SQL Sentry Tips and Tricks: Adjusting Navigator Pane Highlighting

SQL Sentry includes functionality that will highlight objects in the Navigator pane associated with failures and/or other critical events.

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However, the default settings for the highlighting behavior might not work for everyone. We thought of this and provided a way to tweak the settings to make the highlighting more meaningful to you. But before getting deep into configuration changes, let’s walk through the base functionality.

Understanding the Logic Behind the Highlighting

SQL Sentry will highlight objects in the Navigator pane that have experienced failures related to jobs, Windows tasks, SSRS reports, etc., and/or other critical events (e.g., critical Windows Event Log and Advisory Condition occurrences).

Highlighting will persist hierarchically from its source, all the way to the top level of its topology within the Navigator pane. As you see higher level parent objects highlighted, you should continue to drill down until you get to the source.

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Highlighting Persisting Up the Topology

Once you have gotten to a specific object that has failed or experienced a critical event, you can right click the object and clear the failure, thus removing the highlighting.

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Clearing the Failed Status of an Object

You will then be prompted to add an optional note, as shown below. Notes can be extremely helpful for internal communication.

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Prompt to Add a Note After Clearing the Failed Status of an Object

For example, you might include a note describing the troubleshooting steps already taken, what steps should be taken on failure, or even simply to ignore it. It will also log when the note was added by whom. Notes can then be added to Calendar views, as well as alerts related to the object.

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Notes Page for a Particular Object

Adjusting Highlighting Behavior

Now that we have a better understanding of object highlighting, let’s review the options available for adjusting this behavior. The settings for highlighting behavior can be found under Tools > User Preferences > Navigator tab. Note, not all the settings on this page are related to the highlighting behavior, so we won't review all of them here. More general documentation on the SQL Sentry User Preferences window can be found here.

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Highlighting Settings

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Highlighting Setting Descriptions

Although you can tweak the highlighting settings as desired, below is an example of a common configuration I make in many customer environments, and details about why I often make these changes.

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Example of Highlighting Behavior Tweaks

Highlight Event Failures in Navigator for Setting

The default for this setting is 24 hours. This setting means for any failure or critical event, the highlighting will persist for 24 hours before being removed, unless manually closed. The issue with this setting in many environments is that objects in the Navigator pane always seem to be red because of the volume of job failures, which can defeat the purpose of this capability and make closing out events a full-time job. So, I like this to be set to 1 3 hours, so it’s more focused on recent failures.

Automatically clear open failures if a subsequent run is successful Setting

Enabling this setting will ensure highlighting is removed if a job succeeds after a failure. A good example of when to use this is with transaction log backups. Often, you don’t care about outlier transaction log backups failure if the next occurrence is successful.

Show failures for unwatched objects Setting

For various reasons, you might have disabled monitoring on a particular object. Although unwatched objects won’t be alerted on, by default they will still get highlighted when failures occur. Enabling this setting can minimize highlighting objects you don’t care about.

The most common use case for this setting is with Windows tasks. Often, users opt to disable monitoring Windows tasks given they’re often less concerned with Windows tasks on the database side of the house, not to mention the higher volume of stock Microsoft tasks that provide little value in being monitored. Users who are used to getting spammed by the “Customer Experience Improvement Program” task failure know what I’m talking about.

Disabling Windows Task Monitoring

You can disable monitoring all Windows tasks by executing the following query against the SentryOne database:

--***To unwatch all tasks***

UPDATE EventSourceObject
SET IsWatched = 0
WHERE ObjectTypeID = '1C641588-34DF-46E3-B407-F8D753317EBC'

Also, since additional tasks tend to be added with Windows updates and other sources, you might want to consider disabling auto-watching newly added Windows tasks (Settings pane > Windows > Windows Tasks Source), as shown in the screenshot below.

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Windows Tasks Source Settings

You can always manually re-watch any Windows tasks that might be relevant to you by right-clicking them individually in the Navigator pane and selecting Watch Task.


I hope you find the tweaks you make to the highlighting behavior provide more meaning and value to the basic navigation tree, or at least show you where to disable the highlighting if needed. Keep in mind, these user preferences are per user/client. It might be worth coming up with a standard for every SQL Sentry user to adjust their settings to. Otherwise, you’ll need to make sure everyone understands the difference in user settings can lead to a difference in experience from user to user.

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