30 May 2006

Write Your Own Extension to SQL Developer

SQL Developer is not yet 6 months old, whether you are talking first appearance on OTN in the Early Adopter in late December 2005, or initial production release in March 2006. Already there are four extensions available on external sites. Take a look at the new Extensions Exchange for SQL Developer on OTN and see if there is something there that interests you.

Why not write one of your own? You might have a utility that you use all the time or some functionality that would make your daily tasks easier.

Kris Rice has a few entries on his blog on writing extensions, so take a look there and see if there is something that might trigger an idea or offer some advice. Of course you can also take a look at the extensions written by the JDeveloper team and user-base, as their exchange has been running for a few releases now.

Here are the links to Kris's extension entries:
Have fun.

...and let me know if there is anything you've written that we can add to the site.

25 May 2006

SQL Developer is Free, so how is it supported?

Following my last post I was asked a very important question. "...care to comment about the support process for SQL Developer?"

Yes, absolutely, I'll comment. Firstly though, I'm going to point you the Pricing FAQ. Ahem..., how is it we have a Pricing FAQ if the product is FREE? It's because we have so many questions on what FREE really means that we put a small note onto OTN.

FREE means it's free to download and use. We have every intention of keeping things that way. On that point, just the other day someone said, while it's free, no-one will take us seriously... That's another can of worms I'm not going into just yet.
When it comes to support, many users are using the forum to ask questions and post comments, which is fine. Actually it's great. The snag with a forum is that, as the poster, you have no guarantee your questions will be answered in a timely fashion. The wonderful thing about the forum is that not only are the Oracle SQL Developers responding, more and more of the user community are also responding. This is good, because it means the developers can get on with adding functionality to the product!
But, as the comment states, if you log an issue on the forum, be it a bug, enhancement or feature request, how can you be sure it's tracked? You can't. We have many posts to the forum each day and we're tracking as many as we can.
You might be interested to know that a group of forums have an application as a front end to list those questions that have remained unanswered. Due to the huge volume of posts on our SQL Developer forum, we have joined this group to ensure, where possible, all questions and comments are attended to either by us or the community. Where there are issues or requests, we add them to our bug and task lists. So we are pretty confident that we have a good grasp of the feature requests and issues.

Another route is Oracle Support. In this instance, even though the product is FREE, you ARE supported through Oracle Support if you have a valid Database support license. So you can create a ticket (iTAR, or online Service Request...Technical Assistance Request (TAR) via MetaLink. ;-) ) and the issue is tracked. Members of the development team work with Support on these tickets too.

I must mention that Oracle Express Edition (XE) is only supported through its forum. So if you are using XE and SQL Developer, Oracle Support will direct you back to the SQL Developer forum for your questions.

I hope that helps!

17 May 2006

Just What is SQL Developer?

I've noticed this over the years, that as people become more and more familiar with a topic or subject area, they assume the rest of the world is right there with them and rattle on in terminology and concepts that would boggle most brains. I think you can take most subjects and you'll find this to be so, it's not just an IT thing...

I remember sitting at a brown bag lunch at a user conference a few years back. The point of the gathering was that anyone with questions could come along and ask questions and other with experience in the product would help and answer. The intentions were well meaning, the idea being to grow a community of sharing experience. As I sat in the back listening, I realised the experts were so far advanced and so skilled in the subject area, that they couldn't (or didn't) answer the basic questions. They were so used to dipping into the API and their own additional code, they'd got beyond the basic product! They were so used to responding to deep technical problems, that they didn't really hear the question. The answer to "Mum, where do I come from?" might just be "Cape Town" !

I fall into the same trap too. When asked to write an article for a magazine recently, I said "What would I write about?" The response was that we need articles for entry level. I accept it's true we need to have advanced material and more technical articles both at conferences and in our journals, but we should not forget that there are so many levels in our knowledge and expertise. More often than not, when submitting a collection of abstracts to a conference, it's my introductory talks that are accepted from the selection.

I've only been involved with Oracle SQL Developer for a few months now and already I assume that everyone who uses an Oracle Database should have heard about it. But why should they? There is so much news and information coming from Oracle and other companies all the time, that we're all getting quite good at filtering spam. (Basically, just deleting messages which appear to be spam). I should also remember that even after 2 years of presenting on the Database support Oracle JDeveloper offers, I was still encountering significant percentages of folk in the audience who had no idea JDeveloper had this capability. So this kind of news takes time to filter into the general community. As with other information, it's only useful or relevant when you need it!

We've just added a brief "What is SQL Developer" article onto our site on OTN. If you've not heard of the tool, or are afraid to ask, because, like me, you might assume the rest of the world already knows, then check it out.

Of course if you know about SQL Developer, it doesn't harm to take a look and see if it does something you weren't aware of!

By the way, we released a patch to our production release, Oracle SQL Developer 1.0, so you can Check For Updates. If you are going to be using the check for updates capabilities, then do be sure you are on the production release. (See the FAQ if you're uncertain)