First Impressions of Microsoft SQL Operations Studio

First Impressions of Microsoft SQL Operations Studio

Microsoft recently unveiled their new Microsoft SQL Operations Studio (in preview) application for Windows, Linux, and Mac. SQL Operations Studio is a lightweight and free management software for SQL Server much like SQL Server Management Studio. Nowadays, any full-stack developer will spend about half of their dev time in the database. Whether it be updating sprocs or generating reports or removing unused data, a solid database management system is key to perform well and to not waste too much time.

Which is why I'm excited to use SQL Operations Studio. In the past, the only real option to get into and manage a database was SQL Server Management Studio, which is also a fantastic tool, but it was somewhat limited in configuration and personalization features. It essentially had just one use, and that was to view and edit data. Operations Studio offers solves that issue and offers many more features for both Devs and DBA's alike.

Download it

To get started, you can download the preview version right over here. Installation is fairly quick and the entire app runs with very minimal resource requirements. I'm currently running it on my Surface 3 laptop and it's doing a fantastic job.

It's FREE, lightweight and runs on multiple platforms

SQL Operations Studio is indeed free to use, as it should be, and more importantly, it runs on every major platform. This just goes to show Microsoft's continuing push in their open-source goals along with .NET Core. SQL Operations Studio is relatively lightweight, although it does offer a ton of features that will end up bogging down your machine at some point unless you have a decent machine running.

This also has much to do with the type of queries that you're monitoring. If you're looking to manage query performance on a dozen DB's with visual graphs and such, then you will indeed have a harder time. Having said that, I have not had any slow down and performance issue with the current servers that I am running.

Much easier to manage your database connections

One of the biggest issues with SQL Server Management Studio was that it didn't really offer any personalization features. It was an interface to a database and that was pretty much it. Each and every time you logged in, you essentially just had the option to either open more connections or to open more instances of SSMS. SQL Operations Studio has taken care of it fantastically well with its new server explorer.

First Look at Microsoft SQL Operations Studio

Not only can you group your connections into various groups (Server Groups), but each connection is one click away from launching. You click, and you are in, presented with your very own customizable dashboard. Each Server Group can hold multiple connections which is incredibly useful when you are dealing with both Dev and Production environments all day long.

First Look at Microsoft SQL Operations Studio

Built-in command line with multiple terminal support

A quick tap of ctrl+~ and you'll jump right into the terminal window of your choice. You can choose from Powershell, Command Line or even Git Bash if you so wish.

First Impressions of Microsoft SQL Operations Studio

This is more for the sysadmin in your life. But it's nice to see that features were added equally for both developers and non-developers.

The Fully Customizable Dashboard

I'm huge on customization, mainly because it allows me the freedom to bypass useless things and get right to the point. The new Dashboard window is fully customizable with content that is relevant to you. And I don't mean that you can change the color of something or drag it somewhere else. You can essentially create your own widgets that are relevant to you and your business and fully controlled through the settings file.

You can also customize the look and feel of SQL Ops Studio too. By default, it looks fantastic. It is based off of the VS Code editor so it should be very familiar to anyone who uses that as their IDE. However, themes are built in from light to dark and you can also upload your own icon set, just as in VS Code.

Insight widgets are fantastic

Again, something that used to take much customization on the dev side now comes right out of the box. The graph that you see below is actually a built-in graph module tied to a query that you can specify yourself.

First Look at Microsoft SQL Operations Studio

You have the option of using any of the pre-built widgets, or you can create your own. As someone who has a long list of queries and performance monitoring scripts piling up, this is an incredibly useful feature and definitely one that I will explore much more in the coming weeks.

Code snippets

SQL Operations Studio is still in Preview mode, so I can't judge it too harshly, and I won't as I have more good to say than bad and as new features will undoubtedly be in the works with future updates. The only real issue that I had using it was the lack of the database table designer, which I've grown accustomed to. However, it does offer code snippets for all of your most common tasks, such as creating databases and inserting rows and such.

First Look at Microsoft SQL Operations Studio

In any query window, simply typing sql will bring up a list of snippets that you can run. And that's the main thing that I enjoy about this tool. Most features are either just a single click away, or a keyword away. It's very "code" like, in that, I don't have to reach for my mouse just adjust things.

Final thoughts

Overall, a fantastic tool for any developer (or non-developer) that spends a fair bit of time working with and managing databases. There is a very slight learning curve, but that's only because of the many features that are built in. The customization options are huge and were much needed in Database Management software. But more importantly, SQL Operations Studio makes database work into a less daunting experience. You don't need to have instance after instance of it running, and you can modify and customize it to your liking.

Since I began using it, I have not had the need yet to run SSMS and I've begun to think of useful widget ideas that would make my day to day much more streamlined. Definitely looking forward to any features that will surely get added by the time it is public-ready. But more importantly, I'm looking forward to seeing how it effects my day to day work.

Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.

Community Comments

3/8/2018 8:05:24 AM
day two and still can not connect to server. i have read so much over the last few days about this; firewall, ms quickstart, etc. but i just keep getting error:40. no matter what i type in. i am on a company network. User name? i have used all options. its loaded local and run local. server name? i put localhost. i have done windows authentication and sql login. seems i am not the only person with this problem. ssms just connected right way on laptop. was really hoping this was going to be more user friendly and smaller footprint
11/4/2018 9:10:15 PM
Hey Kurt. Always buggy the first few months. There have been a few updates by now, so hopefully everything is working fine on your end now!

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