Sunday, December 21, 2008

Daddy, time to rest - Merry Christmas and Happy 2009

2008 past away as the speed of light! Everything went so fast and so many things happened, but now it's time for my daddy to have some rest and spend some more time with me.

If I look what my daddy did in 2008, I'm amazed... in work he

  • spend way to much time in the airports, did around 40 flights in 2008
  • visited a lot of different countries and places, some for the first time
  • presented one or more presentations and organized APEX-Meetups on 4 Oracle conferences: IOUG, ODTUG, OOW, UKOUG
  • did two European APEX Trainings Days
  • worked on different APEX projects; from small to enterprise level
  • received the Oracle ACE Directors award
  • released, a blog aggregator written in APEX to catch all the posts about APEX
  • released Anychart 5 for APEX integration
  • and much much more
  • but he lost also a great friend
Looking closer at me, he
  • saw me growing really quickly and I also became more smarter every day
  • saw me crawling and not much later walking and running (now daddy and mummy need to keep their eyes on me, as I can go everywhere and reach anything I want :-))
  • started to build a nice home with lot of space to put my toys and a nice garden

Daddy also told me to thank you all for the wonderful experience and he hopes to see you again in the first week of January 2009...

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 08, 2008


I'm running behind with my blog posts!

On Monday I went to see David Peake's presentation about APEX now and in the future. Although I already saw this presentation multiple times it was nice to see it again and see the reaction of the public. And to be honest, I should do a new post about APEX 3.2 (Forms migration) as the screens change every time he does the presentation ;-)

That session was also the start to meet all the other APEX enthusiasts.

Later that afternoon I went to Tom Kyte's keynote about The Best Way. I always like to hear Tom speaking. Basically he said that it depends circumstances what "the best way" is and that "the best way" can change over time, which is ofcourse, very true.

After the opening party we organized a little APEX Meetup. We had some nice drinks and went to a pizza place with 8 people. We had some great fun! From left to (back to) right: Joao, Roel, Anthony, John, myself, Simon, David and Paulo. Thanks guys for the lovely evening and special thanks to Simon and David to get us a round. The pictures says all...

On Tuesday it was John Scott's turn to talk about APEX Best Practices. Especially after Tom Kyte's presentation this was a great presentation ;-) To be serious, the best practices, or hints and tips that John talked about I don't think will change that quick over time. To name some of his best practices: not everybody need to login as an admin, use bind variables, use page comments and locking etc. So great things to follow I would say.

Later that afternoon I went to see Marco Gralike with his presentation about XMLDB. Marco is very knowledgeable about XMLDB and I strongly believe APEX and XMLDB can work nicely together. For ex some of the techniques are used in DG Tournament or the APEX Blog Aggregator.

Later that day there was a Tools debat about APEX, JDEV and Forms. The product managers of Oracle were in the panel: David Peake for APEX, Duncan Mills for JDEV and Grant Ronald for Forms. It was a relaxed chat about the different products and to be honest I'm not against any of the products. I think they all fit in an environment and can even work nicely together. One of the messages was that Forms is supported till 2017! So why would you migrate if Forms is still doing everything you need? But if you are looking for something else you can migrate to APEX or JDEV. We (Apex Evangelists) don't tend to do a full blown migration at once, but a softer approach where both environments work together for some time. So far that works well for our clients. I'm not sure you knew, but in the past I also developed in BC4J (around 2003) and I must say things in JDEV land have changed quickly. At that time I found it hard to decide which UI to choice (BC4J, UIX etc), but today it seems JSF is the way to go.
I found the talk very interesting and definitely something that would fit in every conference.

Later that afternoon I went to Steven Fueurstein's Weird PL/SQL. If you didn't have a change yet to see Steven, try to attend one of his sessions. They are always nice to follow. He basically talked about the "strange" decisions/things in PL/SQL. If you go to the I Love PLSQL site you can see these things and send Bryn Llewellyn a mail and ask to change it. (btw that site is created in APEX)

My last session of the day was from Sue Harper about Developing with SQL Developer. This was more one of an introduction where she covered a lot of different things you can find in SQL Developer. But I promised myself to do another post about that and the nice integration with APEX.

I'm going to try to do another post about the other sessions tomorrow.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

APEX Meetup @ UKOUG on Monday

Next week the UKOUG conference is going on. I'm flying to Birmingham on Monday and will stay till Thursday. I believe UKOUG is one of the biggest Oracle conferences in Europe. It's a pity it's the same time as DOAG, but that is mostly towards the German speaking people. 

