Wednesday, 1 August 2018

APEX 18.2 Statement of Direction

I've been thinking recently it's been a while since I remember seeing a revised Statement of Direction, and sure enough I see news of an update for 18.2.

It was back in 2015 that I last made my own conjecture about what each statement means (without the benefit of listening to as many conference sessions) and look at some of the outcomes now!

  • IG - well, I'm still a little late to that party, but missing out on early cuts & bruises ;p
  • Master detail detail - I was training people last week and it occurred to me this is another feature I don't really work with, but maybe should give a go.
  • New charting engine - well JET is going really well! Though I'm still experiencing teething issues with the data densification.

As for APEX 18.2, we now see:

  • Improved workspace provisioning wizard - not a big drawcard for myself, but I can see how some fresh attention in this space could be warranted.
  • New side-by-side master detail page type available in create page wizard - as I just noted, I need to experiment with recent master-detail development, to perhaps integrate with regular design patterns.
  • New dashboard page type available in create page wizard - Now I’m guessing this is just a wizard to help build an appropriate page – full of components already available to us, but used in an effective way. Either way, I'm interested.
  • Improved warnings with REST workshop to prevent loss of custom definitions - well, that sounds useful.
  • More comprehensive JavaScript API documentation - even more? I've barely had a chance at using the new set. I hope it comes with more examples. I think I saw a glimpse of Shakeeb's /ut application the other night with SQL examples inline for classic report variations. +1 from me.
  • Ability to update Font APEX stylesheets and font files independent of Oracle APEX releases - Maxime already showed us this was possible, and easy. I'm glad behaviour like this is enabled by the APEX team. 
  • Installing sample datasets now enables the creation of a complete sample application - well, that sounds intriguing.
  • EMP / DEPT sample dataset now available in different languages - sometimes I'm grateful my first language is English, but sometimes I really wish I was natively bilingual.
  • Updated productivity and sample apps - seems to go without saying now, but I haven't farmed them for ideas for a while.
They've always come through pretty well with these lists, plus a whole bunch of other extra stuff we find along the way. I also found this nugget from Oliver.

After recent experiences I thought I'd add a few examples of what I'd like to see, no doubt forgetting/neglecting some other needs & wants, includes:
  • IR - support for saved IR (& IG?) are still hidden away a few layers deep in a task menu. Saved IR are still inseparable from app_id. We could use some love here.
  • Excel2Collection - considering the efforts made in assisting Access & Forms users to migrate their information to APEX, perhaps it might be wise to integrate such a simple method of transferring Excel workbook content to a table in the database.
    The ORDS solution hung around for a while, and I find the data loading wizard somewhat clunky. 
  • PWA - Vincent recently published a comprehensive guide on turning APEX into a PWA. This technology is early days (certainly in my learning bubble), but I think APEX would benefit from internal support in regard to further penetrating the mobile market.
  • Native Super LOV - this one from Menno is great, but surely it's time this was baked in?
  • Dynamic Action support for inline modals - there are a few lines of JavaScript I repeat often that I'm sure could be replaced by declarative actions
Anything else? I've made wishlishs in the past (5.x, 4.2), but looking back they seem a little mundane.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Oracle Forms Migration

This post is one of a series on what I learned while not at Kscope18.

I realise that's a month ago now, but the mind still ponders, and I've had these lined up for a while. Just got busy with a deployment, as you do. Went nice and smooth though, APEX sure does make staggered deployments easier with build options. Underrated feature. /tangent

Anyhoo - every now and then someone on the forum asks about the Oracle Forms migration tool. I've noticed it a bit recently, I guess that's a good thing.


Oracle Forms Migration. I guess what I'm learning here is that sometimes I'm a little shocked they keep at it, but I guess you've got to play the odds. And I haven't heard what was said with this slide.

I'd like to start and alternate list:

1) Setup APEX. Of course. OracleRAD will make this a breeze.

2) Create a schema that will serve as your conduit to your existing data. Privileges become additive, adding another layer to protect your data, which may include information not for the relevant APEX application.

3) Analyse what needs to change, what's broken, what's required.

Important note - workflow in a browser will be different from Oracle Forms.

While the components, capabilities, and IDE are astonishingly similar, I would never bother converting Form->Page. You'll spend more time cleaning when you could be doing more productive building.

The web universe just works different to Forms. It offers different opportunities. For instance, it's easier to build walk-through wizards for data entry. This can be important in touch device world, offering interaction with buttons instead of virtual keyboard is a plus.

Our applications now tend to generally require less keystrokes for information to be added, it's more of an interaction of buttons.

4) Import your Forms code if you must, but only for the ability to annotate existing code while you build the fresh interface. You may get better mileage by analysing straight from Oracle Forms.

The spectrum of code you'll need to ditch/refactor/keep will vary depending on the quality of the legacy application.

Continue analysis of business rules. Are they fully known? stale? Does workflow need improvement? Maybe concessions were made during the Forms development.

5) Enhance - not always necessary, but always good to add polish. But this notion of RAD? Yep, you get pretty darn good apps without even trying to add polish. And polish with a few Dynamic Actions go a long way.

And with APEX plugins, polish comes in big, free tubs. And yes, you should embrace plugins.

6) Test. Of course. And with clicky people. People who click about for the sake of clicking stuff. They're the people that are going to find those left field holes.

7) Train. While you can never replace face-to-face explanations, hopefully your application will explain itself.

