Why I Love Extended Events, Reason 394: Customize Live Data

There are so many reasons to love Extended Events that it can really be overwhelming, but, one more reason that I love them are the ability to customize Live Data. More importantly, you can share that customization with others or move it between machines. Let’s explore this.

Customize Live Data

If you open up an Extended Events file, or connect to a running Session, you’re looking at the Live Data window and it looks something like this:

I won’t lie, that’s a pretty ugly UI. At the top are all the events you’ve captured. At the bottom are the event fields. If you want to look at the information in different events, you click on the event, then down at the fields… blech!

However, I have some options. Let’s right click on the batch_text field. A context menu opens that looks just like this:

OK. Select the “Show Column in Table” choice and suddenly, the upper window looks like this:


You mean I can make that upper window useful? Yes. Not only that, but, what ever columns you add to the upper window, your copy of Management Studio remembers what you did. The next time you open this Extended Events session in the the Live Data window, the columns you selected will be there. However, your ability to customize Live Data is even easier than that. If you notice, in the upper part of your SSMS window is the Live Data tool bar. Near the end is a button innocuously titled “Choose Columns.” Click on that and a window similar to this will open:

Now we’re talking. All the fields for all the events within the session in question are available. You can move them over as you like, rearrange their order, even combine fields into a merged column. For a simple set of query performance metrics, I arranged the columns like this:

Click to make larger.

What if I want to take work I’ve done to customize Live Data and move it to another machine, or use it against another session, or even share it with someone else on my team? There’s a way to do that to.

Sharing Live Data Customization

If we go back to the Extended Events toolbar, all the way at the end is “Display Settings”. Clicking on that opens up a small set of menu choices shown here:

These are just file system windows looking for a particular file type: *.viewsetting. That’s right, if you save, share, whatever, a *.viewsetting file, you share the work you’ve done to customize live data. Anyone on your team will use the same view you do.


There are so many reasons to use Extended Events that it’s really hard to list them out. I love the fact that I can customize Live Data to make it look like and work the way I want it to. I only recently found out that the menu choice for sharing the *.viewsetting files was staring me in the face. However, now that I know it’s there, I use it all the time. I think you should be using it too.

If you want to know the other 393 reasons why I love Extended Events, I’d suggest attending one of my all day seminars on SQL Server Query Performance Tools that I’m giving all over the world:

For SQLSaturday Oslo on August 31, 2018. Click here right now to register.

I’ll be at my local event too, SQLSaturday Boston, on September 21st. You can go here to register.

Another event in Europe will be at SQLSaturday Munich on October 26, 2018. Go here now to join the class.

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