Give Azure Data Studio a try, if you are a user of SSMS

Apr 17, 2021 by Kolappan N

When I first heard about Azure Data Studio and saw it in some YouTube videos I thought that it is just a modified VS Code instance that is useful for Linux and MAC users who don’t have SSMS(SQL Server Management Studio). I thought “Why would anyone use it over SSMS?”. But looking at Azure Data Studio now, my opinions have changed.

What is Azure Data Studio?

Azure Data Studio is a software that is built on top of VS Code base that allows you connect to databases, run queries and perform other database related activities. In Microsoft’s own words

Azure Data Studio is a cross-platform database tool for data professionals using on-premises and cloud data platforms on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

It has a lot of features that are not even present in SSMS. For example, it can run on MAC and Linux. It can connect with your Azure account and show all databases linked with your account. It also provides direct links to the Azure resource page of your db when you need it. It can connect with Azure Synapse Analytics. Besides all this Azure integration, some main features of the studio are

  1. Notebooks - The Notebooks feature is powered by Jupiter Notebooks. It is really well integrated. You can even load notebooks directly from a GitHub repo remotely. The notebook can contain section of text, interactive code blocks, etc… It is pretty powerful feature.
  2. Extensions - The extension support greatly enhances the capabilities of Azure Data Studio. However there are only a handful of extensions available now. There are extensions that for Azure ARC, SQL Server Administrative features, etc…
  3. Lightweight & Cross-platform - The Data studio is really light weight compared to SSMS. Thanks to it VS Code foundations, it can run on Mac OS and Linux just as same it runs on Windows.

The following video on Azure Data Studio by Microsoft is a great place to start

Azure Data Studio vs SSMS, What should I use?

Azure Data Studio is not a full fledged replacement for SSMS yet. Microsoft has a clear explanation on the use cases of both of these software. The TLDR is to use SSMS for complex and Administrative tasks and use Data Studio for simple tasks and querying data.

Useful Links

  1. Azure Data Studio Documentation
  2. The A to S of Azure Data Studio - Data Exposed
  3. Introduction to Azure Data Studio Notebooks - Data Exposed