Getting started with SQL Developer in less than 5 minutes

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It’s easy to forget that many people still have not discovered SQL Developer, or are just getting started. Many of my recent posts have been on advanced topics, hidden tricks, and productivity tips.

I want to spend some time in the next few weeks helping the beginners out there.

I can’t think of a better place to start than with how to ‘install’ SQL Developer.

I’ve been telling anyone who will listen than you can get up and running with SQL Developer in under 5 minutes. That’s a pretty big claim, and I reckon I should back that up now.

Disclaimer: I have a hi-speed residential network connection that was averaging 15.93Mbps this morning. I realize many of you have connections that are both slower and faster, so keep that in mind when I make my ‘5 minute’ claim.

The Basics – Download SQL Developer

The hardest part is the first step – picking your download and waiting. If you have a 64 bit Windows machine, you’ll need to download the 64bit 1.6 JDK first.

JDK? JRE? Java? What?!?
SQL Developer is a Java application. To run it requires the Java Virtual Machine – this is the ‘go box’ for java applications. If you’ve ever seen that funny icon popup in your systray while running apps over a website, that’s probably java.

JDK – Java Development Kit. I call it the ‘Toolkit’, but it’s just a ‘Kit,’ but not THAT K.I.T.T.

The Java Runtime Engine (JRE) is a smaller and less powerful ‘go box’ for Java applications, but SQL Developer relies on some of the libraries included only in the JDK – so get the JDK!

Many versions of Java out there – 5, 6, and 7 are the most common. The name is ‘6’, but the version is ‘1.6.’ We develop, test, and support SQL Developer for 1.6. You can run other versions, but may get less than awesome results.

It’s an archive, not an installer. After you’ve downloaded SQL Developer, there’s no installer to run. Just extract the folder, then find the ‘sqldeveloper.exe’ and open it.

If you’ve downloaded the 32 bit windows version with the JDK bundled, you’re all set.

If not, you’ll need to tell SQL Developer where it can find it’s Java master, AKA the Java Virtual Machine. Be sure to point to the ‘java.exe’ in the full JDK (not the JRE.)

Tell SQL Developer where it can find Java

Once you hit OK, you’ll never have to answer this question again.

You can change this location later in the /sqldeveloper/bin/sqldeveloper.conf file. Change the following line –
SetJavaHome ../../jdk

SQL Developer will then start, and you can proceed by setting up your connection.

Before you can connect, you will need the following:

  • database user account (complete with username and password)
  • location of database (either via TNSNames, LDAP, or servername/IP, port, and SID/Service)

If you don’t have an account, don’t go online asking people for a ‘default.’ Find the owner of your application or database and ask them for an account. If you don’t want to involve them, then you’re looking for a backdoor and could be labeled a ‘hacker.’

Now what?

Now you get to learn by doing. Many of you won’t have access to formal training, and I think that’s a real shame. If your organization provides training or compensation for taking classes – do it! Lots of free resources out there, including my blog of course.

Here’s a rundown of the official stuff from Oracle:

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