Sunday, November 30, 2008

On the Road ... Again

I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days in Quebec City giving a keynote and conducting a Migration workshop. Very beautiful part of the world, but unfortunately it was all work and no play.

I have just landed in Birmingham for the UKOUG. {To prevent jetlag I am currently sitting in the hotel lobby doing email, blogs, OTN updates, etc ... and you thought international travel was so glamorous}

It's Sunday morning I got very little sleep on the plane, they don't have a room available until this afternoon, and the weather is overcast. However, I am excited to be over here in Blighty for my inaugural UKOUG.

Our development team is very geographical dispersed.
One of our newer team members, though not new to Oracle or APEX, Anthony Rayner is based here in the UK. This week will provide a good opportunity for us to spend some quality face-to-face time and go out on some customer visits.

While here I have a few presentations:
Roel Hartman and Dimitri Gielis have already posted a list of other APEX sessions.

There is an unofficial APEX Meetup Monday night straight after the UKOUG event. I am looking forward to catching up with many from the APEX community. There are sure to be several familiar faces, but I hope to also meet many others from our growing community who I haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet especially as I haven't been over to Europe much.

Next weekend is sure to be a real treat as I am off to see the final round of the World Rally Championship in Wales with my Uncle. I even brought an Aussie flag as there is a young up-and-coming Australian superstar called Chris Atkinson who drives for Subaru and is currently sitting in equal 4th in the championship. Had to bring lots of cold weather gear as it is almost gauranteed to be wet and very very cold standing in the middle of a forest waiting for cars to flashing past - I can't wait :)

The following week I am off to Beijing for "Oracle Develop - The premier development event", which is always fun as I get to spend time with some of my fellow PMs in foreign lands.

You will be pleased to know that we are happy with the progress being made with APEX 3.2 and have been getting some very valuable feedback from the limited early adopters.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Limited" Early Adopter for APEX 3.2 has started


Given our development timeframe we were unable to conduct an open Early Adopter program for APEX 3.2 Forms Conversion. Instead a very small number of customers have been invited to participate in a limited early adopter program.

Unfortunately for all those not invited you will need to wait for APEX 3.2 to be released before you can start playing with our Forms conversion offering.

I'm sure some of those involved will blog about their experience.

In the coming weeks I will be posting more information relating to APEX 3.2 Forms Conversion.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Forms Conversion Early Adopters

Initially the plan was to conduct a "Limited" Early Adopters (EA) for our new Forms Conversion Application Express 3.2. The intent was to have a small number of customers and work one-on-one with them to determine how well the tool performed.

We are not going to have this "Limited" Early Adopters now, but instead move straight to our normal Early Adopters that will be open to anyone and everyone. The main reason for this is we were close some weeks back to having a somewhat stable user interface for our new offering which we were looking to release. Then we basically ripped most of it apart and started rebuilding the majority of the screens. The end result is going to be a much better thought out design that will be easier to use and more productive.

We are still weeks away from getting all the screens put back together again and functioning the way we want. The majority of the development team is attending Oracle Openworld so there is another week before we can release the Early Adopters.

Once we get closer I will do another post.

To all those who sent me emails asking to be part of the "Limited" EA, I have been swamped preparing for Oracle Openworld and other events so my apologies for not responding to all of you.

Please be patient - I know the wait will be worthwhile!


My Coming Events ... or playing "Which city is this?"

Well September & October are certainly going to be busy months.

September 20 -26: San Francisco
Oracle Openworld 2008 - There are close to 40 APEX Sessions this year. If you look at my APEX Schedule you will see some of the sessions are already full {Thank-you Anton for helping me update the remaining seats}. Unfortunately it is impossible to attend all of them as there are several overlaps but I hope to get to a large number of them.

A couple of sessions I think should be on everyone's list (and not just because I'm involved with them) are S298610 - Soup-to-Nuts RAD Development Using Oracle SQL Developer and Oracle Application Express {Wednesday 9:00 - 10:00} and S300458 - Building Commercial Software-as-a-Service Applications with Oracle Application Express {Wednesday 17:00 - 18:00}.

I will then be flying directly from San Francisco to Australia. In total I will be spending almost 4 weeks in Australia and New Zealand. While there I have customer visits scheduled for Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, Auckland, and Rotorua. I will also be presenting at several conferences:
October 6 -7: Perth
AUSOUG - I have three sessions scheduled on APEX and SQL Developer.
October 8: Perth
Migrating from Access to APEX Workshop - This is an all day event that I am conducting with Blair Layton.
October 13 -14: Gold Coast
AUSOUG - I have two sessions scheduled on APEX and SQL Developer.
October 15: Gold Coast
Migrating from Access to APEX Workshop - This is the same all day event that I am conducting with Blair Layton, just on the Gold Coast this time.
October 21: Rotorua
NZOUG - I have one session on APEX and SQL Developer futures.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand and would like me to visit your organization drop me a note and I will see if I can squeeze you in. In some of the cities there are multi-customer sessions being held in the Oracle Offices where everyone is welcome.

