ApexSQL Complete feature highlight: Hint-list

In this article, we’ll introduce one of the key features of ApexSQL Complete. ApexSQL Complete is a productivity add-in for SSMS and Visual Studio. The Auto-complete feature allows the user to easily find a desired table, database, or other related content in the hint-list, which pop-ups when the user starts typing in appropriate letters.

The Auto-Complete feature of ApexSQL Complete, provides intelligent code completion which speeds up and helps with code writing, by automatically providing SQL keywords, databases, objects, schemas, variables, procedures, and functions.

The Auto-complete feature can be enabled from the ApexSQL Complete menu, by clicking on the Enable Auto-Completecommand, or by activating it with the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+A:

Enabling the SQL Auto-complete feature

ApexSQL Complete hint-list

ApexSQL Complete hint-list will appear when the user starts typing, or by pressing the Ctrl+Space key. The difference between these two types of calling the hint-list is that the Ctrl+Space key will show all hints regardless of what is typed. With the first letter typed, a hint-list will appear, showing appropriate keywords, scalar functions, procedures, and databases.

By typing “SE”, the hint-list will appear and provide a list of keywords and scalar functions, which are beginning with letters “SE”, and they are sorted by importance.

Dialog showing hint-list appearing when typing 'SE'

After them, the hint-list provides more keywords, procedures, and scalar functions, which are containing letters “SE” in their name. In this way, the hint-list provides varieties of options for auto-completion.

ApexSQL Complete provides a wide range of objects which are appropriate to the typed string. For example, when the SELECT statement is typed and the Space key is pressed, the hint-list offers tables, temporary tables, views, columns, keywords, scalar functions, schemas, databases, aggregates, methods, and variables.

ApexSQL Complete Hint-list gained by typing 'SELECT_'

The user can choose which objects will be included in the hint-list, from the ApexSQL Complete options menu.

Configuring ApexSQL Complete hint-list

As we mentioned, the user can choose which objects he wants to include in the hint-lists. To do so, the user has to go to ApexSQL menu, and click on Options.

Selecting Complete options in ApexSQL Complete submenu

In the Options window, the user has to click on the Hints tab, and he can set up options for displaying hints. For example, the user doesn’t want to have Procedures and function member lists, and System functions in the hint-list.

Dialog showing hint options in ApexSQL Complete

By unchecking them and clicking on OK, next time when the user starts typing he won’t see those hints. We can test this with the previous example by typing “SE”:

The hint-list showing only keywords beginning with 'SE'

The hint-list now provides only keywords beginning with “SE” letters, and those containing “SE” letters in their name. Thanks to Options that displays hints, the user can customize the hint-list as he wants, and in that way reduce the number of hints.

Multiple selections of hints

One of the useful things about ApexSQL Complete hint-list is the ability to easily navigate from the database, over the schema, then over the table, to the desired column:

ApexSQL Complete hint-list provides easy navigation from database, over schema, and more

By using this ApexSQL Complete hint-list ability, the user can navigate to the desired column, and insert it in the query with checking the column, or selecting the column and pressing the Enter key.

Multiple selections of hints is another good feature of ApexSQL Complete, because it allows to check multiple columns from a hint-list, and to automatically add them to the query.

Multiple selections of hints in ApexSQL Complete

In this way, while navigating to the desired column, the user can select multiple columns at once, by using checkboxes. With multiple selecting of columns they are automatically being added without even typing their names in code.

ApexSQL Complete Hint-list transparency

When the user is creating a large script, from time to time, he needs to look at the code, so he can add what he wants to the script. The hint-list could get in the way, and cover the part of the code:

Hint-list without transaprency

ApexSQL Complete Hint-list transparency feature can solve this issue. When the user starts typing desired statement and the hint-list covers the code, the user only has to press and hold CTRL, and the hint-list will become transparent:

ApexSQL Complete hint-list transaprency feature

The user can see now the part of the code that he wants, release the CTRL, and continue with typing. The hint-list transparency feature provides the user an option to see the code through the hint-list, when it is needed.


February 26, 2014
  • Evan

    Is there a way to remove keywords from the hint list? It is inconvenient to see 100+ items that any SQL server user should already know.

    • Marko

      Hi Evan,

      No there is no option to turn off the SQL keywords.

      We have in plan to implement such option in some of the next