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John Paul Cook

Comparison of SSMS and Visual Studio for Development

Either SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) or Visual Studio can be used for database development. I put them side by side into a single composite screen capture where you literally see the gaps between the products. SQL Server 2012 was installed with all features selected and default settings. The only modifications to the SQL Server installation were the additions of the AdventureWorks2012 and AdventureWorks2012DW databases.

Using Visual Studio instead of SSMS for database application development gives you the advantage of integration with Team Foundation Server for source code control. Additionally, localdb gives you a way to debug stored procedures locally in case your DBA won’t grant you sufficient rights to debug on the database server. You can copy your production schema to your localdb and debug from within Visual Studio.


Figure 1. SQL Server 2012 Management Studio on the left, Visual Studio 2013 on the right. Screen captures made on Windows 8.1.

Published Friday, March 7, 2014 10:03 PM by John Paul Cook

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Greg Low said:

Hi John,

While DB projects are in some ways richer in VS, you can use SSMS and SQL script projects with TFS as well. We do this all the time. You have to install the SCCI provider:



March 9, 2014 7:36 PM

jamiet said:

You also don't need LocalDB to do debugging. I use the debugging feature against Standard & Enterprise all the time. I use LocalDB a lot also because I love how lightweight it is, but it doesn't have any features that a locally installed "regular" instance does not have.

I will say I much prefer source control integration in VS than the way it has to be crowbarred into SSMS.

nice post John

March 10, 2014 4:26 AM

John Paul Cook said:

The EXECUTE permission was denied on the object 'sp_enable_sql_debug', database 'mssqlsystemresource', schema 'sys'. (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 229)


That's the message I see when I try to debug on any of the servers at my primary client. This is not uncommon to see such restrictions. When the required permissions aren't granted to developers, localdb allows debugging of local copies of stored procedures whose originals reside on locked down servers. 


March 10, 2014 7:05 AM

manson said:

great comparison

March 13, 2014 1:30 AM

Gerardo said:

Hi, someone face the need to use the both?. I use VS, but my DBA uses SSMS. Both of us need to change the same scripts, but VS can't open SSMS projects, and SSMS cannot open VS projects. Together we use TFS.

May 20, 2015 2:15 PM

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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a database and Azure specialist in Houston. He previously worked as a Data Platform Solution Architect in Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse currently studying to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2. Connect on LinkedIn

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