There are several different tools that one can use to interact with a SQL Azure database.  Each tool has scenerios that it is best for and an audience to whom it will appeal.  Here are three along with some thoughts on each.

Method #1: Tried and True, SSMS

There has been plenty written on this already, so I’m not going to focus on it.  You download the tools, punch a hole in your SQL Azure firewall, and away you go …

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This method is great for heavy-duty management and creation of databases.  It’s also great because it’s the tool we’re all most familiar with.  I’m just using the AdventureWorks sample for Azure which has a nice little installer and I can interact with my database as normal …

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Method #2: Project Codename “Houston”

The team over at SQL Azure Labs has created a very nice Silverlight tool they are calling Houston.  This is a lighter weight tool than SSMS.  You can’t do all the database management that you can with the full Management Studio, but that’s okay as this is a tool more targeted at developers (which I am, so that’s good!)  You will see it has a great Silverlight interface that is easy to use (spinning cubes are hotness!)

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You can select multiple rowsets, click to zoom (ctrl-click to zoom out), save queries and more.  You just have to get out of the habit of using F5 to execute your query! :)

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Take a look at this blog post by my buddy Richard Seroter for more detailed walkthrough.

Method #3: Quadrant

Quadrant is a graphical tool for manipulating data.  In order to get Quadrant, you need to download and install the SQL Server Modeling CTP – November 2009 (as of this writing, check for updates depending on when you read this.)  Quadrant is a very different data manipulation experience.  It is simple, beautiful and powerful.

In order to connect to a SQL Azure database with Quadrant, you create a new Session (File->New Session).  You need to look under the “More” drop down, as you must connect to SQL Azure with SQL Server Authentication

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If all is well, you are greeted with a simple canvas upon which to manipulate your data.

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The first thing you will notice is that this is a WPF application, so you have great things like Mouse Wheel in/out for zoom.  You can simply open your explorer and start dragging tables onto the canvas.  It’s quite an amazing experience – watch some videos about the UI and I think you will quickly see just how compelling this experience can be.

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It remains to be seen in my mind who this application is for.  It certainly allows you to look and interact with data in a different way than the other two – perhaps a bit more right-brained.

There you have it, three very simple, very powerful ways to interact with your SQL Azure databases.