Well after an exhausting schedule flying all over Australia and New Zealnd you would think I would come home and relax for a while. Unfortunately, I eventually get home on Thursday, 23rd October (after about 20 hours flying) only to jump on a plane again that Sunday. Thankfully this is just a short hop to Los Angeles for a Microsoft conference.
October 27 - 30: Los Angeles
PDC - I will be manning a demo booth and dragging as many Microsoft faithful into my lair to estoll the virtues of Oracle technology. I predominantly demo SQL Developer with as much APEX as I can.

Even though PDC goes to Thursday I won't be staying to the end of the conference as I need to fly to Chicago for APEXposed 2008. APEXposed 2008 is aimed squarely at APEX developers with lots of excellent and unique sessions. Many of the sessions will be different from those given at Oracle Openworld - I know mine are (which reminds me that I need to create those presentations).
October 29 -30: Chicago
APEXposed 2008 - I have a couple of new and interesting sessions to present.

So if you are in the vicinity of any of these events stop by if you can.

I enjoy traveling a lot, but my whirlwind trip of Australasia with multiple timezones, and many day trips to different cities, will certainly make it tricky to keep track of what city I am in - just hope I don't jump on the wrong plane.
I felt for the poor travel agent, Ling, who booked all my travel - probably wished she had called in sick that day!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

NEW Oracle University Advanced APEX Workshop

Oracle University has just started to list the new Oracle Application Express Advanced Workshop course. Only Australia is showing up in the schedule so far, but other countries are sure to be available soon.

The course objectives are:
  • Monitor and manage your application by using custom reports
  • Manage application navigation by using hierarchical lists with images, database-driven navigation, site maps, and dashboards
  • Build custom tabular forms that use collections and validations
  • Manage application content dynamically by using JavaScript and AJAX
  • Extend your application to add binary large object (BLOB) data, send email notifications, use Web services, and integrate with SQL Developer
  • Manipulate application content through templates, themes, and style sheets
  • Create reports declaratively and use the print APIs
  • Secure your application by using LDAP and SSO and prevent SQL injection attacks and cross-site scripting and usage of Session State Protection
This workshop incorporates a lot of input directly from the development team. Marcie Young has done an excellent job of transforming these advanced techniques into a very worthwhile course, complete with lots of great exercises.

I reviewed much of the content and participated in the pilot of this course -- I must say I learnt a thing or three.


APEX 3.1.2 Patch Released

We have just pushed out Oracle Application Express 3.1.2. The full installation is available here, the patchset is available on MetaLink - patch number 7313609. Please read the Patch Set Notes for details on the bugs fixed in this release.

As always we strongly recommend updating to this latest release as soon as possible.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Forms Converter Limited Early Adopter Testers

Based on my SOD posting below, I have received a large number of requests from people and organizations wishing to be part of our Limited Early Adopters program which is excellent. We are not quite ready for you yet as we need to clean up some of our code and ensure the tool is ready.

Once we are good to go I will be sending out emails to all of you with your credentials to start "kicking the tires". Please be patient and start gathering those Forms, scripts, etc.

Look forward to working with you soon.


Friday, August 8, 2008

New Statement of Direction

[UPDATED 08/21/2008]

We have just put out a new Statement of Direction on OTN.
{Remember a SOD is only an indicator of what we plan to do and not a guarantee}

The big news is that we are planning to produce Oracle Application Express 3.2.
This will be almost exclusively for our Forms Converter offering.
Forms Converter is designed to provide significant value as part of a conversion project and it is not designed to be a 100% "black-box" translation tool.
Keep reading to the bottom for more about Forms Converter and Beta testing ...

On Patrick Wolf's posting here a Mr. Anon asked an interesting question on why would you bother with a migration tool when it so easy to build components on existing tables in APEX already and concentrate on other development activities. This is an excellent question but I believe this capability is VERY important.
While it is easy to learn APEX from a developer's perspective, it is not always as easy to understand what has been built into the Oracle Forms.

If you have a project to migrate 100 or 1000 Forms of varying complexity and varying documentation (= most projects) then I believe the tool will be invaluable to enhancing your understanding of what you are migrating. Knowledge is power, and by extracting all the business logic out of Forms and allowing you to view it through our conversion screens will improve the process (irrespective of how much you generate)

Our development team are a very skilled bunch and are used to juggling multiple conflicting priorities on a daily basis so we are also steaming ahead with 4.0 features at the same time.
We realized that moving the Forms Converter piece into 3.2 would enable us to get it out the door sooner rather than having to wait for 4.0.

