The Oracle Apex Development team updated their statement of direction today.
I won't go into much detail on APEX 3.1, the next release of APEX, as the changes are not that big in this release, although some may be very useful.
A bit of comment on some new features of APEX 3.1:
- PL/SQL API to manage a runtime installation of Application Express: this could be very useful, especially for companies providing APEX hosting like us.
- Enhanced integration with Oracle SQL Developer for MS Access to Application Express migration: with every new release of SQL Developer you see some more features in that area.
The nicest thing however is what they will include in Oracle Application Express 4.0!!
"This release will focus on declarative support for Web 2.0 features in Application Express, as well as the extensibility of the Application Express framework.": Don't you like the sound of that?! That sounds awesome!!
Generally thought: the Apex team listened very well to us, the Apex Developers/Users, which is highly appreciated. Thanks Oracle Apex Development team for that.
My comments on some of the new features of APEX 4.0:
- Interactive reporting region types which native integrate Web 2.0 features to filter, break, sort data: This we could already see in action in one of my previous blog post
- Extensible item framework, enabling developers to "plug in" their own custom item types: this will definitely be one of the killing features of this new version! A while ago Carl Backstrom started a discussion about it (initially Patrick Wolf included this in the APEX 3.1 new features thread). You can still leave your comments in the thread Carl started...
- Declarative support for cascading select lists and other similar item types: we demo this often and this is also one of the questions asked by a lot of people
- Improved tabular forms, including support for validations, integration with collections, and additional item types: again, asked by a lot of developers, especially people coming from an Oracle Forms/Reports background.
- New item/region types, including DHTML calendar and AJAX tree: the tree in the current APEX version does a submit of your page. Also the calendar wasn't uptodate anymore with the current expectations of the web. So it's understandable this is included.
- Improved PDF report layout: I hope they look at my improvement for this too ;-) But PDF got only introduced in version 3 and it's already a nice feature, especially when you integrate it with BI Publisher. But yes, other improvements like printing charts and pictures easier would be welcome ;-)
- Improved error message handling: we were waiting a long time for this, it looks like somewhere next year we get something with the new version that does the job
- Numerous functional and performance improvements: Performance comes definitely from the caching mechanism (already a lot in APEX 3) and from the performance improvement of the 11g database. That's one of the things why APEX is great, as it's running inside the database, with every new release of the database you get so many more possibilities.