Is Oracle an “Art”, a “Science” or a “Craft”?
There is a debate in the Oracle community about whether Oracle is a
science, a craft, or an art. Chris Lawson, author of the
and Science of Oracle Performance Tuning” book,
his opinion on the “art” vs. “science” issue:
easiest way to enhance your credibility is to write articles for
Besides the local user groups, they are
numerous technical journals that are happy to review submissions-even
from unknown writers."
Oracle as a Science
Here, I note my personal opinions of what constitutes a credible
technical reference on the web and why it's important to disregard
anyone who will not reveal their qualifications and background.
Others disagree on the pragmatic value of the Oracle scientific
movement, as this
ex-Oak Table member notes:
"The scientific minutiae, however "true" they might be, would
merely confuse; the bold, sweeping statement, however simplistic, will
nevertheless explain, despite the bold, sweeping statement not being
I simplify like that every
time I'm in the training room, and most times I post to c.d.o.s: but
it is clearly incompatible with the pure science of Oracle espoused by
the Oak Table.
There is also a danger that one gets
so addicted to that sort of science that one forgets that it is, of
itself, of practical relevance to a miniscule number of people"
Oracle as a Craft
Not everyone agrees that it's valuable to have a college
degree in computer science or Information Technology to be
an effective Oracle professional. In this blog, Doug Burns
notes his argument that Oracle is a “craft” more than a
"So here are a few opinions before I shut up
1) Mr. Don
talk rubbish. I have a very basic high school
education but left pretty quickly to play around with computers and
taught myself. I've lost count of the number of degree-educated
colleagues who I wouldn't allow near a database. This is a craft, so
I'll be judged by the quality of my work and not pieces of unrelated
paper. I'm surprised you didn't check out my qualifications before
including someone else’s comments on my work
on your website. People need to be careful getting
their information on the web - the author might not have a degree!
2) The Oak Table Network. I had high hopes in the past, but when I
was at the recent UK OUG conference I attended a couple of Q&As and
the like and the participants sounded as self-serving and unscientific
of opinion as the people they profess to challenge. I'd like to
specifically exclude Jonathan Lewis from this criticism. If there's a
true Oracle scientist I've come across, he's it, and Cary Millsap too.
3) Oh dear ... then I buy Cary's Optimizing Oracle Performance
book and I was really excited about that. Loved loads of the content
too but there is absolutely no chance I'll ever read it all because I
found it too hard to get past page after page of 'you've been doing it
wrong all these years, here's how to do it right'. Then telling me how
to do what I've known for some time. It's this setting up of knowledge
as some kind of rare genius that used to put me off a lot of Oracle
professionals. When I read the introduction to this book, I wasn't
sure whether it was going to be about Oracle Performance or explain
how to solve world famine. The problem is that everyone seems to be at
4) And have you ever read any of those Oracle Press
TUSC books? Unbelievable! I'm planning on declaring myself the world's
foremost expert on SQL*Plus at some point in the future just so I can
get my name on the cover of a book."