SQL Server Data Tools for Visual Studio 2013

The SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) is where you’ll spend most of your time as an SSIS developer. It is where you create and deploy your SSIS projects. SSDT uses a subset of the full version of Visual Studio 2013. If you have the full version of Visual Studio 2013 and SQL Server 2014 installed, you can create business intelligence projects there as well as in the full interface, but as far as SSIS is concerned, there’s no added value in using the full version of Visual Studio. Either way, the user experience is the same. In SQL Server 2014, the SSIS development environment is detached from SQL Server, so you can develop your SSIS solution offline and then deploy it wherever you like in a single click.


In prior versions of Integration Services, SSDT was part of the SQL Server installation, but with the release of SQL Server 2014, SSDT has been decoupled from the SQL Server installer. This means to develop new SSIS packages you must go download SSDT from the Microsoft download site. The benefit of this change is that developers will now see more frequent enhancements to the development environment. Use a search engine with the term “SQL Server Data Tools for Visual Studio 2013” to find the most recent release.

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After you download and install SSDT you’ll find SSDT in the root of the Microsoft SQL Server 2014 program group from the Start menu. Once you start SSDT, you are taken to the Start Page, an example of which is shown in the below diagram, before you open or create your first project. You can open more windows (you learn about these various windows in a moment) by clicking their corresponding icon in the upper-right corner of SSDT or under the View menu. Please note that some of the screenshots in this tutorial, such as Figures 2-8, 2-9, and 2-10, were shot using Visual Studio 2012, which also works with SQL Server 2014. You may also choose to use Visual Studio 2013 if you prefer, and the screenshot may be slightly different.

microsoft visual studio desktop

new project window

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microsoft visual studio window

The Start Page contains key information about your SSDT environment, such as the last few projects that you had open (under the Recent Projects section). You can also see the latest MSDN news under the Get Started section from the Latest News box. By clicking the Latest News box, you can also set the RSS feed that you’re consuming as well.

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The Visual Studio environment is that it gives you full access to the Visual Studio feature set, such as debugging, automatic integration with source code control systems, and integrated help. It is a familiar environment for developers and makes deployments easy.
The starting point for SSIS is to create a solution and project.

  • A solution is a container in Visual Studio that holds one or many projects.
  • A project in SSIS is a container of one or many packages and related files. You can also create projects for Analysis Services, Reporting Services, C#, and so on. All of these projects can be bundled together with a single solution, so a C# developer is in the same environment as an SSIS developer. Make sure you put packages that belong together into a single project since the project is the unit of deployment in SQL Server 2014.

To start a new SSIS project, you first need to open SSDT and select File ⇒ New ⇒ Project. Note a series of new templates (shown in Figure 2-9) in your template list now that you’ve installed SSDT for Visual Studio 2013. From the Installed Templates pane on the left, select Integration Services and then select Integration Services Project. Name your project and solution whatever you like (I named the solution ProSSISSolution and the project ProSSISProject). Also shown in Figure 2-9 is another type of SSIS project called the Integration Services Import Project Wizard, which is used to bring packages into a project from another deployed project. Click OK at this point to create the solution, the project, and your first package.

Typically, you want to align your projects into solutions that fit the business requirement that you’re trying to meet. For example, you may be assigned to a business project for the creation of a data warehouse. That warehouse project would probably have ETL, an SSAS cube, and Reporting Services reports. You could place all of these into a single solution so you could manage them from a unified interface. Note that once you begin work in Visual Studio, if your solution contains only a single project, the solution will be hidden by default. If you want to always see the solution name, go to Tools ⇒ Options and check Always Show Solution from the Projects and Solutions group (shown in Figure 2-10). If you’re doing any type of source control, this option should always be turned on so you can check in the solution easily. Otherwise, once a second project is added to the solution, you’ll see the solution and both projects under the solution.

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Last updated: 03 Apr 2023
About Author

Yamuna Karumuri is a content writer at Mindmajix.com. Her passion lies in writing articles on IT platforms including Machine learning, PowerShell, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Selenium, MSBI, and so on. You can connect with her via  LinkedIn.

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