It’s been almost two months since SQL Server 2016 was released and today I’ll provide a quick overview of some of the benefits new with SQL Server Management Studio 2016 or also known as SSMS 2016.

New Installer

One of the first things I noticed when I installed SQL Server 2016 is that SSMS is no longer listed in the features for installation. This is because SQL Server Management Studio 2016 has become its own stand-alone installer that can easily be downloaded from the web. There is also a link in the SQL Server engine management tools which takes you to the web to download the separate installer for SSMS 2016.

By decoupling SSMS from the roughly two-year release cycle of the core product, the SSMS team is able to provide quicker releases for SSMS. In the two months since it’s released we’ve already seen two updates. From what I’ve read it looks like they’re on a monthly cadence – which is awesome!

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Visual Studio Awesomeness

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SSMS 2016 is now built upon the Visual Studio 2015 shell and unlike SSMS 2012 and SSMS 2014 that were based on Visual Studio 2010 this brings a number of improvements:

Performance

Now that SSMS 2016 is build upon the Visual Studio 2015 shell, it gets all the performance optimizations that came in versions of Visual Studio since Visual Studio  2010. This is something you’ll notice immediately when running SSMS 2016.

I don’t know why SSMS 2012 and SSMS 2014 weren’t updated to be based on the latest Visual Studio at the time. I guess timing was a factor and priority was probably put on the database engine and not the editor. Hopefully now that SSMS is decoupled from the database engine release cycle we will see SSMS be updated and based on newer versions of Visual Studio as they become available. 

Support for High-Resolution Displays

Anyone that is using a Microsoft Surface Pro or Surface Book will know the DPI issues that plagued previous versions of SSMS. SSMS 2016 finally provides first-class support for high-resolution displays. 

Removed dependency on .NET Framework 3.5

It’s always good to let go of dependencies on older frameworks like .NET Framework 3.5.

Automatic Updates

SSMS 2016 now automatically checks for updates on start-up and also provides a toast notifications within SSMS when a new release becomes available.

You also have the chance to manually check for updates rom the Tools menu as shown here:

check-for-updates

check-for-updates-dialog

Support for Themes

SSMS 2016 now comes with an additional them called Light. Any developer of Visual Studio will already recognize this theme and it’s a welcome addition. From what I’ve read online, the SSMS team is working on bringing a Dark theme to SSMS. Not sure when a Dark theme will be released but lets hope sooner than later. Everything just seems to run and look better in the Dark them.

themes

New Quick Launch and Find Dialogs

Another feature that comes with the Visual Studio 2015 shell is the new quick find dialog located in the upper right corner of the editor. SSMS 2016 also has the Quick Launch which is in the upper right corner of the window and allows you to quickly search for options, etc.

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SSMS Azure Integration

The Table Designer is enabled for supporting Azure for SQL Database v12. The Database and Properties dialogs also work with Azure SQL Database v12.

Import and Export wizards also support Azure Database service tiers.

Next Steps

Download SSMS 2016: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt238290.aspx
Download SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt204009.aspx
Download new World-Wide Importers sample database

Posted by Callon Campbell [MVP]

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