Friday, June 29, 2007

Oracle releasing some new versions (APEX 3.0.1 out now)

Apparently Oracle is releasing some new products...

First there was JDeveloper See the list of changes here.

A few minutes ago John told me, the Oracle APEX development team released their patch for APEX 3.0. The patch set notes you find here, the download here.

What's next? ... Oracle Database 11g ?? ... ;-)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lewis Cunningham's ODTUG Podcast released

I just got a message of Lewis Cunningham he posted his Podcost of ODTUG on his blog.

Listen good, maybe you'll here me ;-)

It was really fun doing my first podcast. Lewis is a great guy to talk to and a nice person to get interviewed by. That was definitely a highlight at ODTUG and something to be in the history books as the first real interview of the Apex Evangelists.

The podcast is a talk with 8 different people at ODTUG. The part I'm in, Lewis describes like this:

Dimitri Gielis, ApEx Evangelists & David Peake, ApEx PM (Starts at: 7:32) ApEx Discussion, some 11g ApEx info, ApEx Evangelists and the ApEx European Training Days

Thanks Lewis! A moment I'll never forget...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Conference Highlights and Heading back to Belgium

Last night I slept well ;-)

I'm currently waiting in Atlanta together with a lot of other ODTUG participants.

My overall impressions of Daytona Beach and the conference are positive.

Last year it was my first time in the States. At that time I didn't know what to expect and the whole experience was unbelievable. After that conference I went to other conferences in the States, like Collaborate and Open World and I think I'm getting partially used to it. Although the States are still "big" and impressive, but I suppose I already expect the most unbelievable things.

At every conference I learned something new, not only technical but also personal. Nevertheless, my biggest interest for doing theses conferences is networking. Putting some faces on the people you see on the internet or just talking to each other in real life.

My highlights (top 5) for this conference where:

  1. Meeting Patrick Wolf in real life and hanging out together
  2. Seeing Daytona Beach (the Nascar and the Ocean)
  3. Giving my first presentation at ODTUG
  4. Talking and having drinks with some of the Oracle APEX development team
  5. Meet the other APEX fans and Oracle bloggers
Thank you ODTUG, Daytona and all you, nice people...

ODTUG Day 4: Last sessions

Unbelievable, but I didn't sleep well again! My mobile phone was switched off, no mosquitoes, I was tired and fell asleep almost immediately. But at 4h30 I got a cramp in my leg (convulsion in calf). It really hurt, it was such a heavy cramp I have never had before!

This morning (and even during the day and night) my leg was still hurting. I couldn't walk without pain... it still hurts, but what can I do about it?

I suppose it's due to the food, the air co and not having drunk enough.

The first session I followed with Managing Large Application Development Using Oracle Application Express by David Peake.
David explained his experience from the 4 years he worked at a big client in an APEX development project. How do you get the best results of your team and how do you structure your work, were one of the questions he tried to answer.
I found it an interesting session (much better then the marketing stuff the previous day ;-))

The next session was about Oracle XE for internet Applications Generated by Designer by Marc de Oliveira.
I'm not such a huge fan of Designer, maybe because I don't know it. But I think what he tried to do with Designer, generating web applications, he could have done in APEX in a lot less time.
But again, I don't really know Designer, so maybe there was a purpose to do it with Designer.

The last session I followed was Application Express for the Designer Web Generator Expert by James Hudson.
Basically what I saw in the previous session, James explained how to migrate from that to APEX. I found it interesting to see how, with his knowledge of Discoverer, he did his migration.

We got a last sandwich lunch and said everybody goodbye... Some last moment picture were taken.
(from left to right Dimitri with: Steven Feuerstein, Karen Cannell, David Peake)

Now it's time to prepare for going home. Most of the people left today or will leave tomorrow.

The last night at Daytona Beach... Patrick and I went to a Steakhouse named Stonehood. We both had a nice steak (see picture). It was the perfect night to end the Daytona chapter...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

ODTUG Day 3: APEX + My presentation + Nascar

After a bad night, due to mosquitoes and forgetting to switch my mobile phone off, the third day started...