Now don't go asking me for dates - You know I can't give any dates.
The best I can do is say that 3.2 will be "Coming to a store near you soon".
{"Soon" is such an obtuse word as it could mean next week (which it definitely won't be) or some other point many months away}
4.0 will be sometime in 2009 with the final date being largely dependent on how some of our new features like Application Express Websheets perform in Early Adopters and how long it takes us to make sure they are stable and of our usual high quality.

Forms Converter - Samples & Limited Early Adopters
As part of our 3.2 development of Forms Converter we need your help and input.

We need examples of Oracle Forms from 6i, 9i and 10g. Oracle Forms 6i samples are especially useful. We are after varying complexities including simple, medium and complex Oracle Forms.

What we need are the XML file (created from the FORMS2XML Utility - .fmb file if absolutely necessary), DDL scripts to create the tables, and a small volume of sample data. As a bare minimum we need sample data for the code / lookup tables. It would be a huge bonus if you can include screen shots of the Forms. Lastly, any related technical specifications, design documents, etc. that explain the functionality would be a real asset.

Please email a zip file, renamed to xxxx.zipp as Oracle mail will not accept messages with a .zip extension, to me at

Our Limited Early Adopters program will be performed on a hosted environment (similar to how we do standard "open" Early Adopters) but will not be open to the general public. The reason for this is Limited Early Adopter testers will be working closely with us one-on-one to ensure we get the feedback we need to improve our product and be sought for advice and counsel on specific aspects of the migration.

Qualities I am looking for are Oracle Forms gurus who may or may not know Oracle APEX very well.
Participants would also be expected to provide some Oracle Forms examples to use to conduct their own testing.

If you are interested in being a Forms Converter Limited Early Adopter tester please send me an email.
Please be aware we may not be able to accept all interested parties into the program.


Oracle Openworld 2008 APEX Update

Only six weeks until San Francisco gets a distinctive red coating!

I have just finished updating the APEX Schedule with the last of the Oracle Mix sessions and updating the remaining seats. There is only Anton Nielsen's session that hasn't come up in the Schedule Builder or Content Builder yet.

It even includes full descriptions and other useful information by viewing the full record.

For all of those attending - please go through the Schedule Builder and sign up for the sessions you are interested in. Many of them are filling fast and you will be turned away if you have not registered and the room is fully booked.

There are a number of sessions being held in Moscone West and South which are often larger rooms but it is just as important to register your support for those speakers.

Action Item for Speakers:
I can not determine the Room Capacity for many of the rooms but Speakers should be able to for their own sessions. Could each of you go through the same link you used to accept your invitation as a speaker Content URL and click on Content Management in the left navigation bar. Click on My Sessions and then click on the title for your session. Across the top you will see a tab Session Schedule and on this page it will list the Set Capacity. This is the number I need (not the Actual Capacity). Once all the hard work is done it is a simple matter of sending me an email or replying to this post with your Room (e.g. Salon 03, Marriot) and the Set Capacity.

Look forward to catching up with many of you there!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do you use Application Express with eBusiness Suite?

I am conducting a short survey to determine how you integrate Oracle Application Express with eBusiness Suite. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey here.
{We will not share information with anyone except with your explicit permission}

We believe that there are a large number of eBusiness Suite customers that are using Application Express in various ways so we are trying to quantify that and get some further information.

This is all part of a broader effort we are currently undertaking working closely with various people from the eBusiness Suite Development Team.

This survey is very important to us so please take the time to complete the survey if you use Application Express with eBusiness Suite - It is only 1 page long.


Monday, July 28, 2008

ODTUG Banner Ad

If you go to the ODTUG Site you will see various banner adds at the top.

Keep hitting refresh until you see the Oracle - Get started with the Oracle Application Express on Windows FREE Resource Kit.

Who says APEX doesn't get any Marketing.

Please click on the link and after entering in your details you will get to a page with various links including one to a live demo on "Managing the Excel and MS Access Chaos with Oracle Application Express" plus APEXposed 2008 which promises to be a great event right here in my backyard. You should also receive an email with details on the live demo and ODTUG course.

Happy clicking,
{Credit goes to Scott Spendolini for enlightening me on Oracle Marketing's handy work}

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oracle Openworld 2008 APEX Schedule

Oracle Openworld in San Francisco is fast approaching.

I have created an APEX Application listing all the sessions with anything APEX - APEX Schedule

I have entered everything I could find from the Oracle Openworld site, including a column called Remaining Seats which indicates how many more can get into the session - I will try and update the numbers regularly.

