The recent release of the movie "The Da Vinci Code" has sparked a lot of interest in the search for the Holy Grail. Last week, Microsoft unveiled its own Holy Grail: Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals. Like those searching for the biblical Holy Grail, I’ve been searching for an all-inclusive database-development product for the past 16 years--the exact number of years I’ve been a database professional. Microsoft describes this new product as a "market-shifting database-development product" that helps you manage database changes and improve the quality of database applications you develop.

Here are some of the new features in Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals:

  • Visual Studio Database Project--lets you put a database schema under version control. When you modify a schema in a project, Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals will automatically create a script that you can use to deploy the changes.
  • Rename Refactoring--lets you quickly rename database objects in a global, consistent manner.
  • Schema Compare--lets you compare the schema of two databases (or a source-controlled project and a database) or script updates to synchronize the database schemas.
  • DataCompare--lets you quickly compare two databases and script updates to synchronize the data in the databases.
  • Database Unit Testing--a new infrastructure that makes it easier to manage unit testing.
  • DatabaseGenerator--generates sample data sets that are statistically similar to actual data so that sample data is useful for performance and unit testing.

    Wow. If this tool lives up to its potential, it stands to be one of the best things to happen to SQL Server developers and professionals since sliced bread, indoor plumbing, and the invention of the wheel all wrapped up in a single package. Can you tell I'm excited about this product? Version control, schema and data compare, and testing tools have existed for development environments for a long time. But I can count on both hands (normal human hands--with only 10 digits) the number of customers I’ve worked with during the past 16 years who have a comprehensive, sane way of dealing with these problems in the database world.

    Although I haven't used this new product, I know that Microsoft added some top-notch talent to its team to develop some of the features. Long-time SQL Server aficionados will certainly recognize the names Gert Drapers and Richard Waymire. Gert and Richard previously worked with the SQL Server team and were recruited to join the "brain trust" that Microsoft assembled to create this product. Richard is the development manager and Gert is the architect. I’m confident that the product will live up to your expectations.

    You’ll find more information about Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals at
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/teamsystem/products/dbpro/default.aspx .
    You can also read the team Web blogs at the following URLs:

  • http://blogs.msdn.com/gertd/
  • http://blogs.msdn.com/camerons
  • http://blogs.msdn.com/rwaymi
  • http://blogs.msdn.com/mattnunn
  • http://blogs.msdn.com/thomas_murphys_agile_db_blog
  • http://blogs.msdn.com/tsdatabl

    To read what others are saying about this product, visit the new Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals forum at
    http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowForum.aspx?ForumID=725&SiteID=1

    Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals will be released in a Community Technology Preview (CTP) format at Tech Ed and is expected to release to manufacturing (RTM) before the end of 2006.