One thing that sets SQL Server apart from many other data engines are all of the tools and extensions that surround it. SQL Agent, SSIS, SSRS, Analysis Services, Data Broker, etc. are a few of those valuable extensions. The one I have enjoyed the most, maturing from two different products in the early ‘90s, is SQL Server Management Studio, (SSMS).

In version 4.21a of SQL Server, when Microsoft broke off their source tree from Sybase, they released the first version of what later became SSMS. SQL Server already had a GUI tool for writing and executing TSQL against a database. However, all management tasks, schema design, or data manipulation had to be performed through TSQL statements. With the release of SQL Server Manager you could now perform administration tasks against the service, database, tables, etc. in a GUI format similar to what we have today.

Later, Query Analyzer and SQL Server Manager were merged into a single product, SQL Server Management Studio. The combined tool made it easier when managing services and databases alongside of executing queries. However, it did slow things down if you only wanted to work with queries. With today’s hardware, the combined tool set doesn’t suffer any longer for performance.

SQL Server Management Studio now shares the same code base for the GUI as Visual Studio. The tools and capabilities are built upon the Visual Studio platform with features specific to the needs of database management or development. This week we’ll look at some of the features of SSMS that make our job easier as administrators or developers, directly related to the Visual Studio extensibilities.