The first session I followed was APEX Lessons from the Trenches by Bill Holtzman.
Bill explained the lessons he learned after creating his application for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).
He used for ex. different linking mechanisms: Automated report Links (in APEX), Manual report link (in SQL) and links from Javascript. Another thing he learned was how to use checkboxes, which I think was useful to explain, as a lot of people have problems with it. Other areas he covered where creating an upload process and validating the file name (can't be more than 78 characters), Session State Protection and the use of htmldb_activity_log (or apex_activity_log).
To conclude he believes that the APEX skill set is 60% PLSQL, 30% HTML and 10% Javascript.

My next session was Advanced Application Express Programming Techniques by Michael Hichwa.
The "father" of APEX explained his best practices and showed some sample (packaged) applications where it was used. The big topics where: database design, development guidelines and User Interfaces (user experience).
His presentation was based on his experience and the Best Practice whitepaper published on OTN by Sergio Leunissen.

On the same time as previous two sessions, there were two other sessions. One from Patrick Cimolini about APEX Validation and Error Handling and another one of Peter Lorenzen about How to make your APEX application secure. It's a pity they were at the same time...

During lunch I did my first Podcast! Lewis Cunningham interviewed me about Oracle Application Express, the Apex Evangelists and our European APEX Training Days.
I didn't hear the result yet, so I wonder what it will sounds like. I suppose you hear the ocean, as the interview was outside.
Such a live interview is very special... we didn't prepare anything, so after the talk I thought: "oh I could have said this or I could have added that" ;-)
Nevertheless, I was very honored Lewis asked me for that quick chat. Thanks Lewis!

My next session was Oracle Application Express 3.0, Introduction and New Features by David Peake. This was a more marketing kind of presentation about APEX and all the advantages of using it. Readers of this blog probably already know about this, so I won't go into more detail about this session. Only one thing... David mentioned and showed a screenshot of my application DG Tournament! Thank you David :-)

The first session in the afternoon was about creating an interface in APEX to organize Discoverer Workbooks by Jeff Hohman. Jeff showed his application, but on an APEX point of view it was a simple application. Basically what he did was creating a report and form which allowed to open Discoverer Workbooks with an url from APEX. If people are using Discoverer, this presentation can be useful. It explains how a Discoverer url looks like.
Jeff also mentioned that this application gets maybe integrated with a next version of Discoverer...

Then it was my turn! APEX by Example: Shared Components by Dimitri Gielis.
I'm not sure I should blog about my own session ;-)
This presentation was the same as the one I did at Collaborate in Las Vegas. As I already knew, doing this presentation is a challenge, as it's a bit too much for a one hour presentation.
107 slides (ppt) and 4 live demo's in one hour! I made it, but I won't try it again in the future. ;-)
My goal was to give an overview of all Shared Components and focus on some of them (demo), as I believed they aren't used/known that much. I think I achieved this goal, as even Patrick Wolf told me he had learned something new. I showed SSP, the Build Option, Shortcuts & Subscription and UI Defaults.
Some people liked it very much as I got some nice feedback, but I'm pretty sure some others found it too much information and a too quickly change of "topic". But I'm glad I did it this way, as I believe my paper/presentation is ideally to get people thinking and putting them in the right direction of more advanced APEX skills.

Sidemark: I think the audience at ODTUG is different then the one at Collab. I believe there're only (or the vast majority) technical people (developers) at ODTUG, where at IOUG Collaborate you've more a mix. For one or another reason I felt that during the presentation.

The last session of the day was one of Patrick Cimolini about APEX and Project Management. I found it an interesting presentation to know how others start, develop and deliver an application. APEX is a Rapid Application Development Tool, but some people sometimes forget that you should treat it as just another development project.
Even I must sometimes force myself not to start developing directly, but first make a project plan.

In the evening we went to Daytona USA to have an insight in the Nascar hype of Daytona.
I found it really interesting and had a terrific time. I raced against Patrick, which was really fun and we also saw an iMAX movie of Nascar.

