Friday, August 31, 2012

APEX Meet-up @ OOW12

For the 7th year in a row we'll have another APEX Meet-up at Oracle Open World.

The last 6 years we hold this event in the 4th Street Bar & Deli (across the Moscone Center), but this year we will change location!

This year the APEX Meet-up is planned at Jillian's on Wednesday, October 3, 5-7pm

Just like previous years, OTN (thanks Lillian!) agreed to sponsor again this year... but this year our event will be bigger than before! The APEX Meet-up will be a joint effort with the Blogger Meet-up, so you don't only have a chance to meet the APEX enthusiast, but also people blogging about other Oracle technologies (some closely related to APEX e.g. SQL, PL/SQL, database, ...).
Oh... and there will be a special APEX corner at Jillian too where we give away some APEX books!

If you are just starting with Oracle Application Express (APEX) or you are already working with it for several years (or something in between!), you are all free to join us. It gives you the opportunity to talk to each other and share ideas in a great atmosphere with some nice drinks. The APEX development team and many other known APEX experts will be present as well. So definitely not to miss!

After the meet-up we will head to the busses to go to the Appreciation Event, so you can even continue your conversation till very late at Treasure Island :-)

Here you find previous year pictures and info of the APEX Meet-up.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New release of Oracle SQL Developer and Data Modeler

Oracle released a new version of the SQL Developer products.
The new versions are:

Especially Oracle SQL Developer 3.2 is worth to upgrade (or install if you didn't use it before). It holds many tweaks and enhancements, but the most important ones are:
  • it is ready to make connections to the Oracle Cloud (once this becomes public beta / available)
  • it can connect to the Oracle 12c database and use some of the new database features
  • it allows you to configure the APEX Listener 2.0 and above
  • other smaller, but very useful features I use daily. Jeff did some nice blog posts about it

The release of Data Modeler is more a bug fixes release. If you didn't use Data Modeler yet, it's worth to give it a try. You can visualise your ERD, model a new design or synchronise the model with the data dictionary and so much more.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    CLOUG - LAOTNTour - 5

    The last country inline of the LA OTN Tour (South leg) was Santiago, Chile.

    Although I will only spend a couple of hours in Santiago, I like it very much so far. Nice buildings, nature not to far and very friendly people. I won't visit anything, just try to relax a bit in the hotel before flying back home. I'm staying at The Aubrey hotel, very close to the Universidad San Sebastian where the CLOUG, LA OTN Tour was held. The hotel has only 15 rooms, but it's a very nice hotel with a very personal touch. I definitely want to come back here (when it's a bit warmer), not only for the friendly people of the hotel but also to discover more about Santiago and Chile.

    Back to the conference, I believe there were about 300 people registered. Here's a picture taken by Noel Portugal. As you can see a very nice auditorium we were in.

    Just like in Peru, the biggest part of the audience was new to Oracle Application Express (APEX). I gave three presentations; I started with an APEX overview, next I build an application from scratch based on what the audience asked me (and they challenged me more than in the other countries ;-)) and my last presentation was about the APEX Listener. Thanks CLOUG and the audience, I hope to come back once, hopefully many of you will develop with APEX then.

    Now I'm going to enjoy my last hours before taking off... I'll share my overall experience doing this LA OTN Tour once I'm back in Belgium.

    Adiós a mis amigos, muchas gracias.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    New Oracle APEX Presentations on YouTube

    I met Chris Ostrowski at KScope 12 in San Antonio, he was actually in my session about the APEX Listener. During my presentation he recorded the entire presentation, not only my voice but also the screen.

    A few days ago he send me an email to say he put mine, and the other sessions he recorded, on YouTube.

    Here's a list of the sessions he recorded:

    So if you didn't see some sessions and want to get an idea what they were about, you can watch them now online. I find it scary to hear myself talking, not really how I imagined it ;-)

    Update August 24th, 2012: the videos are (temporary?) unavailable.

    PEOUG - LAOTNTour - 4

    Arriving at the airport in Peru is different... immediately many people (taxi drivers) start to ask if you need a taxi, they even follow you, not really something I like.

