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Oracle Support Coming To VSTS 2010

Microsoft's announcement that it will offer an Oracle database plug-in for the next release of Visual Studio Team System is a coup for SQL Server developers who have little or no experience with the rival but widely deployed data repository.

The Oracle plug-in is a Database Schema Provider (DSP) that will be made available as an option to VSTS 2010 by Quest Software Inc., said Jason Zander, Microsoft's general manager for Visual Studio, who made the announcement at the VSLive! conference in San Francisco, as reported by Redmond Developer News editor Kathleen Richards.

"When you use those two things together, I will be able to write my code and explore my schemas and do all of that advanced functionality with Oracle," Zander said. "That gives Team System support for the three most popular databases in use by database programmers."

Quest is no stranger to the Oracle database platform -- it makes the widely used Toad for Oracle tools, which it has offered for more than 10 years. "In supporting Visual Studio Team System we are supporting another platform that an Oracle DBA or developer, if they want to be part of this Team System methodology, can use," said Daniel Norwood, a product manager at Quest.

The Oracle DSP will not come out of the box, but will be made available as a third-party add-on. Quest has not disclosed pricing and availability. Microsoft had earlier said that IBM will offer a VSTS 2010 plug-in for its own DB2 database platform. I talked with Norwood and Daniel Wood, development manager at Quest, to get an understanding of what this means.

Based on that interview, here's a brief FAQ:

How will this benefit database developers?
An application developer that needs to spend time working against a back-end database that one day that might be SQL Server, may move on to another project that's going to be on an Oracle database. The developer can maintain consistency with their tool set by sticking with VSTS and working against the different database platforms.

Does this presume the Visual Studio developer perhaps is not familiar with Oracle's PL/SQL language or do they have to have some understanding of that?
They are going to have some limited PL/SQL experience just by the nature that they're developing against Oracle. But developers can go in with limited PL/SQL experience, they can click, file, add new items inside of VSTS and get basic scripts that show them how to create the tables, the indexes, the views and the various other objects that they need for their application. They can then model those objects and change how they need to be to fit what they're developing.

Why can't it work with current or earlier versions of Visual Studio?
The code that enables the extensibility for companies like Quest or IBM to plug in these database schema providers will actually be released publicly for the first time in the 2010 via Microsoft's new Managed Extensibility Framework.

What Oracle databases will it work against?
Oracle 9i through 11g and above.

When will VSTS 2010 testers be able to try Quest's new plug-in?
A beta is planned in the coming weeks.

Are you testing Visual Studio 2010? We'd love to hear your findings for a cover story that Kathleen Richards is writing and will appear in Visual Studio Magazine next month. Please drop a line to her at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/25/2009

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