Wednesday, February 27, 2008

APEX 3.1 online

Today there was a little downtime on because it got upgraded to a pre-production release of Oracle Application Express 3.1.

Carl Backstrom already announced a code freeze, so the upgrade is the next step before it will be give to us all. The public 3.1 release is going to be very soon now ;-)

If you didn't subscribe to the evaluation version or read anything about it, here's a list of the new features in APEX 3.1 The list is rough, there're some more changes and undocumented ones.

If you want to see some new features in action, there's a nice showcase application.

The well known Sample Application got also an update and uses some of the new features. For ex. the Interactive reports and the Blob support on page 3 and 6 I find really nice.

I tried my AE Survey application also in APEX 3.1 and it seems to work now too.

Thanks APEX-team, great job!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oracle Fusion or Adobe Flex or ... ?

I wanted to blog about this already a long time. Especially when I was at Oracle Open World last year where they showed the new Oracle Fusion Applications, more particular, the Sales Forecasting app (see my blog post here).

I'm confused, I've always believed the future will have four big development areas: .NET, Java, Flex and APEX (not ordered in a particular way).

Oracle can work with all four of them, some better than others. Oracle is writing their new Application Suites in "Oracle Fusion", I thought that was Java / ADF, but at OOW 2007 the front-end of the Sales Forecasting application looked like Adobe Flex.

As you all know, I'm in big favor for Oracle Application Express (APEX) and when I'm talking or giving presentation about it, I often mention Oracle Metalink. "The support system of Oracle is written entirely in APEX", I often say.
When I was in Metalink today I saw there's also a part that's not APEX! The Software Configuration Manager brings you to another url and application. Although the page is a jsp page, I believe the front-end is written in Flex.

In the beginning of 2007 I've been looking into Adobe Flex too. I got it working with Oracle (see blog post) and even tested how to integrate it with APEX a long time ago here.

I must admit the front-end of Adobe Flex looks very good and I had some discussions about it in the Apex Forum and with Carl Backstrom. He convinced me you can do the same with AJAX, css and javascript, which is true if you look at the Interactive Reports of APEX 3.1.

Nevertheless I'm confused about the strategy of Oracle, particular about their Fusion Applications. Will the front-end be completely Flex? Or will it be partially ADF JSF? Or will they do a part in APEX? ;-) And what will be the future way to go in development?

As I already said at "APEX vs. ADF" talk last year: the Java arena is changing so quickly, it looks like they never "finish" something and that there'll be always something new and more sexy...

I believe we'll have a mixture of all development environments. People use whatever they want, we just need to be sure it integrates nicely. I"ll keep focusing on APEX as I really believe in the product and I enjoy working with it.

But what do you think is the future? What direction is Oracle going to follow for their applications? Do you have some comments?

Friday, February 22, 2008

SQL Developer 1.5 on Mac

I'm currently working with SQL Developer 1.5 (beta) on my MacBook Pro and so far it's going really well. I've the impression it's faster as version 1.2 which I like.

Also some annoying bugs like the Editor becoming grey I didn't see yet in this beta version.

Some new features I think are very nice:
  • The Schema Diff and Copy Wizard. I did a diff from my tables and it worked very nicely. It showed me the create statements when the table didn't exist or the alter table statement when it did exist.
  • There should be a Flashback tab for tables, but I didn't find that yet.
  • The extended search functionality which should allow me to find things quicker
A whole list of things you should know before you start, the current issues and a list of the new features you find here.

As it's still beta don't forget to give the developers some feedback... So my first impressions of this new release are good.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

ODTUG's first podcast

I got a mail of Mike Riley, Vice President of ODTUG, who mentioned their first podcast.

I listened with great amusement. It was a nice newsflash, which started with some sound I didn't expect, which came back between the talks. Nicely done Marc.

Kathleen was "the guide" and talked with an unbelievable enthusiasm. She talked about ODTUG and presented the other speakers. I think I heard John Jeunette, President of ODTUG, who presented the board. Then Dale Lowery talked about the coming Kaleidoscope 2008 Oracle conference. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard my name! I feel a bit embarrassed to be named next to people like Tom Kyte, Steven Feuerstein, Paul Dorsey and some other big names in Oracle space. For APEX they also mentioned Scott Spendoline, Patrick Wolf and John Scott.

