Three ways to interact with SQL Azure …

There are several different tools that one can use to interact with a SQL Azure database.  Each tool has scenerios that it is best for and an audience to whom it will appeal.  Here are three along with some thoughts on each.

Method #1: Tried and True, SSMS

There has been plenty written on this already, so I’m not going to focus on it.  You download the tools, punch a hole in your SQL Azure firewall, and away you go …


This method is great for heavy-duty management and creation of databases.  It’s also great because it’s the tool we’re all most familiar with.  I’m just using the AdventureWorks sample for Azure which has a nice little installer and I can interact with my database as normal …




Method #2: Project Codename “Houston”

The team over at SQL Azure Labs has created a very nice Silverlight tool they are calling Houston.  This is a lighter weight tool than SSMS.  You can’t do all the database management that you can with the full Management Studio, but that’s okay as this is a tool more targeted at developers (which I am, so that’s good!)  You will see it has a great Silverlight interface that is easy to use (spinning cubes are hotness!)


You can select multiple rowsets, click to zoom (ctrl-click to zoom out), save queries and more.  You just have to get out of the habit of using F5 to execute your query! 🙂


Take a look at this blog post by my buddy Richard Seroter for more detailed walkthrough.

Method #3: Quadrant

Quadrant is a graphical tool for manipulating data.  In order to get Quadrant, you need to download and install the SQL Server Modeling CTP – November 2009 (as of this writing, check for updates depending on when you read this.)  Quadrant is a very different data manipulation experience.  It is simple, beautiful and powerful.

In order to connect to a SQL Azure database with Quadrant, you create a new Session (File->New Session).  You need to look under the “More” drop down, as you must connect to SQL Azure with SQL Server Authentication


If all is well, you are greeted with a simple canvas upon which to manipulate your data.


The first thing you will notice is that this is a WPF application, so you have great things like Mouse Wheel in/out for zoom.  You can simply open your explorer and start dragging tables onto the canvas.  It’s quite an amazing experience – watch some videos about the UI and I think you will quickly see just how compelling this experience can be.


It remains to be seen in my mind who this application is for.  It certainly allows you to look and interact with data in a different way than the other two – perhaps a bit more right-brained.

There you have it, three very simple, very powerful ways to interact with your SQL Azure databases.

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