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What's New for Data Application Development in Visual Studio 2012

Visual Studio 2012 includes new features for developing applications that access data.

SQL Server Object Explorer provides a view of your database objects that’s similar to SQL Server Management Studio. You can create, edit, rename, and delete SQL Server objects, including tables, stored procedures, and functions. You can edit table data, compare schemas, and execute queries by using contextual menus. You can create objects by using tools that function similarly to those in SQL Server Management Studio.

You can open SQL Server Object Explorer from the View menu in Visual Studio. For more information, see Connected Database Development.

You can continue to connect to SQL Server databases from the Data Connections node in Server Explorer.

In the new Table Designer, you can define a table graphically and understand its related objects at a glance. As you change the table definition through a graphical interface, the Script pane updates the table’s script definition. As an alternative, you can modify the script directly in the Script pane. You can define the table via the graphical designer, the script, or a combination of the two. To apply the SQL in the Script pane, you choose the new Update button.

The new Table Designer appears for a database that’s in the SQL Server 2012 format. For more information, see How to: Create Database Objects Using Table Designer.

The SQL Server Express LocalDB engine is used to access a database file (.mdf) in SQL Server 2012 format. Earlier versions of Visual Studio use the SQL Server Express engine to access a database file (.mdf).

SQL Server Express LocalDB is a lightweight version of SQL Server that has many of the programmability features of a SQL Server database. SQL Server Express LocalDB runs in user mode and has a fast, zero-configuration installation. For more information, see Local Data Overview.

If you have a database file (.mdf) that was created with an earlier version of SQL Server, you must convert it to the SQL Server 2012 format before you can use the file with SQL Server Express LocalDB. Otherwise, a message box prompts you to convert the file. If you convert the file, you will gain the benefits of SQL Server Express LocalDB, but the database will no longer be compatible with earlier versions of SQL Server. If you don’t convert the file, you can continue to work with the database in Visual Studio 2012 by accessing the file with a SQL Server Express data source. For more information, see Local Data Overview.

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