Andy Campbell has a great post about adding color to SQL*Plus. Now, I'm not one to go out and make changes like this to production without using them for 6 months or so... but...
Does SQL*Plus, much like vi (or 6, as the cool kids like to call it) become our bread and butter because of or rather in spite of it's stability (or perhaps one should look at it as lack of improvements) over time?
I made a point of becoming an expert with vi early in my career, and I've never regretted that choice. Much like the other basic components of living on a unix platform, it does it's job quickly and efficiently, with bells and whistles sacrificed in the name of speed and stability over time.
SQL*Plus... I suppose the biggest issue here is that new versions of Oracle rarely cause issue for scripts (can I get a shout out for svrmgrl?). Since that stability is a requirement (svrmgrl scripts were the ones that were broke, not ones involving sqlplus anyhow), change is going to arrive at a glacial pace.
There are some people attempting to implement newer feature sets. There are a few different replacements for sqlplus, I don't consider any of these ready for my production use.
So -- I'll go ahead and say it. Without a relatively large amount of customization, sqlplus is a pain in the ass. I guess vi is not a fair comparison for what I'm thinking. Sqlplus is a shell, vi isn't. Perhaps a better comparison is the bourne shell since both are evolving at about the same rate, both are about as irritating.
I suppose the point that I'm every so slowly arriving at, is that early in my career I shifted from bourne (and csh) to bash (I still hate you, HP/UX 10) and never looked back. Sure there's a script here or there that I've used bourne or ksh or csh with, but the majority of my daily work is in bash. Perhaps it's time to dig through the replacements I mentioned earlier and see if they're ready to be prime time players.
Or... do we keep tweaking sqlplus?