8) Rollout, and enjoy applications that aren't easily obstructed as new versions of APEX arrive.
Applications that run fast, derived directly from business data, data delivered to the right people, with a natural history of who visited what and how long it took them.

We've got a keeper.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Free Oracle Learning Tools

This post is one of a series on what I learned while not at Kscope18.

Would you like to learn something from the Oracle technology stack?
Here's a slide probably in a bunch of Oracle employee decks.


I think this collection represents the commitment Oracle is making to the developer community, in part thanks to the developer advocates team. Upon seeing these listed together, and considering the amount of work done to keep raising the bar, I've learned Oracle really are serious about engaging with the greater community.

  1. quicksql.oracle.com - one of the packaged apps given it's own URL. Construct your DDL/DML really fast, if you're happy to learn more markdown syntax.
  2. livesql.oracle.com - it's ridiculously easy to start playing with the Oracle product at this site. Recently I wanted to check some behaviour with a JSON query in the database version above what we had available, and I was able to confirm a database upgrade would solve the problem we had.
  3. devgym.oracle.com - I spend 5-10 minutes a week playing 3 quizzes, targeting PL/SQL, SQL, and database design. Sometimes I learn something new, something re-enforce something I'm familiar with, something I'd forgotten, or something interesting the database can do but I might never use.
  4. apex.oracle.com - surely we've all been here, playing with the most up-to-date release of the best feature of the a great database.
  5. asktom.oracle.com - I learned all my best habits from here, and highly recommend anyone ask a question. Especially anyone learning (hint - that's all of us). It's also a great place to learn how to ask a question.

These are all included in the APEX shortcuts page, along with another learning tool that could fill that 6th spot (besides 18c XE) - the forum. Here I do what I used to do at AskTom - read anything comes through; start listening to topics I need/want to learn about; and here I also get to contribute where/when I can add some of my knowledge & experience. Or if I have a bookmark to a solution someone previously documented.

At the forum you'll find a collection of volunteers willing to help you with your APEX/Oracle questions. Remember, "the #orclapex community is like no other".

ps - we could probably also add the Oracle Learning Library.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Community Recognition at Kscope18

This post is one of a series on what I learned while not at Kscope18.

Some well deserved people have been recognised by the Oracle ACE program. One in particular I noticed was Daniel, creator of many practical APEX plugins.


Other mentions include, but not limited to, Adrian Png, Maxime Tremblay, Kai Donato, Moritz Klein, Becky Wagner, Eugene Fedorenko, Opal Alapat.

People like these really help keep our community strong, as Monty says,
"The #orclapex community is like no other." 

And Juergen Schuster, createor of apex.world, received special recognition from the APEX community.


It was a pleasure to meet this man, and I really need to catch up on his APEX podcast.

To everyone, a very Australian good onya!

The faces of Oracle APEX

This post is one of a series on what I learned while not at Kscope18.

The faces of Oracle APEX.
Well, some of them, at least. There are more listed in this picture, but it's harder to see. The one of Shakeeb comes across a lot better on his Twitter profile.

I've been lucky enough to meet many of these people, but here they are. If you see them in person, feel free to thank them.

Across the top, with my impression of their major facet of contribution:
Marc Sewtz - various integrations
David Peake - Product Manager, an Aussie ex-pat also bringing some Forms touch to APEX
Anthony Rainer - IR/IG/Accessibility, and various things JavaScript

Alon the bottom:
Joel Kallman - Director of Development, and all round nice guy
Carsten Czarki - tamer of web services using SQL
Hilary Farrell - hard to get a face to that name online, but you may have thanked her Charts demo app.
Shakeeb Rahman - all things UT and design.
Patrick Wolf - I believe we can thank him for Page Designer. Probably had a big hand in plugins, too.

Seriously, what a product!

#letswreckthistogether

ANSI dates make life easier

This post is one of a series on what I learned while not at Kscope18.

Dimitri mentioned that he learned about the ANSI date format that allows you to return a date with the expression.


Which means this
date '2018-06-10'

Is the same as
to_char('10-Jun-2018','DD-MON-YYYY')

And you'll never want to type the latter again.

I learned this little chestnut as a trainer of SQL, but what I didn't pick up, or have since forgotten, is this

timestamp '2018-06-10 14:33:41'

Thanks again, Connor, for adding to this thread.

ANSI dates
Here's some more info on ANSI dates. It's not lazy, Tanel, it's efficient ;p

Learning is a lifetime pursuit.

Oracle XE 18c and #OracleRAD

This post is one of a series on what I learned while not at Kscope18.

Oracle XE (Express Edition) 18c - which is more than just a free, limited db.
Combined with the notion of #OracleRAD, you've got a mongo killer ;p

#oraclerad

Quite a few people had a shot of the XE 18c feature list.


Impressive as that is, when you start putting it into context of the sort of things that can now be achieved with the technology available today, it's mind boggling.
And Connor knows just how to amaze us the potential of this technology, making amazing concepts sound just within reach.


But I think the best way to think about it is how this mini-stack adds up.


We've got a free Database; with a middle tier that can handle all our web services needs (REST), while still using SQL; and APEX in the middle, giving us access to pretty much every capability the web offers today, where the productive IDE lives within the browser. Simply, wow.

I'd like to end this post with this tweet I saw just before Kscope18 began


This XE 18c will be magnitudes more advanced than XE 11g, and I think I'm understanding the true potential of this. I can't wait to find a stream of Mike Hichwa expressing his passion for this release.