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Index > Other 3rd Party Tools > Software Tools > Orange
Orange for ORACLE by WareValley Software
Topics15 April 2003
Author: Mark Richard
Orange for ORACLE has been developed by a group of Oracle experts with a goal
in mind - Provide fast and easy steps to increase efficiency and productivity of
database application development, and to realize optimal performance under the
Oracle environment. Primarily aimed at the full-time developer, but also suited
to DBA's, Data Modelers, Architects and anyone who interacts with Oracle, the
product provides a vast array of tools to get the job done. Thankfully, the
integration between the tools is wonderful - it is both rich and flexible.
The more I worked with Orange the more I realized that the people responsible
for creating it really understand Oracle. Every piece of functionality
provided is both detailed and complete. Whilst this review will do its best to
cover Orange's vast functionality I strongly recommend you download a trial and
see just how much Orange can do for yourself. As a quote on the WareValley
website says "Take a bite and experience the rich flavor of Orange".
The result is Orange for ORACLE - a complete Application Development and
Performance Management tool. Version 1 of Orange was released in December 2001.
Being reviewed is Version 2.1, which was released in November 2002.
The more I worked with Orange the more I realized that the people responsible for creating it really understand Oracle. Every piece of functionality provided is both detailed and complete. Whilst this review will do its best to cover Orange's vast functionality I strongly recommend you download a trial and see just how much Orange can do for yourself. As a quote on the WareValley website says "Take a bite and experience the rich flavor of Orange".
The result is Orange for ORACLE - a complete Application Development and Performance Management tool. Version 1 of Orange was released in December 2001. Being reviewed is Version 2.1, which was released in November 2002.
Supported Operating Systems and VersionsOrange runs on all 32-bit Windows platforms including Windows9x/NT/Me/2000/XP. Basic hardware requirements are Pentium 133 or above, 64MB RAM or above and at least 10MB of disk space - hardly demanding by today's standards. Orange requires Net8 version 8.0.5 or above on the client and is compatible with Oracle 7.3.x or above servers.
InstallationInstallation of Orange is very basic. The InstallShield wizard installer guides you through the process and you don't even need to reboot the PC when done. The Orange Configuration Admin must be run if you are the first Orange user to connect to a particular RDBMS. Whilst not strictly necessary to start using the product some functionality, such as explain plan viewing, is restricted without it.
The Orange Configuration Admin prompts for a SYS connection to the database, and is aware of the new 9i sysoper and sysdba concepts. It then asks you to select a regular and temporary tablespace before proceeding to create a user and a series of objects within the database to support the product. All changes are logged to the screen. There is no automated process to reverse these changes, however the manual explains that a "drop user orange cascade" will get the job done.
What it doesThe purpose of Orange is to provide Oracle developers and DBAs a complete solution in terms of application development and performance tuning. It provides SQL and PL/SQL development tools, source control, performance tuning tools, a wealth of monitoring tools and reports, and some additional database administration functionality such as security management.
The good news is that Orange provides all of this functionality in a tool that behaves exceptionally well and is very easy to navigate. Orange enables you to work on a problem from beginning to completion without leaving the tool, whether that "problem" is developing new code, solving a performance problem, or monitoring a database. If you spend the majority of your day working with Oracle then Orange could quite possibly become your new best friend.
Problems SolvedOn initial inspection Orange is a lot like other application development tools you may have seen before. On closer inspection, however, the tight integration between various functions starts to become apparent. The result is a tool that enables you to both rapidly identify and solve performance problems. Through the use of toolbars and context sensitive menus you can jump from screen to screen as required to investigate and understand a problem. The vast functionality of Orange means that it can single-handedly address problems normally addressed by multiple products.
Who should use it?Orange is definitely aimed at people involved in application development and performance tuning of Oracle databases. DBA's of all levels will also find the product exceptionally useful. The comprehensive integration of the tool makes it exceptionally easy to move through the development and tuning processes - and it is in these arena's that the tool really shows its strength.
