Oracle on Monday officially released the first major upgrade to SQL Developer, its free visual database development tool, with one key theme of the upgrade being the ability to browse non-Oracle databases.

SQL Developer 1.1 incorporates user feedback Oracle received after the vendor debuted the tool in its version 1.0 release in March 2006, according to Sue Harper, senior principal product manager for SQL Developer at Oracle.

SQL Developer simplifies the creation and debugging of code written in both structured query language (SQL) and Oracle's procedural language for SQL (PL/SQL).

While a main focus of SQL Developer 1.0 was its support for multiple platforms – the Windows, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems – the new release of the tool has expanded its links outside of Oracle's own databases to rival offerings, initially Microsoft's SQL Server and Access databases and MySQL's open-source database.

Oracle's Migration Technology Group is working on a further extension to SQL Developer that later this year will make it possible for developers to move some or all of the objects and data contained in third-party databases over to Oracle.

The tool now merits its own Oracle website, the SQL Developer Exchange, where developers can request new features, rate feature requests and share code extensions they've created.

Oracle definitely plans another release of SQL Developer, either to be called version 1.2 or 2.0, later this year, Harper said. The emphasis will likely be on tuning features and taking advantage of the functionality coming in the next major release of Oracle's enterprise database Oracle 11g. Oracle has yet to commit to a shipping date for 11g.