Thursday, December 18, 2008

Apex 3.2 Forms Conversion

We have the chance here at Insum to be able to be part of the Forms Conversion to Apex early adopter program.

So far we have only started discovering how this all works.

We will have the pleasure to talk about our findings in the coming weeks through this blog.

Lots of our customers are eagerly awaiting this version, and this gives us an opportunity to see before hand what to expect with this Forms to Apex conversion.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 5, Thursday September 25th 2008

Last day of conferences. but not the least because of the first session of the day.

Dispelling Myths About Oracle Application Express
(John Scott, Apex Evangelists)

Well, John must of been hiding behind the curtains of every meeting I've had with potential clients ready to use Apex for the past 4 years. His list of myths about Apex is right on.

My personal favorite and the one I have heard the most over the years is :
- It's only for small applications.
Or another good one is :

- It's free, it can't be any good.
One last one :
- Is it secure ?
Ok, the last one I promise:
- We used WebDB and didn't like it.

To dispel the "It's too new" myth, John prepared a timeline of Apex.
Wow, that was very cool. I wish I could see it again.
That was a very very good presentation.
Good job John !!

Building a Web 2.0 Interface with Oracle Application Express
(Mark Lancaster, Theiss Pty. Ltd.)

Session Abstract:
Oracle Application Express is rapidly gaining popularity in the Oracle development community. Customers are demanding rich, interactive, user-friendly Web applications, sometimes described as Web 2.0. This presentation provides a case study of how Web 2.0 techniques are progressively being applied to improve the user experience in an Oracle Application Express application. It covers Oracle Application Express built-in Web 2.0 features as well as how developers can extend Oracle Application Express by building their own Web 2.0 components.

This was my last session at Open World.

It was also a good presentation. We saw a few pretty nice features made possible by the use of AJAX and Javascript in Apex. We are only at the beginning of the Web 2.0 wave.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 4, Wednesday September 24th 2008

Here is the list of sessions I attended on this day and the session abstract to give the reader an idea of the contents of each session.

Soup-to-Nuts RAD Development Using Oracle SQL Developer and Oracle Application Express (Michael Hichwa, Oracle; David Peake, Oracle ; Kris Rice, Oracle)
Session Abstract:
Oracle Database development tools are continually being enhanced to help improve developer productivity, consistency, and capabilities. In this session, learn how you can utilize two of the hottest tools--Oracle SQL Developer and Oracle Application Express--to build a Web application. See how rapidly you can create tables and data and then create a rich Web 2.0 application on this data model. The session not only introduces you to Oracle SQL Developer and Oracle Application Express but also showcases many of the latest features.
In this session I learned about the new data modeler in SQL Developer. This will be a great addition to the tool.

Oracle Application Express and Oracle XML Database: A Match Made in the Database (Mark Drake, Oracle)
Session Abstract:
This session shows how Oracle XML Database and Oracle Application Express can be used to create simple applications that leverage the best of both products. It focuses on a real-world example that shows how Oracle Application Express and Oracle XML DB can be used to build a lightweight content management application that leverages the content management capabilities of the Oracle XML DB platform and the Ajax capabilities of Oracle Application Express.

Larry's Keynote

Wow so many people .... still remains something to see.

Building Commercial Softwar
e-as-a-Service Applications with Oracle Application Express

We at Insum Solutions had the privilege to be invited for this presentation. Francis Mignault my business partner was one of the six participants of this round table. It was great to share experiences with other companies that have a similar business model. One of the other participants was Paulo Vale who I consider a new friend now. I was glad to talk with him a lot about multiple challenges our companies face.

The main thing that differentiated us with the other companies is that our solution targets the general public. We currently support over 60 000 user accounts. Our software is an association management system. Members of these associations can edit their profile, register on-line to activities, renew their membership, pay invoices, browse through job offers and much more.

It is in our back office, where the association's administration manages the membership database, that our solution was more comparable to the others on the panel.

