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Eight key Oracle developer tools

Consultant Sridhar Bogelli provides a refresher on some of the key tools that developers use to customize Oracle E-Business Suite applications.

Oracle developers at the recent New England Oracle Applications User Group conference got a refresher course on...

some of the key tools that the Oracle developer can use to customize E-Business Suite applications.

Sridhar Bogelli, the leader of the session and founder and chief executive officer of Apps Associates, a Southborough, Mass.-based application development consultancy, told the Oracle developers that properly using the tools provided by Oracle and third-party vendors can help developers and their companies avoid embarrassing, production-related problems.

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SQL*Plus

SQL*Plus is a command-line SQL and PL/SQL language interface and reporting tool that ships with the Oracle Database Client and Server. SQL*Plus can be used interactively or driven by scripts. According to Oracle, SQL*Plus's predecessor was called UFI (User-Friendly Interface). UFI was included in the first Oracle releases up to version 4.

"SQL*Plus has been there forever. Ever since the Oracle database [was released] this has been the editor of choice," Bogelli said. "It was first released for the Unix environment and then about 10 years ago it was released for Windows."

Toad for Oracle

Quest Software Inc.'s highly popular Toad for Oracle software is a SQL editor that comes in both freeware and commercial versions, but the freeware license comes with restrictions. It's available for up to five users within an organization and expires every 60 days, while commercial versions of Toad range from about $870 to about $4,900 per seat, according to Quest's Web site.

"About nine years back [Toad] really changed things a lot, and over two years it improved so much," Bogelli told the conference attendees. "I would say that anybody who is still using SQL*Plus should switch to Toad."

SQL Developer

Oracle unveiled SQL Developer back in March. The free download, formerly dubbed Project Raptor, lets database developers run SQL statements and SQL scripts, edit and debug PL/SQL code, view and update data and conduct object browsing and creation.

SQL Developer includes an extensive set of pre-built reports and features like a code formatter and code snippets, which Oracle says help database developers produce code quickly.

When SQL Developer was unveiled to go head-to-head with Toad for Oracle, Project Raptor beta tester Floyd Absher, a database administrator with Progressive Medical Inc. in Westerville, Ohio, told SearchOracle.com that the full version of Toad offers a lot more functionality than SQL Developer. But he added that many of SQL Developer's gaps can be filled with other Oracle applications, such as those found in Enterprise Manager.

Workflow Builder

According to Oracle, Workflow Builder 11i is a business process management system that supports business process definitions, business process automation and business process integration. The company says that Workflow, which ships with E-Business Suite, enables modeling, automation and continuous improvement of business processes according to user-defined business rules.

With Workflow Builder "you could take a very huge program with a good amount of functionality and then split up that program into multiple pieces and then visualize each of those pieces as a business object," Bogelli explained. "This tool has come a long way. It's good in terms of creating a good flow of functionality."

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XML Publisher

According to Oracle, XML Publisher is a Java-based product within the Oracle Fusion Middleware family. It uses a set of desktop tools such as Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word to allow users to create their own report formats based on XML data extracts. XML Publisher then converts these documents to the XSL-FO standard format.

"I think Oracle is pushing a lot toward this tool. It's got good enough functionality," Bogelli said. "This tool is a separate product, but if you order E-Business Suite it is free. It is licensed with E-Business Suite."

Discoverer

Oracle Business Intelligence Discoverer 10g is a query, reporting, analysis and Web-publishing tool that lets users gain access to information held in data marts, data warehouses, online transaction processing systems and E-Business Suite, according to Oracle.

The company says that Discoverer 10g offers new functionality over previous versions, including an integrated reporting and analysis interface for relational and multi-dimensional (OLAP) data.

"Discoverer is a query-only tool and it works on top of any of the Oracle databases," Bogelli said. "Once you create a views layer, Discoverer could be used by the business user to pick up the objects and then write queries according to what they want."

JDeveloper

Oracle JDeveloper 10g is a Java 2 Enterprise Edition development environment that includes support for developing, debugging and deploying e-business applications and Web services, according to Oracle. The company says that JDeveloper includes a set of tools to aid developers with source control, modeling, coding through debugging, testing, profiling and deploying.

Bogelli pointed out that JDeveloper includes a small PL/SQL editor as well as a Business Process Extension Language (BPEL) editor.

"BPEL is another language that is going to be in battle with Workflow at this point," Bogelli said. "[BPEL] is not just an Oracle language; it's more of an industry standard. SAP, IBM -- all of these companies use BPEL."

Bogelli added that JDeveloper integrates easily with version-controlling systems.

Developer 6i (9i and 10g) -- Forms and Reports

Oracle Forms Developer is a PL/SQL-based development environment for building database-centric Internet applications, while Oracle Reports Developer is a reporting tool that gives users access to information throughout an organization, according to Oracle. Both tools are part of the Oracle Developer Suite.

Bogelli pointed out that developers will have to use Developer 6i Forms and Reports with the latest version of E-Business Suite.

"I don't think there's much difference between [Forms and Reports versions] 6i and 9i," he said. "Some features have been added but nothing is drastically changed."

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