I Love the New Toad Freeware.docx - Bert Scalzo by fjzhangweiqun


									I Love the New Toad Freeware!
Quest recently released a new and updated of the Toad freeware. The old freeware was based on the
old Toad 8.5 code base which came out before 10gR2, 11gR1 and 11gR2. So for example it had some
problems supporting database versions and features that came out years later (e.g. 11g case sensitive
passwords). The new freeware is based off the latest and greatest Toad 10.5 code base. So it’s as good
as the current commercial in terms of database version and feature support. Plus the old freeware had
some governors or feature limits that people did not like which have been removed (e.g. the save as or
export data operation used to limit to 500 rows – now unlimited). So the new freeware really rocks.

Many if not most Toad users generally rely upon four key screens: database connect, schema browser,
editor and options. And all four of these are fantastic in the new freeware – with but a few limitations
we’ll examine. All in all, I think the new Toad freeware should quiet critics who often labeled the prior
freeware as “crippleware”. The new Toad freeware has so few reasonable limits that it should become
the Oracle database tool of choice for everyone who needs a free tool. So let’s look at those four key
screens and how well the function.

We all have to connect to a database in order to do any meaningful work. So the new and improved
connection screen makes all Toad work more enjoyable. See how I’ve organized my connections via the
options toolbar icon (i.e. toolbox) to do a traditional Toad “tabbed” display style by database user. Plus I
could also have drag-and-dropped any other column to the header area to group by that value instead
or in addition to. Thus organizing database connections both organizes and streamlines the connection
process. The only limitation is that you can only have one of the defined connections active at any given
instant. Since many people often work on just one database at a given time anyhow, this is not a major
The schema browser is very popular with many people as it’s the quickest and easiest way to navigate
around and learn what objects database contains – and very little detail about those items you care to
look at. In fact the schema browser detail’s for an object is exactly what the “Describe” feature (F4)
displays. Basically you get the full commercial product features – minus just four sensible limits that
most people can live with (see pop-up in screen snapshot below). First, you don’t get all the tabs for all
the objects possible. But as you can see you get all the useful ones for most cases for a business analyst
or database developer. The missing items are those just database level objects required for a DBA to
manage the database, such as tablespaces, users, roles, profiles, jobs, etc. Basically the objects truly
owned by a schema are present, and those owned by the database itself are not. Second, the multi-
select when performing right-hand-mouse options are not available. So while I can select a table and
perform a truncate operation, I cannot do a group of them in a single pass. But no feature or capability is
missing, just the convenience of the multi-select. As before, for many this is a very tolerable item. As for
the final two items (e.g. History and Jump Navigation), most people don’t know what those are or use
them in the commercial product. So again, their absence is no big deal.

The editor (arguably the most used screen) is not noticeably limited – in fact most people, even long
time commercial product users, will be hard pressed to find lacking. The only restrictions worth noting
are that certain high value features are disabled – namely the formatter and SQL Optimizer. But you get
two very useful items – the PL/SQL Debugger and the new Auto-Debugger shown below. For those who
are not familiar with IDE’s interactive source level debuggers, the auto debugger fully automates what
many people currently do manually. The auto debugger can intelligently “pepper” your code with print
statements (e.g. calls to DBMS_DEBUG) for the variables of interest – and remove them when you are
done. So now you can simply run your PL/SQL program and then visually examine the print output in the
DBMS_OUTPUT tab. Since that’s how many people work anyhow – now the freeware fully supports the
way people prefer to debug. That’s a ton of capability and value all for free!
Finally as a robust and mature product, Toad has a plethora of options. Now the freeware offers all
those the commercial users have become accustomed to. Including the powerful search shown here
below that enables users to find what they’re looking for amongst the many options – and highlights
and flashes it to focus your attention. And my personal favorite, the “Apply” button which lets you
incrementally set the many settings without possibly losing them all by a fat finger or crash. That one
item alone is enough reason for me to upgrade to the new freeware 

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