Here is a picture of Paulo(left) and Francis(Right) before the presentation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Carl Backstrom

I received the terrible news this morning of Carl Backstrom's passing.
I met Carl for the first time at Oracle Open World this year.

When someone is introduced to you, you make yourself a first impression of the person. My first impression was that this is a great guy.
After talking to him a few times later on in the week, I knew my first impression was right on.

I had a chance to talk to him a bit more one night when we went out for a beer during the Apex meet up. We had a great time and that will be my memory of him.
He was a very bright man and will be missed.
Condolences to all his family and friends.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 3, Tuesday September 23rd 2008

Here is the list of sessions I attended on this day and the session abstract to give the reader an idea of the contents of each session.

How to Hack an Oracle Application Express Application
(Anton Nielsen, C2 Consulting, Inc.; Neelesh Shah, C2 Consulting, Inc.)
Session Abstract:
If you write HTML applications in any technology and care about your data, this session is for you. All HTML applications share attributes that expose them to hacking. Oracle Application Express has many features that let developers lock their applications--or expose them to hacking. This session shows techniques for hacking HTML applications, how to close these holes in Oracle Application Express, where it may expose them via its wizards, and how to protect against any demonstrated hack. The session can benefit novice to highly advanced Oracle Application Express developers, plus HTML application developers.
This session is a must for all Apex developers.

Tom Kyte, The Best Way...

Session Abstract:
Today there are many ways to do the same thing: sometimes it seems like there is an infinite number of ways to accomplish something via software. This session takes a look at best practices, rules of thumb, and frameworks and discusses their promise and their shortcomings. You'll see how what we have done in the past and how we did it form the basis for how we do things going forward--which is both good and bad.

Security: Writing Custom Authentication Schemes for Oracle Application Express
(Raj Mattamal, Niantic Systems, LLC; Josh Millinger, Niantic Systems, LLC)
Session abstract:
Creating custom authentication schemes in Oracle Application Express can be one of the most complicated tasks in Oracle Application Express application development. By using a customer implementation as the basis of a case study, this session explores many of the considerations of assembling a custom authentication scheme, including using some of the Oracle Application Express custom authentication APIs Oracle provides. In addition to including discussion, the session demonstrates the functionality it describes.
This was the most enthusiastic session I've seen at Open World !!

The Power of the Oracle Application Express Repository
(Patrick Wolf, Sphinx IT Consulting)
Session abstract:
An advantage of Oracle Application Express is that it stores the application's metadata in a repository in the database. There is a well-documented read-only view layer for accessing this information. Examples in this session demonstrate the wide range of possibilities you get by reusing this information for QA checks, documentation, monitoring, and generic code you can write for your application. The second part of the session covers how you can safely directly manipulate the repository to do mass updates on your application's metadata.
Good preparation makes for great presentations !! nicely done. Loved it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 2, Monday September 22nd 2008

Creating Advanced Charts in Oracle Application Express

This session was interesting because of the majority of the projects I work on do not include charts. It was nice to see that simple customizations that take a few minutes make a difference in the look of a report. Presently Apex uses Anychart 3 for chart reports. The latest version or Application express 3.1 uses Anycharts 4 for the interactive reports.
A nice live demo cap off the session with subjects such as drill-down charts and reports, adapting scales, customizing with copyright and logos, and security.

Developing a Real-World Logistic Application with Oracle Application Express

We got to see in this session very nice things that Roel Hartman developped using JavaScript/Ajax. Many attendees(including myself) were amazed with the drag & drop features in the calendar. Very nice features for demanding users.

Migrating from Oracle Forms to Oracle Application Express

This session was one of my most anticipated ones at Open world. I have lots of clients that are waiting to convert their old forms applications to Apex.

Oracle Apex form conversion is
- A way to jumpstart an Oracle Forms to Apex modernization project.
- Automatic conversion of forms components that can be automatically converted to native Apex components.
- An easy way to browse your Forms application logic.
- A convenient tool to track manual conversion of Triggers and other non-convertible logic.

