Because it’s a PL/SQL development tool focused on PL/SQL development. Most of the other tools like TOAD or SQL Developer which I also used in the past, have great DBA/query functionality, but suck from a “state of the art” programming point of view.
Sure they all have a PL/SQL editor with auto replace and template support. In the meanwhile SQL Developer is now also able to do file based PL/SQL development. In one of the first versions you could just edit the packages stored in the database repository. Can you imagine doing professional development where your code is just stored in the database?!?! Me not! That was a killer criteria not to use it at that time – independent if it was for free or not.
So what makes PL/SQL developer different compared to TOAD and SQL Developer?
It’s the code complete/code insight/auto complete or however the IDEs call it and which you are used to from modern Java/.Net/… IDEs. Now you will say: “Hey, TOAD and SQL Developer have that too!”. Yes they have, but just a basic one which only offers auto complete for tables/views.
The auto complete I’m talking about knows about the PL/SQL code you wrote. If works for local variables, packages, procedures of the packages, parameters of this procedures, … If you are getting used to to press Alt+space to complete what you are typing, it can really speed up your development!
I’m not talking about the other features like refactoring support, variable highlighting and so on what the tool also offers. Check it out by yourself.
If you are used to TOAD, changing to this new IDE can be a little bit irritating at the beginning, because the way windows are handled is different and you have to get used to the SQL Window which requires a semi-color for SQL statements.
But it’s worth trying out – from a PL/SQL developer point of view – a DBA should stay with his TOAD/SQL Developer.
BTW, I’m not paid for this article. I’m just a satisfied user of that tool and I see to often unproductive PL/SQL development with the wrong tools.
Update: Another useful feature is the integrated compiler which shows you warnings for unused variables/parameters or if the naming doesn’t comply to your styleguide.