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 Oracle OpenWorld in October 2011 in San Francisco.

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
Application Development Framework Positive A complete, fully supported framework - recommended for all Java applications that need Oracle database data. Used by Oracle to build Oracle Fusion Applications and promoted strongly by one half of Oracle (the middleware people). Picking up momentum outside Oracle Corporation as well - the ADF Enterprise Methodology Group of serious ADF developers now has over 500 members. 30 DEC 2010
ADF Faces Positive This is the approach taken by the 8000+ developers building Oracle Fusion Applications, so serious attention from Oracle Development is assured. Some limitations due to web architecture, but new 11g components use AJAX to provide a very sophisticated interface for web applications. If you need to support Internet Explorer 6, you cannot use the 11g components, but will be limited to the older and much less capable 10g compontents. Much can be built with drag-and-drop, but real-world application development will require some Java knowledge. One half of Oracle promoting this strongly with good tutorials and documentation, and several third-party books now available. 30 DEC 2010
ADF Swing Strong negative It is possible to build modern-looking desktop applications with the sophisticated Swing component palette using ADF data binding. Not really documented or pushed by Oracle - question on this topic tend to go unanswered on OTN. With Oracle now pushing JavaFX as the technology of choice for rich Java client applications, expect Java Swing to disappear in a coming version of JDeveloper. 07 OKT 2010
Application Express Positive Fast, wizard-driven development of web applications. Version 4.0 WebSheets offers a web-based alternative to Excel spreadsheets, and the possibility to quickly build fairly sophisticated team workspaces. Can read Oracle Forms modules into a repository for analysis and can even generate APEX modules with somewhat similar functionality. Programming language for extending the functionality is PL/SQL; however, real-life applications will also need serious HTML/CSS/JavaScript skills. No application server license needed. Strongly supported by the other half of Oracle (the database people); good community support. 27 APR 2011
BPEL Negative Oracle's implementation of the BPEL standard. Useful when you need to implement workflows that involve both people and multiple systems. Oracle still has difficulty positioning BPEL vs BPM. Not widely used, possibly due to enterprise-level price tag. 04 APR 2011
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, and repository for design capture of Oracle Forms now exist in Application Express. 28 JUN 2010
Forms Neutral While considered legacy technology by many organizations, still i widespread use and supported until at least 2017. Forms 11g offered a few new features like JavaScript integration. Only web deployment support, requiring an application server license. Some work required to move from client/server to web deployment. 12 SEP 2010
Reports Neutral 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 Negative 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 - witness the new SQL Developer 3.0. 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. 12 APR 2010
Oracle Portal Negative Oracle is positioning Oracle WebCenter as the new portal, and Portal 11g does not contain any significant new features. Still an excellent choice for organizations unwilling to invest in the expensive enterprise-level Oracle WebCenter product. 28 JUN 2010
Oracle WebCenter Negative The new portal, re-engineered in Java to support the latest standards and Web 2.0 buzzwords. At the core of Oracle Fusion Applications (where it is included in the license), but the very high stand-alone license price ($125,000 per CPU) means that nobody else is using it. 28 JUN 2010

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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