I’ve used Plan Explorer since its first version. It started out as simply a better way to view execution plans: it displays the graphs in a more compact and legible manner, and it exposes much of the information that is contained in the behind-the-scenes XML. It makes troubleshooting much faster and easier – so much so that it’s one of the first tools I install on a new workstation. And amazingly enough, they’ve never charged a cent for the basic version.
And now, they’ve made everything free. All of their Pro features (many of which help when comparing versions of a plan as you try various tweaks) – free. Their new index analysis and performance profiling features – free. They don’t even ask for your email address. It’s an incredible gift to the community.
To SQL Sentry: I tip my hat and extend my thanks.
And to anyone reading this post: Go get this tool. You won’t regret it.