As yet the APEX winners from the Oracle Mix voting are not in there yet (Mix Winners)
-- Congratulations Raj Mattamal for winning the voting.
-- 7 out of 25 are APEX Sessions ... Goes to show the support given by the APEX Community

Her are some other useful links:
Main Oracle Openworld Site
Schedule Builder
Content Builder

This year we will have a large contingent from the APEX Development Team in attendance.
We will be manning the Demo Ground booths and running the APEX Hands-on-Labs.
Stop by the Demo Grounds to get your chance to talk directly to the gurus.

Looks like I will have a very full dance card (again)!
I look forward to catching up with as many of you as possible.


UPDATE: 07/28/2008
  • ODTUG APEX Symposium - Customer Success Stories now entered {See the description for a break-down of the schedule} ... These sessions not yet available through the Schedule Builder
  • Raj Mattamal's session now entered (Still 6 other Sessions from the Mix to be entered).
  • Remaining Seats updated

Monday, July 14, 2008

Audit Vault 10.2.3 now comes with built-in APEX

Audit Vault 10.2.3 was released recently, and from the APEX perspective one of the most important aspects is their new Reporting capabilities.

What is Audit Vault: (from OTN)

Satisfying compliance regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and mitigating the risks associated with the insider threat are among the top security challenges businesses face today. Oracle Audit Vault turns audit data into a key security resource to help address today's security and compliance challenges.

Auditing is playing an increasingly important role in the areas of compliance, privacy, and security. Today the use of audit data as a security resource remains very much a manual process, requiring IT security and audit personnel to first collect the audit data, and then sift through enormous amounts of dispersed audit data using custom scripts and other methods. Oracle Audit Vault automates the audit collection and analysis process, transparently enforcing the principle of trust-but-verify.

A browse of the Online Documentation (Using Oracle Audit Vault Reports) should reveal very familiar screens for APEX developers. This is because Oracle Audit Vault have incorporated Interactive Reporting and Runtime-Only APEX capabilities to provide their users highly customizable reporting capabilities.

This is no coincidence as our development team worked very closely with the Audit Vault team to ensure we met their requirements. We had to push up the original timetable for introducing Interactive Reports to be able to meet Audit Vault's development timeframe. In fact some of the capabilities provided in Interactive Reporting Regions are a direct result of requirements from the Audit Vault team.

Personally I think this is great for Oracle Application Express as it helps to show that APEX is strategic to Oracle, given it is now a major component of a "for-cost" option of the Oracle Database. So to those people who say that APEX has a very limited shelf life, Oracle Audit Vault can be held up as a very good reason why APEX will be here for the long-haul. The other aspect is that it goes to showing how APEX can be utilized against very large datasets.

So next time your developing an Interactive Report to wow your users give a nod to the folks from Audit Vault for helping us to deliver a better solution to you.


Friday, June 13, 2008

APEX & RAC White Paper Released

The new white paper can be found under Technical Information on the APEX OTN Page.
Download it from here.

Amitabh Chhibber from the APEX team and Duane Smith from the RAC Pack team worked across different timezones and overcame many obstacles (mainly with available hardware) to produce this excellent white paper on configuring APEX in an Oracle RAC environment.

A special thank-you to Anton Nielsen from C2 Consulting who has done a lot of these installations and was kind enough to review this paper and add some invaluable content.

Barb Lundhild Product Manager - Real Application Clusters was also kind enough to review this paper.

We also have many other white papers covering a variety of different topics in the pipeline.
The first of these the NTLM Authentication is now also available here.

Hope these papers help,

Friday, May 23, 2008

APEX OTN Updates - 3.1 Presentation, and lots more

We spend a lot of effort updating and maintaining the Oracle APEX OTN Pages.

I strongly urge everyone to visit the site regularly to check out the latest content.

Presentations - I have finally loaded up the Oracle Application Express 3.1 Overview Presentation. I know many people have been clamouring to get this completely revamped presentation. This is the same presentation I use when giving Oracle APEX talks and includes a number of excellent slides to help you position, demonstrate, and explain Oracle APEX.

Special thanks to Marc Sewtz for the wealth of incredible images that really help get the message out.

It comes in two parts as it is now 8.5 Mb, so just download the two parts and put humpty-dumpty back together again.

Events are regularly being added to the home page {Right-hand side bar} complete with a dedicated Event Details page. Interested in attending Kaleidoscope 2008 in New Orleans for example, the Event Details list all 18 Oracle APEX sessions. There are also a large number of Oracle APEX training courses offered by Partners which are listed.

Community & Partners is continually growing with new content.
Did you know today there are 46 Consulting Companies and 7 Hosting Companies listed.
There are also 38 Blogs listed.

