» VIEW ALL POSTS Jan 11 2007   10:55AM GMT

Oracle SQL Developer vs. Toad: Users speak out



Posted by: Derek Kuhr
Tags:
Oracle database administration
Oracle development

A recent SearchOracle.com article that compared the latest version of Oracle’s free SQL Developer tool with Quest Software Inc.’s popular Toad for Oracle software triggered an avalanche of emails from database developers eager to voice their opinions on which SQL and PL/SQL editing and debugging tool is best.

A few named Oracle’s relatively new SQL Developer as their tool of choice while several picked Toad. Others preferred different developer tools altogether. In particular, Allround Automations’ PL/SQL Developer got some rave reviews. But in the midst of all the differing opinions, developers seemed to agree on one thing: When it comes to features and functionality, you get what you pay for.   

SQL Developer disappointing to some

SQL Developer was unveiled last March, and Oracle says the tool has been downloaded over 390,000 times since. Developers familiar with version 1.0 said that, like many free tools, SQL Developer lacks the robust set of capabilities found in competing for-a-fee SQL editors. Others, like developer Shelby Spradling, principal of Spradling Consulting, say that even though they’re happy to have a SQL editor that is optimized for use with Oracle products, SQL Developer still isn’t ready for prime time.

Spradling said that he recently compiled a PL/SQL package with only a few warnings from SQL Developer. He soon realized, when he tried to execute the package and it went into an invalid state, that SQL Developer had failed to pick up on a number of other errors. The consultant found the remaining errors only after copying the PL/SQL procedure into Oracle’s SQL*Plus tool.

“While I love being able to finally step through PL/SQL code with an Oracle product, I’ll truly start to enjoy using this product in five years when they get it working,” Spradling said. “Until then, Textpad and SQL*Plus are about the quickest way given my particular constraints.”

But not everyone is as disappointed as Spradling. Alex Rodriguez, a senior accounting analyst with UPS Freight, said SQL Developer suits his needs just fine. He says he switched to SQL Developer from Toad because it’s free, it offers everything he needs to debug SQL and PL/SQL subprograms, and, because it’s an Oracle product, it’s prone to reflect new Oracle feature updates well before third-party competitors.

Toad seen as pricey but effective

Toad for Oracle is offered in both a slimmed-down free version and a considerably more robust version that doesn’t come cheap, according to developers.

Independent contractor and software developer Nick Gekas is a big fan of the full-featured Toad for Oracle despite the cost. He says the main benefits of Toad include its function key capabilities, which show pop-up lists of tables or columns, and its powerful PL/SQL debugger. Gekas also likes that Toad can export SQL output in several formats and gives users the opportunity to arrange screen layouts to their preferred liking. He added that creating and maintaining objects is also a simple process with Toad.

“[Toad] is very expensive,” Gekas said, “so I switch around between Toad and SQL Developer depending [on whether] my clients have a Toad license.”

James R. Bower, an Oracle database administrator with FiberMark North America Inc. in West Springfield, Mass., agrees that for-a-fee Toad is a very full-featured — and very expensive — product.

“I find myself recommending Allround Automations’ PL/SQL Developer to any users that do not require all of the bells and whistles of Toad, or who cannot fit Toad into their budget,” Bower said. “Obviously, free Toad is priced right, but it is not nearly the product that PL/SQL Developer is.”

PL/SQL Developer: An unsung hero? 

Allround Automations’ PL/SQL Developer is a solid product that’s not too pricey and not too heavy on the extra features, according to several developers writing in to SearchOracle.com. 

Some, like Alan Kirchoff, a senior Oracle developer with Corporate Lodging Consultants Inc., believe that PL/SQL Developer is actually superior to the more fully featured Toad.

“A tool that never gets much recognition is PL/SQL Developer,” Kirchoff said. “Toad locks up on me way too often and sometimes it doesn’t behave as if it’s truly threaded — and yes, I checked all the options.”

Kirchoff says he likes PL/SQL Developer because it rarely locks up. But if it does, it prompts the user to load a rescue file the next time it starts up, he said. The Oracle developer is also a fan of PL/SQL Developer’s program windows, which highlight important variables and sections of code.

PL/SQL developer also offers a “great” object browser with editable filters, a side-by-side tool that allows users to compare database instances, the ability to compile all invalid objects with one click of the mouse, and a useful explain plan tool that automatically parses results, according to Mark S. Jacobs, a senior programmer with Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. The programmer adds that Allround Automations’ support team is second to none.

