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 Oracle SQL*Plus Command Line Utility
Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting

Advanced Oracle Utilities: The Definitive Reference by Rampant TechPress is written by top Oracle database experts (Bert Scalzo, Andrew Kerber, Donald Burleson, and Steve Callan).  The following is an excerpt from the book.

SQL Utilities - SQL*Plus

SQL*Plus is a basic yet very critical command line utility. It is very reminiscent of TTY console, applications from days past. All the key interaction with SQL*Plus is via the keyboard and typed commands. While that may seem a bit quaint, most senior DBAs and senior developers prefer scripting using command line utilities like SQL*Plus. In fact, most have built up libraries or a collection of such scripts that they take with them from job to job. Figure 5.2 showcases what a basic SQL*Plus session and interaction looks like.


 Figure 5.2:  SQL*Plus command line utility


There are several key things to note about SQL*Plus. First, it supports all the basic ANSI SQL commands plus some SQL*Plus specific extensions. Some of those proprietary extensions support interaction with the command line editor, e.g. append, change, del, get, input, list and save. In fact, SQL*Plus editing works very much like the old DOS Edlin program. Other extensions support database management related tasks like connect, disconnect, shutdown, startup and password. Some extensions support scripting (accept, define, pause, prompt, undefine and variable). Finally, a large number of commands support numerous data formatting and reporting options such as break, btitle, column, compute, repfooter, repheader, set and tttile.


It is almost certain that SQL*Plus will be a valuable tool for all of the DBA’s Oracle database activities. It is hard to imagine a scenario where there would not be a need for SQL*Plus on a weekly, if not daily, basis because it is simply that overwhelmingly useful.


Note: The Windows specific version of SQL*Plus (SQL*PLUSW) was a more graphical oriented application resembling SQL*Plus. However, it was discontinued. So only the simple SQL*Plus command line utility remains.


SQL Developer

For many years there was no lasting standard graphical user interface tool for working with Oracle databases. At one point, Oracle introduced Procedure Builder, a great little tool for PL/SQL developers, but it went away. Then Oracle on Windows offered Database Manager, a little lightweight OEM-like utility for managing databases, and it too disappeared. As for Oracle Enterprise Manager, it started out as a fat-Java client tool, but then became a web-based application. In addition, Application Express (APEX) is very useful for APEX work, but it is not suitable as a general-purpose Oracle database tool. Therefore, many people relied on tools like Toad® for years as a decent GUI for general purpose Oracle work.


Fortunately, Oracle finally saw the need for such a tool and built a very good freeware offering called SQL Developer. SQL Developer can be downloaded from their website as a standalone freeware offering and, starting with Oracle 11g, it is now part of the standard Oracle client install. Figure 5.3 shows what SQL Developer looks like. There are far too many features in SQL Developer to do it justice in just a brief section of one chapter of a book. Nevertheless, there are numerous blogs, discussion forums and even entire books now on the product, so search the web for information and the latest details. Note that as a Java based application, SQL Developer runs on numerous platforms and not just Microsoft Windows. So for UNIX, LINUX and even MAC-OS users, SQL Developer may well be the tool of choice.  It is good to observe that while SQL Developer does increasingly support SQL*Plus command syntax, it is not an entire replacement for it.


Figure 5. 3:  SQL Developer


For more details on Oracle utilities, see the book "Advanced Oracle Utilities" by Bert Scalzo, Donald K. Burleson, and Steve Callan.

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30% off directly from Rampant TechPress.

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