The Funny SSIS Container

A couple of days ago I came across a funny and weird object in the Control Flow.  It looked like this:

Group Tasks

As you can see, this container looks a bit similar to the Sequence Container but the Sequence Container has a different icon.  Also, this container does not have any connectors sticking out.  I’m currently involved in a 2005 > 2008 migration project, which is how I came across this container in the first place, and thus I really needed to find out what this object actually is.  So I started to investigate.  Unfortunately the properties were not very helpful:

Group does not have any properties

No properties, nothing at all, not even an object name.  Then I started to scan the Toolbox pane for the icon.  Guess what?  Right, nothing either!  Is this some kind of custom control??

The logical next step is to perform some internet searches and I found the answer: this is standard SSIS functionality that exists since SQL Server 2005!  WTF! (is what I thought at that moment)

The Grouping Container

In the Control Flow, if you right-click on at least one task, you get the following options:


And when you select Group, you’ll get that group container around the selected objects, allowing you to collapse the items.  Well, okay, I’ll probably still never use it now that I know that it exists.  Which is possibly the reason that I don’t know about it in the first place.

How Not To Use It

Using that grouping functionality you can end up with some weird-looking flows:

How not to use the group tasks functionality

What have we learned?  That even with years of SSIS experience, it’s still possible to discover “new” functionality.

And speaking of new functionality, that brings us to SQL Server 2012 (formerly known as Denali).

Grouping In SQL Server 2012

As of SQL Server 2012, not only will you be able to group tasks in the Control Flow.  You can also group components in the Data Flow.  Now that may prove more interesting than its Control Flow counterpart.  Why?  Because in the Control Flow chances are that you’ve already grouped your tasks using some Sequence Containers while you don’t have any containers in the Data Flow.

Here’s what it looks like:

SQL Server 2012 allows grouping components in the Data Flow

As you can see, the icon is now gone.  But the properties pane is still totally empty with the group control selected.  Oh well…

Have fun!



How to: Group Tasks and Containers in a Control Flow


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  1. Kev Roberts’s avatar

    Thanks, I was wondering what this was!


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