Here're some pictures I got from Patrick's camera...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ODTUG Day 2: Keynote Fusion + APEXPosed2007

Before beginning the second (and last day) of APEXPosed, there was the ODTUG Keynote.

Ted Farrell, VP Tools and Middleware gave an overview how he sees the Software Architecture in the New Era. Most of his talk was about Fusion and Java (ADF). I'm pretty sure some experts in this area will blog about it, so I won't go into a lot of detail.
One thing however I found quiet nice, was his demo about some new things in JSF. He showed some drag-drop capabilities, some animation when something loaded (get data), in fact an improved Amazon, if you like. In one screen you could check out and do changes on the fly, which I think is more user friendly. Behind the scenes a lot of that is AJAX, which you could use in for ex. APEX too.

Lab: High Fidelity Reporting with PL/PDF

PL/PDF is quiet handy when you want to create some advanced reports from PLSQL. I definitely found it an interesting session. A few weeks ago I was looking into BI Publisher (the XML/XSL way), but PL/PDF can maybe do even more advanced reporting, although it's quiet different. PL/PDF is programming PLSQL to make your report, where in BIP you could also use Word templates for ex.

During lunch the Best Paper and Best Speaker award got delivered. The Best Paper went to Wilfred van der Dijl, where the Best Speaker award was for Maggie Tomkins.

In the afternoon Joel Kallman talking about Managing APEX, which I found really interesting. This session was the most advanced one and maybe some people don't really care what is happening or how you can manage an APEX instance. It all depends how far you would like to go with the product, but I think it's always nice to know how something you're using works.

The last session of the day was about APEX APIs. Raj got deeper into APEX_ITEM, APEX_COLLECTION, APEX_UTIL and APEX_MAIL. Something you could expect from an Advanced training session. On the hand of a tabular form he touched the most importing things in the APIs area.

In the evening there was the APEX SIG meeting. A bit the same as at Collaborate, but where before it was organized by IOUG, it now was an ODTUG session.

In the evening I quickly went through my presentation and had a drink in the bar of the hotel with my other APEX friends.
(Oh, and this time I'm not on the picture with the waitress, that honor is for David Peake ;-))

Tomorrow it's my turn to give a presentation... I hope I can learn the people something after a full 2-day APEX training.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sneak Preview - Oracle Application Express Worksheets

... Oracle Disclaimer ...
These screenshots are "pre-pre-alpha" and very preliminary screens of the final implementation. They are subject to change, maybe it never makes it to a release or it will work different.

In other words, Oracle doesn't engage or promise that it will be like that or that is will be ever available. But, I'm nevertheless really happy I can publish this "ultra, super cool" new feature/product or you name it. Thanks Mr. AJAX and Oracle!

Monday, June 18, 2007

ODTUG Day 1: an Oracle Application Express only day (APEXPosed2007)

I didn't sleep that bad tonight. In the morning I checked my mails and worked a bit.

On the picture, taken in the morning, from left to right: Patrick Wolf, Kris Rice, Sue Harper, ODTUG board, David Peake, Dimitri Gielis, Flavio Casetta.)

Today APEXPosed started. You had to pay extra for these sessions, so it wasn't the regular ODTUG Kaleidoscope track.

The topics they covered with a bit of explanation and my view on things.


The time I arrived they just had to refill all sandwiches, so that was a bummer. I'll tell you tomorrow if it's good. Today I didn't have that much, some fruit and muesli.

APEX Keynote by Mike Hichwa

Mike started to talk about the history of APEX. Let's say before 2004, and the lessons they learned from it. Then they started to build APEX from scratch again with the first release in 2004 called HTMLDB 1.5, followed by 1.6 with the Themes quickly afterwards.
The other highlights; in 2.0 you got the SQL Workshop and 2.1 was the integration with Oracle XE. 2.2 brought Packaged Applications and then you got APEX 3.0! The awesome stuff ;-)
A lot of new feature, like for ex. MS Access Application Migration, Flash Charting, BI Publisher Reporting Integration, Improved Web Services, ...

