A Developer’s Guide to Installing SQL Server 2005 – Part 1 – Selecting a version

As a developer of applications that use SQL Server in some way, it can be valuable to have a database local to your box. It can be used for development, testing, or debugging in an off line environment. While there are many versions of SQL Server 2005, there are only two versions that are really suitable for the developer’s computer: SQL Server Express With Advanced Options, and SQL Server Developers Edition.

The first, SQL Server 2005 Express, is free. There are actually two versions of Express, the standard and the one entitled SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with Advanced Services SP2. It can be a little hard to find, so here’s a handy link: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/express/bb410792.aspx The standard edition does not include Full Text Search, Reporting Services, or the SQL Server Management Studio Express. These are all features that you, as a developer will want.

The other version of SQL Server that’s geared toward developers is the SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition. This version has the same features as the Enterprise Edition, but it’s only licensed for a single developer to access. It also comes with the full blown BIDS (Business Intelligence Developer Studio) tools. It’s not free, however it’s not expensive either. At only 49.99 it’s priced so even a small one person development shop can easily afford it. This link has more info, including a link to purchase:

http://www.microsoft.com/products/info/product.aspx?view=22&pcid=f544888c-2638-48ed-9f0f-d814e8b93ca0&type=ovr

If you have an MSDN License, the SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition is included with it and can be downloaded via your subscription.

So as a developer, which version version should you install? That answer is easy. Both.

Yes, both. The Express edition will allow you to perform small scale testing, let multiple users bang away at your solution and let you perform some small measure of scalability testing. With it’s database size limited to 4 gig, it may nor may not be big enough to hold your entire database, but it’s certainly large enough for a good hunk of your data. The Developer Edition will give you all of the tools and let you emulate your Enterprise system, at least in terms of the database sizes and structures. However since it’s licensed only for the developer, you won’t be able to have multiple users access it.

So you’ve decided OK, you want to install. If you’re not a trained DBA there a few gotcha’s you should know about when installing SQL Server. By default, not all of the features are installed. In the next few posts, I’ll show step by step instructions on how to install SQL Server for your development workstation.