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Application Development

Speeding Development Strategies

Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud offers more choices and easier development.

By David A. Kelly

November/December 2018

Twenty years ago, IT organizations generally included two types of developers: back-end database developers and front-end application developers. Today’s developers, however, work beyond those limitations to create applications and solutions that call on data, logic, and processes that might reside on back-end databases or datasources, midtier application servers, microservices, and multiple and varied front-end targets.

What’s the key to being a modern developer, building both back-end and front-end logic and interfaces? Do you need to master SQL, PL/SQL, database tuning, Java, and JavaScript? In short, no. The key to being a modern developer isn’t mastery of any one specific tool or language. Instead, it’s a learning mindset. Developers must always be pushing to learn more—more about new technologies; more about new tools; and, perhaps most important of all, more from other developers and developer communities. (See “Oracle Developer Advocates Team” for more information on developer and community support.)

Developers want to create something. They’re excited when they dig in and build a solution. But I think it’s also important for them to not reinvent functionality just because it’s fun to build.”—Gerald Venzl, Senior Principal Product Manager, Oracle

And while PL/SQL continues to be a powerful language for modern Oracle Database application development, a lot of new database application development is being driven by new API and interface requirements and by developers with a wide range of backgrounds and technology skills, from PHP and Python experts to developers using REST APIs with JavaScript. And there’s good news for developers who may have been slowed by database tuning issues in the past: With database technology advances such as Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud, being a database application development expert doesn’t require knowing how to tune or administer the internals of relational databases.

Finding the Right Everything

Application developers have more languages, drivers, frameworks, APIs, and services to choose from now than ever before. Although that’s great for flexibility and optimization, it can be somewhat overwhelming for less-experienced or new developers. How do you know what the right approach is for your needs?

As an enterprise-class solution that supports open standards, Oracle Database provides drivers for every popular language, including Node.js, PHP, Python, .NET, C, C++, PHP, Go, Argo, and more. Members of the open source developer community provide additional language support by contributing code on places such as GitHub, and they share their knowledge and code examples on their blogs, forums, and community portals.

Oracle Developer Advocates Team

Oracle Database powers tens of thousands of applications around the world. The Oracle Developer Advocates team is on a mission to help developers make full use of Oracle Database to build high-performance, ultrasecure, and easily maintained applications. This small but busy team publishes blogs and videos, shares tips and how-tos on Twitter and other social media platforms, and much more. Oracle’s Chris Saxon and Connor McDonald have taken over the famous Ask TOM site after Tom Kyte’s retirement, and they have raised it to new heights of activity. Ask TOM now offers monthly Office Hours sessions with dozens of Oracle Database experts. The team also publishes quizzes, workouts, and classes on Oracle Dev Gym, a unique “active learning” site that uses quizzes to reinforce knowledge gleaned from videos and tutorials.

“Everyone knows how powerful Oracle Database is, but not enough developers realize how much they can benefit by fully leveraging all the development features of the database,” says Steven Feuerstein, a longtime PL/SQL expert and team lead. “The Oracle Developer Advocates are doing everything we can to get that word out and help developers be more successful.”

Data access to an Oracle Database instance can also be provided via standard RESTful web services that can be consumed by any language. With Oracle REST Data Services, a developer can write SQL and publish that SQL as a REST API. Oracle REST Data Services will automatically map input values in REST GET or POST operations, bind them to the SQL statement, and return the results in JSON.

“REST is the most common way you’re going to do something, unless there’s some complex reason you can’t do it that way,” says Mike Hichwa, vice president of software development at Oracle. “It’s becoming the lingua franca.”

Oracle Database development tools, all free to use, include Oracle SQL Developer; Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler; Oracle SQLcl; and Oracle Application Express, which enables developers who are comfortable with SQL to create modern, responsive web applications very quickly.

“If you want a tool for application development or data access, Oracle has you covered,” says Hichwa. “We have the industry’s leading data modeler, the most capable REST-to-relational database tool, drivers for all the most popular languages, and higher-level tools that can provide a visual or 4GL experience.” (The Oracle Database Application Development page includes links to language support and drivers for Node.js, Python, PHP, .NET, Java, C, C++, and more and Oracle Database development tools.)

The Cloud and Autonomous Services

Many Oracle Database application developers already have used Oracle Cloud services to create solutions faster and with fewer resources. But for even-more-rapid development and deployment cycles, Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud is the next big advance. Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud uses machine learning to automatically maintain and tune itself, eliminating manual tuning, errors, and labor.

“Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud will basically provide faster time to market because developers won’t have to worry about back-end details. They can simply build their application and rely on Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud to handle the workload and retune the system as needed,” says Gerald Venzl, senior principal product manager for application development at Oracle.

Recognize

The Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassadors program recognizes modern expert developers who blog, write articles, and present on topics such as containers, microservices, SQL, NoSQL, open source technologies, machine learning, and chatbots. Learn more and follow the Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassadors.

This can be a real advantage for developers when they scale their solutions from the development or pilot stage to production. Instead of having to invest resources and time to take a solution live on a larger scale, developers can rely on Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud to automatically take care of the scaling aspect.

“Autonomous is the next step, where you have a database service and don’t have to care about how it’s set up and what you have to do to keep it running optimally,” says Venzl. “I think it’s an exciting time for developers.”

Delivering Innovation Faster

The future has never looked brighter for database application development with a great combination of modern standards such as REST and JSON and with drivers, services, and tools that address all mainstream development languages and needs. Perhaps now, with so many great solutions, the challenge for developers is not just to get the job done, but to once in a while take a step back and ask themselves if they’re doing the job in the most efficient way.

“I believe that the best developers are builders,” says Venzl. “Developers want to create something. They’re excited when they dig in and build a solution. But I think it’s also important for them to not reinvent functionality just because it’s fun to build. Instead, developers need to take a look at what’s out there and see what they can leverage—whether it’s functionality in Oracle Database or frameworks and resources available through developer communities—so they don’t reinvent the wheel over and over again. If developers do that, they’ll be able to drive innovation even faster.”

Next Steps

DOWNLOAD Oracle Database application development drivers and tools.

LEARN more about Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud.

TRY Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud.

Illustration by Wes Rowell