Mike also showed his 10 most "cool" features of APEX.

Then we got to the really interesting stuff! APEX in the future.
There will be first a patched version of APEX 3, called APEX 3.0.1 (foreseen for this month). This version will also be shipped with the Oracle Database 11g. As I blogged yesterday, the integration with SQL Developer will be enabled too. Mike demoed some cool things, like deploying an APEX application right from SQL Developer! As we already could see, you get some reports and more insights into the APEX dictionary too.
This version will also probably work with Oracle XE... with maybe some installation guide.

So what will be in APEX 3.1?

This was absolutely fantastic! If you didn't already like APEX, you'll definitely like this version!
What do you think of: Practical, Tactical, Easy, Database Centric, Declarative, Opportunistic, Super Fast, Browser Based... and Pull Down Report Columns?
Mike demoed APEX Worksheet! Man!! You can't believe it!
There's a lot of AJAX inside that! I was a bit too late to tape it, but I'll get some more screenshot from Mr. AJAX himself.

Video of new APEX Workspace

Lab: Hands-On Ajax and JavaScript by John Millinger

This session were some hands on on AJAX and Javascript.

First an overview of Javascript, then where you can find Javascript in APEX and exercises like Hide/Show an item and Check all check boxes.

Later we saw where AJAX is used in APEX and got some exercises on that as well, like for ex. auto population and dynamic reports.

It's always difficult to define "Advanced". I spoke with some people and they really liked it. Personally I already played with most of this. Nevertheless it was a nice exercise and overview again.


We got some healthy food: a salad with some cheese and ham on. Some people didn't found it enough, but the dessert (some chocolate fudge pudding or cheese cake) was quiet heavy, so I didn't complain.

UI and Design by Scott Spendolini

Scott explained the difference in Themes and Templates. And then showed how you could make another theme in APEX. He build the Apple website theme in APEX and explained while he was doing that the different steps to build it, the pitfalls and the tools who can help you with it.

I believe this was a good session, especially if you didn't build a template yourself before. The experience and best practices Scott mentioned where also useful. I believe you learn the most from the experience of others.

Security by Raj Mattamal

The main topics Raj was discussing where: Security Balance, Create & Review Example Application, Declaratively Locking Example Application, Programmatic Measures, Deployment, Considerations and Other Considerations.

Raj pretty much mentioned every possibility you have in APEX to make your application more secure. In my session on Wednesday I'm also talking about Session State Protection, Authentication and Authorisation. He was talking about that too as also the use of bind variables and some other best/worst practices.

The "Cross-Site Scripting Attacks" demo I found really interesting. I didn't try that myself before. Putting some javascript in a text field on your form and then render the report... Give it a try yourself! Something to get afraid off ;-)

Ask the Experts - Open Forum

This session was Q&A with most of the APEX Development team and the other speakers of APEXPosed. David Peake took notes, so it might be possible he'll give some feedback on that. The questions were the normal ones, as I already blogged before when we did the IOUG, OOW or ODTUG Q&A of last year.

Welcome Reception

The reception is always a nice place to meet others. I saw Mark Rittman, the AMIS guys, Peter Lorenzen and a lot of others I got to know of ODTUG of last year.

APEX Meetup

After the Welcome Reception we went to the bar to have another drink with only APEX lovers. There must have been around 30 people, which didn't make it easy. The larger the group, the more difficult it is to talk to everybody. Some pictures I took during the meetup.

ODTUG Day 0: Meeting others

Today (Sunday) I didn't do that much. As a lot of people arrived today and yesterday I came across some friends. I saw Lewis Cunningham with his family, Wilfred van der Deijl and the AMIS guys like Alex, Aino and Lucas.

Last night I stayed in the Comfort Inn, but to be honest, it wasn't that nice compared to some other hotels I stayed in before. The breakfast was included, but you could only have some limited donuts and a waffle.

and I also scheduled to meet today, which we did at 9h30 am. Almost all day we were together, heading between the beach, the pool and the surroundings of Daytona Beach.

