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EZSQL by John H. Dorlon
Author: Gerrit-Jan Linker
Being good value for money this tool let you explore the technical side of your database easily, tune performance, monitor database activity and status. The speed of EZSQL is excellent. EZSQL provides a user interface that does not everywhere adhere to the usual Windows standards, but I found it simple and easy to use.
HistoryEZSQL is developed by John Dorlon ( a good guy and a friend of the Oracle Underground FAQ, Ed.). He started on it in August of 1998, and has been developing it actively since then. He also provides the technical support, you can not do better than to get support directly from the developer himself!!
This review is based on the latest production release Version 2.5.7.
Supported Operating Systems and VersionsEZSQL runs on all 32-bit Windows platforms, including Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT and ME. Hardware required is 486 or higher PC with 8 MB of RAM (16 MB Recommended). It supports Oracle 7.1 through Oracle8i (although not all 8i features have been implemented yet).
InstallationInstalling EZSQL could not be easier. It was pleasant to find the whole program contained in a single executable file: ezsql.exe (which was a mere 1.7 Mb). The first connection attempt was successful and I was up and running in literally a few mouse clicks.
What it does
Most Oracle objects can be viewed, changed or created. EZSQL's strongest feature is to view database objects.
Problems SolvedEZSQL is good at showing the Oracle database under the bonnet. It reveals what state the database is in and allows you to diagnose problems and browse around to find the things you need. EZSQL provides easy access to information DBAs and developers need to do their job. To a lesser extent EZSQL can be used for database development, to write PL/SQL code and to write SQL
Who should use it?Most Oracle developers and most Oracle DBAs.
Competitive productsTOAD from Quest software (read review) at $670 (plus another $520 if you want a debugger).
The speed of EZSQL is excellent compared to that of TOAD. Connecting is faster as well as the general working of the program. EZSQL lacks some functionality compared to TOAD and SQL*Navigator. However EZSQL comes at a fraction of the price and if it meets your requirements it is worth a try.
SQL-Programmer at $995 from BMC Software is another application developers' tool competing against EZSQL. For more details, read the review of SQL Programmer.
Detailed reviewFirst time use
After successful connection EZSQL greets you with its main window and a schema browser. The program looks good and gives the impression to be written for Oracle power users. There is something odd about the user interface, but it didn't take long for me to start liking it. The user interface does not always conform to the Windows standards. For instance, the toolbar buttons are all grayed out implying that you can't use them. Hovering your mouse over them will enable the icons though. Some buttons are located at the bottom of windows where you would look for them at the top. Windows don't have a title that corresponds to the button that launched it. I found myself looking for the button to create the window again when I mistakenly had closed it. Having said all that, it offers a welcome fresh look and it is very nice to use once you get used to it.
This screen helps you to explore the Oracle database. Select a schema and object type and a list of objects is shown. If you prefer to see a tree view of the object hierarchy, a tree button is provided. Right clicking on an object in the list shows a list of options that are applicable to that object. Double clicking on an object will show it in the Object Editor. One very nice feature of this screen is that you can select any number of objects to right-click and perform actions on. So re-compiling a selection of invalid packages for example is very easy to do.
The object editor can be used to change database objects like tables, triggers and even redo logs, tablespaces and jobs. Instead of providing a tabbed dialog the developer chose an alternative screen layout. The left hand side of the screen contains the list of object types as hyperlinks. When you click on these links the remainder of the screen changes dependent on the object type chosen. As a PL/SQL developer I clicked on the Package Body link. The remainder of the screen changed to a PL/SQL editor. What I noticed is that there is no button to load my PL/SQL files from disk. A lot of functionality is implemented on right click menus. In the right click menu there is a Load From File option. A missing feature is a vertical scrollbar or an indication where you are in the file.
One disappointment was the section with the table description in the Object Editor. From this screen I could not find an easy way to get to the table data.
The Text SQL Window is the all purpose screen where you can execute your SQL. Executing a select statement will show the results in the lower area of the screen in a spreadsheet. You can also execute DML or DDL statements or even anonymous PL/SQL blocks. Really nice is the feature to see serveroutput when you use dbms_output functions. Also explain plans can be made and viewed here. There are tons and tons of little features here. I immediately felt at home and started to explore all the options. Again right click menus offer some features that you cannot execute from the toolbar or menu.
