Oracle Rattles Development Tool Market with Freebie

Oracle's free database development tool is sure to shake up the market and force competitors to lower tool prices, industry watchers said.

Oracle is sure to wreak havoc in the market for database development tools with the GA release of a free and compelling database development tool put out on March 10, industry watchers said.

"I think its time to start wondering whether [competing products from Quest Software] including Toad and Rapid Navigator will exist in two years," said Paul Dorsey, president of Dulcian—a consultancy specializing in business rules and Web-based application development— and also president of the New York Oracle user group and the author of nine books on Oracle.

"This is a little bit like when the gorilla walked in with Microsoft Word and what happened to WordPerfect and Lotus," Dorsey continued. "It would not surprise me if this didnt kill other products in the market."

The tool, Oracle SQL Developer, is the companys first visual development environment for developing and debugging SQL and PL/SQL code.

It can be used to assist database developers performing tasks such as object browsing and creation, running SQL statements and SQL scripts, editing and debugging PL/SQL code, and viewing and updating data.

Oracle SQL Developer is an extensible environment. While it packs in pre-built reports, it allows developers to build their own custom reports. It also includes features such as a code formatter and code snippets.

Dorsey gave the product a hearty thumbs up, saying that Oracle did a "wonderful" job with the tool. "Compare it with anything in the industry for developers," he said. "Its clearly written by developers for developers: They wrote the product they really wanted so they could write code well," he said.

But while its a great developers tool, its not yet a database product yet, Dorsey said. "There are two sets of people who want to mess with database objects," he said. "Theres DBAs [database administrators] who are very concerned with low-level tuning and scripting and doing backup recovery and stuff. And there are developers writing applications and tables and views and putting applications into packages."

This product is the developers "dream product," Dorsey said. But before it can be called a DBAs dream tool, it has to beef up on that communitys side of the development scene, he said.

Industry insiders agreed that while Oracle SQL Developer is a good tool if your choice is either it or nothing at all, Oracle is 10 years and a few hundred million lines of code behind competitors products.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about Oracles freebie database.

Thus, Oracle SQL Developer is actually competing with its own OEM (Oracle Enterprise Manager) tool for DBA functionality, including the ability to create tablespaces and so on, whereas competing tools have been able to package both developer and DBA needs into one tool.

One thing that cant be argued about is Oracle SQL Developers inevitable effect on competitors pricing, however. With the new tools cost of zero, industry insiders said to expect tool prices to head down in response to the pricing pressure.

The production versions of Oracle SQL Developer are available for download from Oracle Technology Network. Its available for Linux and Windows and is supported for any customer with an Oracle Database license.

Oracle is also offering a free online forum for registered users to discuss the product and related issues. The goal is to create a community around the free tool, although it is not in fact an open-source product.

Oracle officials said a Mac version will be coming out shortly.

Editors Note: This story was updated to clarify input from industry insiders.

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.