Oracle Builds Out 10G

Oracle readies a hosted Web development tool to the latest version of its 10G database.

As Oracle Corp. readies a new version of its namesake database optimized for the complex world of grid computing, it is also working on a hosted Web development environment designed to make developing applications easier.

HTML DB, a development environment formerly code-named Project Marvel, will be a standard component of the Oracle 10G database, which Oracle will unveil at the Oracle-World show in San Francisco this week.

Oracle gurus are calling HTML DB one of the most exciting new features of 10G. It consists of both a metadata repository that stores definitions for pages, regions, templates and fields and an engine that renders and processes pages. HTML DB is geared to midsize companies—a market in which Oracle has not been a major player in the past.

The development environments new timesaving features hold appeal for developers because they enable them to set up fairly sophisticated database development environments without having to know anything about the SQL programming language. For example, one key component, Data Workshop, allows data to be loaded into and extracted from the database. Wizards enable cut-and-paste operations that can, for example, turn spreadsheet data into a database table in seconds.

Marvelously simple app development

Key components of HTML DB:

  • SQL Workshop Interacts with Oracle databases in same way as SQL*Plus but with more features
  • Data Workshop Loads and extracts data from the databases
  • Application Builder Provides wizards to build pages with charts, reports or forms
"The sweet spot for HTML DB is for building applications that are often labeled as tactical or opportunistic: quick little applications that are often built very swiftly by one or a handful of developers," said Bill Dwight, vice president of application development tools at Oracle.

Read eWEEKs interview with Oracles Dwight.

The Redwood Shores, Calif., company has deployed hundreds of applications built with HTML DB, including a customer analysis application built in one of Oracles sales divisions.

Kelly Cox, an Oracle database administrator who owns a small consultancy in Alexandria, Va., has been using the beta version of HTML DB to create an order management system for one of her clients.

Coxs development tool of choice prior to HTML DB would have been Oracle9iAS Portal, a browser-based application for building and deploying e-business portals. While Oracle Portal is fairly easy to use, such a scenario would have required an additional 500MB to 1GB of memory on her system for an application server, Cox said. In addition, it would have required her client, who "doesnt really have an IT staff," to administer a portal.

"For a small shop, thats cumbersome," Cox said. "Nobodys really technical there, and they dont need a full-time technical person. If I installed a full Oracle Application Server, theyd have hated that. Once you set it up, its good to go, but its got so many little processes in it, its a day and a half to fix it if anything breaks."

Next page: HTML DB and Access: Is There a Resemblance?