I found sqlplus'interface is rather outdated. It's quite nice to have some commands or keywords at disposal, but for example no "arrow-up" key for the previous history entry is available.

What is a good replacement / extension for sqlplus? Could be a GUI or better (so it stays useful via SSH) a command line utility.

SQL*Plus is the main command line tool to operate with the Oracle Database.


14 Answers 14


A very easy tweak is to add rlwrap.


but for example no "arrow-up" key for the previous history entry is available.

You're talking about sqlplusw the "GUI" tool - the oldschool sqlplus does support arrow-up-bring-previous-statements feature.

What is a good replacement / extension for sqlplus

Oracle's SQL Developer, a free GUI-based tool, is pretty neat.

If you're a vim addict, there's VoraX which is augments SQL*Plus very well.

VoraX aims to be a simple, yet a powerful IDE for Oracle databases. Instead of reinventing the wheel, VoraX relies on the well-known SqlPLUS which is actually used to connect to the database, to execute SQL statements and to get the results back. However, this interaction is hidden from the user who just uses his/her Vim environment without knowing that, behind, a SqlPLUS process does all the work.

The big advantage of this approach is that almost all SqlPLUS commands may be used without a problem. You can format columns, set pagination, autotrace queries etc.


  • 99.9% of the sqlplus commands supported
  • advanced code completion
  • it runs on Windows and UNIX
  • a nice results window with highlighting for errors and logging support
  • a database explorer which may be used to browse the database objects in a hierarchical way
  • support for editing and compiling PLSQL objects like packages, types etc.
  • convenient key mappings for: describe object under cursor, execute current statement etc.
  • connection profiles management (including securely storing of passwords)
  • fuzzy search for database items
  • offline search for Oracle html documentation

Each site I've consulted with that had Oracle swore by Toad as an interface for queries. Not the DBAdmins, but mostly the developers.


SQL Tools is an alternative I have tried. It didn't suit my needs, but it might yours. SQL Tools++ is built on SQL Tools.


For GUI, I use SQL Developer from Oracle. It has just about everything you might need, including prebuilt SQL for ASH/AWR reports, sessions, memory, and other management. It's helpful to me since my official role isn't DBA but I do a lot of that work.

SQL Plus has an equivalent to the up arrow: list or l. It's not as good, just showing the last command only and you still have to copy & paste it into the prompt.


Some of my co-workers like WinSQLLite.


SQL Pal came very close to replacing SQLPlus for me.


SQL*Plus has a role for Oracle Database Administration, very similar like vi has in the UNIX/Linux OS world. It is not everybodys darling, but it will always be there and it will always work. Better get familiar with it if you are a DBA.

Developers can afford to strive for something more comfortable like SQL Developer :-)


since you mentioned ssh; you might want to take a look at DbVisualizer It has integrated ssh tunneling, is running on multiple platforms and supports about every database that has a jdbc driver available. The developer is also very responsive and if you happen to be able to find a not supported database, they will add it with pleasure. (and quick).

One of the other 'killer' features is graphs directly from a result set and the monitoring feature. This is a timed query that appends the results to a grid that we can use to create a graph from, realtime. For example see Ad hoc monitoring


I found that Emacs SQLi is very pleasure environment:

It have:

  • input history
  • sending current paragraph or selected region to SQL Plus
  • basic help on tables and view DDL
  • basic syntax highlighting

And also work with a lot of another DB CLI clients and from GUI or terminal interface (through ssh) with COPY/PASTE and other advanced editing abilities!


What about TOra?

TOra (Toolkit for Oracle) is a free software database development and administration GUI, available under the GNU General Public License. It features a PL/SQL debugger, an SQL worksheet with syntax highlighting, a database browser and a comprehensive set of database administration tools.

  • Are you associated with TOra in any way? If you are, you should make that clear in your post. If you aren't you probably should make that clear when posting what appears to be an advertisement for the product mentioned. Thanks!
    – Hannah Vernon
    Apr 1, 2013 at 15:20

At this moment, if you want a more up to date replacement for sqlplus, I would say, go for SQLcl. It is part of sqldeveloper and has a lot of nice features you always wanted to have but were afraid to ask for. You can download it for free here sql-developer/downloads (check bottom of page for SQLcl download) It has

  • keyword completion
  • column and tablename completion
  • really nice output format options for json,csv,ansiconsole
  • pretty compatible to sqlplus
  • command history

Good news: it is free! Also, it is based on Java so it runs on a lot of platforms. See this nice video where it is introduced


By means of the Oracle Thin client you can use any JDBC client:

You mentioned a preference for command-line tools for use via SSH, but in case your SSH connection supports tunnels you may be able to use the GUI tools as well by connecting to the server through the tunnel.


You should try out dbWatch. It is a tool for monitoring, reporting and administration across database platforms. It currently supports Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Sybase and Ingres.

One of the things included in dbWatch is SQL Worksheet which is a sqlplus like interface that also allows for cross database sqls, for example if you are looking for a table across all your databases or want to remove a user.

I work there and i suggest you try it out. (http://www.dbwatch.com/)Let us know what you think. There is a 10 day free full use license included by default, but we extend your test period if you need a bit more time to test it.


  • While we appreciate your comments, you should try to provide an answer to the question instead of trying to flog your product.
    – Hannah Vernon
    Mar 12, 2013 at 18:57

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