Filtering within Object Explorer – Underappreciated features of Microsoft SQL Server

Continuing my series on the underappreciated features of Microsoft SQL Server (based on the editorial with the same name by Andy Warren on, we will today look at a very simple, productivity enhancing feature of the Object explorer – filtering!

The problem

When working on a complex database schema, it often becomes confusing for the developer/administrator to locate a particular database object from a long list of available objects. Microsoft SQL Server offers two solutions to overcome this challenge.

  1. Use the object search feature referenced in the post
  2. Use object filtering within the Object Explorer

Using filtering within Object Explorer

Filtering within Object Explorer is a very simple and easy 3 step process. In fact, it is so simple that those who have not used this till date will start using it right away.

For the purposes of this demonstration, assume that we have a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 instance with the AdventureWorks2008 database loaded, and we need to only work on tables whose names contain the word “Person” in them.

Step 01:
A. In the Object explorer, right click on the “Tables”
B. Go to Filter –> Filter Settings
Step 02:
Enter the object information as necessary. For our case, enter:
Name = Person

(If you only want to work within a schema, enter only the schema name.

image image
Step 03:
Simply click “OK” to apply the filters in the Object Explorer
image image
Step 04:
To remove filtering, all one needs to do is:
A. In the Object explorer, right click on the “Tables”
B. Go to Filter –> Remove Filter

Filtering is applicable to all object types within the Object Explorer. If one is to only work on a particular schema or a set of objects, it is very productive to have only those required objects filtered out. For SQL Server 2005 users, there are no bad news because this feature is available in Microsoft SQL Server 2005 as well.

In my next post, we will now explore how can we effectively use templates within SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio).

Be courteous. Drive responsibly.


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