For those of you who are interested in database management tools for SQL Express, I’d like to tell you about a new product that Microsoft will be releasing soon called SQL Server Express Manager (or XM for short). XM is a lightweight tool built on top of the latest version of the .NET Framework and the new SQL Server System Management Objects API. We received a lot of interest from MSDE customers for a better database management experience and we are hoping to provide that with the release of XM.
 
A little background on XM…
The inspiration for developing this tool came directly from customer feedback. By talking to MSDE users, we learned that in order to make SQL Server Express a successful product, we needed to provide an easy way for customers to manage their databases. For example of a feature that was implemented in direct response to a customer request is XM’s ability to connect to and managed both local and remote SQL Server instances.
 
Another significant result from the feedback that we received was that it reinforced the importance of designing XM with simplicity of use in mind. We want XM to be a tool that any database developer can get value out of so to that end, we have tried to optimize XM to be easy to install, easy to understand, and available to anyone. Some of the new usability features include step by step wizards to guide users through common tasks and a simplified tree view of the database objects in addition to standard functionality such as a T-SQL editor with syntax-highlighting. Like SQL Express, XM will also be freely downloadable and redistributable.
 
We expect to ship the first preview release of XM in time for Yukon Beta 3 but we are making every effort to provide this tool to customers earlier in the fall. Customers have also expressed an interest in more frequent product releases so we are planning to ship additional preview releases with updates to XM every 6 – 12 weeks. Our hope is this increased ship frequency will allow us to respond to customer requests more quickly.
 
We’d love to hear your thoughts on what features you would like to see in XM and how frequent you would like to have access to updates to the tool. If you’re interested in additional information, I will be updating this blog periodically with the latest status on XM.
 
I hope you’ve found this information useful and I look forward to writing to you again.
 
Thanks for all your time,
 
Eric Feng
Program Manager for SQL Server Express