This question really gets my goat!

I stumbled upon an interesting discussion in the ODTUG group on LinkedIn this weekend. A vendor is doing some research I suppose and wanted to know who enjoyed using what IDE and why. Here’s the original question:

In your opinion which is the best IDE for PL/SQL programming and why? e.g. PL/SQL Developer, Toad, Oracle SQL Developer. To participate in the conversation, you’ll need to join the group on LinkedIn.

My only input was to suggest that maybe the question could be better worded. Instead of saying what’s ‘best’, maybe share your favorite IDE or your favorite feature in an IDE. Real quick – IDE – is an Integrated Development Environment.

I’m always getting this question from prospective clients, although asked in a slightly different manner. It’s usually posed as…

‘Why is your product better than X?’

I really despise this question, maybe I should find a new job? It’s not that I can’t defend the technology I am selling – I’m really quite decent at it, and the tool usually sells itself. I think what really ‘gets my goat’ is that we are not addressing the REAL question. Every developer already has a favorite tool – most likely the one they found first. Those hours invested in learning the ins and outs of a technology are not easily forgotten. What someone wants to know is, ‘Why should I ditch my tool and use yours?’ I hate that the sales model often puts us in a confrontational or all-or-nothing mindset. In my head I’m just selling you a new cool pipe wrench to play with. No one is asking you to throw out the rest of your plumbing tools. Of course, let’s not be too naive and completely ignore the fact that new shiny tools usually cost a few shiny coins, so the cost must always be justified.

Someone once said that a good developer should never get religious about the tools they use. The word ‘religious’ I think is very apt and spot-on for this conversation. I think I would be more successful attempting to convert a Southern Baptist to a Presbyterian than trying to convince someone that the programming environment they’ve used for the past ten years is ‘wrong.’

I don’t want to convert anyone. I just want folks to be productive. I like my tools because they enable me to be super-productive without sacrificing the years I have spent learning the ins and outs of Oracle. One of my favorite questions posed in the Oracle Magazine Q&A goes something like this – ‘If you could only bring one Oracle book to the International Space Station, what book would it be?’ Imagine instead of ‘book’ they were asking about tools. If you have to think more than a few seconds on this one, I doubt you’re not a true oraclenerd.

Yes, I realized I’ve had this conversation before.

I Only Use SQLPlus, a Desperate Cry for Help – can you believe that some people refuse to use no tools at all?


I'm a Distinguished Product Manager at Oracle. My mission is to help you and your company be more efficient with our database tools.


  1. Ravi Abram Reply

    I have a license for All Around Automations PL/SQL Developer. I like the clarity of the client.

    Switch between Oracle SQL developer sometimes for certain features. Likes your posts Jeff.

  2. I started out using the XE IDE but I’m liking SQL Developer better.

  3. I use Oracle SQLDeveloper because it has a nice integration with Oracle Application Express (APEX) and can work natively on Mac OSX.

    • JeffS

      Thanks Dimitri! I wonder how many silent users we have in the OSX and *NIX space. You folks seem to be less vocal than the Windows crowd, but I wonder if that’s b/c you’re more savvy and less apt to need help…wow, how many people did I just offend with that generalization?

    • JeffS

      Ultem – thanks for sharing! What about Toad do you enjoy using most? Also, have you considered upgrading? V9 is starting to show some grey hair, if you know what I mean…

    • Originally it was for Java development (way back in BC4J days, I think it is now ADF). But it integrated very nicely with SVN, so I stuck with it.

      My only (well not my only) problem with Toad has been the UI. It’s scary. Too many buttons. Yes, I know you can configure that…it was a first impression, sadly from someone who probably didn’t know WTF they were doing either.

      You know I respect Toad and what it does. My issues (with Toad and any GUI) are deeper.

Write A Comment