The Ideal IDE

Steve Jones, 2018-08-07

When I started working with SQL Server, I spent a lot of time in Query Analyzer and isql.exe. Those were my two main tools, using those to query a database instance in a lightweight manner. At some point Microsoft released Enterprise Manager, which was more useful for some tasks, but overall, I preferred Query Analyzer. Eventually that died away, and we got stuck with Management Studio, which most of us now use. Along the way, I also used DBArtisan, RapidSQL, and a few other IDEs for writing code against a SQL Server.

These days we have a few choices for doing development and administration on the Microsoft data platform. There is still SSMS, but Visual Studio has gotten quite a few upgrades and extensions to allow work with everything from a local SQL Server to a cloud database to data lakes and more. Microsoft built a lightweight IDE in Visual Studio Code, and released a SQL Server extension for that tool. In the last year, we also saw a preview release of SQL Operations Studio (SOS) from Microsoft, and perhaps this is the direction that Microsoft is moving in the future. There are also other IDEs, such as DataGrip, that some people are using.

I'm still stuck in the the SSMS mode. Even when I use Visual Studio for SQL Server work, with something like SQL Change Automation, I often switch back to SSMS for lots of my work. I've done some work in SOS, but I don't love the experience overall. Since I have SSMS running most of the time, the speed of SOS isn't helpful. If I were shutting down and restarting SSMS often, I might feel differently.

Today I'm curious. I'm sure you all have preferences, but if you could choose only one IDE, what would it be? Let's imagine that we're not looking at the current state of the tools, but for whatever functionality you need, whether that's database development tools, AG management tools, scheduling tools, etc., all of the functionality would be added to VS, VSCode, SSMS, SOS, DataGrip, etc. In that case, what do you prefer?

I think I'd lean towards keeping SSMS, though I wish it were more open and extensible. Since that's not likely to happen, I think SOS might be my next choice as an IDE if it has lots of extensions, and I have the ability to enable or disable them for the functionality I need. 

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