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|The differences between SSMS and Azure Data Studio|
|Should you write your SQL queries in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) or Azure Data Studio (ADS)? Read this blog to find out!|
Should you be using Azure Data Studio or SQL Server Management Studio? They both provide free-of-charge downloadable software for connecting to SQL Server databases and writing SQL queries, so does it matter?
A quick management summary for the time-poor: maybe not that much. If you're used to using Management Studio there probably isn't a compelling case to move over to Azure Data Studio, but if you're used to using Visual Studio Code you'll probably prefer the ADS interface.
Here I am writing and running a query in SSMS:
Management Studio includes a range of extra tools for working with databases, most of which are shown in the red box above.
So SSMS offers quite an old-fashioned primitive interface and only runs in Windows, but it does give you access to lots of DBA (Database Administrator) tools not available in Azure Data Studio.
Here's someone writing and running exactly the same query in Azure Data Studio:
ADS lets you add text notes in between queries, and also allows you to create basic charts.
Here are the extras you get with Azure Data Studio, with my thoughts on how useful they are:
You can intersperse code cells (which contain SQL) and text cells (which don't) - I've done this above. I'm not sure how useful this is: I'm quite happy adding comments to my SQL to annotate it.
Because ADS is written in Visual Studio, it will run in other platforms as well as Windows (such as Linux). Since I wouldn't know a Linux penguin if it bit me in the face, this is of no advantage to me, but other readers might like this feature.
Because ADS is based on Visual Studio Code you can add lots of extensions, alllowing you to code in R, Python and Scala. I'm pretty happy writing Python in a separate application, but you may prefer not to.
The above example shows a simple chart, and is about at the limit of what you can create in ADS. For those who prefer to interpret data via pictures you may find this useful.
If you don't like white backgrounds, you won't like SSMS; Azure Data Studio allows you to set a dark theme (although there is an unoffical way to set a theme in SSMS).
SSMS does allow you to export data, but it's not really part of the software (it invokes Integration Services behind the scenes, and isn't that easy to use for a beginner). ADS by contrast makes exporting data simple, as the diagram shows.
I would say there are two main benefits:
If you've been using SSMS since time immemorial, I really can't see any persuasive reason to switch to ADS.
If you're a database techie you can rest assured that SSMS contains everything that you can do to your database (ADS doesn't claim to).
To anyone who will spend their working life writing SQL queries to extract data from databases (which covers the vast majority of SSMS users) I would recommend using Azure Data Studio if you're just starting out (particularly if you have experience of using Visual Studio Code or Jupyter Notebooks). Otherwise, I would use whichever package you find most convenient to install!
For those who want to know exactly which features each of the two software applications includes, have a look at Microsoft's full feature-by-feature comparison.
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