Want to keep up to date with all the Oracle APEX Blogs then download this OPML file and import into your favorite feed reader, such as Google Reader. Alternatively you can simply bookmark the APEX BLOG Aggregator from APEX Evangelists which also includes some very useful search capabilities, etc.

The Commercial Applications have recently seen an explosion and now lists 21 separate applications. Recent notable inclusions include:
  • Paetec Software Corp. have developed a Communications Management Suite which is an enterprise solution which can either be leased, hosted or managed. This thing is huge with 10 discrete solutions built on approximately 900 tables and featuring over 800 applications.
  • INSUM offers Association Management as a SaaS. These guys haven't built huge numbers of applications, instead they re-use the same applications for each customer with personalized content. The applications are fully translated for French and English so all in all this is a masterful example of re-use and showing how SaaS can be implemented using Oracle APEX to provide individual content for each customer.
  • Neoface have developed some sophisticated CRM applications. Currently only available in Portugese but reportedly being translated - looking for big things from them once they are available in other languages.
  • Systems Automation provide an enterprise document management system. These guys provide content management incorporated with multiple security measures to ensure your intellectual property is properly maintained and secured.
  • Centroid developed an application that allows ERP users in the finance and credit department to have a 360° view of their customers. These guys have extensive Oracle Applications experience and so built a commercial solution for bolting onto the side of your eBusiness suite.
The impressive number of consulting companies and diverse commercial applications really help to demonstrate the popularity of Oracle Application Express and how this tool is far more than just a desktop database replacement.

If you want to be added to any of the Community & Partners pages please send an email to

Oracle By Examples (OBEs) are a great, easy-to-follow way to learn about Oracle APEX. Not so long ago we only had one listed - if you go to that page now you will see there are now nine. Marcie Young has done a great job putting these together on many different topics such as Interactive Reports, BLOBs, PDF Printing, Emailing, etc.

Packaged Applications are developed primarily by our development team and provide a number of excellent point solutions that you can easily install, use as-is, customize, or just learn from.
We are currently reworking the majority of our applications to include 3.1 features and hope to have them available soon. There are also a few new ones in the pipeline! So keep your eye out for all of these.

Oracle Application Express' huge success is largely attributable to the support from you the Community so we see these pages as a small way we can help give back.

If you need consulting, hosting, a commercial solution, want to attend training, get some new ideas ... please have a browse through our OTN pages.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Calling all those in Quebec and Montreal

I will be traveling to Canada next week for the Quebec APEX User Group Official Launch. It is my first time in Quebec and am really looking forward to meeting up with the APEX community in the area.

The launch starts off in Quebec on Wednesday May 14 and then Montreal Thursday May 15.

This event has been organized by Francis Mignault from Insum and the local Oracle team.

So if you are in the area please join us and support the local APEX community.

This is certainly not my first time to Canada - I used to live in Michigan (very close to Detroit) and went into Windsor, Ontario almost every week in the summer to play golf. My sister also lived in Toronto for a while so I know the boring 401 and slightly less boring 403 highways very well.

Given where I lived, I am a huge fan of the Detroit Red Wings, arguably the best team in the NHL {Happy to argue with you over this} so will be eagerly watching them destroy the Dallas Stars while I am there :) .


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reaching the Pinnacle

I had the great pleasure of attending the Paetec - Pinnacle User Conference being held in San Francisco this week.

Pinnacle is the software division of Paetec which is a large telecommunications company in the US. Pinnacle is an application suite for telecommunication companies for expense management. They provide their suite as either Licensed (You get the source and install internally), Hosted (Installed on Pinnacle servers but you run everything) or Managed (Installed on Pinnacle servers and they run the suite for you). What is especially cool for me about Pinnacle is that they completely rearchitected their solution to use Oracle APEX. So here we have a commercial offering that is also an enterprise, software-as-a-service application suite built using Oracle APEX.

The latest Oracle Magazine's (May/June) feature is Developer Nation and includes a great write-up on Pinnacle. Well worth a read and goes to show the flexibility of Oracle APEX.

Oracle APEX + Enterprise + SaaS + Commercial suite is just gold dust for me and look to see / hear more about them in the future.

Unfortunately, I had to do a quick drop in talk and fly out again but it was certainly worth the trip. I conducted an APEX session which went well despite being in a long room with huge pillars in the middle. Got through my presentation, got to the Q&A section, the questions were flying from all-over, then the sirens went off - a "false" Fire Alarm ... One way to bring a session to a screaming halt!