“I always get a reply the same day, and they have included fixes in the next release at my request,” Jacobs said.

Honorable mentions

The list of SQL and PL/SQL editing and debugging tools is lengthy to say the least. Lesser-known tools developers wrote about included Embarcadero’s DBArtisan and Benthic Software’s Golden and Goldview tools.

“I’ve always liked Embarcadero’s DBArtisan best of all,” said developer David Bailey. “It has equivalent capabilities to Quest’s Toad, but best of all it is multi-platform.”

The fact that DBArtisan is multi-platform means that Bailey can work with Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase or IBM DB2, but he only has to learn one interface.

Developer Gene Gotimer says he doesn’t need all of Toad’s features, and therefore opted for Benthics Golden and Goldview software.

“Toad might be great if you’re a DBA or need a does-everything-and-then-some tool,” Gotimer said. “But for a developer that only occasionally needs to play with the database, Golden and Goldview are easier, quicker and cheaper.”

25  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Mee
    Hi all, Another good "does-everything-and-then-some tool" out there is .
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  • Derek Kuhr
    I really like DB Workbench from Upscene. Primarily because I learn one tool and can program against multiple databases. It is also a lot less expensive then most of the other "known" tools out there. The company is very focused on adding features that make programmers' lives easier. Many of these don't look good on a check list for marketing, but boy do they save me lots of hassles.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    What about Minx DBVisualizer? It has a free version, an inexpensive full-version, is multi-platform. I use it everyday. I never liked T.O.A.D. SQL Navigator is/was waaaay better, but expensinve.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    I have been using Toad by Quest since the mid 90's. I have also had to use Oracle's built in tools when my development machine was not handy. Although the Oracle built in tools usually will allow one to get the job done, Toad can do the same job in about 1/10th of the time (or less). It would be pointless to list what Toad can do since one can go to the Quest website and get all the information one needs, but I guess the two main things that make Toad such a sweet package (if one can expense it) is 1) The combination of all tools in one package (unless one gets one of the small packages with less functionality) and 2)the speed at which one can develope, test and debug code. I haven't tried any other software packages recently but I also haven't had reason to do so. I guess if I were unable to obtain Toad (for whatever reason) I would definitely look elsewhere.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    SQL Developer's is a decent product precisely *because* it is lightweight. Toad and PL/SQL Developer are bloatware, which limit their real audience to the few who use most of their features and who can get someone else to pay their licenses. All 3 products have serious problems: 1. Last I checked, all 3 crashed a lot. That would be awful if that was your only development environment. 2. SQL Developer and PL/SQL Developer are slooow. I've made serious attempts to make each my regular development environment, but each time I flipped back to good old SQL*Plus. 3. Toad has an awful UI. A casual user would be lost in it, and I bet many experienced users would choose another alternative for many features, like OEM or good old SQL*Plus. 4. None of the 3 can do PL/SQL formatting properly, although some are more configurable than others. 5. PL/SQL's debugger is *dangerous*. It works by embedding your code in its own package, in the process locking all the tables you reference. Other users get locked out of those tables. I found that out the hard way on a project with 20-30 programmers... In the long run, I think the only survivors will be SQL Developer and Eclipse. Why? Both products are free and more importantly, extensible. There are already a few Eclipse plugins for Oracle, and over time there will be enough to handle any feature the current IDEs cover.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    I do everything in SQLTools now - It's a bit suspicious that it wasn't even mentioned ;) http://www.sqltools.net/
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  • Derek Kuhr
    I have to agree with the fans of Allround Automations PL/SQL Developer tool. It's a great and robust and full-featured product. It is one of the main tools featured in my "Cool Tools I Use for PL/SQL and SQL Programming" paper. I have a programmer that used TOAD at previous employers, but I asked him to use PL/SQL Developer instead and he loves it, and thinks it is better than TOAD for programming! Everytime I think of a new feature that would be nice to have, I find that the tool already has that feature. I also agree that the company's service is great. There is a comparison on orafaq.com (http://orafaq.com/tools/comparison) that rates PL/SQL Developer a close second to TOAD, yet the last time I checked, PL/SQL Developer cost $180 and the version of TOAD with stepwise debugging was $6,000 or $8,000.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Check out the memory footprint of SQL Developer. On my system SQL Developer runs about 55mb. This is a lot to just open the tool, who knows how much higher it goes with heavy usage. Other tools that I have tried; SQL Navigator and PL/SQL Developer are about 27MB and TOAD is 33MB. This may not be an issue for those with large systems, but for those of you like me who are forced to work on an older laptop by thier company.. this may make a difference.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Developers at this site use a mix of Toad and PL/SQL Developer, and there does not seem to be a great difference in features between the two. Since it is available for so much less, PL/SQL Developer is the better bargain. In one instance, Quest's sales staff directed all inquiries for purchase information on their fine tool, SQL Navigator, towards Toad, which effectively lost that sale to PL/SQL Developer. Quest's Spotlight on Oracle is a particularly useful tool for database maintenance, though.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    How about Aqua Data Studio? (www.aquafold.com)
