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Oracle application development trends toward the Web

With the economy forcing developers to pursue less expensive methods of Oracle application development, many are evaluating Web development tools, including those for Rapid Application Development.

Moving your Oracle applications to the Web? Here are four Web development tools that can make a DBA’s life easier.

Developers putting off Web development projects because they lack the proper development tools may be running out of excuses. Over the past few years, a plethora of such tools have emerged to help developers either Web-enable existing applications for Oracle databases or create new ones. The arrival of these tools is well timed. The tough economy has forced many organizations to seek less expensive methods of building applications but has not diminished their need to move critical applications to the Web. Several excellent tools are available that can accomplish both.

In this review we take a look at four such tools from four leading vendors, including Quest Software (Toad V10), Alpha Software (Alpha Five V10), Oracle (Application Express), and Embarcadero (RAD Studio 2010). We examine each product’s most important and/or unique capabilities, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses in helping developers transition critical applications to the Web.

In this guide, chapters include:

  • An overview discussing some of the trends pushing Oracle developers toward Web-based development tools.
  • Technical evaluations of four Web development tools, including chapters dedicated to Toad V10, Alpha Five V10, Oracle Application Express and RAD Studio 2010.
  • The value of Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools.
  • A summary of each development tool’s comparative strengths and weaknesses.

Read the other sections of this guide on Web development tools:

Oracle application development trends toward the Web
Toad 10: Good for database developers, good for administrators
Codeless AJAX development improves Alpha Five V10 for the Web
Oracle APEX is totally RAD for Web development
RAD Studio 2010 supports Oracle databases, .NET environments

Corporate and third-party developers have been building applications and front ends for Oracle databases for decades. Those applications have anchored many critical businesses processes, but they must constantly evolve to meet business needs. The good thing about this constant evolution is that it has kept developers gainfully employed -- until recently.

Economic forces and budget concerns have forced many organizations to cut back on Oracle application development projects or seek less expensive ways to build applications. On top of that, add the need to move applications to the Web and you are faced with a conundrum: How do you reduce costs yet build and deploy new applications?

Fortunately for Oracle developers, evolution has proven to be a powerful force. Just as Oracle has evolved to meet the needs of large organizations, so have the tools to build applications. Most notable among those application development tools are those for Rapid Application Development (RAD), which are responsible for reducing the need to develop new applications.

RAD brings a new set of tools and processes to the Oracle application development table that changes the fundamentals of building applications. RAD tools replace the tedious hand-design and coding processes associated with automated design and coding. That automation delivers a multitude of benefits, ranging from expediting application development to improving the agility of change management. Automation further speeds application development and delivery by eliminating archaic Waterfall methodologies, which are dependent on the skills of isolated individuals.

What’s more, modern RAD tools embrace the Spiral method of application development, which, unlike the Waterfall method, emphasizes an iterative approach and can involve the end user in the development process. Spiral development allows a project to be broken up into smaller pieces, which can be developed concurrently and prototyped in manageable pieces. Each part of the solution can then be tested independently and wrapped together to complete the project. Spiral development methodology goes hand in hand with RAD to reduce the time needed to develop applications while also increasing flexibility.

While the market penetration of RAD tools has grown significantly over the last few years, the biggest catalyst for growth comes from changes in the way applications are delivered to end users. Recently, there has been a significant shift from desktop applications to Web applications, creating a new subset of tools and development methodologies. These newer tools allow developers to focus on delivering applications over the Web using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). AJAX is a collection of technologies that allow developers to Web-enable applications and run those applications inside a Web browser.

AJAX and Oracle complement each other very well. AJAX allows developers to create Web applications that are available to an unlimited audience, while Oracle provides the horsepower to store and serve the data needed by large-audience applications. These factors, combined with a RAD approach, create a new methodology for producing more affordable applications for enterprises as well as fueling new development projects. These factors help keep application development in house or create new opportunities for solution providers offering custom application development services.

For developers, choosing a development suite that incorporates RAD capabilities is the first step for moving applications to the Web cost effectively. A suitable RAD environment should incorporate methodologies for creating Web-enabled applications and interaction with Oracle databases and should feature an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

While not unique, this combination of features helps to narrow the choice down to a few development suites and products. Developers looking to delve into the world of Web application development can turn to products such as Alpha Five V10 from Alpha Software, TOAD 10 from Quest Software, RAD Studio 2010 from Embarcadero, and Oracle Application Express from Oracle. Each of those products offers the tools needed to create Web applications with Oracle databases.


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