While I was there though I did get to spend some quality time with the Pinnacle team and was very interested to learn and see how they have built a very interesting development framework - Special thank-you to Dennis and Erik and the rest of their team. Carl Backstrom was also in town for the Web 2.0 conference (it was very dangerous Tuesday night with Carl, Christian Shay and myself roaming the unsuspecting streets of SF) so I dragged him along to look under the covers and we got some useful ideas that may well make it into future releases.

The Pinnacle folks (staff and customers) all like to have a good time so it was a shame I had to get the red-eye out. Had to get some rest before driving to Indianapolis {3 hours each way :( }

For those of you in the Indianapolis area I am presenting at the INOUG meeting on Friday. Looking forward to going to my home state's user group meeting for the first time.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A peek over the Application Express horizon

Well as Dimitri hinted at here we {The proverbial "we": I actually mean the development team ... I just talk about things - the rest of them actually make the magic happen :) } have been hard at work since releasing 3.1. and have lots of fun plans.

Once we have some more of our ducks in a row we will update our Statement of Direction on OTN. But here is some unofficial insight into what is on the drawing board (Not to be used in any way in making purchasing decisions).

With 3.1 we introduced a lot of new code and despite the best efforts of all of you wonderful Beta testers and our tireless QA team there were a collection of minor bugs found (I personally found a few very obscure undocumented features, why because when I develop applications I often use Oracle APEX in obscure ways). Therefore, we are busy developing a 3.1.1 release to fix issues.

Our team seems to get bored easily, it would seem, because we never seem to be content working on just one thing at a time. So while the push is on to get 3.1.1 out the door we are also working on Forms Migration. We already have a page, Application Express for Forms Developers, which addresses some of the key similarities of the two tools, but now we are working on a new whitepaper which should help you migrate your existing Oracle Forms applications to Application Express.

But that's not all! We are also working on additional built-in migration project capabilities. In much the same way we have the current 'Application Migration' section where you create a Project to migrate Access across we hope to provide the ability to provide tools support for migrating Oracle Forms applications. Using Oracle Form's XML conversion program we are looking to interpret the XML produced and derive the underlying design model to be able to generate Application Express components. As with the Access migration we don't expect to achieve 100% conversion but hopefully provide a valuable first-cut.

One very important difference between migrating Oracle Forms and Access is that Oracle Forms already utilizes the Oracle Database which means some of the messiest parts of migrating the Access application is simple not applicable. Another key differentiator between migration efforts is the developers. Oracle Forms developers have the perfect skill set for developing Application Express, namely SQL & PL/SQL used within a declarative framework. They already know all about the tables, views, packages, procedures, functions, etc. that the Forms were built on top of so most Oracle Forms developers should come up to speed very quickly.

We certainly haven't forgotten about Tabular Forms. Now that we have Interactive Reports and beefed up Printing & Report Queries to take care of many of the users viewing/reporting requirements it is time to focus on how the user maintains the data, and that means improving Tabular Forms. We hope to provide better declarative functionality to make it easier to meet your business requirements when entering data without needing extensive manual coding.

In the midst of all this we are also working on numerous other whitepapers on various topics. The first I expect to see on OTN (hopefully in the near future) is the APEX on RAC whitepaper.

Looking at what's on our plate and what we plan on doing next - I'm getting tired just writing this post. I hope this unofficial update helps to shed some light on what we're planning.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

APEX @ Collaborate08 April 13-16 , Denver Colorado

Last year Carl Backstrom was holding down the fort for the Application Express team.
This year I will be there with David Gambino primarily in the Exhibition hall demonstrating APEX and SQL Developer to anyone who will listen.
So if you get a chance drop by and say hello :)

There are also a number of APEX related sessions within IOUG (unless otherwise stated):
  • APEX SIG Meeting & Roundtable - Dimitri Gielis, John Scott, Tony Jedlinski, David Peake

  • Oracle, LDAP and AD (Active Directory) Integrating the Three Together - Debra Addeo, Douglas County School District

  • Apex, LDAP and Active Directory - Debra Addeo, Douglas County School District

  • Taking APEX Applications to the Next Level - Todd Arave, Intermountain Healthcare

  • APEX Cheat Sheet - Karen Cannell, Integra Technology Consulting

  • APEX Under the Covers - Karen Cannell, Integra Technology Consulting

  • APEX Debug Options - Karen Cannell, Integra Technology Consulting

  • Effective Development with Oracle Databases - David Gambino, David Peake, Christian Shay, Kuassi Mensah, Oracle USA Inc.

