SSMS Tab Bar is Nearly Useless

I can’t be the only one to notice that the Tabbed Window Management in MS SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is just plain awful.

As my day, or task, or project progresses, I end up with more and more windows open.  The order of those tabs is useful information to me, as it keeps track of the progression of the work I am doing.  But, depending upon the size of your screen, as more tabs are opened, tabs start to get bumped off the tab bar into some kind of limbo where they are only available on the dropdown list at the right. 

You cannot just scroll the tabs left and right to find your tab.  Once they drop off into the pulldown, they are also no longer displayed in the order that they were on the tab bar.  So when I’m looking for a window, I have to actually KNOW what meaningless tab name I’m looking for.  Otherwise, I end up pulling the dropdown down numerous times and poking around until I find the one that actually is my “ALTER TABLE”, or “CREATE PROCECURE” or whatever. 

The problem is one or more of them are Stored Procedures that I am modifying, others are ad hoc queries I am working on, one of them might be a TABLE I am altering.  But ALL of them say the same thing: SQLQueryN.sql.

Complicating this is the fact that the text of the tabs is virtually meaningless.  In my example above, all I see is SQLQuery1….prod.sql, SQLQuery2…prod.SQL……. SQLQuery6…prod.sql.  etc etc etc.  And things don’t get any better once they drop off into the dropdown where, presumably, you can take as much width as necessary to display the full tab name.  But they don’t.  The dropdown window name displays the same abbreviated, chopped, and useless information as it did when it was on the tab bar.

All in all, I’d REALLY be happy if MS came up with a different way of handling this. 

In the mean time, you can open Tools –> Options –> “Editor Tab and Status bar”, and choose which useless information you want on your tabs. 

But it’s still a kludge.

About combatdba

I'm a production DBA at a terabyte-class SQL Server Shop
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2 Responses to SSMS Tab Bar is Nearly Useless

  1. Seamus Barrett says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this! The tab situation in ssms is a GUI freakshow. It is down to the fact that new tabs are opened on the left rather than more intuitively on the right (like when you open a new tab in IE). New open documents push the other tabs to the right. So your open documents keep changing position. It is counter intuitive so damn near impossible to know where you document is as you only know where it was. So the formula for remembering where the tab should be is

    (original tab position + number of subsequently opened tabs – subsequently closed tabs (that were of position greater than tab in question)

    Simple really!

    Whoever OKed this decision knows nothing about UI. It has caused me unending frustration since it was introduced (it is also in VS 2008, but was not in VS 2003 where the tabs were as you would expect them)

    • combatdba says:

      Thanks for seeing this the way I do. I was beginning to think I was the only one.

      And also, I really, REALLY do not like the organizational structure of one huge friggin’ treeview down the left hand side to navigate EVERYTHING.

      By the time I have opened my Production, QA, and DEV servers, which each have HUNDREDS of tables, and hundreds of columns (these databases I inherited are very NON-normalized!), and HUNDREDS of SPs, and everything else… I scroll up and down this huge list until my eyes swim!

      If I have to have one long list for every single thing on the server from Systems Tables to Agent Jobs, it would help even if the icons for tables didn’t look almost exactly like the icons for stored procedures. At least make one of them red, or something. That way, when it’s flying by at warp speed, I at least realise that I’ve gone from Tables to SPs.

      /rant! 😉

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