Your Top 10 Ideas for SQL Server

SQL Server

You’ve submitted thousands of bug reports and feature requests at, and here’s what you’ve voted as the top 10 requests right now:

#10: MIN/MAX as non-aggregate functions. PostgreSQL and Oracle have the GREATEST/LEAST functions that work like COALESCE, allowing you to pass in a list of values and get the top or lowest. Sounds nifty.

#9: SSMS keyboard shortcut to execute the current statement. Azure Data Studio has this and I love it so much.

#8: Better NoSQL functionality. Okay wait hold on, before you throw birds at the screen, they’re talking about how the world’s standards for XQuery, XPath, and XSDs have moved on since SQL Server first implemented those features. Alright, now you can throw birds.

#7: Support DISTINCT for STRING_AGG. Going by the notes in the request, it sounds like MySQL does this, and so when people come over from MySQL, they’re surprised at how much harder this task is in SQL Server. I honestly never noticed.

#6: Run CHECKDB automatically in the background. Despite the best efforts of the blogosphere, too many people just don’t check their databases for corruption. I get it – it’s not part of SQL Server’s defaults, it’s not a setup option, you have to learn about it to understand the risk, and Microsoft is never going to mount a user education campaign talking about how many corruption bugs SQL Server has. Instead, Microsoft just has to start fixing the problem by making databases more reliable.

#5: Add row position column to STRING_SPLIT. When you split a string with STRING_SPLIT, you get a table with the values, but they’re not guaranteed to be in order. Sometimes you really need to know the order when you’re processing a list.

#4: Add an SSRS ReportViewer for ASP.NET Core. It’s been marked as “under review” for over 3 years, but I have a pretty bad feeling about this. SQL Server Reporting Services strikes me as an NPC these days, with Power BI taking the new starring role. I wouldn’t expect SSRS to get a whole lot more development.

#3: Restore a table from backup. I really, really want this one because it’s the most common reason that we have to do restores: someone dropped a table or hosed up its contents.

#2: Put the Debugger back into SSMS 18. When Microsoft removed database diagrams and the debugger, I had a little fun with the blog post announcement, kicking those two features in the teeth. (I like using extreme announcement tactics on not-really-extreme things sometimes.) I’m completely ambivalent about those two features, though.

And your #1 top-voted request: Dark Mode for SSMS. And bad news, Microsoft has marked this as “Unplanned”, writing:

Unfortunately the complexity to implement dark mode into SSMS v18 is prohibitive and this item remains unplanned. Regular updates and improvements to SQL Server Management Studio are continuing, but most of the net new innovations in the graphical tooling space can be expected to be seen in Azure Data Studio.

You can kinda get dark mode with this workaround, and it’s a bummer that we’re so close but yet so far away.

For the longest time, I thought the dark mode request was dumb. Sure, I use dark mode on most of my apps, but I thought it was frivolous to ask for dark mode support in SSMS when that tool gets so little love. If Microsoft is going to allocate developer time to SSMS, I wanted real, meaningful improvements – not dark mode.

Then someone casually said to me, “You can tell that SQL Server and Azure SQL DB are legacy databases because SSMS doesn’t even have dark mode. Even our IBM mainframe development app has dark mode.”

Okay, that stung a little. It’s wrong…but it still stung.

I mean it is wrong, right?

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