Use SDK-style SQL projects with the SQL Database Projects extension (Preview)

This article introduces Microsoft.Build.Sql for SDK-style SQL projects in the SQL Database Projects extension in Azure Data Studio or Visual Studio Code. SDK-style SQL projects are especially advantageous for applications shipped through pipelines or built in cross-platform environments. The initial announcement is available in TechCommunity.


Microsoft.Build.Sql is currently in preview.

Create an SDK-style database project

You can create an SDK-style database project from a blank project, or from an existing database.

Blank project

In the Database Projects view, select the New Project button and enter a project name in the text input that appears. In the Select a Folder dialog box that appears, choose a directory for the project's folder, .sqlproj file, and other contents to reside in.

By default the selection for SDK-style project (Preview) is checked. When the dialog is completed, the empty project is opened and visible in the Database Projects view for editing.

From an existing database

In the Project view, select the Create Project from Database button and connect to a SQL Server. Once the connection is established, select a database from the list of available databases and set the name of the project. Select a target structure of the extraction.

By default the selection for SDK-style project (Preview) is checked. When the dialog is completed, the new project is opened and contains SQL scripts for the contents of the selected database.

Build and publish

From the Azure Data Studio and Visual Studio Code interfaces, building and publishing an SDK-style SQL project is completed in the same way as the previous SQL project format. For more on this process, see Build and Publish a Project.

To build an SDK-style SQL project from the command line on Windows, macOS, or Linux, use the following command:

dotnet build

The .dacpac file resulting from building an SDK-style SQL project is compatible with tooling associated with the data-tier application framework (.dacpac, .bacpac), including SqlPackage and GitHub sql-action.

Project capabilities

In SQL projects there are several capabilities that can be specified in the .sqlproj file that impact the database model either at project build or deployment. The following sections describe some of these capabilities that are available for Microsoft.Build.Sql projects.

Target platform

The target platform property is contained in the DSP tag in the .sqlproj file under the <PropertyGroup> item. The target platform is used during project build to validate support for features included in the project and is added to the .dacpac file as a property. By default, during deployment, the target platform is checked against the target database to ensure compatibility. If the target platform is not supported by the target database, the deployment fails unless an override publish option is specified.

<Project DefaultTargets="Build">
  <Sdk Name="Microsoft.Build.Sql" Version="0.1.12-preview" />

Valid settings for the target platform are:

  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Sql120DatabaseSchemaProvider
  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Sql130DatabaseSchemaProvider
  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Sql140DatabaseSchemaProvider
  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Sql150DatabaseSchemaProvider
  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Sql160DatabaseSchemaProvider
  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.SqlAzureV12DatabaseSchemaProvider
  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.SqlDwDatabaseSchemaProvider
  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.SqlServerlessDatabaseSchemaProvider
  • Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.SqlDwUnifiedDatabaseSchemaProvider

Database references

The database model validation at build time can be extended past the contents of the SQL project through database references. Database references specified in the .sqlproj file can reference another SQL project or a .dacpac file, representing either another database or more components of the same database.

The following attributes are available for database references that represent another database:

  • DatabaseSqlCmdVariable: the value is the name of the variable that is used to reference the database
    • Reference setting: <DatabaseSqlCmdVariable>SomeOtherDatabase</DatabaseSqlCmdVariable>
    • Usage example: SELECT * FROM [$(SomeOtherDatabase)].dbo.Table1
  • ServerSqlCmdVariable: the value is the name of the variable that is used to reference the server where the database resides. used with DatabaseSqlCmdVariable, when the database is in another server.
    • Reference setting: <ServerSqlCmdVariable>SomeOtherServer</ServerSqlCmdVariable>
    • Usage example: SELECT * FROM [$(SomeOtherServer)].[$(SomeOtherDatabase)].dbo.Table1
  • DatabaseVariableLiteralValue: the value is the literal name of the database as used in the SQL project, similar to DatabaseSqlCmdVariable but the reference to other database is a literal value
    • Reference setting: <DatabaseVariableLiteralValue>SomeOtherDatabase</DatabaseVariableLiteralValue>
    • Usage example: SELECT * FROM [SomeOtherDatabase].dbo.Table1

In a SQL project file, a database reference is specified as an ArtifactReference item with the Include attribute set to the path of the .dacpac file.

    <ArtifactReference Include="SampleA.dacpac">

Package references

Package references are used to reference NuGet packages that contain a .dacpac file and are used to extend the database model at build time similarly as a database reference.

The following example from a SQL project file references the Microsoft.SqlServer.Dacpacs package for the master database.

    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.SqlServer.Dacpacs" Version="160.0.0" />

In addition to the attributes available for database references, the following DacpacName attribute can be specified to select a .dacpac from a package that contains multiple .dacpac files.

    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.SqlServer.Dacpacs" Version="160.0.0">

SqlCmd variables

SqlCmd variables can be defined in the .sqlproj file and are used to replace tokens in SQL objects and scripts during .dacpac deployment. The following example from a SQL project file defines a variable named EnvironmentName that available for use in the project's objects and scripts.

    <SqlCmdVariable Include="EnvironmentName">
IF '$(EnvironmentName)' = 'testing'
    -- do something

When a compiled SQL project (.dacpac) is deployed, the value of the variable is replaced with the value specified in the deployment command. For example, the following command deploys the AdventureWorks.dacpac and sets the value of the EnvironmentName variable to production.

SqlPackage /Action:Publish /SourceFile:AdventureWorks.dacpac /TargetConnectionString:{connection_string_here} /v:EnvironmentName=production

Pre/post-deployment scripts

Pre- and post-deployment scripts are SQL scripts that are included in the project to be executed during deployment. Pre/post-deployment scripts are included in the .dacpac but they are not compiled into or validated with database object model. A pre-deployment script is executed before the database model is applied and a post-deployment script is executed after the database model is applied. The following example from a SQL project file adds the file populate-app-settings.sql as post-deployment script.

    <PostDeploy Include="populate-app-settings.sql" />

Next steps