Review: TOAD for SQL Server

TOAD for SQL Server 1.0
Quest Software

TOAD has been a popular Oracle development tool for years. Now owned by Quest, TOAD continues to have its own independent Web site, and is expanding its product line. One of the latest things they've done is release a free version of this tool for Microsoft SQL Server users. As a first approximation, you can think of it as a combination of Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer, with a user interface designed to be as similar to the original TOAD as possible. As such, it will probably appeal most to users migrating from the Oracle version, but it also offers convenience for SQL Server DBAs in general.

The TOAD user interface provides a MDI window that can host multiple DataBrowser and SQL Editor windows. The DataBrowser provides a tabbed interface for picking object types (tables, views, and so on). When you pick a type, there's a list of objects, together with toolbar buttons for common operations such as truncating tables, exporting data, adding constraints, and so on. These buttons open dialog boxes, so you can perform most DBA operations without needing to know anyd etails of the SQL involved.

When you doublt-click an item, its details are displayed in another tabbed interface to the right of the DataBrowser. The tabs put all sorts of information only a click away. For a table, for instance, you can see columns, indexes, constraints, triggers, data, grants, dependencies, and script information, just by selecting the appropriate tab. This is much simpler than performing multiple navigation operations in SQL Server Enterprise Manager to get the same information, even if you can remember where it's all located.

The SQL Editor is pretty similar to Query Analyzer. Enter SQL, select a database, run it, see the results. I was surprised to discover that I couldn't drag things from the DataBrowser to the SQL Editor, but if you just want to type and run stuff it works fine.

Overall, TOAD seems a fairly convenient way to perform SQL Server DBA tasks. It's nice to have everything in one tool instead of two, and though the tabs and buttons can be a bit overwhelming at first, they put a lot of information right there for you. Certainly the price is right as well.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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