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  • Derek Kuhr
    What about the open source Toolkit for Oracle? http://tora.sourceforge.net/ == John ==
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  • Derek Kuhr
    PL/SQL Developer gets my rave review. We had several Toad users look at it and switch. The price is fantastic. The customer service is great. We have saved a lot of money and improved productivity by switching to PL/SQL Developer by Allround Automations. Please take another look at this product. I'm surprised Oracle didn't buy this company.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Hi guys, We need to drink from the the source(Oracle). Let them fix the bugs and we will use it freely. Oracle SQL Developer will rule over all soon. Sorry for Toad people. We appreciate their efforts and will not forget them. May be they can sue Oracle and get some compensation. It happens because of the offensive marketing strategy of the giants. I think, Oracle has learnt some strategies of Microsoft, either buy it or copy and sell it. Thanks.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    I like PL/SQL Developer, which is suit for developers.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Viva Pl/SQL Developer!!!
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Nobody knows SQL Detective? www.sqldetective.com We've been using this as a replacement for Toad for about half a year now and we're very pleased with this tool!
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Open source Toolkit for Oracle. A pity the main developer went to Quest ... Both SqlDeveloper and Tora works fine in Linux where Toad is unavailable.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    A few notes: + Toad has never cost $6000. + IMHO Toad is the only tool out there that doesn't limit what you can do with an Oracle database and an active imagination - whether you be a DBA, developer, or analyst. + The interface improved a 1,000,000 percent with the latest release. The menu system is so easy a Cave Man could do it :) + Toad hardly ever crashes for me, but when it does, it saves all of my work so I lose nothing. + I'll take the development community (Yahoo) over any of the others in a heartbeat. They respond in a matter of hours if not minutes.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Todd Smith concluded when complimenting Allround Automation, makers of PL/SQL Developer : "I'm surprised Oracle didn't buy this company." I'd add to that "... and stop all further sales and development of such a strong competitor." At least that's what Micro$oft, Yahoo and other monopolistic companies have done. Actually, I'm surprised Quest Software hasn't bought Allround Automation and shelved PL/SQL Developer!
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Good Morning sir, I am happy to say that .. This information given some of solutions to me with regards dhanaraju
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Has anybody heard of DBHawk? Actually it's the revamped version of DBAConnect from Datasparc. I have been using it since it's release (early May 2007), and also used the old version (DBAConnect) for practically one year. I am in charge of the design and implementation of an Oracle database and DBHawk has met all my needs in terms of database development. Its interface is extremely intuitive. Many types of queries can be developed without the need of writing SQL code (you do it through its GUI), besides ... there is an SQL window that allows you to write your own sql (or PL/SQL) code, execute it, view the output, save the code as a file and have the output saved as a file as well if necessary. If there are any problems with the code it issues the right errors which help you to expedite debugging. Many times you can do the same thing through different ways offered by the tool. It works with Tomcat. It's extremely easy to install. The cost is great as well. Once I found DBHawk/DBAConnect I've never looked at any other tool. My database model is extremely large and this product made my life so much easier.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    [DBHawk] One more thing ... you don't have to have Tomcat installed already; DBHawk will install it for you if you need it. And it has a "LOT" of other features that I didn't mention in my previous message.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Toad is no doubt the leader. The knowledge expert still need more robustness. Tried SQL Navigator, and DBArtisan, a couple of years back. But none compare to the ease of use and functionality of TOAD. It has been close to 10 years of using Toad. Wish it was less expensive.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Toad 9.6v tried to cover up all its weakness and made a one of the best tool for oracle. I have worked on PL/SQL dev and toad. I experianced toad is realy a user defined tool with lots of efforts given to make it. I was used to think in 7v that some of things lagging and when new version came it included most of those. This is called user satisfaction. PL/SQL expert is realy a good tool that you can use for review of code and your bugs will be reduced by 50% rate and time will be saved to do the same things physicaly.
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  • Derek Kuhr
    Which is better Toad or Aqua Data Studio ? And Why?
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