbForge SQL Complete: A Brief Overview
Let’s start with dbForge SQL Complete, available as an add-in for both SSMS and Microsoft Visual Studio. Its IntelliSense-like context-based code completion capabilities, SQL formatting, and smart refactoring with auto-correction of references can make daily coding up to 4 times faster. It is perfectly suitable for individual use, yet just as well it helps form and unify SQL standards for corporate teamwork. It offers a powerful T-SQL debugger and has all those little touches—such as tab coloring and document outline—that make your work more convenient. With all of its features, SQL Complete has a clean interface that never feels overloaded.
Pricing: dbForge SQL Complete is a commercial solution available as a standalone product in 3 editions: basic (Express) and advanced (Standard and Professional). The Express edition comes free of charge, which is a unique offering on the market—there is no other way to extend your code completion functionality in SSMS for free.
SQL Complete can also be purchased as part of dbForge SQL Tools, a collection of 15 essential products covering nearly any aspect of SQL Server development, management, and administration.
SSMS Tools Pack: A Brief Overview
The second contender, SSMS Tools Pack, is no slouch either. It is an SSMS plugin that was designed to dramatically increase the user’s productivity with easy-to-use features. It delivers a handy SQL editor, CRUD procedure generation, snippets, formatting, convenient search with filtering, and SQL execution history. Like SQL Complete, it offers features that are not essential yet still pleasant to have, such as tab coloring and export to Excel spreadsheets.
Pricing: SSMS Tools Pack is also a commercial product with varied numbers of licenses available in Small, Large, and Enterprise team packages. A free demo license is available for 1 computer over the period of 60 days.
SSMS Tools Pack vs dbForge SQL Complete: Feature Comparison
Now let’s proceed to the comparison. Check the features carefully, because some may turn out to be far more crucial for your particular goals than others. For this comparison, we used SQL Complete v6.8.20 and SSMS Tools Pack v5.5.2, which are (at the time of writing) the latest and most advanced versions, presenting both SSMS plugins at their peak.
|Visual Studio integration||Yes||No|
|Improved code quality|
|Find invalid objects||Yes||No|
|CRUD procedure generation||Yes||Yes|
|Generation of the CREATE/ALTER script for server objects||Yes||No|
|Execution Plan Analyzer||No||Yes|
|Renaming of objects, variables, and aliases||Yes||No|
|Run on multiple targets||Yes||Yes|
|Safe work with document environment and databases|
|Various options for executing statements||Yes||Yes|
|Run At Status Bar Element||No||Yes|
|Custom SSMS main window title||Yes||Yes|
|Execution history of SQL statements||Yes||Yes|
|Quick Connect Active SQL Editor Window||No||Yes|
|Operations with data in the SSMS data grid|
|Results Grid data visualizers||Yes||No|
|Copy Data As from the SSMS grid to XML, CSV, HTML, and JSON||Yes||No|
|Copy Results Grid headers (column names + types)||Yes||No|
|Export to Excel from the SSMS Results Grid||No||Yes|
|Find in Results Grid||Yes||Yes|
|Generate Script As from the SSMS data grid||Yes||No|
|Increased coding productivity|
|Context-sensitive suggestion of object names and keywords||Yes||No|
|Expand SELECT *||Yes||Yes|
|New query template||No||Yes|
|‘Go to definition’ for database objects||Yes||Yes|
|Highlighted occurrences of identifiers||Yes||No|
|Document Outline window||Yes||No|
|Unified SQL standards|
|Multiple predefined formatting profiles||Yes||No|
|Preservation of the original formatting for any selected piece of code||Yes||No|
|Import/Export Settings Wizard||Yes||Yes|
|Quick search for options||Yes||No|
|Initial release||v1.0 (November 19, 2010)||v1.0 (May 1, 2008)|
|Latest release (as of September 2021)||v6.8 (August 12, 2021)||v5.5 (July 1, 2020)|
|Total quantity of releases||125||40|
dbForge SQL Complete vs SSMS Tools Pack: The Verdict
As you could see above, dbForge SQL Complete gains the upper hand here, being more packed with features than SSMS Tools Pack. It offers more ways to increase your productivity, enables a much broader range of operations with data, has notably more advanced formatting, and supports CLI. It is also worth noting that SQL Complete is updated more frequently.
Finally, if you are looking for an SSMS Tools Pack alternative that would also be seamlessly compatible with Microsoft Visual Studio, SQL Complete is your best bet. And it doesn’t take much effort to see all of its capabilities in action. Simply download a free 14-day trial of its most advanced Professional edition and give it a go.