I’ve just discovered Oracle SQL Developer, and it looks like it’s going to really make my life easier. I’ve been using an old, crusty version of SQL Navigator for my SQL visualization needs, and it’s always worked, but I’ve never been crazy about it. For one, the UI is very klunky — the mouse wheel doesn’t work, and it doesn’t auto-scroll when I expand collapsible lists. So I end up doing a lot of click-and-drag scrolling, which is annoying (keep in mind this is a really old version of the software; hopefully these issues have been resolved in more recent releases). And, the software is Windows-only, so I have to remote desktop into my Windows box to run it. This gives it a cramped feel, because the remote desktop has a lower resolution than my main display, and I can’t resize it to be as big as I want. And last but not least, our firewall requires me to run it over a VPN connection, and the VPN kicks me off after 12 hours, fubaring my connections and requiring me to restart it daily. Extremely annoying.
Enter SQL Developer. It looks promising. It runs on Windows, Linux and Mac. The GUI is much slicker than the version of SQL Navigator I was running. At the same time, Rob gave me the tip to run it over an SSH tunnel to a machine on the DB server’s trusted network, which means I can bypass the VPN. Wins on all counts.
Installation was straightforward, after I figured out how to point it at the correct JDK. It requires Sun’s JDK1.5, but it initially was ignoring my
JAVA_HOME environment variable and using an older version. I poked around the initialization script and found that it was using the directory search path to find the JVM. I added the JDK1.5 bin directory as the first thing in my search path, and then it worked. Then I set up the SSH tunnel:
ssh trusted-host.umbc.edu -L 1522:oracle.server.umbc.edu:1522
After that, I was up and running. It looks great. Stay tuned for further impressions.