I work in the part of SQL Server that is all about SQL Server Management. I handle the graphical tools, and another person handles the command-line stuff. Which is kind of interesting, since in my career I’ve mostly used scripting to manage my systems.
But I see a place for both. I think graphical tools are faster to learn, since most things are exposed on the screen that you can do. All the actions are there. Graphical tools are also a bit easier to visually understand, and they have things like wizards and so on that you don’t have in scripting. In addition, some three or four dimensional aspects (like those in Business Intelligence) don’t lend themselves to a set of commands.
Of course, scripting is incredibly powerful. Try this simple experiment: Create five databases, with five tables, and five users that have five different levels of rights. Do that on five different servers. Do that with the graphical tools, and then do it with a script. Clicking through the screens, if done properly, will probably be as fast as typing the script one time, and potentially safer, since the tools will alert you if you set something incorrectly. With a script, only that portion of the script may fail, and you might have a problem later in the script because of that.
So the graphical tool is probably just as fast, and potentially safer. But now, do it again on five more servers, with five other database names, etc. The script can be edited quickly and run in seconds, whereas the graphical tools are a complete re-do. That’s where scripting comes into play.
So I don’t buy it when my Oracle buddies tell me the graphical tools aren’t important. I think they have their place – or I wouldn’t be writing them!