SQL Server Management Studio Express

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SQL and database are a fundamental part of any enterprise and business dealing with digital records. On Windows platform, Microsoft provides SQL Server as the de facto database server for all types of deployments. SQL Server Management Studio Express is a manager for the SQL Server.


SQL Server Management Studio Express is the “express” or lite edition of the full-blown application and is also free. The interface is almost similar to the original software with a traditional enterprise look and feel and no visual distractions such as fancy animations or varied typography. It creates a clutter-free and information dense pane with tabs and tool bars for options along with the traditional menu bar. Being a SQL Server manager, it provides full capabilities to connect to running instances of the SQL Server and open/modify existing databases or create new ones. Database creation can be done either through GUI wizard or through SQL commands. Tables can be displayed in a tabbed manner with full entries shown. SQL commands are run from the command window which also features syntax highlighting as well. The output is displayed in the lower pane for SQL scripts and any error logging is displayed at the bottom pane which is also the application log. Apart from this, there exist full capability to handle permissions and indexes. Also, database backups and views can be created or restored from disk and full activity logs are available. The software is available in all major languages and can run on any Windows installation with .NET framework 2.0 and MSXML 6 parser pre-installed.


Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio Express is a closer and trimmed down sibling of the actual professional Management Studio tool which is commercial in nature. The professional tool is much more capable with integrated documentation and better object handling capabilities. Also, it can hook to custom services such as performance analysis or data analytics. But being free, the Express edition provides enough feature set and also has online free documentation. Apart from Microsoft’s own tools, there is EMS SQL Management software, which provides similar functionality and is commercial in nature. It also provides import and export support for large formats of files. This makes it slightly more advantageous but it is a third-party party tool. HeidiSQL is a free and open-source alternative, which can also manage MySQL and PostgreSQL services. Thus, it provides support for other databases as well but lacks the professional support as given by Microsoft and huge documentation.


Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio Express is a nice addition to the Express edition of the SQL Server itself and helps in monitoring SQL instances and activities. There is also SQL query parser and executor and is thus a GUI front-end to the background tasks.


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