There are also some APEX presentations at UKOUG:

What’s Hot and What’s Not – an Overview of Oracle Development ToolsMr Sten Vesterli01/12/2008 11:00 - 12:00 Track Track 5
Oracle Application Express Now and in the FutureMr David Peake01/12/2008 13:10 - 14:10 Track Track 6
Application Express Best PracticesMr John Scott02/12/2008 11:05 - 11:50 Track Track 4
"Tools: APEX, JDEV, Forms, SQL DEV - the choice is yours"Mr Grant Ronald02/12/2008 13:15 - 14:00 Track Roundtables
A Delicious Blend of BI Publisher and Application Express Bursting with Flavour!Mr Nathan Morgan03/12/2008 11:45 - 12:30 Track Track 8
Mastering charts in Oracle Application Express (APEX)Mr Dimitri Gielis04/12/2008 09:25 - 10:10 Track Track 5
(Re)Developing a logistic application in APEX in the real worldMr Roel Hartman04/12/2008 15:05 - 15:50 Track Track 5
Securing an APEX application on a Microsoft platformMr Andy Ogg04/12/2008 16:25 - 17:10 Track Track 5

As you can see I'll talk about charts in Oracle Application Express on Thursday. I'll start to explain how you can create charts in APEX and make them prettier and what is happening under the hood. I'll discuss there are different versions of charts in APEX (based on Anychart 3.3 and 4.1) and at the end I'll also try to quickly show the apex migration kit to Anychart 5.

In the APEX Forum we also talked about having an APEX Meetup on Monday after the opening party (20.30h). We'll probably meet at the entrance of the opening party or you can follow David Peake, John Scott, Anthony Rayner, myself or some others to the "APEX heaven".

See you in  a few days!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Group Headings in an Interactive Report (APEX)

Did you ever wanted a group heading above your column headings in an Interactive Report in APEX? I wondered why that wasn't already included in APEX, as all components are there to get it to work. Let's create a little example to show what I mean.

Create an Interactive Report on the emp table (for ex. select * from emp).

In your Interactive Report details there's a section Column Groups where you can define groups.
But it also says: "Column Groups are used to group columns together on the single row view."
In my example I created two groups.

Next we need to edit the group to say which columns belong to which group.
In my example I specified that the columns Empno and Ename belong to Group 1. I specified some other columns for my Group 2.

If you run the page you'll see this IR (without group headings)

But when you select the single row view (the Edit icon in front of the row) you'll see this:

So you can see the groups nicely in the single row view but it's not there in the normal report...

So I thought, as APEX is completely dictionary driven, we should be able to find all the pieces and with some javascript we should be able to change the DOM element to include the group headings in the normal report too. The result:

You can see this example live here, the source code is also there, so you can see how I did things.

On the page I open the "Select Columns" automatically, so you can see the available columns and the groups in () and you can dynamically play with showing and hiding columns.

In short the way it works:
1) Query the APEX dictionary to see which columns and groups there are defined and return a string that can be parsed into a json object.
2) Create a javascript function to add the group headings above the column headers. I put some notes in the javascript and added a lot of console.log's. If you remove the // you'll see in Firebug a full trace what is happening.
3) To attach it to the Interactive Report and call it from your page you need to do some more. At OOW I had a chat with Carl about it, at the moment you can't call your own function at the end when the interactive report is called (but he was going to change that in future releases). Carl told me I was forced to put a little timeout there to make sure the Interactive Report was drawn before my javascript ran.

Feel free to try it in your own environment and give some feedback. The code is generic so you should be able to plug it into your environment without that much effort. I didn't use jquery as I wanted a generic solution for a "normal" APEX environment. Another thing I didn't do is looking if you defined a link (edit icon) before the row or not. So these might be enhancements for the next release...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Flashback table data prevented by a constraint

When I was reorganizing some tables I deleted some data which at the end I wanted to reuse.
I was pretty confident that with the flashback technology in the Oracle database I could get my data again. So I was surprised when I got the message "ORA-01466: unable to read data - table definition has changed".

I thought I had done something wrong so I build a small test case to see what was happening.

-- Create table with one record
create table t (b varchar2(100));
insert into t values ('hello world - works');
-- Look at the data
select * from t;
-- What timestamp did I still see my data -19-NOV-08 PM +00:00
-- Create an index
create index t_idx on t (b);
-- Delete all the data from my table and commit
delete from t;
-- There's no data anymore, nice
select * from t;
-- And with the flashback technology I see my data
select * from t as of timestamp to_timestamp('19-NOV-08 PM');
-- Insert another record
insert into t values ('hello world - no go');
-- Do some DDL on the table now, add a constraint
alter table t add constraint t_pk primary key (b)
select * from t;
-- I still see my data at this stage, but now we drop the constraint and delete the records
alter table t drop constraint t_pk;
delete from t;
-- Use flashback again
select * from t as of timestamp to_timestamp('19-NOV-08 PM');
-- I can't get to my data anymore

When reading through the documentation this made it clear: "Oracle Database cannot restore a table to an earlier state across any DDL operations that change the structure of the table".

