Recently while preparing a talk on the new features in SQL 2012 I decided that it would be a good time to explore SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT). I already had them installed on my laptop, or so I thought I had them installed because I had checked off the “SQL Server Data Tools” box under the Shared Feature section on the Feature Selection install page as shown in this image:


You might think this would install SSDT. To be honest I’m still not sure what was installed on my laptop as a result of my checking this box. I think the installer placed a shortcut in my Start Menu and that’s about it.

Data information could not be retrieved

Having used previous versions of SSDT (yes, I’m old enough to recall the Business Intelligence Development Studio, now GET OFF MY LAWN) I was familiar with some of the basic functionality available throughout the years. The one item I decided to test was going to be a simple data compare between two AdventureWorks databases. So I opened up SSDT and tried to do a data compare between an instance of SQL 2008R2 and SQL 2012. That is when I was greeted with this lovely message:


My first thought was “What do you mean that ‘Data information could not be retrieved because of the following error: SQL Server versions later than 2008 R2 are not supported'” ?

My second thought was “WTH”? How is it that SSDT 2012 does NOT allow for me to connect to an instance of SQL 2012? That makes absolutely no sense!

Why must life be so hard?

Visual Studio Shell Hell

After some digging around I could see that the shortcut for SSDT was pointing to the existing Visual Studio 2010, and it made sense that VS2010 would not able to connect to SQL 2012. I suspected that I needed to perform some updates. I used the instructions on this blog post in order to install the final few updates for SSDT 2012. As that blog posts says, you need to open up a database project and then you get led to download and install the necessary update.


Once the updates are finished I was ready to get started using SSDT 2012. I go right back to where I left off by trying to do a data compare and I am greeted with this:


Why must life be so hard?

A few choice words later and I start to see that I am still running with VS2010, which cannot connect to SQL 2012. OK then, I decide that now is as good a time as any to update to Visual Studio 2012. Fast forward to a few hours later and I now have VS 2012 installed. However, the shortcut inside the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 start menu is still pointing to VS 2010, which means that I will continue to launch the wrong program from that shortcut.

But that’s an easy enough fix. Just go to the start menu, find SSDT, right-click, then select ‘Properties’.


You should see then this window:


Change the 10 to be 11 (assuming you installed VS2012 to the same default location as you did for VS2010):


Don’t forget that you may need to circumvent the double-secret-probation security settings:


Now when you go back to the start menu you will see that you are pointing to the VS2012 bits:


Great news, right? Well…

SQL Server 2012 Data Tools Does Not Allow For Data Compare

Well….except I still can’t do a data compare, it would appear that functionality was left out of VS2012:

Oh well, at least I know I can stop trying to get that to work. I figured the option for a data compare was buried in a menu somewhere and I just could not find it. Good to know I can just stop looking.

Why was it so difficult to get SSDT working properly? I’m not sure. I suspect it is because that different products are released at different times and as a result you need to jump through a few hoops in order to have everything working. There’s no doubt in my mind that the next release of SQL Server won’t need this much hand holding in order to have all of the tools in working order right from the start.

I would have preferred that the option for SSDT to not even exist in the SQL 2012 install. Then I would not have had any expectations that it should have been working right from the start. It was quite frustrating for my SSDT2012 to point to VS2010 and not be able to connect to SQL2012.

I’m also frustrated in the lack of documentation. I really have no idea if what I have installed and configured is correct. It seems to work. I am able to create new database projects. I can connect to SQL 2012. And I am able to look at the shiny new things that people have been talking about. But I really have no idea if I have done this correctly.

I guess I’m spoiled by living in an age where I just expect things to work.

Why must life be so hard?