A Better Way to Work with SSIS Variable Expressions

Overview:  Just a quick tip about using a BIDS Helper window when working with expressions to set the value of an SSIS variable.  Screen shots shown are from SQL Server Integration Services 2008 R2.

Standard GUI:  SSIS Expression Builder

Following is a screen shot of the standard SSIS Expression Builder when populating a variable value.  Notice how the spacing of the query within the Expression Builder is not well preserved, so it’s difficult to read.  This particular query has an If-Then-Else condition, which is really tough to spot in this window:



Better GUI:  BIDS Helper Expression Editor

As an alternative to the above standard window, look at the top of the Variables pane for the blue icon:


The BIDS Helper Expression Editor is shown below.  See how it retains line breaks & spacing, so it’s much easier to read.  Now you can spot the If-Then-Else condition far easier:


Much better for readability, right?  I think so too.  In addition to improving readability, it has Find>Replace functionality as well.

Finding More Information

CodePlex – Download BIDS Helper

MSDN – Integration Services Variables

MSDN – Integration Services Expression Reference