To a lesser extent data architects, capacity planners, and anyone who has to perform ad-hoc queries, will also find the query designer, schema browser, table editor, space manager and several other features quite useful.
Competitive productsThe versatility of Orange means that it is in competition with a wide range of products. It competes with development tools as well as database monitoring tools. The good news is that you can factor this functionality in when comparing prices and value for money. Not to mention the value of seamless integration between the tools that very few competitors can even begin to provide.
The closest match that most people will be aware of is probably TOAD - another tool which plays in the "Does almost everything for Oracle" market. Users familiar with TOAD will be quickly at ease when using Orange, as a lot of the concepts are similar. At the same time however the differences definitely warrant downloading a trial and comparing the two in real life. Even after using TOAD for several years I have been pleasantly surprised - Orange is obviously well suited to the way I like to tackle problems.
Detailed reviewOrange was designed from the ground up as a complete application development and performance-monitoring tool for Oracle and it certainly goes a long way to meeting that goal. There are a huge number of screens, tools and reports at your disposal and it's nearly impossible to think of functionality that is missing. The review below is broken up into core activities which might be undertaken with the assistance of Orange, however its important to understand that they overlap in many areas.
The product itself appears as a series of toolbars, with enough icons to make your jaw drop. One toolbar provides links to all of the various tools within Orange, as well as some basic functionality like connecting and disconnecting from databases. A second toolbar is context sensitive to the particular tool currently in use. Above both toolbars is a list of icons representing the various tool windows currently open, allowing you to jump back and forth between screens as well as close them. Finally some of the common screens, such as SQL and Plan introduce the concept of named tabs to keep track of the statements you are working on.
The linking within Orange is extremely thorough. If you right click on something in Orange there is a very good chance that a context sensitive menu will appear with the task you wish to perform. For example, click on an Index Scan entry in an explain plan and you can choose to see the Index details or the Base Table details. Right click on a table in the schema browser and you can Analyze the table, or perhaps create an index within the table, or view the list of columns, or edit the data in the table, or … you get the idea. It's very comprehensive and once you get the hang of it very useful. When you first start using the product I recommend right clicking on everything just to get an idea of the options available.
An integrated PL/SQL debugger with all the desired breakpoint, step, watch and back trace functionality is built in. Handy editing functions include the ability to comment in/out selected blocks of text, copy and paste to/from various programming-language formats, and all the usual formatting features you might ever want to use.
SQL Statement Performance Tuning
Orange includes built-in templates for all of the hints available within Oracle, lets you adjust the array size and fetch options as desired, assign bind variables, select the parsing schema and choose the optimizer mode. An automatic formatter can also help make sense of queries reverse engineered from the database using the SQL Monitor or Session Monitor tools.
Database Monitoring / Tuning
Other monitoring tools include a Transaction Monitor, a Lock / Latch Monitor, and a graphical Instance Monitor. A special ERP Monitor is also provided. Finally there is an overall Database Information screen which shows every fundamental value from parameters to datafile lists to wait event statistics.
Taking a slightly different approach is the Health Check screen. It performs an array of tests against the database and prepares a HTML based report. The report includes the purpose, description, pass criteria and a guide to resolving any problems for each measurement taken. The Health Check is purely a report - it doesn't attempt to resolve problems automatically - but it's a great way to gain a high level understanding of a database, or save the generated reports and compare them over time to track progress. The Health Check can also act as a great introduction to the world of Oracle performance tuning since it explains each statistic in detail.
Finally, a Graph and Report tool allows the scheduling and execution of pre-defined and user-defined reports. Output is either to screen or Excel format. There are about 100 pre-defined reports that allow you to choose the X and Y values to graph, however the ability to add your own user-defined reports is a definite bonus. It's not likely that you will think of a generic report that they missed, but you might want to add reports specific to your application such as "Orders Processed per Day". Thankfully, reports are categorized into logical groups, making it easy to find one appropriate to your needs.