There are 2 Visual Query Writers offered: the old query builder and the new query builder. It suggests that the old query builder is not up to the job and that the new query builder works entirely different. It turned out to be exactly that. The old query builder offers a split screen where you select a table on the left hand side and on the right hand side. There is some functionality there to specify joins and conditions. I managed to create a few conditions but did not manage to specify a join between the two tables easily.
Rather disappointed with the old query builder I gave the new one a try. When launching it it asks which schemas you wish to use for building your query. Then you have to select the tables you wish to use. Graphically you can drag column names from one table to the next to create joins. Running the query generates a standard spreadsheet like output. You can specify a page layout though so the output looks more like output from Oracle Reports.
Launching this window shows … the old visual query builder. Enough is said about this feature already… One hidden usage of the Master Detail window is the Data Dictionary feature executed through "Help -> Browse Oracle's comments on the data dictionary". You can use this feature to get a description for the system views. This function defines the query in the old query builder and execute it to show the data dictionary help.
A handy little feature, often forgotten in packages like these, are the notepads. Simply available to leave your notes, to do lists, SQL snippets, etc.
The tuning and statistics window brings us back to what we came for: Oracle! A huge list of options are available to look into the tuning aspects of Oracle: Table growth, index usages, locks, sessions, even TKProf and other useful stuff. The screen shows, like the Object Editor, a bar on the left with the different types of modes. Graphs provide handy views on the state of the database. I decided to investigate the Locks section of this screen. I am presented with a list of sessions which have locks. Selecting a session it shows, in a text section on the right hand side of the screen, a small report that even includes the SQL statement that is creating the lock. Impressed! A button allows you to kill the selected sessions.
I've spend a small half an hour browsing around all the stats available in the "various stats section". Interestingly the author shows the SQL used to produce the stats. Among the things I looked at are: the list of open cursors, the SGA statistics and usage. Interesting and useful stuff. There is even a section where you can program in your own queries so they will be there next time you start the program.
Several attributes can be analysed in time using the Graph screens. You can plot the number of physical reads/writes in time or a whole set of database attributes specific to a session. I can imagine that these graphs are very handy when doing support or development. You get a good idea what's happening in the database in time.
The Search window can be used to search for source code or column names in the database. Handy is the little feature to search in all the schema's or in one schema specifically. A list is provided with the found database objects. Double clicking on a database object will open it in the Object Editor.
This feature shows the basic tables or views definitions. You basically pick a schema and table or view and the details will be shown in a spreadsheet at the lower end of the screen. It's handy that you can multiple of these windows so you can display the description of more than 1 table at a time.
The Privs screen allows the granting and revoking Object privileges. Two tabs are provided. The first tab allows you to specify the privileges per object, the second tab allows you to specify the privileges for users and roles.
Actually the Database Comparison function compares schema's. You can however compare schema's in different databases. A huge list of parameters can be set to include/exclude object types from the comparison. A little report is generated that basically specifies what is missing in the reference schema and what is extra.
I am quite surprised to see a Send Messages feature in a package like EZSQL. It lets you send messages via dbms_alert, email and it can broadcast messages on the LAN. I tried the LAN broadcast and that seemed to work fine.
This feature generates a report on the overall health of the system. Useful is that you can include/exclude certain items from the report as well as specify parameters for them. I used the standard options and was alerted to the fact that one of my indexes ran out of extends. It also generated a list of tables that used too small extents (the size of next extent was a few percent of the total table size).
It is really funny to see this feature in EZSQL. The biggest motivation to use packages like EZSQL is to not have to use SQL*Plus! This feature in EZSQL starts a SQL*Plus session in a new MSDOS window.
These features seem useful for people that have to do a lot of backups/exports and imports. For all these functions a screen is provided with the main options.
ShortcomingsA disappointment was the visual query builder. I do not think however that the target audience for this product will try to use this feature too often.
Another shortcoming is that there seems to be no easy way to switch between a package specification and the corresponding package body. The author promises to include this feature soon.
As a suggestion I'd like to see an easy way to show the table data from the Object Editor window. Also, when viewing table data it should be made easy to make changes to the data. The author promises to include this feature soon.
Cost and where to buyDownload a 30 day free trial of EZSQL from www.ezsql.net
Purchase price is $100 from the author. After April 1st 2001 the price goes up to $150, but this is still very good value. If you like this product now is a very good time to get it. There is no yearly maintenance fees or support fees with EZSQL. This is a very good deal considering you get support from the developer himself!
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