    I stayed in the same hotel the conference was held, which was nice. Lima surprised me in many ways, I didn't expect to see so many US chains in Peru for example.
    The city has also many new buildings and it seems they are still doing a lot of constructions. A bit outside the big city there are really nice argeological sites. As I only had to be at the airport in the afternoon today, I made a stop at Pachacamac before noon.

    Oh and about the food, no meat anymore the last two days, seafood instead. There are some very nice places in Lima (Alfresco and Pescados Capitales).

    The conference itself had a really good turnout. About 170 people participated in it.
    The organizer told me APEX wasn't that known in Peru, that is why they asked me to do an APEX overview presentation. When I asked the people who had experience, only a few hands showed up, so what the organiser told me seemed to be true.

    The people were listening carefully, in the beginning maybe a bit skeptical as they didn't know what to expect, but the people became more and more enthusiast the more I talked and showed the power of APEX. During the presentation I didn't get that many questions but after it people couldn't stop asking. Even further on during the day people had more questions, talking to them makes me believe APEX will be more used in the future.

    My next presentation was building an application live. The people were very much involved, we covered reports, forms, charts, dynamic actions, many shared components, cascading select lists and so on. Time flew by and before I realised the next speaker was standing next to me for his presentation. Working with APEX let you forget the time :-)

    I start to feel the follow-up of flying, a different environment every two days, meeting many new peoples, delivering presentations, checking in and out of hotels. So after the conference I just stayed in the hotel and tried to get some rest.

    Today I'm flying to Santiago, Chile. I'm actually trying to finish this blog post while I'm flying. It didn't take much or I didn't arrive in Chile until 5AM in the morning! I guess just like many airlines, LAN airlines who flies me from Lima to Santiago was overbooked and I was the unlucky one... and thinking that I arrived 3 hours before my flight in the airport! They offered me money and a place on the next flight which would leave Lima over midnight and arrive in Chile in the morning.
    I didn't like that idea for a second, I was tired and need to give three presentations tomorrow. Finally they told me to wait for 2 hours and see if somebody didn't show up. So I did, I waited and waited. One hour before the flight I got green light, I could check in after all, had to stand inline for border control and started my run to the gate once through... I made it.

    Tomorrow is the last stop of the LA OTN Tour in Santiago... the day after I will fly back home. Goodnight.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    extending chart capabilities in APEX 4.1.x

    In the Expert Oracle Application Express book I wrote a chapter about charting in APEX. At the moment of writing APEX 4.0 was production. Things changed over time (4.1.x) and will change further in the future (4.2). If you try to run my sample application in APEX 4.1.x, following charts won't work anymore:
    • Manual Flash Chart with JavaScript
    • Complex Dashboard with Actions (full AnyChart)
    • Complex Dashboard with Events (full AnyChart)
    The reason is, there is a change in the files the AnyChart team gave to Oracle. Just to be clear, the above examples go further than what the APEX wizards give you, so it's not really something we can complain about. 

    The issue:

    If you look at the code on page 143, this is what I wrote down:

    The issue is the OracleAnyChart.swf file and the AnyChart.swf file. They are different than the files supplied in APEX 4.0 (which the chapter was based on). With every new release of APEX, AnyChart provides the latest chart engine, but this time, next to update the engine, they limited the file in what it can do (which they didn't do before). Oracle didn't license all the charts and the the full capabilities of the AnyChart engine so far. It remains to be seen which version we get with APEX 4.2. It should be AnyChart 6 with the support of HTML5 charts, so it might be that the other functionalities will work again too. 

    Anyway as I started to get regular emails about it, I guess because more and more people are on APEX 4.1 now, I decided to blog about the different solutions you have to get my examples working.

    The solution(s):

    Just to be clear, the techniques I described to get most out of the charts in APEX are still valid, but for the three examples that didn't work anymore, you need to do an extra step.

    - Option 1 - The solution is to not reference the APEX 4.1.x swf files, but reference swf files that do work. You can for example download the latest AnyChart files and copy them on your webserver, preferable in a different path than the APEX /images/ folder. I encourage you to copy them in your own path and leave the APEX folder as it is.

