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Project Raptor - Oracle's New Tool for DBAs and Developers

By: Steve Callan
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It may be possible that raptors once feasted on toads, and if that were the case, it would be safe to assume that Oracle hopes its new Raptor product will do the same to the Toads of today. The features and functions all for free that ship with Raptor will likely give Quest Software's Toad product a run for its money. Oracle has been lacking a sophisticated tool like Raptor since, well, forever. The absence of such a tool has been filled by other vendors, Quest Software chief among them. Raptor has a long way to go before it achieves any sort of market parity with Toad. How many people use Toad? Quest Software states, "Toad for Oracle is the de-facto standard for database developers and administrators with a worldwide interactive community of 500,000 users." Raptor versus Toad ($$)

Oracle Corporation states that Raptor is 100% free to use, no licensing issues, nada. At some point in the future, there may be a fee to enable add-ons or some enhanced functionality. Toad, on the other hand, is free (up to a point) and has some usage restrictions. The restrictions or limitations are posted on the freeware version's Web site:

The TOAD Freeware version may be used for a maximum of five (5) users within Licensee's organization and expires each sixty (60) days, after which you will need to download and install the product again. For more than five (5) users within an organization, you will need to purchase licenses of Commerical [sic] TOAD. This license does not entitle Licensee to receive from Quest hard-copy documentation, technical support, telelphone [sic] assistance, or enhancements or updates to the Product.

Commercial Toad ranges from $870 to just over $4900 per seat license, depending upon the version. At the bottom end of the scale, six seats of Toad will cost over $5000, while the same six Raptor seats will cost nothing. At the rates Quest charges, perhaps some of the proceeds can go to a proofreader for their Web site. Support for Raptor is available at Oracle Technology Network, but being free, the support is not the same you would get via MetaLink.

For relatively small Oracle shops (less than five DBAs and developers combined), the user community acceptance of Raptor is going to be based on one factor: is Raptor so much better than Toad, that it makes it worthwhile to abandon the "de-facto standard?" Had Oracle Corporation been quicker to realize (or if recognized, able to do something about it) its glaring lack of a user-friendly administration/development tool, it wouldn't be in the position it is today: expending untold thousands, if not millions, of dollars with a virtually guaranteed return on investment of exactly zero percent. In other words, is Raptor too little too late? The Usual Stuff

Where to get it: Oracle Technology Network or at this shortcut.

Licensing: Oracle still (as of Jan 2006) has its standard licensing "scroll down and click I Accept" verbiage, but little to none of that applies. Oracle Corporation has acknowledged that the licensing information needs to be updated with respect to Raptor. JDeveloper's download page, as an example, reflects an updated license agreement.

Support: Project Raptor discussion forum (at the bottom of the database forums list). It is worthwhile browsing some of the previous discussions. Some of the recommendations requested/suggested by users are being implemented in the first official release. Then again, there are some which are not.

Documentation and training material: At the main Project Raptor page. This page also contains a ready-to-view PowerPoint presentation, which may be of use if you are the one trying to sell your company on using Raptor.

Installation and configuration: Simple and quick. Takes around 30 seconds to uncompress and is immediately ready to run. Installs in a folder named "raptor," and setting a connection to a database requires nothing more than entering information in a few fields.

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