  • Creating advanced charts in Oracle Application Express - Dimitri Gielis, APEX Evangelists

  • [AUOG] Integrating the Hiring Process with Oracle HMRS - Anthony Golden, Douglas County School District

  • The UPs and DOWNS of Loading External Data via APEX - Tony Jedlinski, Konoso LLC

  • Doing Web 2.0 with Application Express (APEX) - Tony Jedlinski, Konoso LLC

  • Add Style to Your APEX Apps Using .css - Tony Jedlinski, Konoso LLC

  • Extend your existing Business Solution with Application Express developed functions - Wolfgang Scherrer, infomArt GmbH

  • Using External Tables with Application Express - David Scott, Intec Billing

  • Creating Visual Impact with Custom APEX Templates and Themes - David Scott, Intec Billing

  • Housewife meets HTMLDB - Nimmi Verpati

If you want to download a spreadsheet of all these sessions simply go to our OTN APEX Events page.

Look forward to seeing many of you there!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Advanced Interactive Reports

Simple Upgrades from Classic to Interactive Reports
So you have been playing with Interactive Reports and you know what an impact they will have on the way your users interact with the data - Now to get serious about replacing Classic Reports and going beyond playing with Interactive Reports to implementing them.

We provide a very nice "Migrate to Interactive Report" Wizard (Right hand Tasks panel when editing a Classic Report) which renames the old region appending " - Deleted" to the region name and changing the Condition to "Never". The new Interactive Report will have the same name and region number as the original Classic Report.

If you have old "manual" search regions you should remove them (I suggest you set Condition to "Never" until the new Interactive Report is fully tested) as that functionality is now built in. Make sure you also update the SQL for the Interactive Report removing the corresponding WHERE conditions and move buttons as appropriate {There is a new Button Position "Right of Interactive Report Search Bar" available}.

Here is a quick example from the Bug Tracker Packaged Application:
Old Screen with Classic Report -

New screen using Interactive Report -

Ok so this is hardly earth shattering and hardly does justice to the heading of this post, namely the "Advanced" bit, I added it just to outline how easy it is to upgrade your Classic reports and some of the easy tricks to make migration simpler.

Now you have done all the easy upgrades ... How do you tackle some of the trickier stuff?

Turning off Interactive Report Options
If you want to prevent users from performing any of the default Interactive Report actions then you can simply go into the Application Builder and select the Interactive Report Attributes. This screen is similar to Classic Report Attributes but with some distinct differences. The following sections are all specific to Interactive Report Attributes:
  • Search Bar - Manage the Search bar and Actions Menu options
  • Download - Specify available download formats (CSV, XLS, PDF, RTF) and details
  • Link Column - Specify the "Link" column as either 'Link to Single Row View', 'Link to Custom Target' or 'Exclude Link column'. It comes complete with various items for controlling the look, target, condition and authorization.
  • Advanced Attributes - Report Alias and ID needed for accessing from APIs etc, Show saved reports as Tabs (If not use a separate page with a list of reports), and Page Items to submit
Additionally if you want to disable users options when they select a specific Column Heading then edit that Column (from the Report Attributes screen) and modify the options given under 'Allow Users To:'

NOTE: Before switching off the Actions Menu I STRONGLY recommend you running the report and configuring the columns, filters, sorts, etc. exactly as you want them and then "Save Default Report" and then turn off the Action Menu.

Oracle By Example (OBE)
Marcie Young , our curriculum developer, has done a wonderful job of creating several OBEs for this release. I suggest you go to our APEX OTN Site and look at them here: Oracle By Examples. Specifically go through the Utilizing Advanced Interactive Report Region Techniques in Oracle Application Express 3.1 for a good run through Interactive Report advanced features.

Resetting Interactive Reports
End-users can make all sorts of changes to their view of the data and even save off their own reports. Now the end-user wants to start fresh and go back to the Default Layout - Simple he/she just clicks on the action menu and selects Reset.

What if you have hidden the action menu? There are any number of reasons you may want to utilize Interactive Reports but not give the end-user full capabilities.

The answer lies within the documentation: Linking to Interactive Reports. Effectively we have provided the ability to manipulate an Interactive Report from a link.

For our "Reset" example the solution is to create a button with an action of 'Redirect to URL without submitting page' with Clear Cache specified as 'Page Number,RIR'.

RIR is equivalent to the end-user pressing the Reset and will return the Interactive Report back to the default layout.

Using a Search Region
Now lets say we have a report where the users need to enter multiple criteria hit a "Search" button and have the report display the resultant set of data. Using Classic Reports this was as simple as defining additional WHERE conditions within the SQL which optionally inspected the fields for the given criteria.

Can I use the same WHERE Conditions in an Interactive Report? Yes you can and it will work in exactly the same manner as a Classic Report whereby only the subset of the data will be displayed.

An example using the Interactive Report within the New Features App -

The additional WHERE Conditions are:

Let me illustrate a different solution where instead of using the WHERE conditions you use the linking capabilities to create filters based on the criteria entered .

