Oracle SQL Developer – software review

January 28, 2011 by 1 Comment 

I remember testing the Project Raptor software about 5 years ago, Oracle’s new graphical tool for creating and browsing database objects. With a few clicks you could easily create and debug stored procedures, test SQL statements and view optimizer plans. Raptor was small, fast, and fun, and perhaps best of all, it was FREE! Later, the SQL Developer production version 1.0 was released in 2006.

Right from the beginning the tool was supported by Oracle Support for any customer with a current Oracle Database support contract. I admit I did not use SQL Developer right from the beginning. With more features coming into the new releases I started slowly accommodating them in my DBA toolset. So what’s now? Is it still small, fast and fun? Read below my short software review of the current SQL Developer version 2.1.1.64.

Oracle SQL Developer - free GUI tool

SQL Developer is Oracle’s free graphical tool that not only enhances productivity and simplifies database development tasks on Oracle but also provides a nice single interface for end-users who want to just browse database objects and data on Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft SQL server (MS SQL) and even more database platforms.

With SQL Developer you can

–      Browse database objects on different database platforms

–      Run SQL statements and SQL scripts

–      Edit and debug PL/SQL statements (Oracle only)

–      Run provided reports (Oracle only)

–      Create and save custom reports (Oracle only)

–      and now with the new version is even more

SQL Developer Architecture

–     Developed in Java leveraging JDeveloper IDE

–     Uses JDBC Thin driver and Bundled with JDK1.6_11

–     Installation by unzipping the downloaded file. No Oracle Home required. You can place it even on a USB stick, start from their doing support of client PCs for example

–     Supports Windows, Linux and Mac OS X

–     Supports Oracle Database version 9.2 and later including XE. Read-only connections to browse objects and data on Sybase and MS SQL Server, MySQL, MS Access, DB2 UDB, Teradata + Integrated TimesTen support

Oracle SQL Developer - free GUI tool

General Software Features

–     Database connections either using TNS or JDBC Thing driver

–     SQL Worksheet (Select, use snippets, drag a table from the tree, format SQL, extract SQL, etc)

–     Various Data/DDL Export and Import options

–     Supplied and User Defined Reports (A bunch of provided handful reports, export / import / Autorefresh features; ASH and AWR reports)

–     Create a table with sequence and BLOB + insert

–     Build-in Version Control

–     The script debugging mode is very useful

–     Data Modeling capability

–     Unit Testing capability

–     Database Migration set allows you to conduct the “to Oracle DB migrations”

–     SQL History

–     SQL*Plus Support (desc table)

–     Help + Online Update

Oracle SQL Developer - Supplied and User Defined Reports

Oracle SQL Developer – Supplied and User Defined Reports

Unique software features I like the most

–      It’s FREE, but still official support offered!!!

–      Not installable & JDBC capable tool that requires no Oracle client installation

–      Parent – Child reports feature enables you to run and develop complex SQL result sets that no other developer’s tool that I know offers

–      Auto-refresh feature in Reports is also a handy one, especially for DBAs that want to monitor a database instance

–      SQL Developer works with many database platforms from a single interface

–      Plug-in capability provides you with useful freeware and commercial add-ons

–      Unique capabilities to Filter / Search / Highlight of columns and data in Data Grid

–      SQL Developer is capable to run multiple SQL statements inside one Worksheet producing the corresponding result sets each in a separate data grid. I love this unbeatable feature to see separate result set outputs for every SQL statement from my SQL scripts.

Still some negatives

–      SQL Developer is written in Java – interpreted programming language. Thus, it is slightly slower and less stable than similar GUI tools written in compiled language, like Delphi.

–      The tool has less comprehensive features compared to similar commercial products but compared to the free-ware software of course it’s quite strong.

–      Connection to Sybase, Microsoft SQL Server (MS SQL) and the other database platforms is not available be default (you have to add a few DLLs to make it possible)

–      Most SQL Developer Plug-ins do not work for Sybase, Microsoft SQL Server (MS SQL) and with the others.

To conclude this introductory software review, you should think about Oracle SQL Developer not in comparison to similar commercial software but instead with other free-ware development tools or with Oracle client utilities like SQL*Plus and Oracle Web interface. In this respect. Oracle SQL Developer is definitely one of the best, it provides more functionality, is much easier to use and it’s still small, fast and fun.

New features (28.10.2011)

* New Features with Oracle SQL Developer 3.0
– DBA Navigator
– Schema browser
– Query Builder
– PDF file support
– DBMS Scheduler
– Database migration
– Spatial support
– Data Miner

* It is bundled with Oracle 11G Client installation.

* You can drag DB objects from the object navigator tree to the Worksheet. If these are tables, views, etc.  a Query Builder popup window comes up that you can use to produce a desired SQL (using a join for instance). Then you can use Query Builder tab to improve your SQL further or adjust it manually in Worksheet tab.

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