Big Changes for Visual Studio and .NET–Where is the Ecosystem for SQL Server?

Lots of big changes for Visual Studio and .NET were announced today.

The biggest items are:

  • .NET becoming open source
  • Microsoft work to help move .NET onto Linux and Mac
  • Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition
  • Visual Studio 2015 Preview available
  • Lots of integration for Xamarin developers including Xamarin install from within Visual Studio

The one that I like most here is the Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition. We've had Visual Studio Express for some time but it was very limited. In particular, it blocked any attempt to extend it with plug-ins. Plug-ins are where the real creativity with the product can appear. The new community edition is full-featured and free for all except enterprise application development.

Full details from Soma are here:

I do hope the SQL Server team are watching this. I like Jamie's suggestion here about doing the same with SQL Server Developer Edition. As Jamie points out, it barely adds to revenue. Making it free would seem a good idea.

Cost is one thing but extensibility is another. Whenever there are MVP meetings on campus, I always feel like I'm the one in the room endlessly asking about extensibility when each new feature is shown. And the answer from the SQL Server team is invariably "we haven't allowed for extensibility in this version but might in the future". But that almost never happens.

So many new features fall short of the mark when they are first released but if there were extensibility points, others could contribute to make them more useful. Without those extensibility points, new incomplete features can just flounder. There have been many examples of this over the years. (As an example, ask where the UI for Service Broker is. Klaus had some wonderful work done on building one that he showed us back in 2006 but there's no supported way to make add-ins for SQL Server Management Studio either. You can hack it but then you need to worry about it being broken by every new update or release that comes out).

I think this is the difference between shipping a product, and building an ecosystem around a product. I'd love to see SQL Server morph into something that has an ecosystem.

4 thoughts on “Big Changes for Visual Studio and .NET–Where is the Ecosystem for SQL Server?”

  1. I thought the news (about .NET) was really interesting but I don't think it will lead to any huge changes. I'm also not really happy about it.
    – If they were waiting for .NET to be mature they could just as easily have justified doing this 5-7 years ago.
    – If they were doing this because they are about to jettison .NET, somehow I don't see that happening.
    – They might be desperate to build .NET brain share. Again, I'm not sold.
    – But also .NET has already been available on Linux and Mac for a decade with Mono.
    I think the real source of this is a random move by their newish CEO to appear trendy and innovative. Even if it doesn't make sense, the press will just say it's so forward-thinking us mere mortals can't understand it.
    But most importantly, to me, I'm a huge Richard Stallman supporter so I see this as just another move by Microsoft to poison the well of the Free Software movement with their inferior Open Source derivative. See:
    Of course, if it turned out SQL Server 2016 was built on .NET and runs on Mac and Linux… well that would be awesome :-P

  2. FWIW, agreed on all points.  Thankfully the community has been dealing with the SSMS plugin hole – specifically Red-gate's IDE for SSMS (  But hell, I've got dozens of connect items marked as Won't Fix – features that worked in Query Analyzer(!) that don't exist anymore.  
    I'm glad MS is working on all these high-concept projects like CCS, Hekaton, etc – but how about fixing some of the more used stuff?  Yes, I pay a premium for Enterprise, but I use SSMS on a daily basis a lot more than I deal with Hekaton.  And I'd give a body part for stuff like Federations (or whatever replaced it) in my datacenter, without having to write it myself.  Not everyone's moving to Azure, guys.  We're getting squeezed on the AWS side, specifically Scale-Out, and using Azure features doesn't help me one whit.

  3. I'd just like to clarify (on my comment) that it has since come out they are using a permissive MIT license which makes it real free software and not open source.
    So I'll have to take back part of my comment. This makes it an amazing contribution to the computing community.

  4. As an indie software developer, the lack of extensibility within SSMS is a major drawback for me, as my database development projects only work in Visual Studio at present, requiring end-users to alt tab between the two IDEs.
    Ideally I'd like to be able to introduce my database development projects to SSMS to avoid the context switching, but the tool has no support for MSBuild-based projects at the moment.
    However it is true that the functional gap between VS and SSMS has been closing (e.g. VSPackage support was added in 2012) so I hold out hope that this will change at some point.

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