How to write own add-in for SSMS 2012 (Final release version)

Reading internet forums I have noticed that some developers want to experiment and write own add-ins for Sql Server Management Studio (SSMS). As far as there are enough samples for SSMS 2008, I will focus here on implementation of add-in for SSMS 2012.

Microsoft does not support development of plug-ins for SSMS officially and for good reason: they simply do not want to support backward compatibility of add-in API between different SSMS versions. There were already at least 2 "breaking releases", where developers had to seriously update plug-ins to make them working. It was update from SSMS 2005 to SSMS 2008 and from SSMS 2008 to SSMS 2012, not to mention "small jump" from SSMS 2008 to SSMS 2008R2. So, probably it is "ok" that they keep themselves free from obligations to keep any compatibility, because they want to improve SSMS as quickly as it gets and are doing it for past 8 years :).

In current release there were a lot of significant changes: SSMS is getting closer to standard DTE environment of Visual Studio - and that is why it has completely new way of detection of installed add-ins (will be described below).

Why am I writing this ? It is just a warning: if you are going to implement some "nice tool" to use internally in your company, you have to take into consideration that most probably it will stop working after next update to SSMS 2015(?) and you will have to spend some weeks before it will start working again. I just want to encourage you: if you miss some feature in SSMS that you think will also help other developers to do their T-SQL work more efficient - just write me and I will do my best to include it into the next release of SSMSBoost.

So, now no more words: download C# project with sample code of working plug-in. Unzip it and compile using Visual Studio 2010. It also compiles under C# Express Edition of Visual Studio 2010.

To compile the project you will need to update the reference to SqlPackageBase.dll
it is installed along with SQL Server Management Studio and is located under following path:
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\SqlPackageBase.dll
(C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\SqlPackageBase.dll)

Sample includes following steps:
  • Registration of add-in within SSMS environment
  • Connecting to SSMS environment
  • Finding Main menu, Finding "Tools" menu item and adding own command there
  • Processing of command state (enabled/disabled)
  • Command execution
  • Accessing _current_ SQL Editor window and pasting some text into it

After you have compiled the sample code you have to let SSMS 2012 know that you want it to load your add-in.(This is breaking change from SSMS 2008 to SSMS 2012)
SSMSAddin.addin file provides information about location of add-in dll. So edit it and update path mentioned by Assembly element to location where it resides (probably your bin\debug folder).

Next step - you have to put SSMSAddin.addin to one of "known" folders, where SSMS looks for .addin files. These folders are listed under this registry key:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\SQL Server Management Studio\11.0_Config\AutomationOptions\LookInFolders

For example these folders are "good":
Putting SSMSAddin.addin into %PROGRAMDATA%\Application Data\Microsoft\MSEnvShared\Addins\
(C:\ProgramData\Application Data\Microsoft\MSEnvShared\Addins\)
Will install add-in for all users on the machine.

Putting SSMSAddin.addin into %APPDATA%\Microsoft\MSEnvShared\Addins\
will install for specific user only.

Pay attention that MSEnvShared\Addins\ folder might not exist and you will have to create it yourself.

That's all. Run SQL Server Management Studio and look into "Tools" menu. You should notice new command there. Execute it and you will get some text output into currently opened SQL Editor window (pay attention - at least one SQL Editor window must be open).

This plug-in works for all editions of SSMS 2012, including SQL Server Management Studio Express edition, and both 32 and 64 bit builds.
Andrei Rantsevich
Written:May, 2012
Last update: August, 2012