Is there a front end application development tool for sql server 2008 R2?

Hello all,

I need to know if there is an application in which I could develop a front end to SQL Server 2008 R2? I will try to clarify what I am needing (I am only needing to develop an application for practicing purposes, not for a production environment right now).
For instance, I have created a table in SQL Server 2008. I need a front end application that will let me add a person, delete a person, total expenses total expenses for a particular person(such as travel expenses, hotel expenses, etc.), search for a particular person by name or id. I know how to write SQL code to do all of this on the backend, but I am just needing an application in which I can develop a front end to do all of thiswith the use of buttons, search boxes, etc. I do not know if I can develop something like this using SSRS. I do not want to use FileMaker because I have had pretty bad experiences with FileMaker. Any suggestions on the type of software that I could use to develop something would be greatly appreciated.

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asked Jun 04, 2012 at 05:46 PM in Default

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6 answers: sort voted first

Microsoft make a development tool called Visual Studio Light Switch that is supposed to be light on the code and heavy on the front-end (forms) and data.

You might give it a go for a quick front-end. Here is a page of introduction videos: http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/lightswitch/intro-videos/create-business-apps

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answered Jun 04, 2012 at 08:18 PM

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Thank you. I will give this a try!

Jun 04, 2012 at 09:21 PM cdurham

For simple tasks, Light Switch is great. If this is going to be a back-end app (i.e., not exposed to a lot of end users), you can use Entity Framework to connect to your SQL Server database, create a Web Forms project, drop a few GridViews on different pages, and you have pages which can handle insert, update, and delete statements for you.

You can do a lot more with the toolkit (it is ASP .Net over C#/VB, after all), but there are enough videos and tutorials to get you started that it's a good first choice for people who aren't app developers by trade.

Be prepared, though, because it isn't Access or paint-by-numbers.

Nov 01, 2012 at 02:29 PM Kevin Feasel
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It sounds like you need a custom written application. I'm not an application developer, but I'm sure that you can do this in just about any language (ASP .Net, VB .Net,C#, ADO .net, etc) that has the ability to call either stored procedures or hit the objects (tables/views/etc) via tools like Entity Framework. I'm not aware of any type of application that would allow you to build this out in the manner in which I think you are asking. Other on here might though.

You also might be able to search around on the Interwebs and see if someone has already built a product that would suit your needs at a price. Why reinvent the wheel if you don't have to?

I don't believe that you can do this in SSRS, but I also don't claim to be an expert in it.

While I don't like it, you can use MS Access as a front end to SQL Server. It is a viable solution depending on your requirements. I would strongly evaluate it first before going down that road, but as I mentioned, it is a viable option.

Not sure if this helps or not, but just some things to think about.

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answered Jun 04, 2012 at 06:06 PM

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good Access mention. Although not a scalable RDBMS, it's a great front-end prototyping tool for those whose passion doesn't lie with application development

Jun 04, 2012 at 08:16 PM KenJ

Thanks Ken! ;-)

Jun 04, 2012 at 08:58 PM JohnM
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I know I'm somewhat echoing Ken and John here, but I think I can add something useful that doesn't go well in comments.

The key is that you can write a front end of the type you are describing in just about any full programming language. With that in mind, the questions are twofold: Which languages do you know or are you prepared to learn for this? Of those, does one provide a clear advantage?

Some good options include:


If you are planning for this to run locally on the machines (not over the web) and it will be fairly simple, Access is probably a very good option. I would never use it for a major project, but it is extremely intuitive, has very good help files, synchs very easily with SQL Server (especially if you built the DB in Access and migrated, slightly harder but still not hard if you are attaching Access to a preexisting DB). You can very readily learn what you need while you are working on your project with little prior experience. It also tends to be very comfortable for many users and you can give your "power-users" the ability to look at the raw tables and write their own queries with absolute no additional work.

The bad thing is that it is plainly unsuitable for large projects or for projects where perofrmance is a major issue, but I still use it occassionally for small one-off projects, especially if the target users are power-users that I know like to be able to glance at the base tables from time to time.

If you have no programming experience outside of SQL itself, want to build this fast, think it qualifies as a small project, and don't mind running it locally (IE no web interface) then I strongly recommend Access.


I have never used Lightswitch, so take this with a grain of salt.

From what I have seen, Lightswitch is a fantastic product for a certain niche - Mostly PowerUsers that are not and do not want to be serious programmers, but want to be able to quickly and easily create a basic interface to a database and some reports. Unlike Access, you can also readily create something with a web interface.

If you do not know how to program, don't want to learn to really program (or don't have the time right now), and need a web interface, LightSwitch sounds perfect. Otherwise I would look at other options.


C# is a versatile, effecient language that integrates well with SQL Server by design. It can scale to handle projects of virtually any scope and can make local programs or web based interfaces. It generally comes with the excellent Visual Studio IDE which helps shield you from the need to memorize details of every command. Knowledge of C# will serve you very well outside of any one particular project

The downside is that it has a steeper learning curve than most other options. It has a much steeper learning curve than Access, or Lightswitch (from what I hear). Its learning curve is also steeper than Python which I'll get to next. With that said, its not that hard to learn for someone that has a little bit of programming experience.


Python is my personal go to language unless I have a good reason to use something else. It works well with SQL Server and is great for data visualization, especially if that data needs some real processing before display. For a full programming language, it is extremely easy to learn, works well to replace shell scripting (I started using Python for that before PowerShell was released), and a knowledge of Python would likely serve you very well.

With all that though, there are a couple of downsides. For one, its easy to learn compared to C# and most general purpose programming languages, but harder to learn than access. The other is that the performance is worse than C#. Also, all the other tools I mentioned are explicitly designed to work with SQL Server. Python works with it very well, but it was not a design goal.

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answered Nov 01, 2012 at 07:03 PM

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Solid points all. Python's a good language for people without too much development experience, and it gets even better with a good IDE. I've used it a lot less after picking up PowerShell, but for non-Microsoft development, it's really nice.

Nov 02, 2012 at 03:39 PM Kevin Feasel

I've been using PowerShell too, and it is fantastic. But PowerShell isn't a general purpose language and (mostly because of my level of experience) I find Python easier even for Shell Scripting type things.

Nov 05, 2012 at 05:27 PM TimothyAWiseman
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What I would add to the options mentions in other answers is that you should choose something that can be easily supported by you and your colleagues. Creating something that cannot be maintained or developed further in the future then there is limited worth in using that technology now.

For me, Access will be the fastest way, using Linked Tables, followed by Visual Studio to develop an application of your choice in a language of your choice.

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answered Nov 05, 2012 at 09:33 PM

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Fatherjack ♦♦
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I'm surprised no-one has yet mentioned Notepad (or another text editor) as a development tool... You can use it to write vanilla ASP applications.

I've done this too many times for it to be my first recommendation, but it has the benefits of being near-universal and cheap.
(I think the latter is the reason I was forced to use it for so long... bloody lawyers...)

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answered Nov 06, 2012 at 10:02 AM

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ThomasRushton ♦♦
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wow, plain Notepad? Serious stuff. I'd push for Notepad++, it;s the same cost but at least has some script awareness and gives you a chance to spot syntax errors more easily.

Nov 06, 2012 at 10:04 AM Fatherjack ♦♦

It was a while ago - Notepad++ hadn't been invented. ;-)

Nov 06, 2012 at 10:25 AM ThomasRushton ♦♦
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asked: Jun 04, 2012 at 05:46 PM

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Last Updated: Nov 06, 2012 at 10:25 AM

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