SQL Server Integration Services yields a very bitter experience when comparing two versions of a package to see the differences. The problem is that the package XML is arbitrarily reordered when we try to save a package in the Visual Studio designer. Well, luckily, there’s a free and very nice solution to this problem: BIDS helper, a Visual Studio add-on that leverages BI development using SQL Server 2005/2008. SmartDiff is a part of BIDs helper and it compares two packages after pre-processing the package definition files and producing a uniform layout for comparison.
To demonstrate, let me show the result of two versions of one of my SSIS packages. I did not modify anything and just saved the same package twice. Here’s a summary for an ordinary diff that shows how the VS designer messes up the two versions:
Using SmartDiff, here’s the result:
Looks great, only two differences. Here’s the actual output from SmartDiff: Click to enlarge the image:
That’s really cool. BIDs helper is an add-on every BI developer must have. It contains many other features other than SmartDiff. Have a try here.