Oracle 11g Warms Up to .NET Developers

While Oracle is set to ship its next-generation database server this month for Linux, the Windows version is not far behind and will offer significant improvements for .NET developers.

The new Oracle 11g database, launched at an event for customers and analysts in New York on July 11, boasts 400 new features in all, promising substantial improvements in performance, storage management and integration with .NET, Java and PHP-based tools.

"It's the highest quality release we've ever had," Oracle President Charles Phillips told attendees at the launch event.

Even though Microsoft and Oracle are competing fiercely for share at the database platform level, both companies are cooperating on the development front. The companies have a three-year old partnership intended to ease development for Windows and .NET developers programming to Oracle databases. On that front, Oracle 11g also raises the bar over 10g, the three-year-old version it replaces.

"We want to expose all of the Oracle database features from .NET, and help developers become as productive as possible," said Christian Shay, Oracle's principal product manager for .NET and Windows.

Francois Ajenstat, director of product management for Microsoft's SQL Server platform, welcomes Oracle's support for Visual Studio but argues the vendor is playing catch-up. Microsoft already offers integration of Visual Studio with SQL Server.

"What they are trying to do is essentially increase their relevance to developers," Anjenstat said. "That's a good thing, [but] its going to be an uphill battle to really get developers to build custom applications on Oracle in a way that they've built them with SQL Server."

Among the things that will provide the improved integration of Visual Studio with the Oracle database is an upgrade of the company's free SQL Developer tool. Its existing proprietary PL/SQL language editor will have a full debugger. For .NET developers, that debugger will be integrated into Microsoft's Visual Studio as well, Shay said. "That lets people take advantage of the power of the Visual Studio debugger, but they can use it with PL/SQL stored procedures," he said.

Also new in SQL Developer is a migration utility that was previously a separate client-based application. Oracle is also packaging SQL Developer with the 11g database. SQL Developer was originally released last year as a downloadable add-on to 10g. Integrating it into the 11g package will likely prompt broader usage, says David Gambino, Oracle's director of product management.

The company will also package Oracle Application Express 3.0, a Web-based tool designed to build, deploy and manage Web applications, with the database. In addition to supporting drag-and-drop layout, improved Web services support and PDF printing, the latest version supports the migration of Microsoft Access desktop applications into Oracle databases.

Critical to Oracle 11g database developers is the latest iteration of Oracle Data Access Components (ODAC). Included in the new ODAC is Oracle Data Provider for .NET, an ADO.NET 2.0-compliant data access provider for Oracle 11g. ODAC also has Oracle providers for ASP.NET, which includes membership, role, site map, session state, profile, Web events, Web personalization and cache dependency providers.

An integral part of ODAC is the Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio.NET, a free add-in for Microsoft's Visual Studio 2003 and 2005 versions. "The goal is to make developing .NET code for Oracle easy and fast, and to allow developers to stay in Visual Studio for the entire development lifecycle," said Oracle's Shay.

Developers can use the toolset to browse and edit Oracle database schema, design and program tables, views and procedures, among other things. The tool also lets developers automatically generate .NET code to access Oracle databases by simply dragging and dropping, Shay said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.