Although Patrick and I already chatted a lot and exchanged mails, it's always different to meet somebody in real life. The picture on his blog isn't that clear ;-)
I really liked being together and chatting about APEX and life.

At the late afternoon, something "special" happened. I got recognised while laying at the pool. A friendly young guy from Latvia (now living in the States) recognised me from my blog!
I was pleasantly surprised. When Patrick told his name (as he was laying next to me at the pool) the guy was really happy.

In the evening we met Mike Hichwa in the bar and started to chat. I'm not sure I can give all details, but if you're an APEX developer, you should definitely start using SQL Developer. Something nice is coming up!

Afterwards we had some dinner with some "other guys"....
On the picture from left to right around the table: Scott Spendolini, Patrick Wolf, Mike Hichwa, Raj Mattamal (he never wants to be on the picture), Kris Rice's wife and child, Kris Rice and myself.

It was a lovely day and evening... tomorrow the real sessions will start.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

ODTUG Day -1: More pictures from Daytona Beach

As some of you couldn't make it, here some more pictures and a video!

Today (Saturday) I walked down the beach. The fresh air, the ocean, really nice.
In Belgium we've a sea (the North Sea), but an ocean is nicer, bigger waves ;-)
One thing however, the sun goes under in our sea... and that's not the case here in Daytona Beach. And on the Daytona Beach your car is allowed!
The other picture shows the Daytona Beach street and what happens when you fall asleep!
The video shows the ocean... nothing more, nothing less... but try to smell the air and get the feeling of being here ;-)

I walked to the impressive Hilton hotel where the seminar is going to be held. I wanted to register, but that's only possible from Sunday onwards. In the hotel I came across some other people, like for ex. Wilfred van der Deijl.

If you've never met Wilfred, you can recognise him on his length... I didn't have my camera with me, but I'm pretty sure in the next days we'll be on the same picture. You'll see the difference ;-)

We walked down the beach and talked about the development tools (JDeveloper, APEX, BPEL, ...) and life. Wilfred blogs a lot about his experience of their conversion from Forms to ADF. He's also in the panel who will discuss the differences in tools. Of course he's on the other side of the table compared to me! But he's a really nice guy ;-)

The rest of the day I headed between the pool, the beach and my laptop. As for food, I started with some famous American Onion Rings and a typical burger.

I'm going to sleep early tonight as I didn't sleep that well yesterday.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

ODTUG Day -1: First pictures from Daytona Beach

I finally arrived at Daytona Beach after 20h of travel time.

It was already late in the evening. After having walked a bit down the street, to stretch my legs after only have been sitting down, I went to bed.

I couldn't sleep that well. Around 5 o'clock I woke up again. John was online, so we had a quick chat.

I'm staying in the Plaza hotel only for one night because there were no more rooms for today. From Monday onwards I'm staying in the Hilton, where Kaleidoscope is taking place.

It's still early but I thought to take some first pics ;-) The early morning in Daytona Beach...

A picture from my balcony at 6:30 am: left the land view and on the right the ocean view.

I wonder what that "boll building" is on the land view?

ODTUG Day -2: Waiting in Atlanta airport

If you're like me, waiting for some hours in Atlanta airport for the next flight to Daytona Beach, come and say hello! You find me at Gate 1B next to "Seattle's Best coffee", working on my laptop in a corner...

My flight from Brussels to Atlanta had some delay, but I didn't worry about that, as I had/have to wait for over 6 hours in Atlanta.

Nothing special happened during the flight. Food was fine compared to other air plains, hostesses where friendly...

But I read a nice article in Sky Magazine about "Blackberry addiction".

I must say the article sounded familiar. I also admit I'm addicted to mail, blog, internet, ... I'm not using a Blackberry, but a pda (HTC P3300).
For ex. yesterday, I was at the Oracle Benelux OPN Days and between sessions I quickly connected with GPRS to read my mails. But it was not entirely my fault! During the OPN Days we needed to leave our mobile phones on, because they sent us messages with special announcements. They also created a site where you could search for other people and network with them. There was also an interactive session where you needed to vote on questions.

