I’ve used a lot of tools with SQL Server over the years. We had a variety of individual tools from Microsoft for SQL Server 4.2, including the isqlw query editor that I used for years. I wrestled with the Enterprise Manager MMC plugin and eventually moved away to use the Embarcadero suite to work with SQL Server before coming back to Microsoft’s SSMS in SQL Server 2005. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with that tool ever since, though the Redgate suite of extentions has certainly made life easier.
However Management Studio (SSMS) hasn’t really evolved in quite a few years. It seems that the enhancements and additions that have been made with each version have been minimal, sometimes barely working and rarely improved across versions. It’s been disappointing that relatively few resources have been expended on SSMS, despite the regular evolution of SQL Server every 2-3 years. And despite the fact that one of the big reasons SQL Server was touted over Oracle and other RDBMSs is that the tooling was better.
I suspect some of the problems were the pressure to release the core parts of SQL Server first, and link SSMS to the server product, despite the fact that it really needs to support multiple versions and previous tooling should have been improved.
That’s changing a bit. As Tim Ford noted, SSMS now has it’s own release and upgrade path. The tool should not have it’s own, separate download and lightweight installer along with a separate release cadence from SQL Server. I suspect this will evolve more rapidly, probably closer to an Azure like schedule, with more regular patches and enhancements. At least that’s what I hope.
I was glad to see SSMS being made available for 2012 and 2014 versions as a separate download, and the change to a completely separate product that will likely become de-linked from SQL Server versions. I expect we’ll just have SSMS in the future, with some version that’s more like what we see in Chrome and Firefox.
For now SSMS is still based on the 2010 Visual Studio shell, but the comments in this announcement seem to indicate it will move to the 2015 shell soon. Let’s hope that happens and the performance improves along with the maturity of the tool in the future.