Friday, August 24, 2007

NF in Oracle Application Express (APEX) 3.1 & 4.0

The Oracle Apex Development team updated their statement of direction today.

I won't go into much detail on APEX 3.1, the next release of APEX, as the changes are not that big in this release, although some may be very useful.

A bit of comment on some new features of APEX 3.1:

  • PL/SQL API to manage a runtime installation of Application Express: this could be very useful, especially for companies providing APEX hosting like us.
  • Documented and supported Application Express JavaScript libraries: Carl Backstrom already started that here.
  • Enhanced integration with Oracle SQL Developer for MS Access to Application Express migration: with every new release of SQL Developer you see some more features in that area.

The nicest thing however is what they will include in Oracle Application Express 4.0!!

"This release will focus on declarative support for Web 2.0 features in Application Express, as well as the extensibility of the Application Express framework.": Don't you like the sound of that?! That sounds awesome!!

Generally thought: the Apex team listened very well to us, the Apex Developers/Users, which is highly appreciated. Thanks Oracle Apex Development team for that.

My comments on some of the new features of APEX 4.0:
  • Interactive reporting region types which native integrate Web 2.0 features to filter, break, sort data: This we could already see in action in one of my previous blog post
  • Extensible item framework, enabling developers to "plug in" their own custom item types: this will definitely be one of the killing features of this new version! A while ago Carl Backstrom started a discussion about it (initially Patrick Wolf included this in the APEX 3.1 new features thread). You can still leave your comments in the thread Carl started...
  • Declarative support for AJAX validations: today you could already make the validations in APEX, but the validations required a round-trip to the server. With the ApexLib framework you could avoid this. Some javascript functions would dynamically look at your validations (defined in APEX) and test it on the client side. Getting an improved version (with AJAX) out of the box in APEX 4 is great.
  • Declarative support for cascading select lists and other similar item types: we demo this often and this is also one of the questions asked by a lot of people
  • Improved tabular forms, including support for validations, integration with collections, and additional item types: again, asked by a lot of developers, especially people coming from an Oracle Forms/Reports background.
  • New item/region types, including DHTML calendar and AJAX tree: the tree in the current APEX version does a submit of your page. Also the calendar wasn't uptodate anymore with the current expectations of the web. So it's understandable this is included.
  • Improved PDF report layout: I hope they look at my improvement for this too ;-) But PDF got only introduced in version 3 and it's already a nice feature, especially when you integrate it with BI Publisher. But yes, other improvements like printing charts and pictures easier would be welcome ;-)
  • Improved error message handling: we were waiting a long time for this, it looks like somewhere next year we get something with the new version that does the job
  • Numerous functional and performance improvements: Performance comes definitely from the caching mechanism (already a lot in APEX 3) and from the performance improvement of the 11g database. That's one of the things why APEX is great, as it's running inside the database, with every new release of the database you get so many more possibilities.
My final note on this: Oracle is not guaranteeing it will include all that... nevertheless I would like to thank the whole Apex Development team for this great road map and awesome product!


Anonymous said...

Hey Dimitri,

I have a little problem, and since you are an experience APEX developer ☺ (APEX is just starting to pick here in Canada), I was wondering if you could direct me in the right direction.

I have a report that's called from 5 or 6 different areas within an application. Hey, that's just part of the requirements!! Also, as part of the requirements, the user community would like to use breadcrumbs. But, by default for a specific page, you can only specify one parent. I have tried building a "dynamic" breadcrumb to keep track of where this specific report is called, but I'm hitting several road blocks. I could re-create the report 5-6 times, but that's just not practical... maintenance nightmare!!

So, did this problem ever occured to you?? By the way, I'm using APEX



Stéphane Vinette

Gregg said...

Does anyone know when APEX 4.0 will be released?