One of the questions was: "Where would you like the next OPN Days be held?"
A) Belgium
B) The Netherlands
C) Luxemburg
D) Seychelles

Guess what I sms'ed? ;-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Heading to ODTUG

The last days were a rush... a lot of meetings, everybody coming at the same time and next to that trying to get the deadlines in some projects... My blog was a bit silent, but that will change in the coming days!

Today I'm leaving for Kaleidoscope 07 (ODTUG), held in Daytona Beach, US.

It's not that easy for me to go there. I'm flying over Atlanta where I need to wait for over 6 hours for the connecting flight to Daytona Beach, but it will be worth it.

Last year I really liked ODTUG. It was at that time also my first time in the States. I blogged every day and will try to do that again now.

I hope there's some free wireless in Atlanta, so I can finish some blog posts I started.

I updated the Apex Meetup website with the date. We'll meet on Monday during and after the Welcome Reception.

Time to leave now...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oracle Application Express (APEX) @ ODTUG

Following Oracle Application Express (APEX) sessions are scheduled at ODTUG...

It's a pity that some sessions are going on at the same time, but it's also a proof APEX is getting more known. Next to the two days APEXPOSED, there're 13 sessions dealing with APEX. Compared to last year that's a hugh increase!

Monday, June 18

APEXPOSED (whole day)
agenda: see website

Tuesday, June 19

APEXPOSED (whole day)
agenda: see website

Web-Based Applications Strategies from an Oracle Forms/Reports Developer's Perspective (11:00am - 12:00pm)
Wesley Brown and Krupa Ramachandran, St. Jude Medical Inc.
Future development tools present a quandary for companies who were geared heavily towards Oracle Forms/Reports. Strategies on how to keep currently deployed applications/reports up and running while deciding which Web tools to use and how to train developers to use them must be defined. Also, providing users with the same "Look and Feel" with a common point of access for both old and new Applications / Reports is a goal. We have taken a "transitional" approach as a solution. We chose to start with APEX and ASP.NET which we consider intermediate Web development technologies relatively easy to use with Oracle database yet powerful. Our developers have been successful in deploying new projects utilizing these environments and incorporating them into the traditional Application Launch interface with users unaware of which tool is being used. In this endeavor we have discovered how we can develop projects in several environments seamlessly without disruption of service to our customers and are taking steps necessary to fully utilize Web-based tools in the future.

APEX SIG MEETING (5:30pm - 7:00pm)

Wednesday, June 20

APEX Validation and Error Handling (8:30am - 9:30 am)
Patrick Cimolini, Cayman Islands Government
This presentation is a detailed discussion on how an Applications Express (APEX) application can be configured to handle both business rule violations and run-time errors. Business rule violations are detected in triggers and then raised to the GUI where the user is presented with a context sensitive message that contains the information that allows the user to correct the problem. Run-time and system errors are logged in the database and then passed up to the user. A professional validation and error handling strategy is a key component in building robust, user-friendly systems. The points will be illustrated using one of the presenter's production systems.

APEX Lessons from the Trenches (8:30am - 9:30 am - same time as previous)
Bill Holtzman, National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Application Express enables rapid and efficient development of secure and enterprise-level Web applications. Like any platform, there are numerous tricks of the trade that one learns only after getting waist-deep in the coding. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has been digging successfully in the APEX gold mine for three years and has a wide assortment of coding techniques to share with those undertaking or considering expanding their use of APEX.

How to Make Your Oracle APEX Application Secure (9:45am - 10:45am)
Peter Lorenzen, WM-data
When you deploy an Oracle APEX application on the public internet you have to assess the level of security needed. If your application only contains non-sensitive data you may be able to deploy it in much the same way as you would on your intranet. However, if you need to secure your application, there are a number of things you need to consider. This presentation will explain some of the risks and how to minimize them. Some of the issues we will discuss are cross-site scripting, session state protection and SQL Injection. We will also look at some of the things you can do to secure an Apache HTTP Server.

