Quest Software and Toad for Oracle

Wednesday Nov 29th 2006 by Steve Callan

Join Steve Callan for a peek into Quest Software's database development and administration tool, Toad for Oracle.

Quest Software recently released version 9.0 of Toad for Oracle, its “industry-leading, proven database development and administration tool that increases user productivity and application code quality.” Management solutions offered by Quest include application, database, and Windows management. Under the database management family of solutions, the databases include not only Oracle, but SQL Server, IBM DB2, MySQL and Sybase.

Considering just their Oracle-related solutions, Quest offers a wide range of products. The first several products shown below are excellent add-ons to an existing version of Toad or a reason to purchase a more advanced version.

SQL Navigator
Knowledge Xpert for PL/SQL
Knowledge Xpert for Oracle Administration
Quest Central for Oracle
SharePlex for Oracle
Spotlight on Oracle
Benchmark Factory for Databases
Spotlight on RAC
Space Manager with LiveReorg
InTrust for Databases
Quest Performance Analysis for Oracle
Toad Data Modeler
Foglight Cartridge for Oracle
Foglight Cartridge for Oracle E-Business Suite

The four product versions of Toad for Oracle (further referred to generically as Toad) are Standard, Professional, Xpert and Suite. A “Which one is right you?” configuration matrix at http://www.quest.com/toad_for_oracle/configurations.aspx provides an easy means to compare and contrast the versions. Along with the four versions, Quest also offers additional add-on modules, which can be used to augment a particular version. The modules are:

DBA Module
eBiz Module
Toad Data Modeler
Benchmark Factory for Databases
Knowledge Xpert for PL/SQL
Knowledge Xpert for Oracle Admin

Which type of user are you?

If you don’t use or have Toad in the workplace, what are your management tool options? Rely on what Oracle provides? As mentioned in several previous articles, there are pros and cons with that approach. The major pro is cost (i.e., free) but the major con is user interface/functionality (although getting much better). Sadly for Oracle Corporation in terms of revenue stream, its oversight in failing to produce an interface like, well, what Toad is and does, was a huge mistake. What Toad offers in functionality, efficacy and utility is well worth the price in terms of increased efficiency. The bottom line? If you can afford a license, get one. Toad far exceeds anything Oracle has to offer.

If you do have Toad and are under license, upgrade now and take advantage of the new features in version 9.0.

What’s new with version 9.0?

First of all, if you already use Toad (more than likely in the workplace than at home due to its cost), you are going to like the changes Quest made to this highly useful and functional product. From a user interface perspective, one of the main differences between this and older versions is the menu layout. Several menu options have changed position (as viewed from left to right), and getting used to Session>New Connection’s new place, as an example of something frequently used, will take several iterations of using/selecting before becoming familiar again.

Another menu/user interface difference is how sub-menu options appear. Many have a fly out to the right access path as opposed to being directly accessible under the main menu option.

Overall, the changes are many and conveniently summarized in a couple of places. A short version of what’s new is found on the main menu bar under Help (follow the link for New In Toad!).

An even better place is under Help>Online Resources>Get to Know 9.0 (http://toadsoft.com/get2know9/#Menu). The page at this URL offers a comprehensive listing of the new features for version 9.0 (as well as for previous versions).

As far as add-on modules are concerned, their payoff is having a readily available built-in reference library. The Knowledge Xpert options serve as excellent references for PL/SQL and administration. Picking a not so common topic in PL/SQL as an example, what are the differences between types of collections? A few clicks are all it takes to get to the answer.

Another useful feature in the Knowledge Xpert is the error message lookup utility under View>Instant Messages. Although the symptom/cause/action write-up is for the most part the same as what Oracle provides for free in its documentation, having these knowledge references quickly available at hand is very convenient.

The editor/editing functionality has been improved and now includes a feature where code can be rolled up (code folding). Taking a look at the DBMS_RANDOM package (in the SYS schema) is illustrative of this new feature (plus line numbers and syntax highlighting). The procedure named SEED is folded or collapsed in the picture below. For viewing large blocks of code, the ability to collapse a section or two is quite convenient (and something I wish other text editors included).

In Closing

Is Toad perfect? The answer is no, not by far, and the release notes statistics support this answer. Version 9.0 includes 337 bug fixes in addition to 151 enhancements (with 45 known issues). Release notes are available at http://www.quest.com/toad/relnotes/ReleaseNotes900.htm. Perusing the release notes is yet another way to get an idea of the numerous ways Toad has changed and improved.

Quest Software provides extensive support for its products; either through documentation, online help, publication of “what’s new” and release notes, whitepapers, podcasts, user communities and Flash demo’s (see http://www.quest.com/toad_for_oracle/demo.aspx as an example).

Of particular note is a page containing links to other Quest/Toad resources (http://www.quest.com/communities/sites.asp). Visit http://www.toadworld.com/ and see for yourself just how extensive the support base is.

Free trials of Toad are available as is a limited-in-functionality freeware version. If you haven’t experienced Toad to help manage a database and develop application code, you are missing out on what is for all practical purposes the de facto standard database management tool for Oracle. Version 9.0, to include other add-ons, represents a significant upgrade and improvement to an already excellent database management tool.

» See All Articles by Columnist Steve Callan

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