Friday, October 30, 2009

ODTUG 2010 submission deadline

Every year the Oracle conferences are a place to meet other fellow Oracle people and hear the latest and greatest in Oracle world.

Normally these are the conferences I go to: IOUG Collaborate, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Oracle Open World, UKOUG and some smaller local ones.

One of the ways to get a free pass to these conferences is to present. ODTUG was the biggest APEX conference last year and for 2010 it will be no different. Especially with the release of APEX 4.0 it will be interesting to see these new presentations. The submission deadline for ODTUG just got extended, so now there are another 10 days left to submit an abstract for the ODTUG conference...

It will be nice for me personally to go back to Washington as that was the place I went to on my first visit to the States.

Good luck with the submission!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

APEX 4.0 Screenshots and first impression

At the demo grounds of OOW09 the APEX Development team showcased APEX 4.0.

I spend quiet some time at the demo ground to play a bit with APEX 4.0 and have a real feeling about this new version. I liked it a lot, but to be fair not all wizards were finished/polished yet and while I was testing I wanted even more features. There are so many enhancement requests they can put in, so it will be a challenge to define the final list of which will be included and which will be postponed to APEX 4.1.

I took some screenshots to show you how things look like and commented a bit on it.

All the screenshots might look different when APEX 4.0 hits the roads, so don't take it for granted it will be like that in the final version.

I already wrote some other blog post and posted a video over a year ago (!) about Websheets. It will be "separate" from APEX e.g. you create a Websheet or an APEX app. I see Websheets as "APEX lite" or "APEX for business people". It's even easier and faster to create a Websheet than it is to create an APEX application. Everything is in meta-data, so Websheets are not based on real tables, but the tables will be defined in meta-data. This allows people to change the structure of the table on the fly (e.g. add columns).
It has some other nice features like inline editing, sharing of your data (security build in), flashback capabilities and so much more... definitely one of the reasons to go with APEX 4.0.

When you login into APEX 4.0 you see that the Application Builder got a nicer look and feel. The new color is blue instead of green and it looks like an enhanced version of Theme 20 is used.

Drilling down into an Application gives you the next screenshot. The quick links which I use a lot (edit page, wheel to access shared components, ...) got extended. The search functionality there will save everybody a lot of time.

At the last conferences I gave a presentation about "Mastering an APEX page". It looks like I should redo that presentation when APEX 4.0 comes out. Although the Page Layout already changed a bit (e.g. you have now a Dynamic Actions section) insiders told me that it's likely to change more.

If you don't like to touch javascript yourself, but you need things to happen on the client (cascading lovs, hide/show items and regions) the APEX dev team build Dynamic Actions for you. It allows you to build these things in a declarative way.

The different actions in Dynamic Actions through the wizard

If you edit the Dynamic Actions you can change it even more.

The Utilities section got revamped with more features and more logical organized items.

One of the new items is the Advisor. Before you could find that in Patrick Wolf's APEX Essentials. So now it will be build-in and it got more enhanced as well. This will definitely mean everybody can do easier Quality checks of their applications.

Team Development will be another nice feature. It allows the people on the project to work more closely together and all throughout the APEX interface. New features, bugs and to-do's can be logged and be assigned to people. This is an example of something we build ourselves too to make our live easier, but as a lot of the things we did before in our own way, APEX 4.0 will give you everything (or at least a lot) build-in.

The new Shared Components section got some more features, the most important one I would say is the access to the Plugins.

I'm expecting a lot of the ability to have Plugins in APEX 4.0. I've certainly a couple in my head I'd like to write, but it's just the fact that it opens up APEX in every way. If you do something in many projects and you can't use Shared Components for it, it makes sense to write a plugin, so it makes it easy to reuse.

As a frequent reader of this blog you probably know by now that Anychart 5 will be integrated in APEX 4.0. The new wizard looks a lot cleaner. You see which chart you want and select that from the start in the wizard. There are also other types of charts available now e.g. Gauges and Gantts.