Advanced Application Express Programming Techniques (9:45am - 10:45am)
Michael Hichwa, Oracle Corporation
Learn Michael Hichwa's perspective on how to develop Application Express (APEX) applications from data model to user interface. Get recommendations for source code management, upgrades, and customizations. See how to exploit new Oracle APEX 3.0 features. See techniques to improve and test performance.

Oracle Application Express 3.0—Introduction and New Features (11:00am - 12:00pm)
David Peake , Oracle Corporation
Oracle Application Express (Oracle APEX) is a Web-based, application development and deployment tool integrated with the Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Database 11g. Oracle APEX enables anyone with only a Web browser and limited programming experience to quickly create secure and scalable Web applications that can be instantly deployed to tens, hundreds, or thousands of users. This presentation and live demonstration positions the tool and provides an overview of its features and capabilities. We'll look at Oracle Application Express 3.0 new features, such as Flash Charting and PDF Printing and Reporting, discuss the future direction of Oracle APEX and show examples of why it is one of Oracle's most popular technologies.

Building an Application Express Interface to Organize Discoverer Workbooks (1:30pm - 2:30pm)
Jeff Hohman, Oracle Corporation
This session will provide users with an alternative to organize their workbooks using a somewhat open source solution. Because of the flexibility involved changes in the product can be easily compensated for, thus, making this add-on highly beneficial.

APEX by Example: Shared Components (2:45pm - 3:45pm)
Dimitri Gielis, Apex Evangelists/Ordina Belgium
Oracle Application Express (APEX) is a quickly growing development environment. The initial goal of APEX was to have something 'simple', a wizard-driven development environment to compete with MS Access or to replace Excel files. People still use the wizard a lot, but if you would really like to use the force of APEX,
you can use Shared Components. This session covers all available Shared Components; it tells you what it is for, why to use it, and how to use it in a real environment with the "DG Tournament" application.

APEX and Project Management (4:00pm-5:00pm)
Patrick Cimolini, Cayman Islands Government
Application Express (APEX) is a robust and productive development tool, however, even APEX projects can be late, over budget, and of dubious quality if they are not well managed. Looking at APEX from a project manager's perspective, the following questions are addressed: How long will a project take? What tasks needs to be done? How long will a single task take? When should the tasks be done and in what order? Who performs the tasks? What skills are required? How are source code and versions managed? What quality can be promised and delivered to the customer? Quantitative metrics and a production application will be used to illustrate the points.

Thursday, June 21

Managing Large Application Development Using Oracle Application Express (8:30am - 9:30am)
David Peake, Oracle Corporation
This presentation will outline developing large applications using Oracle Application Express (APEX). It will be based on personal experience managing a diverse team of developers and personally developing APEX Applications on a comprehensive system with close to 1000 individual applications. Development on this
application started over four years ago and has successfully been implemented as the primary enterprise-wide OLTP system for a large law enforcement agency with thousands of users.

APEX Cheat Sheet (11:00am - 12:00am)
Karen Cannell, Integra Technology Consulting
For beginner APEX users, and for those who have not yet memorized all the ins, outs, &’s and .’s, this cheat sheet session presents a collection of frequently used APEX features, expressions, how-tos, and assorted oh-yeahs to keep handy when building your first 2 or 22 APEX applications. We’ll cover the F$P syntax, report links, when to use &, :, v(), select lists, sending e-mail, popups, adding your own logo, custom authentication, and some essential JavaScript. You’ll leave this session with a cheat sheet of APEX how-tos that will get you well into APEX development.

Application Express for the Designer Web Generator Expert (1:00pm - 2:00pm)
James Hudson, Wisconsin DNR
Application Express is a natural successor to the Designer PL/SQL Web Generator. This presentation will show how to take an existing Web Generator Application and migrate it to run using Application Express. The goal, though, isn't simply to identify the steps in rebuilding an application in a new technology. We will also look at
ways to "think" in the APEX tool and use advanced features provided out-of-the-box by APEX. The session shows how Designer experts can pick up APEX fairly quickly and build new apps, convert existing apps, or integrate the two.

