Oracle SQL Developer (formerly Project Raptor) was released last month with little fanfare; however its release represents a quantum leap in functionality and ease of use over previous Oracle provided SQL development tools.
SQL Developer is Oracleâ€™s new, free graphical tool that enhances productivity and simplifies database development tasks. With SQL Developer,you can:
- Browse database objects
- Run SQL statements and SQL scripts
- Edit and debug PL/SQL statements
- Run provided reports
- Create and save custom reports
Now all these features exist in Quest Software’s product Toad for Oracle so why switch? Well, here’s the hook… SQL Developer is free. Yup, free. It also has another strategic advantage over Toad… SQL Developer is cross platform! I am currently running it side-by-side on Mac OS X and Windows XP, and there is also a Linux version available. The Mac and Windows versions are both extraordinarily easy to install, configure, and use. I can only assume the Linux version follows this trend.
So what’s the down side? Well, I’m personally disappointed that they changed the name from “Raptor” to “SQL Developer”, but that aside, you can’t use it on databases earlier than 18.104.22.168.
A small problem for Toad users will be adjusting to the date format in SQL Developer. Toad defaults to showing the time when displaying date data types while SQL Developer will only show the date. The solution to that is to add a TO_CHAR around the date column in the query (for more information on the TO_CHAR function, check out the Displaying Dates section of my article Oracle, SQL, Dates and Timestamps). Toad users may also miss being able to click on the header of a column to change the sort order of the output, but this can also be overcome by adding an ORDER BY clause to the query.
Setup was quick, taking less than a minute to download, unzip and connect (yes, one minute, you’ve probably spent more time reading this than it takes to install). As you’re setting up SQL Developer you’ll notice that it does not require a TNS Names or other descriptor file to find databases. When you set up a connection you are prompted for the hostname and SID of the database. This assures maximum flexibility but does run the risk of confusing end users, since they can nickname the connections anything they want to.
Below are some screenshots of SQL Developer, but if you’re interested, just go out and get it. It’s free after all, what do you have to loose.
Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.