The Schema Tool / Browser is presented as an array of tabs which reflect the types of objects available within a typical database. Each tab then presents a hierarchical tree, starting at schema level. Some of the trees provide multi level drill-down functionality, which is a really useful approach. The Table tree for example can drill down and show the Columns, Indexes, Triggers, Snapshot Logs and Constraints applicable to a table. Depending on which item in the tree you select affects what information is displayed in the bottom half of the screen, and what context sensitive menu options appear.
The good news is that once you get the hang of the Schema Browser the wealth of information displayed and the functions that you can perform with the click of a button are amazing. Also provided is the Description tool that serves a similar purpose. It allows you to enter a partial or complete object name and then displays a wealth of information about that object. If you need to know absolutely everything about an object then the Description tool is ideal.
Configuration / Administration functions
The Database Information tool provides 16 tabs of information about a database. The information is best suited to DBA's and covers topics such as System Parameter settings, Event Wait statistics, SGA statistics and Rollback Segment usage. I have to say that I was impressed by the layout of this screen.
The Space Manager tool is another amazing screen. On casual inspection it would be easy to pass this off as a "graph of tablespace usage" - but doing so would be an injustice. Two hierarchical views offer the entrance to the tool - A physical hierarchy (Database->Tablespace->Datafile) and a logical hierarchy (Database->Schema->ObjectType->Object). The remainder of the screen provides further drill down and a variety of charts and diagrams. The net result is the ability to view space usage in ways you may never have even considered before - all at the click of a button.
The Security Manager tool is designed to allow full control of Oracle's security model. Users, Roles, Profiles, System Privileges and Object Privileges are dealt with and linked together. Yet again hierarchical trees are used to link information together and the remainder of the screen changes depending on what you select. Obviously you have to be connected to the database with an appropriate account to make any changes to security.
ShortcomingsThere are very few shortcomings in Orange. The product is responsive and stable. It is incredibly feature rich but still leaves you firmly in control. During my trial it never crashed or even paused during use, even when connected remotely to very large databases.
The only minor annoyances I found where the fact that it requires a "sys" connection to each database to configure the product for full functionality. Whilst this isn't a problem for most people, I do know of some environments where access to the sys user is heavily protected from developers, and may require some coercion before being run against production environments.
Also, with so many tabs on the screen you can occasionally forget to refresh them. For example, if you request an Explain Plan for a query, then change the query and Execute it, clicking on the Explain Plan tab will show you the original plan until you click the Explain Plan button. Again, I admit this is only minor, but the option to auto-refresh when changing tabs in the Plan Tool would be useful.
Cost and where to buyTrial versions of Orange can be downloaded from the WareValley website: www.warevalley.com
Orange is available in two versions - Standard and DBA Extended. Pricing for the Standard edition of Orange is currently US$695, whilst the DBA Extended edition is selling for US$1240. These prices include unlimited maintenance, upgrade and support - there are no additional charges. Volume discounts are available when purchasing 4 or more copies.
The DBA Extended version and Standard version differ slightly in the range of tools provided. I recommended downloading the DBA Edition for trial and determining how useful you find the DBA specific tools personally. The following tools are specific to the DBA Edition:
Upcoming EnhancementsVersion 2.2 of Orange for Oracle is nearly ready for release already, and Version 3 is slated for the end of 2003. These versions will make enhancements to the schema browser, provide object creation and alteration functionality (including DDL reverse engineering), a UNIX process monitor, support for additional Oracle data types (ie: LOB, Timestamp & Interval), and several improvements and customization options to the user interface. Bearing in mind that the upgrade is free for registered users the future of this product looks quite promising.
About the AuthorMark Richard has been working with Oracle databases for over 5 years. During this time he has worked primarily as a database developer specializing in performance tuning on both Datawarehouse and OLTP applications. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mark has no connections with WareValley.
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