05 November 2009

Visual Studio 2008 Express Data Source Limitations

Visual Studio Express 2008 for C# or VB only allows you to choose a limited number of data sources in the IDE. Open the Choose Data Source dialog using menu item Tools / Connect to Database, and in the Data Source list, there are only three items:

  • Microsoft Access Database File
  • Microsoft SQL Server Compact 3.5
  • Microsoft SQL Server Database File

According to VS 2005 express: ".NET Framework Data Provider for ODBC" does not show up in Choose/Change Data Source dialog :(:

The data designers in the Express editions of Visual Studio only allow you to connect to SQL Server Express and Access (Jet) databases. I've passed your feedback along to the people who own these components in the hopes of getting this limitation clearly documented. As Ralph noted, you can still use the various .NET Data Providers at run-time. David Sceppa
ADO.NET Program Manager

I checked VisualStudio2008-ProductComparison-v1.08.pdf from Visual Studio 2008 Product Comparison Guide and there's no specific mention of this limitation for VS 2008 Express editions, other than Data Sources window displays the data sources in your project for creating data-bound controls.

Of course, I can work around this limitation programmatically but the learning value of VS Express editions falls when I can't match text and images from tutorials with what I see on screen.