Microsoft recently announced that you’ll get Azure Data Studio (ADS) when you install SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) starting with version 18.7.1. Azure Data Studio has been around for a couple of years, and it has some great features that most of us never imagined for SSMS, like the ability to connect to PostgreSQL databases and work with SQL Notebooks. Microsoft and third parties can develop extensions to add new functionality easily, so you can customize ADS with only the features you will use. There are extensions for Machine Learning and Azure Arc among others in the latest release.
I’ve used ADS in my T-SQL intro classes because it can be installed on multiple platforms. In the past, I’ve had to make sure that my students were all running Windows; now I can teach T-SQL to macOS and Linux users as long as I supply sample databases in Azure for them. Students are able to prepare for the classes quickly with less time spent on installations and troubleshooting.
Even though ADS has some great new features, there is a lot that’s missing, especially for administrators. My favorite thing about SSMS is that there is a dialog for just about anything you need to do, but you can click “Script” instead of performing the action once the options are filled out. That way, you can use the generated script to learn the commands and start automating the process. Some of that is found in ADS. For example, the database backup dialog has a script option. Many dialogs are missing, however, and others bring up SSMS dialog boxes if it is installed. This happens when you try to look at the database properties, for example.
I think that many SSMS-only features will eventually find their way into ADS since that is the tool where Microsoft is investing the most resources. This makes sense as SQL Server now runs in Linux and in containers. More DBAs could be running Ubuntu in Linux shops, and ADS will be the tool they need.
I’ve seen differing opinions about the automatic installation of ADS when installing SSMS. It does seem a bit strange, since most installs let you select the components you need. Those who do not want or care about ADS could be annoyed. In my own case, I always install both, so it saves me a bit of time.
Where is ADS heading? We’ll just have to sit back and watch!