Flex Your APEX: Implementing Oracle E-Business Suite Flexfields in Application Express (2:15pm - 3:15pm)
Shane Bentz, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
With every passing day, the functional boundaries between traditional client-server applications and Web applications decrease. New technologies such as SOAP and Ajax enable Web applications to function and perform like traditional fat-client software. In this session, I will show how to integrate the E-Business Suite flexfield functionality into Application Express. By leveraging the power of Ajax, Application Express can use descriptive flexfields to create rich Web applications—applications that can change shape and purpose on-the-fly, enhancing the user experience by not reloading the page and minimizing future coding by developers.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Testing Oracle BI Publisher with APEX 3.0

In APEX 3.0 it's possible to print pdf's using an externally defined report server.

There's a good document on OTN to configure this printing feature in Oracle Application Express.

Below the steps I did with some screenshot and an example of the first PDF report I ran through BI Publisher:

  1. Pre: I already have an Oracle Database with APEX 3.0 installed

    -- BI Publisher part --
  2. Download and install BI Publisher
  3. Installation of BI Publisher was amazingly simple! After 6 minutes the Basic installation (on Windows XP - btw unsupported!) was done and my server was up-and-running.
  4. Testing the installation by going to the url OUI specified at the end of the installation. On my laptop that's: http://digixp:9704/xmlpserver/
  5. Logging in into BIP for the first time with Administrator/Administrator
    Go to the Admin link - JDBC connection - to add your database (see picture)

    -- APEX part: Configuration --
  6. Login into the INTERNAL workspace
  7. Click on Manage Service > Instance Settings > Report Printing
  8. Put the details of the BI Publisher reporting server
    (see picture)
  9. That's about it to configure it in the INTERNAL workspace
  10. Logout

    -- APEX part: Report --
  11. Login into your development workspace
  12. To create my first report I went to the Sample appication
    > Page 3 > Products Report
  13. Click on the Report link and go to the tab (from APEX 3.0 onwards): Print Attributes (see picture)
  14. In this screen you can configure how your report will look like and make pdf printing possible for that report
  15. Minimal you should:
    Set Enable Report Printing to Yes and give it a Link name
  16. The rest of the options are also very useful and necessary to make the report exactly as you want it to look like
  17. When running the page you'll see a Print link somewhere near the report (left picture)
  18. Clicking on that link will give you a pdf that looks like your report (right picture)
    The report is not yet completely like I would have it to be (for ex. with pictures, nicer scaled, headers and footers), but that will be another post.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Reuse Oracle APEX Components

Not sure if you already saw this feature in Oracle Application Express?
"Export Application Components" (in Application Builder - Shared Components)

When I first saw it, I thought: "cool", I can export my Shared Components (or Reusable Components) and import it again in another project. But that's not completely true...

On the left, you see you can export almost every APEX component. On the right side you see the import functionality (Application Builder - Import).

So what's the problem?

Same Workspace - Same Application
There's no problem when you stay in your current application. You can nicely export and import components.

Same Workspace - Different Application
If you try to import the component in another application, you get an error (see below).
But isn't that strange? You can create a new item based on a copy of an existing item of another application. (This is also a workaround, although you would need to create a new item for every component you want to copy)

Different Workspace - Different Application
If you try to import the component in another application of another workspace, you get the same error (see below). There's no workaround for this, except to export the whole application from one workspace, import it again in the other workspace and create components as copies of the components of the imported application.

Life would be a lot easier to have the export/import functionality as it would allow to copy (and subscribe) more components at once.

The error you get when you're not in the same application while importing:

I like the feature, don't get me wrong, and I understand the difficulties of doing it (changing id's). Nevertheless I hope in APEX 3.1 or 4.0 it will be extended so it also works cross workspace/application.

In the meanwhile, if you want to reuse components, make a "Shared Application" and when you start a new project import the entire application into your workspace (if it's cross workspace).