The below screenshot shows the new wizard for creating Maps.

The next screenshot shows you the Enhanced Interactive Reports with a Map on the same page. As you can see the Interactive Report got some new features like Group By.

I think APEX 4.0 will change the way we write applications. APEX 4.0 brings us again to another level of web development in a declarative way. You'll be able to do things in an easier and faster way than ever before. I already look forward to next year when we can develop with it...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

OOW09 - APEX Meetup

As an annual tradition, also this year we had an APEX Meetup at the 4th Street Bar & Deli during Oracle Open World.

Every year the numbers of people coming to this meetup is increasing. People from all over the world talk about APEX and make fun. The APEX Development team was also present.

And this year we had some sponsors too: ODTUG, OTN and Oracle APEX team were so nice to pay for our drinks. So a special thanks to the complete ODTUG board, Justin and Lillian of OTN and Joel of the APEX Development team!

Below you find some pictures...

A lovely evening with all nice people, a day to keep in memory...

OOW09 - Dashboards in APEX

One of the presentations I did at OOW09 was Impress Your Clients with Interactive Dashboards in Oracle Application Express.

The session was booked in the Franciscan A and B room of the Hilton Hotel. So the room was pretty big (around 200 people I think) as two rooms were put together. I like to do interactive presentations, but in such a room e.g. there were two project (one at every side of the room) that is not that easy.

In this presentation I first explained which charting capabilities you get out-of-the-box with APEX, followed by how you can transform these charts into nicer ones. If you really want to impress your clients, Interactive Dashboards are the way to go. Basically a dashboards is one big chart which consist out of different views who have all an own chart.

Having only one swf and one data feed makes it faster than when you would create three separate charts. Anychart 5 provides a nice API to generate these dashboards.

You have different possibilities to feed the chart with data, one of them is creating an Application Process that generates the XML for the dashboard. e.g.

If you want to add Interactivity to your chart, you will need to use JavaScript.

In the presentation I covered all steps in detail. At OOW the presentation got recorded as well so when they release the audio streams, you can hear it there too. I'm also giving this presentation again at UKOUG.

You find the example I explained in the presentation here.

In APEX 4.0 the creation of dashboards will become easier as there will be a wizard in. So far I didn't see a demo of that yet, so I'm not sure how and what features they will include.

At the end of my presentation I also showed a preview of the new chart engine Anychart is working on, called Stock Charts. They are not released yet, but I'm working with them to make the integration with APEX easy. I'm really exited about these new charts! If you need financial charts or charts that are based on dates, these new charts rock!

Pics of Oracle Ace's dinner - Oracle Nerd

I'm a bit behind with blogging about Oracle Open World 2009, but I promised to post some pictures of the ACE's dinner of Monday.

It was my first ACE dinner and I liked it very much. I had some nice food and drinks with all the other ACE's at OOW. Thanks to Vikki, Lillian and Duncan for the organization.

Mark Rittman and John Scott tasting some beer ;-)

Before OOW there was a whole story/thread about getting Oracle Nerd aka Chet Justice to OOW, one of them was to buy special Oracle Nerd shirts... so Chet, here are some pics of the ACE's wearing the shirts! Vikki and myself, showing the Oracle Nerd shirt.

Lillian M. Buziak, Steven Feuerstein and Andreas Chatziantoniou.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

APEX Developer of the Year 2009

I just saw the Oracle Magazine for November/December edition... I already knew it a bit before, but now it's official; I got the "APEX Developer of the Year 2009" award.

Of course I find it a real honor and I appreciate the recognition. Thank you Oracle Magazine and APEX Development team!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

OOW09 APEX popular at OOW?

Every year the APEX presentations get more attended... but this year at OOW it's a bit extreme...

Have a look at the below pictures:

Indeed queues of people for the APEX 4.0 session of Mike Hichwa and David Peake.

