Tag Archives: PL/SQL

Trying to Make Oracle Cool

Oracle currently hosting a series of Oracle Code events across the world, today in New York. You’d expect an event with this name would focus on Oracle tools, but no. Oracle instead decided to throw together presentations on every buzzword they could think of. So if you attend an Oracle Code event, you can hear about Node.JS, DevOps, microservices, Agile, Docker, Spark, JSON, Chatbots, and Kafka.

This is like Sears or Macy’s sponsoring a snowboarding competition. The hip crowd might show up, but they won’t shop at the department store afterward.

Oracle has powerful, productive, mature tools like APEX and ADF, as well as new and interesting things like Oracle JET and Application Builder Cloud Service (ABCS). But they decided to spend this year’s developer outreach budget on events almost completely unrelated to Oracle technology. Not a smart move.

As an Oracle developer, don’t let this marketing misstep get you down. Oracle has great development tools, even if they don’t talk about them. And hey, today’s Oracle Code event in New York even has a session on SQL and PL/SQL by Peter Koletzke. There is hope.


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The Future of PL/SQL

A question that comes up very often when I advise individuals and organizations about how to use Oracle technology is “What is the future of PL/SQL?”.

The answer is that PL/SQL is not growing, but not going away either. Because it is used in the Oracle database, and the Oracle database is a fixture of enterprise systems world-wide, it will outlive you. High-performance batch processing has to happen close to the data, so PL/SQL will continue to rule in this area. But everything else we are doing in PL/SQL can be implemented in other layers, other tools, and other programming languages.

That’s why it has a yellow horizontal arrow on oratoolwatch.com and has had for a while.

The Market for PL/SQL Programmers

The value of a skill depends on the relationship between the number of people with the skill and the number of jobs requiring that skill. For PL/SQL, the amount of work is constant, but the number of people with PL/SQL skills is declining.

The Future of PLSQL

Right now, PL/SQL is not a highly paid skill, as the following yearly salary data (U.S.) from indeed.com shows.

PLSQL salary

However, PL/SQL programmers are leaving the profession – they become managers, change to a different technology, or retire – and new people are not joining (yet). When was the last time you saw a young PL/SQL programmer?

By 2020, the salary of PL/SQL programmers will have gone up as the scarcity sets in. By 2024, PL/SQL programming will have become a highly-paid specialty (like COBOL is today), and the salary increase will tempt new developers into the field.

What Does That Mean for Managers?

If you are an IT manager, you are likely to have enough PL/SQL programmers today. But it will become increasingly difficult to replace them. In poker terms, you have the choice of either calling or going all-in with PL/SQL.

If you call (stay in the game without raising), you should consider PL/SQL a specialized technology allowed in two places:

  • In existing applications already based on PL/SQL
  • In new applications for batch processing of database data

If you go all-in, you should use PL/SQL wherever feasible in order to maintain and expand the PL/SQL  competency of your team. PL/SQL can do integration, call web services, write files, and you can build user interfaces with PL/SQL and tools like Application Express (APEX).

What Does That Mean for Developers?

If you are an individual developer, this means:

  • If you don’t know PL/SQL, don’t bother learning it (yet)
  • If you do know PL/SQL, you don’t have to learn something else. But look for an organization that’s all-in on PLSQL.


Edit 2016-08-05: Please also read Steven Feuerstein’s response to this post.


ODTUG Conference, Tuesday

Preparing for my own presentation, I missed Grant Ronalds presentation on declarative development with JDeveloper. But he showed that it’s possible to build a complete ADF Faces application without writing a single line of code.

I saw Scott Spendolini give a very good presentation on some relatively cheap 3rd party components that you could integrate into you APEX application. At the PL/SQL expert panel they gave out a quiz to all developers. Steven Feuerstein had found a lot of interesting corners – it seems I don’t know PL/SQL as well as I thought…

At the Oracle ACE Directors briefing, Duncan Mills and Clemens Utschig told us about Oracles strategy, new releases etc., Unfortunately, we are not allowed to talk about much of it until July 1st… The focus was on the BEA aquisition, which seems to be progressing nicely with some interesting parts being integrated into the Oracle product palette. After the Oracle presentations, Oracle ACE Directors Eric Marcoux, Andrejus Baranovskis and Lucas Jellema presented some of the things whey are working on, including a big WebCenter-based application and a Forms to ADF Faces migration.

After the briefing, I gave my own presentation “What’s Hot and What’s Not”, trying to explain all the choices available to Oracle developers today. I’ve been talking to a lot of people at this conference and have had to conclude that ADF Swing is simply not being used much. So ADF Swing has been downgraded from dark green green to a yellow (see my Oracle Tools page).

Then it was off to first the Oracle ACE panel moderated by Justin Kestelyn of OTN for an interesting discussion about the role of the ACEs, followed by the Meet the ACEs reception. After reception, I headed to Arnaud’s for the Oracle ACE dinner. Amazingly, among the eight people at our table, we had Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America and Australia represented – only Antarctica was missing. The Oracle ACE program is truly global!