If you remove the WHERE conditions (for the search criteria) from the Interactive Report Source then you can use the linking capabilities to create filters directly on the report.

Same Interactive Report using Linking -

The Branch now includes:
With these Items: &P2_SAL_LOW.,&P2_SAL_HIGH.

Now you may well ask "Why bother?" the results are the same in both. Well yes they are sort of in that the data initially displayed is the same. The big difference lies in the fact that when you use the linking option the users can easily disable any of the filters and see additional data.

Alternatively users can now select the filters and modify them to enter different values, etc.

If you do not want the users to be able to even edit the filter displayed, but still be able to enable / disable the filters you will need to specify the link on "HIDDEN" columns.

Same Interactive Report using Linking on HIDDEN columns -

I added two additional columns (HIDDEN) to my source:

The Branch was updated to:
With these Items: &P2_SAL_LOW.,&P2_SAL_HIGH.

Now you have restricted filters that can only be enabled / disabled but can't be changed. The downside is you may have to add additional columns, as I did in my case, if you still want to see the column being filtered within the report.

Link One Interactive Report to Another
The OBE uses the same linking capabilities outlined above to link one Interactive Report to another Interactive Report. This is probably the most common use case but I wanted to show a different take on using the linking capabilities to help you identify additional use cases.

If you want to learn how to link two Interactive Report Regions together please read the OBE (given above).

Keep an eye on the 3.1 Known Issues & Limitations as we have found a few issues with all this new code. In fact when doing the sample application as part of this Blog I found a few issues with the linking.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Let the Party Begin!

As you have already probably heard from one of the many mails sent out or from the OTN Forum or one of the many Blogs Oracle Application Express 3.1 has hit the street.

So while many in the community are madly downloading our Latest and Greatest I will be relaxing (I hope) and having a few drinks {Just keep em coming bar keep}.

The APEX Developers, Testers, Documenters, Translation folk, etc. have all worked exceedingly hard and I hope you enjoy the fruits of their toil.

We have also revamped a large majority of out OTN Site with new and updated information.
Our curriculum developers have already produced 3 Oracle By Example (OBEs) specific to 3.1 and are working on several more. I strongly recommend you have a look at these. We have even developed one on Interactive Reports for end-users.

As always we need to also thank-you the community for your invaluable input through the Early Adopters and on the Forum offering your feedback, suggestions, logging issues, etc. APEX is that much better and stronger due to all of your contributions.

I hope to Blog shortly on some of the "advanced" stuff you can do with Interactive Reports.

Have fun playing with 3.1 and please be quite in the morning I may be slightly under the weather!


Friday, January 25, 2008

Blog Tag - 8 Things you may not know about me

Well thanks to Flavio I am on the hook for providing some information about me you may not know already.

  • I HATE the cold! That is why I now live in Northern Indiana which as well as getting a large amount of "lake effect" snow also has the added bonus of getting strong winds that yesterday had the temperature @ -20F. Today the wind is down but the temperature isn't exactly balmy :(
  • I grew up in Brisbane, Queensland Australia in Sub-Tropical weather and I LOVE heat and humidity. (These are the night time temperatures)
  • My beautiful wife is also Australian
  • I have three wonderful kids - My two girls were born in Australia while my son was born in New Zealand but had an Australian Passport by the time he was two months old. They all have Australian accents with some American creeping in.
  • My favorite sport is Australian Rules Football - My wife also loves watching for completely different reasons. I used to play in my formative years and it is just such a fast paced exciting game.
  • I really enjoy building elaborate creations with the kids using Lego. My father just sent over his HUGE Meccano collection so now my kids and I are going to be building even more strange and wonderful thingamebobs - I love seeing their imagination and creativity at work.
  • As a family we love playing Board games such as Monopoly, Risk, Sequence, Mouse Trap you name it (we have two old trunks full of games and puzzles) or card games. The biggest problem is finding a time when we can all get together and just have some family time.
  • I will listen to all different types of music (Modern, rock, oldies, classic, soul, even rap, etc... just not Country & Western) and generally like the music my kids are listening to - which is probably just as well as I often have very little choice but to listen to it - but when I need to write code (especially complex code) I prefer dance/techno as the strong bass beat allows me to zone out all the other distractions, though I rarely listen to it except when coding.
  • Scary movies are not my thing at all ... The scarier the movie the more likely I am to be cowering under something - Not my cup of tea at all!
  • In my almost 15 years with Oracle I traveled more in my first year as a PM then I did in the previous 13.5 years as an Oracle Consultant - Most Oracle Consultants are TRUE road warriors who are on the road week-in week-out, but I was on several long term assignments and didn't travel at all (other than moving my family from one city to another)
Well that took for ever to finish :)