    - Option 2 - As for some people it seems not trivial to do that, I created another solution by using the APEX Plugin mechanism. The plugin is basically a framework around the full AnyChart files. The only thing you have to do, is come up with a datasource (file, procedure, resource profile or REST service) that has the correct XML for the chart. You find the xml reference for AnyChart here.

    The APEX plugin is of type region, so once you installed the plugin in your application, the only thing you have to do is create a new region on your page. I included three region attributes in the plugin; the width and height you want the chart to be and the datasource (procedure name).

    In the above example I've a procedure called MANUAL_CHART in my TRAINING schema which will generate the correct xml. This is the same as the example in the book. The result looks like this:

    As the datasource (procedure) gets called as an external process you need to make sure it has the correct grants.

    You can see the above example live for APEX 4.1.x and for APEX 4.2 EA2. (note that depending when you read this post versions might have changed and url's might fail)

    Note that I included a trial version of AnyChart, but you can easily replace that file. As APEX 4.2 is so close for production I also wanted to wait to see what files are distributed there, nevertheless I wanted to give you another solution to work around the issue in APEX 4.1.x. You can download the plugin here (which includes the procedure to generate the above chart).

    Once APEX 4.2 is live I plan to revise the entire chapter as things changed a lot, not only in the APEX 4.2 wizards, but also by the new HTML5 engine of AnyChart.

    On another note; the AnyChart Integration Kit we distributed before is end-of-live, instead we will provide plugins to extend APEX. At the moment we have following plugins:

    • Bubble Chart
    • Dynamic Action plugin to enable HTML5 charts for existing charts in APEX 4.1.x
    • Framework Plugin (see above), which can produce any type of chart (dashboard, heatmap, ...)
    • Full Gantt Chart Plugin with drag-drop functionalities
    • AnyStock Plugin
    Some of those plugins are payable, others we distribute for free, but we charge for support, upgrades, training and development of the charts you want. As the plugins are based on the AnyChart engine (which is not free), a lot will depend on what AnyChart provides to Oracle in APEX 4.2 if we can distribute the full AnyChart license with the plugins. Negotiating with AnyChart about a deal for the APEX community is postponed till after the APEX 4.2 release.

    Hope you are back on track with charting by this update :-)

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    GUOB - LAOTNTour - 3

    After Uruguay and Argentina, the next country in the OTN Latinoamerica Tour (South leg) was Sao Poalo, Brazil.

    Just like the other countries it was also my first time here. I knew Brazil from the football and dance, but it surprised me in many ways. Already in the plane I couldn't believe my eyes... as far as I could see, I saw buildings, buildings and buildings! I didn't realize Sao Poalo was so big. There's a lot of contrast in new buildings vs older ones (or in other words between rich and poor).

    Here's a picture from my hotel room

    Now back to the conference. GUOB, the Oracle User Group in Brazil must be one of the biggest user groups in Latin-America.

    The organization and turnout was great. Arround 300 people attended the conference. Although I didn't really understand the opening speach from Eduardo Hahn, as it was in Portuguese, I was amazed with what was happening. Suddenly the music started to play, people had to stand up and had to search something below their seat. During the music they also had time to say hi to each other, and much more. I found it an original opening, Brazil style if you like :-)

    Here's a picture when Eduardo opened the conference (the people were not standing then, you can see a picture of that on Twitter)

    The conference itself went great I think. I met many new people and during my talks I got many questions, on and off topic, but all APEX related. Thanks again to the translators and the English speaking people, without them it would have been very hard for me to understand the Portuguese.
    It seems APEX in Brazil is starting to become popular, the people were definitely enthusiast about it.

    Before and during the conference, the board of the User Group under the lead of Eduardo, made sure we had enough food... In Brazil it's all about barbeque and meat :-)
    After the conference we went to Fogo de Chao; if you want to eat meat, you have to go there! They keep serving you until you say stop. Never seen the way they serve; they come with different kinds of meat and on one stick they have the different cookings available (well done, medium, medium rare etc.)
    Here's a picture when they served Poalo from OTN.

    As I had some time between Brazil and my next stop in Lima, I tried to visit Mercado Municipal de São Paulo on Sunday, but because it was fathers day, it was closed. I did go to the Parque do Ibirapuera, which I enjoyed very much. Water, green, piece... and in the background you see the big building rising.