*** APEX 4.0 will be hot for sure ***

OOW09 Sunday - Full APEX day

Registration was very fast at OOW, no queues this morning.

It's still early in the morning while I'm writing this post... not that many people arrived yet. But you can be sure, today the madness begins ;-)

There will be 30 (official) APEX presentations at OOW (and some others at the Unconference).

I'm on stage three times today. Together with Scott I'll open the APEX Symposium where we focus on migrations to APEX.

During the Symposium I also have another session "Mastering an APEX page" in the Hilton Hotel (Golden Gate 4/5).

And after the APEX 4.0 presentation we'll do the "Ask the Experts" panel where you can ask any question you like. Joel Kallman, John Scott, David Peake, Scott Spendolini and myself will be on the panel.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oracle HQ

Today was my first time at Oracle HQ in San Francisco. Very nice environment, impressive buildings, ... what you can expect of Larry Ellison I guess.

At the Oracle HQ we got a briefing of the upcoming products. We are not allowed to communicate about it yet, but I can say there are some impressive things coming.

Mike Hichwa also showed APEX 4.0, although I had already seen it, APEX changed even more and more nice features are in. For me it will be the biggest release (in number of new features and enhancements) of APEX since the beginning!

Thanks to Duncan Mills for hosting the briefing, I really enjoyed it.

Here are some pictures of myself at Oracle HQ and the other Oracle ACE Directors in the Oracle HQ building, enjoying some drinks and food.

Friday, October 09, 2009

First days in the States

I guess I'm lucky... just as my last flights I got upgraded again. But this time I didn't only get upgraded with my flight, but also the car I hired, the room I stayed in, amazing! I guess I must have been a very lucky person.

It was the first time I drove with an Escalade. I really liked the car. It had so many features e.g. a camera at the back to see what is behind you when you are in reverse.
In the hotel I got a room with a hot-tub, that was really nice after a long flight.

Below you see some the picture of the luxury bathroom and our night out with Rich and his family. I always enjoy spending time with them.

Our flight to San Francisco was delayed so I only arrived in the Sofitel hotel across Oracle HQ at midnight. Now it's time for the Oracle Ace Directors meeting.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Leaving for OOW, let the fun begin

In a few hours I'm starting my journey to the States.

On Wednesday I fly from Brussels to Los Angeles (with a stop in Heathrow). At night I have a dinner planned with a friend and his family. I find it always good to try and stay awake the first day and get in the rhythm of the local timezone.

Thursday I'm doing a client visit and in the evening I'm on the plane again to San Francisco.

Friday I join the other Oracle ACE Directors for a visit to Oracle HQ where we get some previews on what is coming.

Saturday will be the calm before the storm... because on Sunday the madness starts. San Francisco will color red and everywhere you'll see people for Oracle Open World.

My adapted schedule looks like this (in red is where I present):

Look forward meeting you at OOW...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

APEX Listener available for download

The Oracle Application Express architecture requires some form of Web server to proxy requests between a Web browser and the Oracle Application Express engine. So far you had following possibilities:

  • Oracle HTTP Server/mod_plsql
  • XDB HTTP protocol server/embedded PL/SQL gateway
Today Oracle made the Early Adopters of the Oracle Application Express Listener available.
It's an alternative that is offered for the above two and with APEX 4.0 it will become the first choice.

Below you see a slide of the APEX 4.0 presentation. It explains what happens more graphically.

The main reasons why you want to consider the APEX Listener:
  • it supports file system caching
  • it makes the printing of pdfs easier as the APEX Listener is build in Java and integrates nicely with FOP.
  • support of multiple file upload, the architecture of mod/plsql didn't allow that
  • you can add your own plugins to it
  • it has a workload capture feature
As the listener is written in Java you need a J2EE runtime environment. The Oracle Application Express Listener supports Web Logic , Tomcat, and OC4J. My personal preference would be Tomcat or Web Logic, if you need more features.