An alternative to TOAD

From: Simon Hall <>
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2014 14:07:42 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <>

Recently I have had a need to install a PL client on my home computer, having exhausted the professional 30 day trial of TOAD. Normally, during the day I work with TOAD the industry standard. I downloaded the free ware version of TOAD but found most of the functionality I normally use only available to the professional versions, which have a hefty price tag of 1300 or $2000. Even the lowly and functionally poor TOAD for data analysis is heftily priced at 300 plus.

As a bit of a background let me describe my role. I am now the classic IT developer analyst who has to be a jack of many skills rather than a master of one. I use Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and I do have some responsibility for both development and administration. I do not have lots of time to read manuals or work my way through endless you tube videos so the most important thing for me is a well laid out user interface using icons and menu option which make sense to me. Some of the work I do has to be quick and dirty providing one off reports, ideally including graphics, whilst other more complicated work requires a much wider functionality and access to PL debugging. I googled a search for a similar product and came across Devarts dbforge studio. I had previously very successfully used Devarts excellent dot net oracle connector for compact frame work and then used its bigger brother to provide robust oracle database for windows applications as this removed the need for additional oracle software or iffy odbc connections. So I was aware of the brand and the general good quality and simplicity of their product but not Dbforge Studio.

I downloaded the software trial and installed it on my laptop computer. As always when I install a new utility I have a considerable amount of trepidation about the balance between using new software and staying with a known product, particularly when comparing it to the class leader. I am sure many people like myself appreciate the value of Open Office but the pain associated with making the transfer from Microsoft Office outweighs any short-term financial saving so I still pay for the familiarity.

Initially the install was pretty uneventful so no shocks there. Then came the first potential stumbling block, creating a connection to the oracle database. I approached this cautiously and felt the need to make strong coffee before beginning my battle. Imagine my surprise when, without the need to refer to the manual or google an error or two, I was able to make a successful connection to the oracle database, with my coffee still too hot to drink. The initial impression of the interface was good, it was clean, well organised and the icons were pleasingly familiar. So on to my first attempt at a bit of SQL, which as normal is select * from dba_tables. Again a task completed without drama or the use of documentation. Stunned by this I proceeded to actually get down to work, all this within 10 min of starting the download which included the time required to boil a kettle. On to the real task, a tricky bit of nested SQL combining the horrors of extracting complex data analysis with unfamiliar functions, in this case standard deviations, and then producing a moving average analysis. You know the sort, where you spend lots of time looking for the missing left hand bracket, shortening both your life and temper. Being old fashioned I like to craft my SQL in text. Not being the worlds most consistent typist I rely on TOADS SQL formatting tools to turn my random collection of spacing and both upper and lower case into a nice neat statement which looks like it has been written by somebody who likes to craft his code with the precision of a tool maker. At last I found a fault with the software, its auto formatting does not match the company standard, my boss is quite insistent that if we all produce similar looking work it will aid the general support. However the code was quite well organised so I considered the possibility of fixing the style either manually or waiting until I had access to the company PC and then letting TOAD do it. However, not to be beaten, I felt I would have a quick poke and hope at changing the default formatting. Again without the use of the manual I was able to locate and adjust the formatted defaults to match the company standard. At this point the cup of coffee was still warm. Exploring a little further I noticed the query profiler and the how intuitive this tool was, with little effort I was able to tune my query and felt happy with the result. Now all of this is available and an infinite amount more with various versions of TOAD which is obviously the benchmark. However being more familiar with visual studio somehow this seems a lot more intuitive and I found it a pleasant surprise. I really believe that when I buy any software I tend to use no more than 15% of its functionality. I would guess that there are a lot of TOAD SQL developers who could point at a raft of functionality that is included in that product but not in this. The vast majority of which, as a part time SQL/PL SQL I would never have the time to investigate. To me it ticks several boxes, it is intuitive, it is easy to install, but perhaps its biggest selling point is it is a tenth of the price TOAD retails for. Okay there are things it no doubt will not do but these are functions I am unlikely to use and at the box price the risk is well, minimal. It also combines functionality found in TOAD data analysis, reports etc, with features included in TOAD developer and administrator additions. I am convinced by this product and will recommend it to the company I work for as being a very effective tool. Received on Mon Dec 29 2014 - 23:07:42 CET

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