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What is SQL Formatter? Features of SQL Formatter

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What is SQL Formatter?

Nobody likes to read a lengthy code, even if it is a plain one. While reading the SQL script, there is a large amount of non-formatted SQL code that is difficult to unscramble and understand. The formatting options in SQL can make the job easier for you. A clean SQL code is read faster when compared to inconsistently written code.

What is SQL Formatter?

In this blog we would go through a few reasons why developers should use SQL formatter and understand the difference it makes on any database project.

  • It is easy to read or understand the formatted code even by the third-party users.
  • The code reviewing and troubleshooting process becomes easier and more efficient in SQL.
  • The joint development efforts get more effective and handing off projects from one team to another is easy.

Formatting code manually is a time-consuming process and there are formatter tools available today to accelerate the formatting process and make it more efficient for developers. One of the most important SQL formatter options to format the code includes indenting.

Let us see how to indent the code using SQL formatter in the below section.

How to indent the code using SQL Formatter?

In the SQL server, there are three options to indent the code. They are None, Block, and Smart.

How to indent the code using SQL Formatter?

  • None: When this option is selected, the cursor goes to the beginning of the next line when you press the Enter key.How to indent the code using SQL Formatter?
  • Block: when this option is selected, the cursor is aligned to the previous line in the next line when you press the Enter key.How to indent the code using SQL Formatter?
  • Smart: This is the default indenting option in the SQL that decides on indent styles automatically.

Next, you can define Tab space too that compose a single indentation. Here is the sample screenshot on how to define the Tab space in SQL server using SQL formatter.

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How to indent the code using SQL Formatter?

SQL Formatter Features

The SQL Formatter is used with the purpose to beautify the SQL statements. It formats the code automatically and its working is based on simple algorithms. It formats the code based on easy rules and helps to write fancy SQL code. Every time when the code is getting denser and nested deeply, it is always recommended using the SQL formatter to manage the code nicely. It slowly adds newlines to break up functional hierarchy into visual blocks. So, SQL formatter is the one that adapts to the functional depth of statement by grouping blocks together.


  • SQL formatter beautifies the statement and a beautifully formatted SQL statement is the one in which operations of the statement are understood visually.
  • SQL formatter is designed in such a way that it understands mostly anything and tough programming syntaxes too.
  • SQL formatter is an attempt to understand the available horizontal space in the best way possible.
  • It helps in maintaining the visual alignments instead of using tabs or spaces at any width.

Let us understand the concept of SQL formatter with the help of an example below. There is a query in the SQL SELECT a FROM t and here are possible ways to render this query.

  • SELECT a
    FROM t

We have given three possibilities to render the same query. So, which option looks great to you. For me, it is the first one that takes less space and easy to understand. The statement contains four words that are instantly read in the first option. In the second and third statements, whitespaces are used needlessly. So, why to use four lines when the same thing can be done in a single statement only?

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What will happen if we increase the complexity of the same query slowly? For example, add some columns, filters, subqueries, and joins of different depth in the same query. As soon as the query gets the complexity, it deserves more spaces. Here, you have to add more lines of space, highlight subqueries and other blocks by indenting them nicely. Let us set the indent width 50 and see how the query looks in the example below.

	count(*) AS count,
	counter * 60 * 5 AS counter
			round(length / (60 * 5)) AS counter
			build = $1
			AND (hero = $2 OR region = $3)
	winner, counter

What do you understand by this query? You can see three result sets in the example that are intended well and written each on their own line. The query maintains a high degree of visual understanding with a perfect balance of the available versus needed space. Now, try it yourself and start with a simple query first and focus on the output of how things change with the increased complexity.

When using SQL Formatter tools, there is a box to copy or paste the SQL code. The multiple statements are supported by separating them with a semicolon in the SQL Formatter. The slider below the box controls the desired maximum line width in characters. There are multiple options in the side control tab like indentation, spaces, tabs, alignment modes etc.

The “simplify” option in the SQL formatter removes unwanted parentheses or words whose meaning is still the same without using them. There are four alignment modes in the SQL Formatter, these are “No”, “Partial”, “full”, “other” options. These four alignment modes can be used with the code based on the requirement.

Implementation of the SQL Formatter

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The working of SQL formatter is based on an algorithm to layout documents effectively in different formats. The algorithm is written in simple language and easy to understand by anyone. The most difficult part here is parsing and converting the text into memory data structures. The parsed data defines the final output whichever fits the most. Generally, the SQL formatter computes the results very fast based on many possible placements for a new line.

Once the initial parsing process is complete, a significant amount of work is done more to add new features based on the underlying algorithm. You can also check how to beautify a document based on a few operators. These are things like a new line of text, indentation, or a combination of both. For proper functionality, make sure that these operators are used in the right order. To add extra functionality, you should use new operators in that case.

Keep practicing how to use operators in the constructed way to guarantee the structured statements in the SQL. You should learn how to implement formatting rules nicely. Also, there are a few limitations with the SQL formatter that will overcome with the passage of time. For example, it gets confused in the parsing process sometimes and not able to arrange operators automatically as required.


If you are not sure how to format a lengthy code in SQL, then you should learn using the SQL formatter and beautify the respective code to make it more understandable and effective. For the code customization, it is better to remove the unwanted options as it is a time-consuming process when the code is formatted manually. Thus, SQL formatter is the most impressive option to manage a complex code in an easier manner.

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