Best Interface Forward

Oracle offers database customers a GUI to supplement the command-line-driven software they've used for 18 years

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

March 17, 2006

1 Min Read

After a generation of using a "good enough" command line, Oracle has decided to modernize how database administrators, designers, and business analysts interact with its system. It's offering a free graphical user interface, SQL Developer, for designing relational database tables and composing triggers and stored procedures.

SQL Developer is available for download from the Oracle Developer Network site. It offers some of the same graphical properties as Oracle's heftier JDeveloper tool, such as selecting a table and dragging it onto a worksheet where its definition and properties are captured by the system. JDeveloper is used in building Java database apps.

SQL Developer supplements SQL Plus, the Oracle database's venerable command-line interface, which "hasn't changed in the last 18 years," concedes Mike Hichwa, Oracle's VP of software development.

Oracle will continue to support SQL Plus, Hichwa says. But younger developers, used to snappier GUIs, will probably adopt SQL Developer, he says. Oracle realized that might be the case when it discovered 5,000 of its own developers were using the tool internally. It began making it available in beta form on its Oracle Developer Network early this year and found the number of downloads in January outstripped the number of downloads of the free developer versions of its database, and it has become Oracle's No. 3 most popular download. The activity suggested "there was a gaping hole in our product line," Hichwa says.

SQL Developer will be bundled into the 1.0 release of Oracle 11g, the next version of the database, which isn't expected before next year.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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