Wednesday 21 October 2015

Permission to board,

Let's see, what happened in the last 24 hours or so? announced, everyone feeling the awesome.

I joined slack, I must say the curiosity rover self portrait helped sway my decision.

Got involved in some geeky discussions, bounced some ideas around.

Put my hand up to help with content.

Now involved in project.

I must say, after talking with Juergen he's affirmed my first impressions of this project. It's 100% community driven, and the project group want to maintain that integrity. I think this serves a great basis to cultivate some even grander ideas for the future.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

APEX 5.1 revised SOD and

Two big announcements, one awesome product.

Statement of Direction

Today I think David Peake saw the wave generated by the announcement of and decided to also announce a revised Statement of Direction (SOD) for APEX 5.1, or he could try convince me it was a coincidence.

Not long after I started blogged I decided to follow these documents to try keep a feel of what's going on. It seems there have been a few adjustments since the initial iteration of 5.1 direction.

  • Interactive Grid - I'm glad they've finally settled on a name, because I didn't think "multi-row edit region type" was really gonna slide. This will no doubt be the talk of 5.1, speaking of which I think someone's been waiting to do a presentation on this for years. I think with the quality of solutions now coming out of the APEX team this will surely impress. I envisage a widget where declarative settings and built-in dynamic actions replace a lot of jQuery, plus JSON magic for communication with the database.
  • Master detail detail - this has been included in the statement of direction at least since 4.1. I can't say I'm in a rush for it, but I could be swayed. 
  • New Charting Engine - this is probably the most interesting announcement of all. A new JavaScript based charting engine developed by Oracle which produces responsive and accessible HTML5 charts. That's a lot to digest. First, AnyChart is on the way out. The AnyChart version was not upgraded to HTML5 enabled library in APEX 5.0, and I remember a discussion at Kscope15 suggesting it was not the library for the future. Plenty of plug-ins are being produced in and out of Oracle using the D3 reporting engine, but posit they will build their own? Perhaps using as an existing framework as a basis? A feature that may have held the AnyChart engine back was the ability to export to PDF/Image, which may extra work with a HTML5 solution, but hopefully on the list. Maybe the biggest advantage of an in-house solution is the tighter coupling to the database, I can't wait to hear more.
    Update - some information from Patrick Wolf.
  • Page Designer - I didn't really understand this sentence about the integration of the component view, nor the comment about attributes moved from rendering pane to property editor. I think I need a picture to paint these words, though Christian's post describing a UKOUG event help fill some gaps.
  • Improved Wizards - Wizards are like propellers, continuous refinements over time make them even better and more efficient (but we'll always have steps/blades). Keep them coming. Though have you noticed how infrequently you're using wizards now? Add a shortcut key for Duplicate, please!
  • Declarative RTL support - common question in forums, bring it on for those in the world that need it. I think Universal Theme has already made steps towards this, it just needs more refinement. Hopefully we'll see even more improvements and templates with the Universal Theme itself, I've already noticed some.
  • Packaged apps - over time these updates seem to migrate to being baked into the product. They're also full of design ideas, and comparable to design solutions elsewhere in the market so consider that has confirmation of the Oracle finger on the community pulse, if you will.

Unless you're living under a social media rock, Juergen and friends in association with ODTUG announced To summarise, it was noticed at conferences that only the minority utilised social media tools like Twitter, even though they are a great resource of information, collaboration and light hearted humour. Other tools like Slack out there are appear to be used by engineering communities (among others) for collaboration, and I'm already hooked. 

Twitter is an open platform, you don't need to be a member to read most feeds. Integration options are out there for other sites. brings this information to one site, hopefully filterable in such a way that you get what you need.

On top of this, it opens the invitation to be the new home for APEX plugins, integrating very elegantly with github. A job market has also been included in the initial release.
Plenty of ideas are flowing in for expanding it as the one-stop-shop for other repositories. I suggested including a list of sample APEX applications, something I started once upon a time and planned to continue next year, but opportunity beckons for a more fitting home.

All built on Oracle tech of course, with plenty of community help integrating a number of services. Great work gang!

update - 5.0.2 now available

Thursday 15 October 2015

The Oracle Development Community is Buzzing

I don't know about you, but it sure seems like a fire was lit somewhere in Oracle and now there are all sorts of things going on in the development community.

We've had some discussions about this over the water cooler and I think there are many positives we can take out of this engagement, and I think a deeper message being sent to veterans that Oracle is still up for the game against the younger competitors.

The Oracle Developer Advocates Team

I think this is one of the best initiatives to come out of Oracle for some time. They've basically recruited some of the most passionate voices in the Oracle community to help the rest of us create faster, secure, more maintainable applications.

I first noticed this with Dan McGhan running, a site I have not been able to keep up with considering other projects this year, but what a site it is. There is a long term coupling of JavaScript, Node and APEX and I can't think of a better person to spearhead the sharing of knowledge in the community.

I'm lucky enough to live in the same city as another advocate, Connor McDonald. This actually means I work within a stone's throw, but we don't nearly enough catch-up beers. I can't say enough about his presentation ability, but his on the job passion is second to none.

Steven is obviously Mr PL/SQL, and I met Todd briefly at Kscope15. Given this pedigree, I trust the others in the group bring superb qualities.


Tom Kyte has been running this site for a long time, just before I started my Oracle career. I'm impressed he's managed it by himself for so long, but now the reins have been handed over, and the choice of Chris Saxon and Connor for replacement is spot on.
When first started this site sure helped me form better practices in SQL and PL/SQL. I don't use it so much anymore, but I agree with the message from up high in Oracle that this site had to continue, and become more active.

