Friday, August 22, 2008

APEX for 55+ people - The first steps

This article is following some previous articles:
- The concept (the idea)
- The landscape (more info about 55+ person and the environment)

So how do you start with a 55+ year old person to explain what APEX is, what it can do and how to use it?

We started with a meeting. I didn't use a ppt, just my laptop and my Apex instance.

I started with something he knew: Excel. I asked him an Excel file he uses a lot. Weeks before, we already discussed why APEX would be better in his case, so no time on that at this stage.
Before we turned the Excel into an Oracle technology, I started to explain more about the concept of an Oracle database and how it works. I believe it was important to explain the relationship between database - scheme / user - tables - relationships.

Next to do, getting an APEX account on and turning his Excel file into an APEX application. It's important to explain what's happening. Once the application was created and he understood what had been going on we played around with this app.

Next we agreed he had to read and try things in APEX himself:
- I told him to follow the Getting Started with Oracle Application Express guide
- Read documentation about APEX and its architecture.
- Run some demonstration Application which was showing more of the possibilities
- Send me mails and call if things were not clear

Now he knew more about it, but it wasn't as easy as I write here. It took some time to get familiar with it (so don't give up if you find the doc to difficult in the beginning!)
The theory is not everything, it's important that he tried things himself. So we started with the 2 Day + Application Express Developer’s Guide.
The problem with this guide however is that you already need to know quiet a bit about Oracle (especially SQL) to understand fully what's happening. Everything is well explained how to create the application, but his feedback was that it was not clear to him what all the SQL (and others) meant he had to type/do or what was going on at the different points in time.

He had the reflex to search himself for some things in the Application Express User’s Guide, but how to get rid of a table for ex isn't well explained. It's funny, all the steps are clearly in the guide, but if you don't know that "to delete" a table in Oracle is called "drop" you're in trouble. So most of the first questions I got were not about APEX itself, but more about the Oracle terminology.

At this time he had made several applications in APEX (from Excel and from the guide) and seen other examples.

We met again and discussed his evolution and what to learn next. I explained more about APEX and gave him his next exercise, which was one we use in our APEX beginners training.

After that he felt confident to do other exercises, so he tried more exercises related to his job.
But then we hit another problem. Knowing Oracle and how to create a good ERD (table design, relationships etc) are key for an APEX application. So we had to go over that as well...

Next post, next week: the good, the bad and the ugly!

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