When I first encountered Visual Studio 2008 Database Projects (or “Data Dude”), I was truly blown away.  Database development suddenly got real.  For too long database development was delegated second class status – all of the work in the database stayed in the database, we had no proper versioning story, and deployments were awkward when compared to application deployments.  Suddenly, with Data Dude my database development was a first class citizen.  I had near seamless access to source control through Visual Studio.  I had a deployment story for my work that rivaled the deployments for my application code.  Database development was a first class citizen in my development world.

Recently, we were introduced to Visual Studio 2012 and suddenly Data Dude is gone.  It has been replaced by SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) and the SQL Server Project type in Visual Studio.  I immediately went out to find out what this change meant and what it would mean to me.  I was horrified to find out features that I had thought were great in Data Dude were not available in SSDT!  The loss of data generation plans and database unit testing were thee two that stood out for me as the biggest gaps.  For a complete comparison of what is different between SSDT and Data Dude, see this blog from the SSDT team.  My thought at the time, how could Microsoft take such a huge step backwards?

I decided that I would give SSDT a try and see how the new world of DB development was going to feel.  I went in sceptical and pessimistic.  I was sure I was going to hate it.  I started off by going to the SSDT Home Page to see what learning material and/or updates were available.  I started to see that a direct comparison between SSDT and Data Dude was not quite fair.  Data Dude was my Visual Studio connection to SQL Server, SSDT would be that as well, but it was a lot more.  It was an add on to any kind of SQL Server as well, that allowed DBA’s to have better control over their environment.  It also allowed connectivity to SQL Azure, something that Data Dude could not pull off.  Those are interesting points, but still not enough for me to be happy about SSDT as the replacement for Data Dude.

From the SSDT Home Page, I checked out the updates.  There was a brand new release for November 2012.  Nice.  We just got Visual Studio 2012 and there is already an update there with Power Tools that allows us to work more effectively with the tool.  Next up, I needed to get a bit of learning in on how to work with SSDT.  The SSDT Home Page is nicely set up with some introductory videos.  That is helpful.  I watched a couple of these and liked a few of the things that I saw.  I had a table editor built right into Visual Studio.  That’s cool.  I could now get a single file (the dacpac), which I could do a deployment from.  This I wanted to see.

So now that I was armed with the latest version of SSDT and had done a bit of reading and watching of demos, I was ready to give this a go in a project.  I wanted to see how working with SSDT compares with working with Data Dude.

In the next part, I will walk through setting up SSDT with a project running the Entity Framework and show Data First work with SSDT.