    Muito obrigado Eduardo, Patricia, Marcus and many others.

    Talking, spending time, having fun and dinner with other speakers is really nice. Unfortunately for some of the speakers Brazil was their last stop. Craig, Dana, Francisco, Tom, Graham, thanks so much!  It will be different without you guys in the next countries. I truly enjoyed our time together.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012

    AROUG - LAOTNTour - 2

    My next stop in the LA OTN Tour was Buenos Aires, Argentina. Just like Uruguay it was my first time here. I found it very different from Uruguay... Buenos Aires is a big city, with many, many cars and huge drive ways. Here's a picture of the huge drive way.

    The day before the conference we went to a famous restaurant, Las Lilas. You can see from the picture where they were known for! I enjoyed it very much, definitely a place I would go back to.

    It was the first time the AROUG organised an Oracle event. Every start is difficult, but I believe the participants were very happy at the end. The Real Performance Tour and the LA OTN Tour presentations were at the same day, so the people had to pick. I had the opportunity to see a part of the Real Performance presentation by Andrew Holdsworth, Tom Kyte and Graham Wood. It's definitely something you have to see! Here's a picture just before the start. As you can see, they use three different screens: SQL*Plus and statistics on the left side, presentation in the middle and Enterprise Manager on the right. I was very interesting to see how the three presenters with their own expertise explained what was going on.

    These events are also interesting to meet new people. It was the first time I met Craig Shallahamer and decided to watch one of his presentations about the buffer cache. I was impressed at the way he explained such a "hard-core" topic.  

    I gave a presentation about APEX Performance and in another one, I build an application live based on what the audience requested. Although the native language of the people in Argentina is Spanish, many of them understand and speak English. Even the people listening to the translators (as I was doing the presentation in English), were actively telling me what they wanted to see :-)

    I enjoyed my first time in Argentina... now up to Brazil where they speak Portuguese...  

    Thursday, August 09, 2012

    APEX 4.2 EA: App Builder overhaul

    This is the start of a series of blog posts about APEX 4.2 (at the time of writing EA).
    APEX 4.2 looks completely different from any previous version of APEX.

    The Application Builder became a "real" 2012 web application. Behind the scenes a lot of HTML5 and CSS3 features are used, which gives the App Builder a fresh look and feel.

    It already starts when you login: the fonts and buttons are bigger and it's just crisper.

    The home screen shows new icons, hovering over them highlight the selection in blue so it's clear where you are.

    The Application Builder that shows the applications that you have in your workspace looks like this.
    I'm unsure how you can change your own application to show another icon, but once Oracle allows to submit our own applications in the Packaged Applications section it will be possible I believe.

    The new look and feel when you are in the pages overview of your application

    The new theme of APEX itself is applied to all the wizards. The wizards are optimised, so you can get things done quicker than before and only relevant pieces are shown on the screen.
    For example, creating a new database application takes not more than 3 clicks and can include an home page by default now.

    Oracle APEX Listener 1.x vs 2.0

    The new Oracle APEX Listener 2.0 Early Adopter is publicly available now.
    If you compare it to the current production version these are the most changed or new features.


    APEX Listener 1.x: the configuration screen to tell the listener in which database APEX is installed

    APEX Listener 2.x: either you configure the listener through command line

    Command line configuration of the APEX Listener 2.x
    or through SQL Developer 3.2 or higher (currently not publicly released yet)

    Configuration through SQL Developer 3.2
    So the web interface is gone in the APEX Listener 2.x... As you can see in the screenshot, you can now configure multiple databases. Before you had to configure multiple APEX Listeners; one for DEV, one for TEST, one for Production etc. Now you can just have one APEX Listener routing to the correct database.

    Another new feature is that you can route multiple url's to different APEX applications.

    Resource Profiles (aka RESTful Services)

    APEX Listener 1.x; you define Resource Templates through the web interface

    APEX Listener 2.x; you can now configure the RESTful Services through a patched APEX 4.1.1 or native in APEX 4.2. The following screenshot shows how it looks like in a patched APEX 4.1.1 version.

    New in the APEX Listener 2.x is RESTful OAuth 2.0 integration.

    New features

    More configuration options.

