What is SQL Server Data Tools?
SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) is a toolset that allows professional database and application developers to carry out all their database design work for SQL Server and SQL Azure within Visual Studio. SSDT provides a rich SQL Server development experience with first class language services and VS integration, as well as declarative, model-based tools that can be utilized for both online and offline development.
Online Connected Development
Database developers can use the new SQL Server Object Explorer to easily create and edit database objects and data, or execute queries. SSDT’s connected editing experience has all the benefits of a model-backed database, allowing for declarative development in an online context and design-time dependency analysis. Instead of writing ALTER statements to modify a database object, developers can define the desired state of objects as if they are being created for the first time. The deployment engine then compares the defined state to the live database objects and generates the script to make the necessary changes to update the database.
Offline Project Development
The SSDT project system allows developers to have a fully representative source-code backed model of their database for offline development. SSDT Database Projects also enable the database schema to be version controlled using database snapshots and other source code control mechanisms. While using the T-SQL editor offline, developers will appreciate the familiar set of VS tools that we bring to database development, such as IntelliSense, refactoring, Go To Definition and Find All References. Database Projects also provide platform-specific validation at design time and debugging capabilities that allow the developer to test their database locally, and then publish to SQL Server or SQL Azure.
Productivity and Tools
In both project and connected scenarios, SSDT offers two valuable tools that greatly enhance productivity in database development: Schema Compare and the Table Designer. Database developers can utilize the Schema Compare tool to compare and synchronize schemas between live databases, database projects and project snapshots, the three different database representations in SSDT. Schema Compare offers an at-a-glance view of the differences between two schemas, as well as the ability to drill down to the object and code diff level to deploy changes. SSDT’s new Table Designer features a split view with a code window so that as the table is edited in the graphical design view, the table’s script definition updates in real time. The Table Designer gives developers the flexibility to define tables via designer, script, or a combination of the two, and brings the table’s related objects into the same workspace, such as indexes and triggers.