As we approach yet another release for Toad for Oracle, I thought it might be interesting to speculate what we might see going forward – whether that be in terms of months or years. Something I’ve always wondered is ‘just how long can this train keep running?’ It’s a personal and professional question for me, but I’ll try to tackle that with as much objectivity as possible.
Very quickly though, a pleasant stroll down memory lane might be in order. Toad has been around since about 1997. It’s not uncommon for me to run into people who claim ‘I used it when it was free!’ Of course, Toad is still available for free (with limitations!) and enjoys around 400,000 freeware downloads a month. Starting with v11, the annoying 60 expiration period gets extended to a less annoying 90 day expiration period. Attempts to completely remove it were thwarted, but that’s not really what this post is about. Again, if you ever were curious about how software is made, I highly recommend you take a tour of a sausage factory.
So maybe a quick look at where Toad has been will give us insight to where Toad is going?
We Go Where the Users Are
A lot of what comes next will be driven by what the market demands and where the Oracle database platform takes us. As Exadata takes off, so will the pressure to add features to Toad to support that new beast. A much less expensive development in the Oracle world has been the roaring success of Oracle Application Express (APEX). We’re currently accepting ideas and input around APEX development support in Toad, feel free to chip in!
Perhaps the biggest change in the general IT world lately has been the massive adoption of Apple’s MacBook and iPad solutions. Every day people ask me when Toad will be available for Macs. And they don’t want a virtualized or Citrix solution. No, they want a program written FOR Mac. Unfortunately, Toad is written in Delphi, and it’s just not available today. However…tomorrow looks like it might be getting a LOT closer.
The makers of Delphi have just unveiled ‘XE2′ – ‘is the fastest way to deliver ultra-rich and visually stunning native applications for Windows, Mac and iOS – including 64-bit Windows applications.’
So, a few things. R&D is already excited about the 64 bit stuff. This will be a huge monkey off of everyone’s back – even if there is no huge payoff for having Toad running as a 64 bit application. Working with very large datasets will probably be the biggest component of that payoff, but who knows where that will take us. No official date has been proposed yet, but it sounds like it will probably be in 2012.
Now, the ‘native iOS and Mac’ stuff. Ahem, cough, cough. This kind of write once and compile anywhere solution has been promised and missed before. So there’s a bit of uncertainty and more than a bit of doubt when it comes to expecting this promise to pay off. One of the bigger obstacles here is the sheer number of 3rd party components used to build an application like Toad. Do you wait for ALL of those to be certified for this new platform, or do you build a Franken-Toad that is part ‘Toad that you love’ and part ‘Toad that will work on OSX’? The expectations will be very high, and most will hesitate to pay full price for a less than full-Toad. Can’t say I blame them there. Still, even having the promise of a platform that can deliver this kind of payoff without having to do an entire re-write of several million lines of source code is pretty darned cool.
So, What Are You Looking Forward To Most?
Maybe Conan has an idea or two about what’s coming in the not-so-distant future? For me, just give me a tool that continues to increase productivity and the ‘fun factor’ when it comes to working with your favorite relational database!