Probably The Most Useful Feature of SQL Server 2008… Ever!

SQLThey say that you learn something new every day… not the most original beginning to a post but it is over a year since I last started a post that way

The nugget of utility, that I have just learnt about, has made me feel a bit simple, truth be told.

I’m getting long in the tooth as SQL Developer and DBA; some would say that it is my primary skill set, although I prefer to think of myself as a sort of converged code monkey with analysis, design and management skills thrown into the mix.

I have been using SQL Server 2008, in anger, for almost a year now.

I’ve migrated my SQL skill set from version 6.5, through 7.0, 2000, 2005 and will likely move to 2010 when it becomes viable.  I’ve also migrated databases across all those versions and would consider myself “very knowledgeable” if not a “guru” when it comes to SQL Server.

And yet today, I have been stricken dumb by a discovery so simple that I am quite literally horrified that I have not discovered it before.

As a part of the day to day requirements for my team lies a large amount of data munging.

We check figures, write complex queries, run reports and – more often than not – shove the data into a spreadsheet so that someone less technical can cast their eye over them.

A simple copy/paste from SQL Server Management Studio to Microsoft Excel and the job is done; apart from having to manually input all the field/column headers.

Don’t get me wrong, this can be avoided by using SQL Server Integration Services to export a query to Excel.  I’ve even been known to go back to good old trusty FoxPro to pull data out.

Even my first Visual Studio 2008 project was to build a report designer to alleviate the need to mung data about between SQL Server and Excel.

Imagine the mixed feelings of joy and lamentation that I feel now that I have discovered SQL Server 2008’s most useful and hitherto unknown feature – unknown to me at least:

Copy With Headers

It does exactly what is says on the tin.  It copies the results from SQL Server Management studio and pastes it, along with its field/column headers into anything you would like it to.

Just thinking about all the time this feature will save me, now that I am aware of it, reminds me of how much time I could have saved over the last 10 months… humbug.


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