If you've encountered, then you might have also seen Today on Twitter I saw an announcement for, complete with supplied scripts and tutorials.

This is a brilliant idea, and it's I think it's awesome they're using APEX for delivery. You'll no doubt find many AskTom answers and demonstrations linking to this site, and I think it will be a great repository for developers


I'm a long way from Rome, but with the aid of modern technology I'm able to keep my finger on the pulse, and it sure seems strong. It seems these days you kind find yourself a reasonably close conference targeting developers regardless of where you live. If you haven't been to one I highly recommend it, for the experience, the learning and the camaraderie.

If you're unable to attend a conference, ODTUG hosts many webinars, one of which is coming up next week that apparently all APEX developers should tune in for. Midnight challenge accepted.

I have more experiences to share from my time at Kscope15, still some hand written notes and mental thoughts I'd like to translate to the blog. It's still got me thinking about the community, and how amazing the ODTUG team is at serving it. Become a member and have your say in the board.

Oracle Open Source

If I were to guess the topic of the Top Secret APEX Community Event, I would say it has something to do with the gathering momentum of an Oracle open source project at I've heard a bunch of ideas and promises come from that direction, and so far the organisation of a bunch of stubs.

They have big, useful things in the works, time for pay dirt?

Oracle Database Developer Choice Awards

Voting closes at some point as the planet rotates today, but I hope you voted for a few people. It's another new initiative, maybe not done quite right but it's early days and there are many years to come.

If you're on social media it would be hard to miss ongoing commentary about some of the issues faced in regard to voting. I'm not going to go into detail, but let's remember it's early days in a new idea and mistakes will be made and learned from. It sure took a long time for the Nobel prizes to sort the crap out, just ask Rosalind Franklin.

Internet voting is hard. The organisers inherited an existing framework with some unforseen pitfalls. Perhaps next year a shiny APEX application will take its place. maybe with a modified voting system.

The spread of categories is certainly developer centric, another win for us. I was humbled when asked to be involved in the judging process for the APEX category. I figured if I'm a judge in something, surely that means I would warrant nomination for such an offer, or so my ego went.

However, this means congratulations should be forwarded to not only those nominated (and the other judges of course), but the many skilled developers out there who were not nominated simply due to community apathy, something that Tim Hall had a little rant about. There were also nominees that became ineligible by virtue of residing in a particular country. One nominee couldn't be added, ironically while organising a separate competition.

The same can be said for passionate, skilled developers out there who are not recognised as ACEs. I still have a post drafted diving into my thoughts on the program, but for the awards the APEX judges decided nominated ACEs have already received deserved recognition, and we as a community wanted to find some more diamonds in the rough. Some future ACEs no doubt.

As a judge I was ineligible to vote, but now voting is closed I thought I'd share some thoughts on each category.


This first category demonstrates an interesting issue regarding internet voting. With all due credit to Emrah, I think an active local community has come together to support their nominee, and he will come out of this a more noticeable member of the global community - mission accomplished.

I would like to thank Kim Berg Hansen for his very active presence online. I haven't participated in the PL/SQL Challenge site since Steven Feuerstein started wearing red shirts, but Kim's SQL quizzes are excellent and that takes commitment.


Kudos to some nominees here crossing categories, but for me the standout in helping my understanding of some of the most useful but slightly more complicated features of the database is Adrian Billington. The website has articles that effectively explain some tough topics. These OakTable fellows sure are made of the right stuff.


I haven't had enough time to really play with this product. A colleague has done most of the infrastructure work for our current client and I'm waiting for a chance to eke some more leverage out of this maturing product.

I asked a question on the forum about ORDS recently and was reminded how much I didn't know, and how much Dietmar is all over this product. In my mind a deserved inaugural winner.


Being so involved in this product now I could say plenty about each of the nominees, and illustrate how hard it must be to compare apples to oranges to mangoes. They've all contributed in relatively uniquely ways, and Morten in nominated once again.

Trent is probably the quietest achiever of the group, though I know his blog posts are quality over quantity and I've learned from his plugin dabblings.

If anyone has used the forum they've encountered Paul MacMillan as fac586. I think everyone must have learnt at least something from his replies.

Karen is the IR queen. I think our circles and geography differ somewhat, but that's why they asked for geographically diverse judges.

Morten has done amazing work in building a library of useful libraries. Hard to top and at this point he may have pipped Juergen, a new kid on the block but what a demo app for dynamic actions! And awesome work starting an APEX podcast with very interesting interviews.

Kiran Pawar has been a recent star in the forums, quick to provide good references to people looking for information. I have criticised some of his answers recently but I'm sure the same could be said for some of my responses, and certainly questions. I made some doozies recently.

Jari Laine is a JavaScript wizard that I've learned plenty of practical applications for jQuery. I could not have built such a versatile tablet application without integrating some work he's shared.

Database Design

Surely this is the most esoteric of the categories, but at times I really do miss some of the best designers I've encountered. I can't add much beyond congratulating fellow Perth technologist Mark Hoxey as a nominee. Someone obviously thought enough of his contribution to best practice to place a nomination, well done.

Final Thoughts

If you think support for Oracle technology is waning, think again. There's plenty I've missed, stuff I don't know, and time & spirit to nurture and cultivate some great ideas. With such a large amount to learn, I find solace in a community that facilitates such a variety of options to learn. I'm glad I have freedom to contribute my part.