APEX got a lot of attention during the podcast, which I think is great.

Mike Riley also talked about the SIGs (one of them is APEX). I believe it's a nice first podcost... looking forward to the next one.

The return...

The last weeks I didn't have that much time to blog.

My professional (and personal) life is changing so quickly! Amazing times, really! There're so many opportunities, so many choices...

This year I made the choice to start focusing on the Oracle database and more specific on Oracle Application Express alone. Of course I'll read other blogs and try to stay up-to-date with the rest of "Oracle world", but it wouldn't be in that dept anymore. It's all changing so quickly! And Oracle buying another company every month doesn't help to keep track of "all" Oracle technology ;-)

With this choice I follow my heart as most people reading this blog will know.

We (Apex Evangelists) are looking into some possibilities to promote APEX even more. The next weeks we'll decide which route we'll follow. Although Apex Evangelists is operating in the whole world and we've clients in almost every part of the world, we'll also try to focus on a specific area for a certain time. But more on that later...

At the moment I've over 20 drafts in my blog folder, so time to clean that up! Also the deadlines for the white papers are coming closer. I learned my lesson last year, but time is going at "warp-speed" these days ;-)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Where are all these APEX blogs?

I'm happy to announce my new project:

The goal of the new site is to find all APEX related blog posts at one place. But that's not all, you can also rate the articles and if you don't have a blog yourself, but want to share your findings, idea's etc. the site will allow you to do that. You can write your own blog posts.

Next to releasing this site for the APEX community, I also wanted to show a more advanced site created in Oracle Application Express. It reads RSS-feeds and provide one, it uses jquery, javascript, css, materialized views and provides an easy to search functionality (based on interMedia).

You can also add your feedback or start discussions and view statistics of the APEX blogger community.

It's a first beta release, so I'm open to all your comments, feedback and ways to make it even better.

Hope you enjoy the site!

Mama! Help me! (dev)

What do you do when you're looking at one of your "bugs" (for ex. in your APEX application) and you just don't see it?

Some people do:

But you can also do:
  • go for a walk and come back with a "fresh" head and have another look
  • use Firefox and Firebug to track things down
  • write down what's happening and is going wrong, you would be surprised to see you didn't see the "obvious"
  • start talking about it to yourself or to another
  • ask somebody else to have a quick glance at your code
  • post a thread in the forum
  • debug, trace, ...
I also sometimes think "this can't be true", what am I doing wrong? But then I think it's technology and you'll always find a way to get it working, it's just a matter of time...

We don't have that much time, as we all have tight deadlines, but some of the above points will help you to find the solution faster. And learn from it, put it into best practices so you don't make that mistake again.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Checkbox in APEX

You want to create a checkbox in Oracle Application Express and get it's value in javascript?

An example of a checkbox:
In my application I want to do an interactive search whenever the checkbox is checked.

So, how do you know if the checkbox is checked? Let's try with an example.

  1. Create a new "Check Box" item and give it a name, for ex. P26_CHECKBOX.
  2. In the List Of Values, put STATIC2: ;Y (this checkbox doesn't have a label, but will return the Y value whenever the checkbox is checked)
  3. If you look at the Session State (in the developer toolbar) of the item after a submit of the page, you see the checkbox item has a value of Y when it's checked...
  4. If you want to get the value of an item in javascript within APEX, you normally do $x('ITEM_NAME').value
  5. So let's try $x('P26_CHECKBOX').value -> it returns: undefined
  6. If you know a bit of javascript/html, you maybe think you need to use $x('P26_CHECKBOX').checked -> it returns: undefined
  7. The above doesn't work, because APEX is putting a number after the item. In my example: $x('P26_CHECKBOX_0')
  8. If you try with $x('P26_CHECKBOX_0').value, it return Y or with $x('P26_CHECKBOX_0').checked, it returns true... and that's what we'd like to have
  9. See it in action here
If you've more checkboxes (because the lov is returning more values) you can use following function to see what's checked: