Getting Started with SQL Developer: Part 1

7 min read

Preparing your environment

Preparing your environment depends on a few factors, including the platform you are working on and whether you have an early edition of SQL Developer previously installed. First, you need to locate the software, download, and install it.

Finding and downloading the software

SQL Developer is available through a variety of sources as both a standalone download and as part of the Oracle Database and Oracle JDeveloper installations.

SQL Developer is a free product, and you can download it from the Oracle Technology Network, Use this link to reach the download for the latest standalone production release. It also includes details of the release and is regularly updated with news of preview releases and new articles. While SQL Developer is free to download and use, you are required to read and agree to the license before you can proceed with the download. The product also falls under Oracle Support contracts, if you have a Support contract for the database, which means that you can log Oracle Support tickets.

Downloading and installing the Java Development Kit

SQL Developer requires the Java SE Development Kit (JDK); this includes the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and other tools, which are used by SQL Developer utilities such as the PL/SL Debugger.

For Microsoft Windows, you can download and install SQL Developer with the JDK already installed. This means you’ll download and unzip the product and will be ready to start, as there are no extra steps required. For the other operating systems, you’ll need to download the JDK and direct SQL Developer to the path yourself. Indeed, as many other products require a JDK to be installed, you may already have one on your system. In this case, just direct the product to use an existing JDK installation. For Microsoft Windows, ensure you download SQL Developer without the JDK to make use of an existing JDK installation.

The SQL Developer download site offers a selection of download choices:

  • Microsoft Windows (with or without the JDK)
  • Linux (without the JDK)
  • Mac OS X (without the JDK)

In each case, make your selection and download the required file.

The download sites for the JDK are as follows:

SQL Developer is shipped with the minimum JDK required. You can download and use the latest updates to the JDK. You should be aware that some updates to the JDK are not supported. This detail is posted on the SQL Developer Downloads page for each release. Starting from SQL Developer 2.1, JDK 1.6 is the minimum JDK supported.

Once you have installed the JDK, you can start SQL Developer.

Installing and starting SQL Developer

SQL Developer does not use an installer. All you need to do is unzip the given file into an empty folder, locate, and run the executable.

Do not unzip SQL Developer into an $Oracle_Home folder or an existing SQL Developer install.

Unzipping the file creates an sqldeveloper folder, which includes a selection of sub-folders and fles, including the sqldeveloper.exe executable.

If your download does not include the JDK, then you’ll be prompted for the full path of the java.exe. Browse to the location of the fle and select it. The path should include the full path and executable (for example, C:Program FilesJavajdk1.6.0_13binjava.exe):

Oracle SQL Developer 2.1

Working with different platforms

Whether you are accessing SQL Developer as part of the Oracle Database 11g installation or as a stand-alone install, there is a selection of executables available to you. These are either platform specifc or provide additional detail while running the product.

Microsoft Windows

The first executable you’ll find is in the root folder sqldeveloper. This is the executable more generally used. If you navigate down to sqldeveloperbin, there are two additional executables, sqldeveloper.exe and sqldeveloperW.exe. The latter is the same as the executable in the root folder. Use either of these for running SQL Developer.

The additional executable is often used for debugging purposes. Use sqldeveloperbinsqldeveloper.exe to invoke SQL Developer and a separate console window which displays additional Java messages. You can use these messages when encountering errors in the product and if you want to log an issue with Oracle Support.

Oracle SQL Developer
Three steps to getting started on Microsoft Windows:

Download: Download the full file, with JDK, from the Oracle Technology Network website
Unzip: Unzip the file to an empty directory
Double-click: Double-click on the sqldevelopersqldeveloper.exe file

Alternative platforms

Microsoft Windows is the predominant platform used by SQL Developer users. There is a steadily growing audience for Linux and Max OS X. As neither of these platform downloads include the JDK, you need to first access, download, and install the JDK. On starting either Linux or the Mac OS, you’ll be prompted for the full path of the JDK as described.

Mac OS X

Download the file specific to Mac OS X and unzip it to an empty folder. This creates an sqldeveloper folder, complete with files and sub-folders. Run the file.


Use the Linux rpm command to install SQL Developer. For example, your command might look like this:

rpm -Uhv sqldeveloper-

In the same way that unzip creates an sqldeveloper folder, with sub-folders and files, the rpm, command creates an sqldeveloper folder, complete with files and sub-folders. Switch to this new folder and run the executable.

Migrating settings from a previous release

On the initial startup of any release of SQL Developer, you may be asked one or two questions. The first is the location of the Java executable of the JDK as discussed. If you have installed the full release with the JDK, this question is skipped. The second question is if you want to migrate any preferences from a previous release. Regardless of whether this is the first SQL Developer install on the machine or not, the frst time you invoke SQL Developer, you are offered the choice of migrating your settings. You can migrate settings of any release from SQL Developer 1.5 and above. By default, the utility looks for the latest previous installation of the software.

Oracle SQL Developer 2.1

If you want to migrate from a different installation, select the Show All Installations button (seen above). This displays a list of all SQL Developer installations that have the system folder in the Documents and Settings system folder (for example, C:Documents and Settings<your_user>Application DataSQL Developersystem1. and includes releases from SQL Developer 1.5 and above. For releases prior to SQL Developer 1.5, the system folder was created within the SQL Developer install (for example, D:SQLDeveloperBuilds1.


Maintaining your environment

Once you have SQL Developer installed, it is helpful to know about the environmental settings and some of the files that are created when you start the product. Knowing about the version you have installed is important if only to be able to identify this when asking questions on the forum, or when contacting Oracle Support.

Verifying the current release

To verify the SQL Developer release you have, select the Help | About menu once you start SQL Developer or JDeveloper. In the dialog invoked, select the Extensions tab and find the Oracle SQL Developer extension, as shown in the next screenshot. This will match the build number on the download site if you have the latest release. The screenshot shows a number of the extensions that make up SQL Developer. If your dialog does not show the Version or Status columns, you can select the column headers to resize the visible columns and bring the others into focus.

Oracle SQL Developer 2.1

Using Check for Updates

SQL Developer offers a built-in patching and extensions utility, known as Check for Updates. Check for Updates is used to release:

  • SQL Developer extensions
  • General Oracle extensions
  • Minor patches
  • Third-party tools required by SQL Developer, such as the non-Oracle database drivers
  • Third-party extensions

You can control whether Check for Updates warns you about new updates using the Tools | Preferences menu. Select Extensions and then select Automatically Check for Updates. For SQL Developer extensions, if you already have SQL Developer installed and you’re not secured by a firewall, you’ll be alerted about new updates. You need not use the utility to get the updates, but you’ll be aware of the latest release from the alert. For all other extensions, you need to start Check for Updates to see what’s available. To do this, select Help | Check for Updates. In either situation, just follow the dialog to find the updates you require.


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