Recently Sahil posted about his use of PromptSQL, a relitvely inexpensive tool that provides intellisense for T-SQL. I totally agree with Sahil in that one area that has been lacking for way too long is intellisense in T-SQL. While I use enterprise manager and visual studio to cerate queries and manage my stored procedures, triggers, and functions I still enjoy cracking open an editor isntead of a designer to write and debug T-SQL. Far too often, however, I am faced with a new database on a new project and I have to rack my brain trying to figure out what the columns and the tables are called. Normally I try to print out a E/R diagram so I can post it on my wall, but sometimes that is not feasible. This is why I tried out PromptSQL.
PromptSQL is $25, a nominal fee for a product like this IMO. Of course there is a trial version available for download, too. It works inside of Query Analyzer and Visual Studio.NET (in SQL files), requiring its own connection to the database for what I assume is to access the INFORMATION_SCHEMA views or the system tables.
PromptSQL's options allow you to change the font and the size of the intellisense. It also allows you to manage the duration of the database connection that it maintains. Overall PromptSQL helped me with database schemas that were less familiar to me. I could see this being a valuable asset for a development team who are being assembled on a mostly constructed database. However, in databases that I have familiarty of the scehma I found PromptSQL to mostly get in the way. In these cases, I turned it off because I found that it can sometimes take a moment (a split second really) to pop up its list ... it may not sound like a lot of time but when you are typing a query quickly without pause, you don't want to be interupted (at least I don't). It could've been just on my PC that I found this slight sub second delay, so I recommend trying it in your situation to see how it responds. Overall, I like the tool, that is at least until Microsoft offers it as part of Visual Studio.NET (*hoping*). Do I give it a thumbs up? If you know your schema, you probably won't use this that much ... but if you are often in unfamilar database schemas and/or in a situation where you forget the column names of a table, PromptSQL is not a bad idea.