october 13, 2023

Automation tools for SQL code styling

This post is going to list free SQL code formatting tools. The priority of the quest was to find add-ons to SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) or sites that could provide it.

The T-SQL procedures were used for testing. The purpose of this work is to bring to a common format T-SQL code of employees.

 After analyzing the market, only three sites out of a large variety handled correct SQL formatting:

1. Instant SQL Formatter

It is a free version of the commercial tool SQL Pretty Printer tool.


2. (SQL Prompt)

This formatter is based on the fee-based SQL Prompt tool, which is a multifunctional add-on for SSMS and VS.


3. Poor SQL (Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter)

Open Source solution, has different variations (site, library, application, add-ons), many repositories on github use it as a framework for their formatters.


Choosing from free add-ons and considering the ease of installation and test examples, Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter was the best as an add-on for SSMS.

You could use Format T-SQL Code by installing this add-on and expanding the «Tools» toolbar and customizing the T-SQL Formatting Options.

The formatting settings window looks like this:

To install Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter, I needed:

1) Download the installation file of the add-on for SSMS and start the installation;

2) Update the .NET Framework 2.0;

3) Add a dependency to the configuration file (Ssms.exe.config).

To add a dependency to the SSMS configuration file:

1) Find the configuration file, which is located in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 18\Common7\IDE;

2) By right-clicking on the file, go to Properties in the Security section and put a checkmark on Modify (this is necessary to add changes);

3) Open the file, add the code to the <assemblyBinding> section and save the changes.

The code to add it is shown below.


<assemblyIdentity name=»Microsoft.VisualStudio.Shell.12.0″ publicKeyToken=»b03f5f7f11d50a3a» culture=»neutral»/> 

<bindingRedirect oldVersion=»″ newVersion=»″/> 



After analyzing many free alternative tool options (websites, Google plugins, command line applications, text editor add-ons), the choice fell on Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter as an add-on for SSMS. The advantages and disadvantages of this add-on are described below.


  • It’s free.
  • Easy to install.
  • Handles the tasks you set.
  • Has a formatting settings window.
  • Located in the development area directly.
  • Open source code that allows you to make your own variations.


  • Does not align text strings spread over multiple lines of code.
  • Does not align comments /**/ spread over multiple lines of code.

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