Lessons Learned from the Case of the Missing Tool

Supporting .NET developers is a bit different than supporting users on a network. If you ask any support person at Microsoft, the person will tell you that it’s a tough job because developers are good technicians. Having worked for 10 years in a development IT shop, I've experienced pretty much the same thing. After a while, you become a developer as well. But it's long been understood that a developer should be a good systems pro, and a systems pro should understand what is needed for developer environments. But, to quote Oscar Wilde "I am not young enough to know everything" and you won’t find a knowledge base article for every problem you encounter. That was the case for one problem I needed to resolve recently.

On one development machine, a SQL developer attempted to run Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) to edit a SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) report. Visual Studio 2008 was also installed on the machine. When using the shortcut to BIDS, the developer received an error that the devenv.exe file was missing. It seems that Visual Studio 2005 had been installed and uninstalled. By uninstalling Visual Studio 2005, the executable for BIDS was uninstalled as well.

If you encounter a similar problem, here’s how to solve the problem. First, get your SQL Server install media. Make sure you have the correct version of SQL Server. If you run SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and select About on the HELP menu, you’ll see the version number.

Alternatively, if you’re comfortable running a query in SSMS, you can find the version number by running the command



  SERVERPROPERTY ('productlevel'),

  SERVERPROPERTY ('edition')

(Although this command wraps here, you'd enter it all on one line. The same holds true for the other command that wraps.)

In my case, the developer was using SSMS 9.00.4035.00. That number translates to SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition SP3. (For information on how to translate the number, see "How to identify your SQL Server version and edition.") So, I used the media that matched this version. For a development shop, it's really handy to have all software programs available on the network as mountable .iso files or folders.

Next, you need to open the Tools\Setup folder on the media. You should see a file named VS_SETUP.msi. Run it. In my case, running this Windows Installation file returned an error that the Visual Studio shell was already running. If you encounter that error, open Windows Explorer, navigate to the VS_SETUP.msi file, right-click it, then choose repair.

At this point, open a command window for a command prompt screen and change the context to the Tools folder. Again, within that folder, run the command

start /wait setup.exe /qb



If all goes well, BIDS will be reinstalled and the developer is back in business. Figure 1 shows BIDS.

Figure 1: BIDS
Figure 1: BIDS

The lessons learned here are twofold. First, if you can have multiple versions of Visual Studio and other applications such as SQL Server installed on development machines, there’s always the chance of running into the unexpected. Second, if you’re the support person for a .NET developer environment, your overall experience will, in all likelihood, lead you to solve problems faster than the developers, despite the fact that you might not be an experienced .NET developer or SQL Server database administrator (DBA).

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