Where have we been? and, Debugging SSIS Variables Part 3 — The Watch Window

So like all bloggers, Audrey and I made a resolution to blog regularly and frequently back in November of 2010.  We did well for a stretch, but we’ve had many good things happen and the blog has taken a hit.  I went to the inaugural SQL Rally two weeks ago.  I met for the first time a lot of great community people– Karla Landrum, Michael Blizzard, Mike and Karen Rhodes, Bill Graziano, Rick Heiges, Kendra Little, Jeremiah Peschka, Karen Lopez, Timothy Mitchell, Bradley Balls, Tom LaRock, Allen Kinsel,  Mark Broadbent— I know I’m forgetting lots of names.  It was wonderful to meet folks from all over the country and the world who are excited to learn about SQL Server.  I also got to hang with lots of my buddies whom I only get to see at events like these.

Then it was on to Microsoft TechEd which was hosted in our home town of Atlanta, GA.  Audrey and I spent some time at the PASS booth, encouraging folks to attend their local user group meetings.

Then there’s the book.  See Jorge’s post here on the great news about the SQL Bible for 2011.  Audrey and I will probably not be sleeping much in the next few months as we work on the Wiley SQL 2011 Bible.  It’s crazy exciting!

So if we become ever so slightly less vocal here on the ol’ Datachix blog; remember, it’s not you , it’s us!  And now on to our regularly scheduled blog post:

Debugging SSIS Variables Part 3 — The Watch Window

It all started with a fun but also slightly misguided post here.  Which led to a post with better information here.  Now finally, my last post in my Debugging SSIS TriFecta — Debugging SSIS Variables Part 3 — the Watch Window.

So if you haven’t read the other two posts,  go back and read part 2 (you can read both if you really want to, but 2 has better advice) so we are all on the same page.

OK– so you have set your breakpoint and you’ve started running the package.  You’ve hit the breakpoint and are now navigating through the myriad of variables in your packages, scanning for your variable which you named vFullDirectory.

and expanded so you can see the variables:


You think to yourself:  This is great , but OUCH MY carpel tunnel!  All the clicking!  and EGAD my strained eyes!  All the visual scanning!  Wouldn’t it be great to just be able to tell SSIS “Hey look , it’s great that you can show me the values of ALL of my variables right now, but really all I need to know is what is in the vFullDirectory variable.”  Well say no more!  That is what the Watch Window will give you.

After you hit the breakpoint during the debugging run you can add a watch window from the Debug menu:

Click Watch1

Empty Watch Window

Enter the variable name in the left text box.

This is so easy!
Ta Da! No more drilling through endless variable names.

You can also change the runtime value of a variable in the watch window value field, so that you can test different scenarios.  Just click inside the value, type in your new testing value and hit enter.  It will turn red to indicate you’ve succeeded.  This works in the Locals window as well.

Speaking of the Locals Window, when you are in the locals window debugging, you can right click a variable from there and select “Add Watch” to immediately add a watch window for that variable.

For more info, here is the master, Brian Knight’s video of debugging variables in SSIS.

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