    Integration of ICAP virus scanner, so when a file gets uploaded to your database, even before it hits your database it can be scanned.

    More features are there to come, for example integrated FOP support...

    I hope you see that Oracle is putting a lot of effort in the APEX Listener... it fits in the proof of the additional features you get with the APEX Listener I mentioned in my previous post "Moving to the APEX Listener".

    Wednesday, August 08, 2012

    Moving to the Oracle APEX Listener

    Are you already using the Oracle APEX Listener in front of Oracle Application Express (APEX) or are you still using Apache with mod_plsql as your webserver (or the EPG)?

    This year I started to give a presentation why I believe you should move to the APEX Listener.

    If you missed my presentation at OGh, ODTUG or UYOUG, I'll give this presentation again in Brazil and Santiago as part of the LA OTN Tour, at Oracle Open World (OOW) and at the UKOUG.

    In the presentation I go briefly over the pros and cons of Apache with mod_plsql, the Embedded PL/SQL Gateway (EPG), but spend most of the time on the APEX Listener (hence the title).
    After OOW I'll publish a whitepaper about this topic as well, so you can read it in full detail and have some test cases you can try in your environment.

    Nevertheless I already wanted to blog about some points of my presentation and whitepaper, especially in the light of APEX 4.2 and the upcoming 2.0 version of the APEX Listener.

    Background; before I wanted to move off Apache with mod_plsql (to the APEX Listener) there were two important parts I wanted to be sure of:

    • is the APEX Listener as reliable and performant as Apache with mod_plsql and
    • do I get at least the same features (or more) with the APEX Listener compared to the others
    For the first point I can say we successfully run the APEX Listener now for 1,5 year in different environments. To name two; one environment is using Glassfish and the APEX Listener on top of Oracle Linux on the hardware of a customer and another one is running on our own server at Amazon, Oracle Linux and Glassfish with the APEX Listener with an Apache reverse proxy in front of it.

    JMeter configuration

    Performance wise I show in my presentation and whitepaper how you can test your own configuration with JMeter, so you have real metrics. Depending the test case I ran on my system, I got different results, but in general the APEX Listener was as fast or faster than Apache with mod_plsql.
    Again you don't need to take my worth for granted, but test it out yourself in your environment by simulating your load with JMeter. How to do that you can read in my whitepaper or in this excellent post of Chris Muir (note that in APEX 4.1.1 you need to add some extra parameters to get it to work which are not described in the blog post).

    On the second point; the features of the APEX Listener compared to the other choices, I can be short.
    The APEX Listener will give you more features... even more interesting... if you are not using the APEX Listener from APEX 4.2 onwards, some functionalities for ex. RESTful Services won't work for you.

    RESTful Services

    At the moment APEX Listener 1.1.4 is the production version, but a few days ago APEX Listener 2.0 (EA) was released. You can read more about this release on Kris' blog. In my next post I will also  highlight the biggest differences between APEX Listener 1.x and 2.x.

    Hopefully by this post I hope to trigger you to look at the APEX Listener a bit closer in the next weeks and months if you are not using it yet... 

    Tuesday, August 07, 2012

    UYOUG - LAOTNTour - 1

    Currently I'm doing the OTN Latinoamerica Tour 2012 (South leg).

    The first country we visited was Uruguay. It's currently winter here (whereas in Belgium it's summer), so the temperature is a bit lower (between 6-16 degrees Celsius), but it's still a lot warmer than the winter in Belgium!

    Here's a picture taken from my hotel room... nice indeed!

    Uruguay has some really nice views and buildings. This is the building the conference is held in.

    The conference itself is very well organised. In Uruguay they speak Spanish, unfortunately a language I don't speak... but they did foresee translators, so real-time, people were translating during my presentation.
    Many people didn't need the headphones as they could understand English as well. I do hope to learn Spanish one day, as I like the language.

    There were many interesting presentations. As I was the only person speaking about APEX, it gave me the opportunity to see presentations about different topics.

    I enjoyed the presentation of Tom Kyte about Big Data and Dana Singleterry about "Is ADF simpler than Forms?". Big Data is obviously the next big thing, I look forward to integrate that with APEX.
    The demo's of Dana building ADF applications were interesting as well. ADF has many build-in components (graphs, pivot, panels, ...) you can use out-of-the-box. It was a while ago I saw an ADF presentation, and although I still find it a lot more complex than APEX, they made it a lot simpler and faster to build apps.

