Explore the latest Features in SSMS 20 & dbForge SQL Tools

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is the standard integrated development environment (IDE) for SQL Server professionals, developed, maintained, and supported by Microsoft. Whenever the developers of SSMS enhance the platform, we, as users, embrace these innovations and share updates with one another.

The latest version of SSMS was released less than two months ago. Let’s explore what it offers.

Key features of SSMS 20

SQL Server Management Studio 20 was released on April 9th, 2024. While it didn’t introduce any groundbreaking innovations, it brought important security improvements and some other enhancements.

Enhanced Security Measures

One of the most significant improvements in SSMS 20 is connection encryption.

The updated Microsoft.Data.SqlClient now supports Strict security and requires trust. Additionally, the SQL Server Database Engine must be configured with a TLS certificate from a trusted authority to encrypt connections.

You can see these innovations in the Connection dialog.

Connection Dialog Redesign

When connecting to SQL Server using the latest version of SSMS, you will immediately notice a difference compared to previous versions: a new Connection security section at the bottom of the Connection dialog.

By default, Encryption is set to Mandatory, and the Trust server certificate option is unchecked, so the users need to check it manually. The latest SSMS version requires it for connection libraries; otherwise, connection attempts will likely fail.

Another new feature in the Connection dialog is the Host name in certificate field. This can remain blank if Mandatory encryption is selected and Trust server certificate is checked. If you change the Encryption option to Strict, you can specify the hostname.

Additionally, SSMS 20 introduces Microsoft Entra ID authentication (former Azure Active Directory).

User Experience Improvements

The interface of SSMS did not undergo any significant changes, ensuring that the users won’t need to spend time and additional efforts on mastering any innovations.

Still, it is worth mentioning the possibility of importing user settings from the previous SSMS versions. This option is provided at the initial launch of SSMS 20.

Installation and Setup

Upgrading SQL Server Management Studio always requires reinstalling the software, and it is necessary to note that installing the SSMS 20.x version does not replace any previous SSMS version that might have been installed on the computer.

Instead, SSMS 20.x is installed alongside the previous versions, so the user might obtain two (or more) SSMS copies on the machine and use them for specific work scenarios. In case you only need the latest SSMS version, you should uninstall the previous version before referring to the latest SSMS release.

SQL Server Management Studio 20 is available at the official portal. The software is free and highly functional, and it remains the default choice for SQL Server specialists. So, if you haven’t upgraded to SSMS 20 yet, just get the installation and plan several minutes on installing that software.

One more option for installing SSMS is via PowerShell – it installs SSMS in the background without GUI prompts. The process is as follows:

  1. Launch PowerShell (make sure you have elevated permissions).
  2.   Modify the below command by providing your correct parameters:

$media_path = “

$install_path = “

$params = ” /Install /Quiet SSMSInstallRoot=$install_path”

Start-Process -FilePath $media_path -ArgumentList $params -Wait

  1. Install SSMS 20.x.

Note that you can modify the parameters to view the SSMS setup UI if necessary. For that, include /Passive instead of /Quiet for $params in the command.

If the installation process is completed correctly, it will install SSMS according to the parameters specified in your command. If any errors or other issues occur, you will get the information in the log file in the %TEMP%SSMSSetup folder.

Introduction to dbForge SQL Tools

SSMS offers the undeniable benefit of extendibility, allowing users to enhance its default functionality with plugins. Among the notable plugins for improving SSMS, the dbForge SQL Tools package stands out.

dbForge SQL Tools is a set of solutions that are integrated with SSMS, available either as a package or individually. These tools enhance existing SSMS features and introduce new functionalities within the SSMS interface.

Thanks to their SSMS-like graphical interfaces, they are easy to master.

All dbForge SQL Tools are fully compatible with the latest SSMS 20 version. Let’s explore the benefits they bring to SSMS.

dbForge SQL Complete

dbForge SQL Complete is a leading coding assistant for SSMS. This add-in offers advanced SQL code completion, surpassing SSMS IntelliSense, and includes features like code formatting, debugging, refactoring, code history, a code snippets library, and many more options for fast and efficient SQL coding.

Version Control and Unit Testing

Tools like dbForge Source Control and Unit Test help database specialists manage changes and ensure code reliability within SSMS, thus allowing them to build efficient DevOps processes using their favorite SSMS IDE and eliminating the need for switching between different tools.

Schema and Data Comparison

dbForge Schema Compare and Data Compare enable database comparison and synchronization, supporting live databases, native backups, and script folders. They ensure the discrepancy detection, syncing, and deployment of changes on supported platforms both on-premise and in the cloud, all within the SSMS interface.

Data Management Tools

dbForge Data Generator is a powerful SSMS enhancement that brings the capabilities of automatically producing any amount of high-quality data of different data types for test purposes. It is also worth mentioning the Documenter tool that scans the database and automatically generates comprehensive documentation with precise navigation, in several formats.

Utility Tools Enhancement

In this area, we refer to the Data Pump, Index Manager, and Query Builder tools. Data Pump manages data migration with both import and export capabilities supporting over 10 popular formats. Index Manager identifies problematic indexes, provides recommendations, and fixes issues automatically. Query Builder allows users to visually construct SQL queries of any complexity using predefined blocks, then converts the visual diagram into executable SQL queries.

Free dbForge Tools

The previously mentioned tools are paid, but the dbForge SQL Tools package also includes valuable free tools. dbForge Search offers quick and efficient searches for data, objects, and text across all databases. SQL Decryptor is a powerful add-in that automatically decrypts database objects created with the WITH ENCRYPTION option. Event Profiler captures and analyzes SQL Server events, allowing you to monitor and examine the entire performance of the database engine.


The latest SSMS 20.x version marks another milestone in the evolution of this essential tool for database professionals. While it doesn’t introduce revolutionary innovations or new tools, it demonstrates the developers’ ongoing efforts to enhance convenience and security for users, maintaining all the traditional powers and benefits of SSMS, including the possibility to significantly enhance its functionality with powerful assistants like dbForge SQL Tools.

By Gary Bernstein