Prashant's Weblog
Random Brain "Droppings" of yet another software engineer

Thursday, May 25, 2006

SQL Developer - Six features which I think are really cool

For a backend database developer, the GUI tool used for database development makes the difference if development experience is good or frustrating.

I have been using Toad, PL/SQL developer for some time now. So when Oracle released production version of SQL Developer, I thought let me dirty my hands with it. Even though I haven’t explored the whole gamut of options that it provides, here are the few things that I felt are good in the tool;

1) Its Free.
One thing I dread professionally and pray it never happens is, the organization I work for, decides to stop using Toad. After working on it for couple of year now, I have become so much dependent on GUI that if I was asked to write a create table query in SQL* Plus, I take shelter of Google to lookup for syntax. So Oracle's declaration that this tool will be available free of cost is a welcome statement.

2) Reporting infrastructure
SQL developer has pre-built reports, close to 70 of them, which can report on various important event/statistics of database objects.

3) Snippets, Reports and Right click context menus which can be fully customized.
Its not uncommon for database developers to have their own repository (excel, Word) of snippet collection for a quick reference when memory lapse occurs. Now not only SQL Developer has integrated this "snippet concept" in to the tool, but also has given the user the ability to add his own snippets to the list by writing few lines of XML code.
Same with the reports, you can extend the existing reports or go ahead and create, save and share your own reports. Also contents of right click context menu can be customized depending on what you want to see. Cool right!

4) Extension and plug-in.
I believe this is the best part of the whole tool. Why? Look at Firefox, one of the biggest reason why IE was not able to beat it browser market was because Firefox was always one step ahead of IE, thanks to plug-ins.
So SQL Developer can archive same success because you can write extensions and plug-ins to extend the functionality of the tool as per your requirement. Awesome.
Already two of the plug-ins are under development and you can check them out here and here.

5) Drag the object into the SQL worksheet and it will write the select statement.
As a developer, the query which is written most often is the "Select" statement on a table or a view or a materialized view. Now SQL developer anoints that grief by providing a feature where in if you drag and drop a object into the work sheet, the tool will write the select statement by itself.

6) Multiple platform support.
One problem I always faced was, I had to switch to SQL* plus when working on UNIX. Now SQL Developer is supported on various platforms, so even when you are on Linux, UNIX or Mac, SQL developer works for you.


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