Saturday, March 10, 2007

The history (I know) of APEX

During one of my chats with John Scott, the question popped up how long we were already playing with APEX. I began searching in my archives...

A short overview of how I got in touch with APEX (aka HTMLDB aka Project Marvel).

In 2000 (I was working at Oracle) I saw a demo of an application made in WEB DB. I didn't play that much with WEB DB, but some of my (ex-)Oracle colleagues really loved it. Nevertheless in some projects around that time I used mod_plsql...

A few years later I saw a powerpoint presentation of "Project Marvel". From the beginning I thought, "waaaw" this looks very good and promissing. I think it was around February 2003 I got more information about this project. I even found a screenshot in my archives from that time.

In September 2003 I first heard the name HTML DB. That was the first time I really played with it, I think it was v1.3. I still have a zip of version 1.4 ;-)
I think my first message about APEX (HTMLDB) in the OTN forum was on Oct 1, 2003 2:06 AM. Apparently at that time I was working with v1.4:
Raj, at that time one of the HTMLDB developers, answered me!

The rest you know, as it was public: HTML DB v1.5 -> v1.6 -> v2 -> APEX.
I also found a pdf describing the history.

To show you the difference, a screenshot of the current APEX version
(but that you know, I suppose)


Patrick Wolf said...

Really interesting to see how the APEX Builder Layout has evolved from the first Marvel version to the current APEX 3.0 version...


Anonymous said...

Wasnt webview the precursor to webdb? I seem to recall working with that one when I was at Oracle Canada back in 89 or 90.

PS I still use webdb at work - its a plan, nonsense htmldb with a better report writer.


Dimitri Gielis said...

Don't know about webview...

About reports, you definitely should check Apex 3.0 where there's pdf reporting available. (also integration with BI Publisher)

Unknown said...


yes, WebView was the application building framework created by Tom Kyte and Christoper Beck, the first release in 1996, I believe.

It was then incorporated into WebDB. It is still part of the current Portal product (database provider) but has not been developed further for many years.


Unknown said...


personally, I wouldn't consider WebDB (or WebView) the precursor to Apex.

It is more of a lessons learned redesign from WebDB and other approaches to web development using mod_plsql.

The design is completely different. In WebDB you specified the metadata for the components and then "executable" stored packages were created. The customization was very limited, changing the layout/behaviour was very hard and the product was quite buggy.

Also, many people (used to ;) shy away from Apex since they thought that it might have the same fate as WebDB, which is basically discontinued.


Dimitri Gielis said...

Hi Dietmar,

Thanks a lot for your info. Really interesting insights that I didn't know of.


Unknown said...

Mike Hichwa and Joel Kallman were tasked with building a Web Calendar.
They built the framework while also building the solution and called it Flows. Flows was then renamed Project Marvel and with a growing development team, they went out to a Beta Customer to actually build a solution using the tool.
Once the team finished building a suite of applications (which are still in Production today) they moved off to productize the tool. In 2004 HTML DB v1.5 was officially released as a fully supported Oracle product.
In 2006, HTML DB was renamed to Oracle Application Express 2.1

Dimitri Gielis said...

Thanks David for your great post! It's nice to know the background of something you really like...

Daryl said...

1996 sounds about right, I got the dates mixed up. That was the time I was at Oracle Canada. Cant be sure but I thought it was Mike Hichwa that was producing the code at that time. I was surprised to find the webview code still floating around the internet when I went googling for it.
No doubt the product has improved. Sorry for the typos in the original post. The ending was meant to read "PS I still use webdb at work - its a plain, no nonsense htmldb with a better report writer"

Anonymous said...

don't forget "flow builder" ... :-))