This is my personal evaluation of the current tools in the Oracle developer's toolbox. If you'd like to hear me present my views on these and other tools in person, you can find me at quite a few Oracle conferences - next up is the UK Oracle User Group conference in December 2014.

Feel free to send me a mail if you disagree, have an opinion you want to share with me, or wish to discuss which tool is right for your organization.

Tool Comment Last updated
ADF Business Components Positive A complete framework for building the business layer of a database application. Good tooling with JDeveloper ADF is Oracle's strategic choice and they use it for Oracle Fusion/Cloud Applications. Most ADF applications run on WebLogic, but ADF is also available in a free ADF Essentials edition that runs on the GlassFish application server. Also used outside Oracle Corporation - the ADF Enterprise Methodology Group of serious ADF developers now has over 1000 members. 10 DEC 2014
ADF Faces Positive This is the approach taken by the 5000+ developers who built Oracle Fusion Applications, so serious attention from Oracle Development is assured (including making sure it runs in all modern browsers). A very comprehensive collection of advanced UI components available, including easy-to-use visualization components. The basic functionality can be built with drag-and-drop and business logic is implemented in Java. Good documentation and third-party books available. Most ADF applications run on WebLogic, but ADF is also available in a free ADF Essentials edition that runs on the GlassFish application server. ADF Faces applications can be developed in both JDeveloper and Eclipse (using Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse). 10 DEC 2014
ADF Swing Strong negative Deprecated. It used to be possible to build modern-looking desktop applications with the sophisticated ADF Swing component palette using ADF data bindings, but this approach is now officially deprecated. You can still build this type of applications in JDeveloper 11g, but you'll shortly be on your own without official support. 05 OKT 2012
Application Express Positive Fast, wizard-driven development of web applications. Some functionality available without programming; additional business logic can be implemented in PL/SQL. Comes with some pre-built applications. Version 4.x WebSheets offers a web-based alternative to Excel spreadsheets, and the possibility to quickly build fairly sophisticated team workspaces. Runs in the database, no application server needed. 10 DEC 2014
BI Publisher Negative Enterprise-level reporting solution that separates data sources (XML) from presentation template. Design reports in MS Word or with a web client. Included in Oracle E-Business Suite and Fusion Applications license. For everyone else, it's an expensive option for Oracle WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition, meaning that nobody is using it. 21 MAY 2011
Oracle Designer Strong negative Orphaned. Not updated to support new database features, and the JDeveloper plug-in that used to be able to access the Designer repository has been discontinued. Uniquely among Oracle products, Designer 10g contains a bit of user-developed functionality. Data modeling capabilities now exist in SQL Developer Data Modeler. 28 JUN 2010
Forms Negative While considered legacy technology by many organizations, still in widespread use. Oracle promises a version 12c "sometime in 2015" - with the normal 5+3 years of support, that will take Oracle Forms support until at least 2023. Forms 11g offered a few new features like JavaScript integration, not much new functionality expected in 12c. Only web deployment support, requiring an application server license. If you're still on client/server (6i or earlier), consider re-developing from scratch. 10 DEC 2014
Reports Negative Powerful, but hard to learn. Still in widespread use together with Oracle Forms. Fusion Applications is moving to BI Publisher, and Java applications tend to use other reporting tools. For organizations without a BI Publisher license, still the tool of choice for very sophisticated reports. 12 SEP 2010
PL/SQL Neutral Slowly declining, but as long as there are Oracle databases, PL/SQL will never disappear completely. Oracle is doing their best to support the language and with SQL Developer offers good tooling for database developers. It's getting harder to hire people with this skill - when was the last time you saw a young PL/SQL programmer? Programming language of choice in the database - Java Stored Procedures are such a hassle. 26 SEP 2014
Oracle Portal Strong Negative Orphaned. Oracle is positioning Oracle WebCenter as the new portal, and Portal 11g does not contain any significant new features. Existing Oracle Portal customers are leaving this platform. Hard to find developers with these skills. 26 SEP 2013
Oracle WebCenter Portal Negative Technically, Oracle's strategic portal product. However, with the new focus on cloud applications, Oracle is not talking about it much. At the core of Oracle Fusion Applications (where it is included in the license), but ridiculously high price/feature ratio means that nobody else is using it. 26 SEP 2014

About me

My name is Sten Vesterli
My mission in life is to make the world a better place by helping people use appropriate information technology to achieve their goals.
I work towards this goal as author, trainer, presenter, consultant and developer, specializing in Oracle tools and servers. Oracle has recognized my contribution by naming me Oracle ACE Director
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