    In the evening we went out with the speakers to a typical bar/restaurant from Uruguay. I want to thank the organiser of the event so much, and special thanks to Edel, Daniel and Nelson. Muchas gracias!

    Sunday, August 05, 2012

    My OTN Latinoamerica Tour 2012 (South Leg)

    At the moment I'm on my way to Montevideo (Uruguay) for the first country in a row at the OTN Latinoamerica Tour 2012 (South leg).

    Francisco asked me already a few times, and finally this year I agreed visiting this part of the world. Already many thanks to Francisco and the whole team in Latin America for the invitation and the organisation. Reading Tim's post about the North leg, I'm sure it will be an amazing adventure for me as well, so I look forward starting this two week experience.

    My schedule looks like this:

    Montevideo (Uruguay): August 6th
    - 11:30 12:15 Moving to the APEX Listener
    - 14:30 15:15 Building an APEX Application Live
    - 16:15 17:00 Debugging with APEX & SQL Developer

    Buenos Aires (Argentina): August 9th 
    - 12:00 13:00 Building an APEX Application Live
    - 15:00 16:00 APEX Application Performance

    Sao Paulo (Brazil): August 11th 
    - 10:10 11:00 Moving to the APEX Listener
    - 14:25 15:15 Debugging with APEX & SQL Developer

    Lima (Peru): August 14th 
    - 10:05 11:05 Oracle Application Express (APEX) Overview
    - 13:30 14:30 Building an APEX Application (Live demo)

    Santiago (Chile): August 16th 
    - 09:30 10:15 Oracle Application Express (APEX) Overview
    - 11:30 12:15 Building an APEX Application (Live demo)
    - 14:20 15:05 Moving to the APEX Listener

    I don't speak Spanish, but I do hope to meet and talk to many of you.
    It will be my first time in any of those countries, but if it's as nice as the football they play, it must be great :-)

    looking back at KScope 12 - KScope 13 info

    Straight after KScope 12 I left on holiday, which meant I didn't find the time yet to get up-to-speed with blogging. Coming back a lot of work was waiting again and now I'm travelling again... I did want to finish this post first before getting onto other things.

    KScope 12 was another great conference. Next to the great sessions and meeting up with people, the APEX development team showed the power of APEX 4.2 on the Sunday symposium.

    If you didn't see APEX 4.2 yet, you can give it a try as the early adopter (v2) is ready to test. Although the 4.2 (instead of 4.1.1) doesn't sound like a big jump (in number), it is in my opinion. I'll come back to that in a series of posts about the APEX 4.2 version in the next weeks.

    Back to KScope 12... it was my first time in Texas and it was an experience to say the least :-)
    Seeing a rodeo, people with booths, heads and guns... many horses, also amazing meat (dinner at the range). It was great to be somewhere I never went before. Here's a picture when somebody asked to have a picture with the AE team at the range where the rodeo was held.

    Update: Martin did an interview with me at KScope 12, where I give my view on the conference. You find it here.

    If you missed KScope 12 not to worry, next year there will be KScope 13. KScope 13 will bring us back to 2008, when the conference was held in New Orleans as well. We all have many memories about it! It seems that in 2008 I blogged a bit more in detail (every day!) about the events than nowadays. For example the Tuesday post you find here.

    I do remember the service day when we painted a school, the neckles you throw at the girls in Bourbon Street and also the many presentations I had to do at that conference. For the charts one I won the best presenter award, but there was also one on the last day; the shoot-out between APEX and ADF, which I did together with Lucas Jellema. I remember that was a hard one... and a topic I wouldn't do anymore today, maybe a comparison, but not a shoot-out :-)

    Boubon street

    One last thing I want to share, when you go to KScope 13, you should definitely try an "hand-granade"

    Just know when to stop...

    I know already many people who were there in 2008, who already booked their ticket for 2013 (yes registration is already open)!
    KScope 13 is definitely worth going to, not only for the great content, but as you can see above also for the social part. Many great people, very nice location... see you there.