I thought that Visual Studio 2010 SP1 would include support for using SQL Server Compact Edition 4 inside the designer, but it seems not.

Was I wrong, or has I managed to botch up my installation somehow?

I installed SQL Server CE 4 from the download page, not through the web installer.

If Visual Studio 2010 SP1 does not, and should not, include such support, what are my choices, if any?

3 Answers 3


Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio 2010 does include a graphical designer, although you need to install additional tools in order to enable this.

It's not as full featured as the experience of using SQL Server Management Studio against a "full" SQL Server or SQL Express database, but nonetheless when enabled it looks like this:

SQL CE 4.0 Editor in Visual Studio 2010 SP1

Scott Guthrie did a blog post regarding VS2010 SP1 and SQL CE a little while ago (when VS2010 SP1 was still in beta). In that post he points to an additional file that is required on top of VS2010 SP1 that enables the tooling support.


You can enable SQL CE tooling support within VS 2010 by first installing VS 2010 SP1 (beta).

Once SP1 is installed, you’ll also then need to install the SQL CE Tools for Visual Studio download. This is a separate download that enables the SQL CE tooling support for VS 2010 SP1.

Note that, at the moment, this tooling seems geared for the BETA version of VS2010 SP1, and the CTP of SQL Server Compact 4.0. I have, however, used this "tooling installation" myself against the "final" version of SQL Server Compact 4.0, and it continued to work.

Hopefully, the SQL CE & Visual Studio teams will do a "refresh" of this additional tooling installation for the final version of VS2010 SP1.

EDIT: A recent ScottGu twitter post has stated that:

We will also have a WebPI package available Monday that auto-installs VS10 SP1 and additional web goodies (IIS Express, SQL CE Tools)

The "Monday" he's talking about should be Monday 14th March 2011, so once that ships, you can download the SQL CE Tools and install them "on top of" the Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1, and you'll be good to go with all things SQL Server Compact 4.0 !

  • It seems to work nicely in SP1 final as well, tried it. Thanks! Mar 11, 2011 at 7:42
  • @Lasse - Thanks for your comment. It's the one thing I hadn't got round to trying yet (trying the tooling install with SP1 final) and I wasn't sure if I wanted to even install it! I'll wait until Monday myself for the (hopefully) "refresh" that ScottGu mentions.
    – CraigTP
    Mar 11, 2011 at 8:53

Here's a list of 3rd party SQL CE tools, both 3.5 and (some of them) 4.0.

I've been using SQL CE Toolbox from that list which integrates with Visual Studio quite nicely.


Download The management studio.


EDIT: You can still use that, then script out the Tables and execute them against CE 4.0.

  • This does NOT work with SQL Server Compact 4.0 (in fact, no version of SQL Server Management Studio works with SQL Server Compact 4.0 at the moment!)
    – CraigTP
    Mar 10, 2011 at 15:55
  • Oh... he can still use that then script out the Tables and execute them against CE 4.0
    – Morons
    Mar 10, 2011 at 15:59
  • I tried to down vote my self but it didn't let :(
    – Morons
    Mar 10, 2011 at 16:02

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