BIDS Helper is a CodePlex project that delivers a set of Visual Studio add-ins for developers working on BI projects. It’s been around for a while, but until now has not had any SSIS-focused features.
The BIDS Helper team has just released version 1.2 of their tool, and it now includes (in addition to a bunch of SSAS-related stuff as well) these new SSIS features:
- Create Fixed Width Columns – Simplifies the definition of a fixed width flat file connection manager
- dtsConfig File Formatter – As far as I can tell, this is just another shortcut for the ctrl-k, ctrl-d “prettify” keyboard chord that is built into Visual Studio
- Expression and Configuration Highlighter – Color-codes tasks and connection managers that have properties set by configurations or expressions, making your packages more self-documenting.
- Expression List – Adds a new “Expression List” window to Visual Studio’s “Other Windows” menu; this window displays all expressions defined within the package.
- Smart Diff – Provides a pre-processor for the built-in VSS or TFS differencing tools, to make it easier to diff two DTSX files’ XML content.
All in all, this looks like a major step forward in the SSIS developer’s toolbox. The Expression and Configuration Highlighter and Smart Diff features in particular provide functionality I have often wanted, and even if they’re not exactly what I would have liked, they’re still better than what we had before. Check it out!