From the Editor
Pure ToolsBy Tom Haunert
Use tools as their creators intended, extend their range, and reinvent them.
Many years ago I was helping a couple of car mechanic friends with some work on a backlog of repairs. (I did simple work, such as spark plug changes—so no, I can’t help rebuild your transmission.) On one car, the mechanics were working together on a particular problem with a variety of automotive tools.
These professional mechanics had a collection of tools that was simply overwhelming, to the point where if you needed a tool that wasn’t in the “active” tool cart, you searched through drawers and drawers of “archived” tools until you almost inevitably found the tool you needed. Yes, almost inevitably.
As many different standard (and metric) tools as these mechanics had, they didn’t have every tool they might ever need. So as new technologies were introduced and new cars required new, specialized tools, they bought new multipurpose tools, modified existing tools to enable different access or extend useful reach, and created or bought specialty tools that might only ever get used on a single job.
That day when I was helping out, after my friends had invested some time in that one problem car (trying all sorts of creative solutions with all sorts of active, archived, modified, and specialty tools from other jobs) they took a break and started talking strategy. There was a specialty tool manufactured specifically for this and only this procedure, and the mechanics knew it. But the current job was on a rare make and model car they didn’t think they were likely to see again, so they didn’t want to invest in that new tool.
During the strategy conversation, there was some misdirected cursing about “the trouble with tools,” and at some point, one of the mechanics started defending tools, quoting the adage “the right tool for the right job” and reminding us that using the wrong tool is a mechanic’s error. It’s not the tool’s fault, he said, adding, “Tools are pure.”
I don’t know if the mechanics were motivated by the conversation, feeling better about the problem because of the time away from it, or if irony rules the world, but when they got back to the car, the problem was solved within minutes, with the current tools—“pure,” extended, and specialty—in the shop.
The Issue at Hand
The May/June issue of Oracle Magazine has come to be known as our developer issue, and in this issue’s cover feature, “United Development,” Mike Hichwa, Oracle’s vice president of software development, database group, looks at the supply of current technologies and the demand for development tools. “Today’s developers are forced to pay attention probably to 20 technologies, where before they could concentrate on maybe three or four,” he says. “That puts extra emphasis on the need for better tools.”
Fortunately, all sorts of development tools—pure, extensible, and specialty—are readily available through traditional channels as well as new development environments.
For example, Oracle Application Express is available for download, and a hosted version has been available for some time at apex.oracle.com. It is also now available for cloud development with Oracle Database and Oracle Fusion Middleware in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. In “Converting Forms,” author David Peake walks through the use of tools old and new: he describes how to use the specialized Oracle Forms to Oracle Application Express 3.2 migration process to take advantage of the latest database releases and Web 2.0 interactivity. And in “Creating Custom Authentication,” author Raj Mattamal describes how to extend Oracle Application Express authentication schemes to provide a custom solution for sign-on and sign-off for a suite of applications.
For Oracle Fusion Middleware developers, there are always new tools to try, extend, and build. In “Extending a Helping Hand,” author Steve Muench uses pure Java, the thoroughly extensible Oracle JDeveloper 11g, and Oracle Application Development Framework (Oracle ADF) to create framework extensions for Oracle ADF business components.
For .NET developers working with Oracle Database, Oracle Data Provider for .NET (ODP.NET) is the pure provider. In “The Right Transaction,” author Mark Williams extends best-practice information for managing transactions within .NET applications that access Oracle Database via ODP.NET.
Tom Haunert, Editor in Chief