Oracle Apex form conversion is NOT
- A "Silver Bullet" (push a button and voila solution)
- A Forms emulator
- Hard to maintain computer-generated code

How does it work ?
1) Your forms must be 6i, 9i or 10g
2) From Forms builder generate an XML file of your FMB file
3) In Apex, create a project and load your XML file
4) Choose objects that will not included in the conversion like control and navigation blocks
5) Generate the Apex application
6) Since triggers will not be converted automatically, you will have to do it yourself. There will be a list of all objects that were not converted. A tool will help us track these objects to convert/work on them.
7) Other customizing will be required since we are coming from a client-server application towards a web based application.
All in all, the conversion process is not a simple task. But still, it provides us with a good head start toward a Form to Apex conversion.

The Forms migration is part of version 3.2 of Apex or is version 3.2 should I say, and it is due out soon :)

Oracle Application Express Mashup

What is a mashup you ask. Well, here is Simon Boorsma's (the presenter) definition of a mashup : Collect and combine data, functionality and sources for single entry use.

Here are a few pretty cool tools he uses to do his mashup :
Dapper, Yahoo Pipes, Popfly.
Here are a few very interesting mashup examples :

Flickr, Photosynth.

Web 2.0 Development with Oracle Application Express

I think that this was one of the most interesting session of the week. I must start looking into JSON and JQUERY. I am also looking forward to dynamic actions.
Here is the link to Carls' blog where you can get mutch more details about his presentation.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 1, Sunday September 21st 2008

Oracle Application Express SIG: Ask the Experts (IOUG)

This session was interesting because of the group of people who made up the panel of experts. Dimitri Gielis had prepared a special question for all 5 experts each related in their fields of expertise. Dimitri, next year you should ask yourself a question also(something on graphics maybe) :)
Anton Nielsen known for his expertise in application security was asked : What is your top security issue with Application Express ?
John Scott (author of the great book Pro application express) was asked : What is the top myth about Apex ?
Denes Kubicek (Apex developper of the year 2008) was asked : What is your top improvement ?
Scott Spendolini (Ex-product manager for Apex) was asked : What is your top web2.0 feature ?
And last but not least David Peake (Apex product manager) : Where are we with new releases 3.2 and 4.0 of Apex ?

To get answers to these questions, you must go to the sessions people :) I can tell you this though, David should run in the elections with his political answers.

Using Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Application Express to Change Business Practices and Realize ROI

This session was more about Apex than it was about 11g. They had a tight schedule with limited resources. They got the job done because they used Apex.
Projects like this one are very efficient in terms of development costs. Quick win for the client.

Globalization with Oracle Application Express

This session presented multiple aspects of globalization. People tend to think that globalization stops at translation. Well, there is more to it than simply translating labels and headers into other languages. Date formats, Time zones, currencies, NLS formats to name a few. All great features easily implemented within Apex.

Joel Kallman interacted with the audience asking people questions like (What is the first day of the week ?, What date is 04/04/2008 for you ?, What type of currency do you use in your country ?) Answers were obviously different from one person to another.

Not to downplay translation which is a great feature (especially for us in Montreal were most of our applications are in French and English) but globalization is much more than just translation and Joel did a great job in demonstrating that during his session.

Oracle Application Express Hints, Tips, and Best Practices

This session is great for all levels of developers.
Installation tips, developer best practices, I learned a few tips myself. :)
Application express is a rapid application development tool, and this makes it easy to do things quickly. That being said, people tend to do things quickly and mechanically without questioning methods and better ways to do things.

Revisiting applications to make adjustments is a good start for less experienced developers.


Welcome party
Well that's what the first day looked like. In the evening we went to the welcome party.
We had nice food and good wine. It was a great way to finish the day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

OOW 2008 or should I say WOW 2008

Oracle Open World 2008 was my first experience, and it was great !!

DAY 0, September 20th. (time to register)

By chance my partner Francis Mignault knew where to go what to do and when to do things. It was not his first time at the big show.

Once our registration was done with, we had a few hours to visit San-Francisco. :)