THE SQL Server Blog Spot on the Web

Welcome to - The SQL Server blog spot on the web Sign in | |
in Search

Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a data mangler in London working for Dunnhumby

Connected development in SSDT versus SSMS

When you install the database projects template of SSDT you get SQL Server Object Explorer (SSOX) installed as well. SSOX is a pane within Visual Studio and is the main enabler of the Connected Development experience that the SSDT team have attempted to provide.


SSOX provides some really cool capabilities that are not in SQL Server Management Studio (I hope to blog about them in the near future). In theory these capabilities make it possible for a database developer to spend all their time in SSDT (i.e. Visual Studio) thus making SSMS a pureplay DBA tool (this does of course depend on your definition of both a database developer and a DBA, but I’m not getting into that debate here).

With that in mind I have spent a few days trying to work without SSMS, preferring to live wholly inside Visual Studio instead. By and large I was able to do everything I needed to do from within Visual Studio however there were a few nuances about the experience that kept pushing me back to SSMS, I detail those nuances below.


Server groups

SSOX combines the functions of SSMS’s Object Explorer and Registered Servers pane. I don’t mind either way of working but it does mean that there is no ability to group servers in SSOX like you can in the Registered Servers pane

image image


In SSMS I regularly use the F6 keyboard shortcut to jump between the query, results & messages panes of a query window. No such keyboard shortcut exists in SSDT and they’ve already canned my request on Connect to get this fixed (even though it laughably has status “closed as fixed”).

 UPDATE: See the comments below where Brett Gerhardi informed me of a different keyboard shortcut that does the same thing as F6. Actually its not quite the same, if you have multiple resultsets in your results pane then the behaviour is slightly different to F6 in SSMS - but that's not an issue you'll hot frequently.

Change Connection

The context menu in SSMS provides the ability to change a connection as well as connect and disconnect:


SSDT doesn’t have change connection and believe me, you don’t know how much you use a feature until its not there:


There’s also no hotkey to jump to “Connection” on the context menu like there is in SSMS (“C”) and I find that annoying too.


Those were the main annoyances that forced me back to SSMS. The lack of F6 was a major bugbear for me as I am a big keyboard shortcut junkie. If such things don’t bother you then you may be able to live in Visual Studio quite happily. If you have any similar experiences to share I’d be keen to read them.



Published Tuesday, March 19, 2013 6:28 PM by jamiet

Comment Notification

If you would like to receive an email when updates are made to this post, please register here

Subscribe to this post's comments using RSS



CB said:

Thanks for the info... SSMS for me, because I too love the F6 key

March 19, 2013 5:14 PM

Ian Yates said:

Apart from "Change Connection" I also use the Disconect Connection button often enough to have missed its default inclusion in recent versions of SSMS.  I think it was there by default in 2005 but was removed (but re-addable via customisation) in 2008 although I might be off by a version there.

I don't think I'll ever give up SSMS - too many well-formed habits :)  For at least a year or two I still ran isqlw rather than sqlwb after I started dabbling in 2005 when it came out.  Ctrl+Shift+C / Ctrl+Shift+R for commenting/uncommenting was only recently unlearnt fo the slower Ctrl+K+... things. Since I'm often on customer sites it's just easier to learn the new defaults for SSMS than change the key bindings to SQL 2000 as my first step.

March 20, 2013 8:38 AM

Brett Gerhardi said:

Jamie, see my post way back - Note that ctrl d, n does work but it is not a fit replacement for F6 as you just have to release the ctrl key for this to happen which is fiddly.

To change it find SQL.TSqlEditorToggleResultsPane in Keyboard options and change it to whatever you like, although you'll probably find F6 conflicts with something already depending on the profile you picked on first run.

Not being able to change the current database is annoying but you'll find a bunch of other keyboard shortcuts by typing "SQL." into the "Show commands containing".

Have a play!

March 21, 2013 11:13 AM

Brett Gerhardi said:

Sorry I lied (and forgot) for some reason the keyboard commands on ssdt are screwed. Ctrl+D, N works but it must be hardcoded somewhere as it doesn't exist in the commands list that I can see.

Also I just discovered (Jamie reminded me I had unfinished business here) that there is now a shortcut for the database combo (that shows up when you hover over it) Shift+Alt+PgDn, which is mapped to TSqlEditorDatabaseCombo - but it doesn't work, so I guess isn't the right command for the control (although the control thinks it is...)

All a bit amateurish for MS who are usually outstanding at this kind of thing.

If anyone finds anything on this, I'd be very interested. SSDT would be much better to use for these things if not only for the ability to get intellisense on sql2005 dbs

March 21, 2013 11:41 AM

jamiet said:

Hi Brett,

I can't seem to get CTRL+d,n working. I'm in VS2010, it is perhaps a VS2012 thing?

March 21, 2013 11:53 AM

Brett Gerhardi said:

Jamie, thanks for this post, it has rekindled my annoyance for this. I've posted on the forums, there is some glimmer of hope that we might be able to get it working, but I can't right now

March 21, 2013 11:53 AM

Brett Gerhardi said:

You have to do Ctrl+d <release> then press n

This is different to Ctrl+d,Ctrl+n which doesn't need you to release the ctrl

I'm currently still in VS2010 also, so can confirm that it does work it is just stupidly fiddly (for something that you need to press multiple times quickly!!)

March 22, 2013 4:58 AM

jamiet said:

Hi Brett,

I still can't get this infernal CTRL+D, N thing working. I'm wondering if its cos I have resharper on here which seems to have messed with some of my other shortcuts (namely CTRL+R, R no longer triggers a refactor operation in SSDT because Resharper has taken over that particular shortcut, and Resharper doesn't understand SSDT.


March 22, 2013 7:13 AM

Brett Gerhardi said:

Could be

To be honest, even if it did work I'd be willing to bet you wouldn't use it as it is so fiddly to use, the mouse is the lesser evil.

I knew about it for a while and have decided on using the mouse. Although it does seem that there are other shortcuts available to configure through the keyboard config - it looks like this one shortcut slipped through the net. See my forum post for more info

March 22, 2013 7:37 AM

jamiet said:

Hi Brett,

Good news, I tried CTRL+D, N on my home machine (running VS2012) and it worked. I suspect Resharper is the problem here as it has also takne over the CTRL+R, R keyboard shortcut in SSDT as well.

Thanks for the advice!


March 26, 2013 5:56 AM

Scott MacDonald said:

Thank you for the guidance! I'll be downloading this at home (rather restrictive about these things at work - where you really need them)!


May 28, 2013 2:34 PM

Patrick Sirr said:

Thanks for this great post!  The SSDT team has been heads down getting our SQL Server 2014 release ready to go.  However we've made time to make some targeted improvements in this area.  In our upcoming release for SQL Server 2014 the Change Connection part of this blog will be implemented.  The F6 functionality (included moving between multiple result sets) didn't make it, but will be in the update after that.

March 18, 2014 1:32 PM

jamiet said:

Great news, thanks Patrick.

March 18, 2014 1:57 PM

Jamie Thomson : SSDT gets some small enhancements for SQL Server 2014 said:

March 18, 2014 2:04 PM

Leave a Comment


This Blog


Privacy Statement