Oracle Upgrades, Expands .NET Offerings

Oracle is giving its .NET tools an upgrade and adding a new one to the portfolio.

The database giant today released beta versions of free tools intended to provide Visual Studio developers improved access to the Oracle 10g database. The betas were released at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Orlando, where Oracle is also providing a demo.

The upgraded tools include Oracle Data Provider for .NET, known as ODP.NET, and Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio.NET. The tools have some capabilities that take advantage of the company's forthcoming Oracle 11g database, which is expected to be released by year's end.

The new tool is a data provider for ASP.NET development.

While the company is not saying when it will make the new tools generally available, officials describe the betas as ready for use in development environments.

"It's a very high quality beta, so people can start using the Visual Studio tools immediately," said Christian Shay, an Oracle product manager for .NET and Windows technology.

ODP.NET provides rich access to the Oracle database from the .NET environment, notably Visual Studio 2005. The data provider lets developers access key functions of Oracle's database, such as Real Application Clusters, XML DB and security features in any .NET language including C# and Visual Basic .NET.

The key new feature in ODP.NET is user-defined types, which allow developers to construct abstract data types so they can treat them as a single entity. For example if a developer is creating a person as a data type, instead of having to pass around that person's name, address, telephone number as data types, the developer can pass it around as a whole entity, said Alex Keh, another Oracle product manager.

"That way it becomes much more manageable, much easier for developers to work with data when they can treat it as a collective entity as opposed to individual constituent parts," he says.

Among other new features Oracle is adding to ODP.NET include improved client access, support for pooling of Windows-authenticated user connections and the inclusion of connection pool status monitors.

Keh said the new release will support in excess of a five-times query performance improvement against Oracle's forthcoming Oracle 11g database. He added that Oracle will achieve that speed by taking advantage of new caching technology in the database, which has been in beta release since last October.

Oracle is also updating its Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio .NET, adding full support for Visual Studio 2005. That update will let developers take advantage of drag-and-drop code generation from the data sources window in Visual Studio 2005, as well as the data set designer, and the table adaptor configuration wizard 2005.

That will let developers automatically generate .NET code, minimizing the amount of coding they'll have to do, allowing them to more rapidly generate applications, Shay said, adding that Oracle is also targeting ASP.NET developers with this release.

"Our goal with this release is to make it easy for ASP.NET developers to rapidly generate Web applications without having to write very much SQL or .NET code," Shay said.

To increase usability, Oracle has added the ability to explain execution plans on SQL statements, so that people can tune their SQL statements without having to leave Visual Studio. The tools also integrate with Microsoft Query Designer.

The new tool in the suite, the data providers for ASP.NET, allows developers to build code that can store session state easily within the Oracle database, according to Keh. The new tool provides support for eight providers including membership roles, Web events and personalization information.

Developers can download the betas here from the Oracle Technology Network.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of and news editor of Visual Studio Magazine.