Thursday, 15 November 2012

Review: APEXposed Melbourne 2012

Thanks to ODTUG, we had the pleasure of part-time Aussie David Peake, who happens to be an Oracle  product manager for APEX, & Canadian ACE Director Martin Giffy D'Souza from ClariFit. They were here to conduct 2 rounds of APEXposed - one in Auckland, then Melbourne.

With thanks to Bambi Price and other user group committee members - visitors from many states were ushered into a room with 2 large screens, great room width but only 5 or so rows - it worked. Compliments also to Cliftons, I liked the venue. And those chocolate things on day 1 arvo tea - yummo.

I'd like to offer my take of each session, at least what I remember and garner from a few tweets that were about #APEXposed

1 - Intro to APEX
I was a little unsure what the level of detail would be, and the ODTUG team anticipated this an apologised in advance for not meeting everyone's needs & wants - which I thought was great. I think a few people suggested separate advanced session for next year.
For me this was mainly a repeat of recent conference material, and a little "yeah come on, get on with the good stuff". Although I did note that I should have a fresh look at the Collateral section on OTN.

2 - APEX page types
It was good to have a walk through of what APEX is currently offering with commentary from Martin. Audience feedback was pretty good too. I counted about 60 people, with perhaps a dozen double power outlets around the room... hmm
It was also good to hear David's displeasure for tabular forms matches with mine.

3 - Dynamic Actions
A nice show & tell comparison with Martin performing something with JavaScript, and David repeating the function with dynamic actions. I mainly picked up notes regarding use of jQuery.
Don't read this lightly - I think dynamic actions are arguably the best feature to come out of APEX 4.x, competing tightly with the next topic...

4 - Plug-Ins
I think it may be a while before I create any item or DA plug-ins, but Security & process plug-ins may be on the agenda. It was brilliant to have someone who wrote a book on plug-ins to describe the mechanics of these magical components.
Martin ready for the big reveal
For those that missed it, here is the link to the APEX Builder plug-in.

5 - SQL Developer & SQL Data Modeler
I'm a regular user of SQL Developer for mainly SQL tasks, and occasionally re-engineer data models from the database with SQL Data Modeler, but I was interested to see what David had to show. I got a little bored of mentions to the cloud, as interesting as it would be to have a piece.

Hands on labs
Brilliant that they used VirtualBox to deliver a pre-packaged working environment with APEX workshops ready to go - but for me a waste. Others found it useful. I took the time to catch up with a few people, drop my bag off at the hotel, then meet the depleted team for a beer or three at the local.
What I will take away from this is the discovery of VirtualBox.


6 - Oracle Database Cloud
A good session covering all things Oracle cloud, although at times a little too salesy.

7 - Using APEX to build mobile applications
Even though I just experimented with and built a mobile application with APEX, I was keen to see what they had to demonstrate. I learnt a few things, it's certainly a big learning curve to climb, but I already crossed many of the bridges mentioned.  I think it was a well received session from the crowd.

8 - Debugging tools & techniques
Coming into it I think this was going to be my favourite session - and it turned out to be the case. Not so much for the demonstration of the tools, although it was interesting to see how someone else utilises them - but some of the idea's Martin presented for using components in ways I never thought of. Two examples
1) Using the error page template to e-mail notification of the error - something I've done myself in a Forms environment in the past :-)
2) Using build options to display debugging information such as session state in a global page (page zero) region.

9 - Securing APEX 
What I picked up from this session was delivery tips from Martin. I know APEX security fairly well, and Martin joked that I should have been delivering that session. From my perspective in the crowd as a presenter & part-time trainer - I took the opportunity to see how Martin delivered this topic.

10 - Administering & Deploying APEX
What I should have expected, but not what I was hoping for. David talked about the mechanics of infrastructure & delivery - again involving the cloud, and at the end of day 2 it was getting a little dry. I was hoping for more real-world scenarios of how people manage version control of APEX applications, for instance.
Common problems people face moving & versioning applications between environments. In saying that, David suggested maybe perhaps a fairy said in future there may be something going on with Editioning.

Do look out for a post coming up from me regarding APEX_APPLICATION_INSTALL - there were a few questions relating to this, and I have some content to share.

11 - APEX best practices
Ended up being a little short, I think everyone was tired & their brains were full. While the questions were good, there didn't get too deep since we were all tired. I look forward, however, to reading the best practices book.


For beginners it would have been a wealth of information, there was even fair call occasionally to the DBAs in the room. Intermediates would have had a number of good sessions each day.

I'm happy with my output - picked up a dozen good tips, and assert the understanding & opinions in other areas. I also paid note to the way everything was delivered, a few things caught my eyes & ears.

For all it should have been a valuable networking experience.

I do hope if the event were to be replicated in some form in future, I would like to see time dedicated to more advanced. I imagine the topic lineup may differ in future, the release of 4.2 almost wrote the agenda itself.

My suggested future event

I think Melbourne location was good for everybody, but I'd always invite people to Perth.

Same standard of speakers. Martin & David were very good. I don't think it would hurt to involve locals in some sessions. I feel people are more attentive when more speakers are present.

Major logistical improvement would be to increase the amount of power outlets - it doesn't need to be 1 for 1, but increase the ratio. People get resourceful.
Unless of course batteries undertake massive improvements in the next 6 months - or these ultrabooks with SSDs truly hard power friendly.
Or maybe there'll be a wireless charging pad along the desks, charging everybody's devices? I digress...

One day dedicated to the basic-intermediate skill level, talking about latest new features & developments, perhaps some standard topics & problems featured in detail - enough to keep everybody interested.

And then a second day dedicated to the intermediate-advanced developers, looking at
  • jQuery
  • CSS
  • using attributes
  • dynamic actions
  • scripting deployment
  • responsive design
  • jQuery Mobile
  • jQuery plug-ins (non-Oracle)
  • plug-in consumption case studies
  • JSON
  • Web-services
I'd go to see that, and tell my friends.

And if I had it my way, I think that content could fill three days, not two.


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