Oracle does have limits ;-) and time for me to read through the documentation again...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Anychart 5 integration kit for APEX

A few days ago we released our Anychart 5 integration kit for Oracle Application Express (APEX).


APEX has the ability to create (flash) charts. They are based on an older version of Anychart, version 3.3. Although these charts are already nice, there are some problems with it. You can't do everything you want with it, you can't print for ex, in short they look fine but not great.
Anychart released a while ago Anychart 5 which not only looks a lot nicer, but it resolved the problems and it has a lot more possibilities and features! Below, on the left, a chart created in APEX by using one of the predefined examples and on the right, the chart in Anychart 5 format.

I hope the charts speak for themselves ;-)


You can install this integration kit in a couple of different ways. If you prefer to keep the original APEX installation intact, you can do that and copy the integration kit in another folder. That means you can use the Anychart 3.3 and Anychart 5 charts together (like on the site of us).
You can also overwrite the files that came with APEX (take a backup first!) and that should change all your charts (also existing ones) in Anychart 5 format.

In both cases you can still use the wizards in APEX to create the charts, but if you decided to not overwrite the files, you need to make a small change in the chart region to point to the right path where you installed your files. The integration kit was tested on APEX 3.x (0, 1) and database 10g, 11g and XE with both the http server and the Embedded PLSQL Gateway. However if you do find a problem, please let us now or write a mail to

Under the hood

So what's happening? The Anychart 5 file format is in a very different format, so what we did is creating a translation file which converts the Anychart 3 xml into Anychart 5 xml. You'll see the 2DColumn.swf of the integration chart are really small, that's because only the translation is done there and then sent to the anychart.swf file in the format it recognizes.

Using the integration kit

You can keep using the wizards in APEX to create your chart. This integration kit is meant as a first step towards the full kit we are working on. All the current types of charts in APEX are already supported by this kit and more, like for ex the combined charts - like on the screenshot above-, but Anychart 5 can do a lot more. For the Dashboards and Gauges for ex, which are currently not yet a type in APEX, you would need to write some more code yourself.
The followup kit will also provide you with the possibility to create these types of charts (Dashboards, Gauges, Maps, Gantts) through a wizard or at least with writing as less code as possible. In the meanwhile we (Apex Evangelists) can provide you with consulting to create other types of charts.


A full set of examples can be found on this site. All types of charts are shown in the standard APEX format (without changing or making it nicer), in the middle (if you enable the checkbox) you'll find the exact same chart but using the integration kit (so no changes made there) and on the right you find the same chart but with a few changes that shows the potential of Anychart 5.
You can also view the source of the region, the chart and the series that are used.


The integration kit comes with a trial version of the Anychart 5 .swf file. You can see it by the watermark. If you buy the full version from the Anychart website and replace the anychart.swf file that comes with the integration kit, the watermark will disappear.
The integration kit itself doesn't cost you any money, you only need to pay for the Anychart license. APEX users get a 15% discount by using the code: APEX15

Final thoughts

This integration kit came together by the partnership of Apex Evangelists and Anychart. I would like to thank the people at Anychart for their help in working on this.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My first live hockey game

On Tuesday I went to my first ever live hockey game. I didn't know what to expect when James said me he had tickets for the hockey game, but he told me hockey is pretty big in Canada.

I saw the game Calgary Flames against Toronto Maple Leafs, which Calgary won 4-3. They played for a full house, so the atmosphere was very nice. The Flames first got a goal against, but it didn't take long before they scored some nice goals and took the lead. During the game you get sometimes time-out for commercials, that was new for me (well all of this was new for me).

I must say I liked it very much! Hockey is such a fast game and there's always a certain tension in the air. Like for ex the last minute when it was 4-3 the Leafs played without goalie!

Seeing hockey live is so much more fun than watching it on tv.

Players on the field, big screen tv's to watch the replays, real flames when goals were scored... everything for a fantastic evening.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Damn, APEX Page deleted! What now?

You know that feeling when you're working hard on a system, did a lot of changes, finally get the required result and start clean up old code?

I was in that stage... but then it went wrong: I deleted the wrong components and even some pages...

So what do you do then? What would you do in a not-APEX development environment? Getting an old file back, but what if you changed multiple files? Go back into source control and get the latest release? But are you using source control?

I was lucky as in APEX I could just Export my application as a few minutes ago. The below screen shows this feature to you.

Your database needs to have Flashback enabled for this, but who's database is not running in archivelog mode and has the flash recovery area enabled?

Maybe some of you didn't know about this possibility, it's definitely a nice one.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

First time in Canada

I just arrived in Calgary where I'll have some meetings (around the use of APEX).

It's my first time in Canada. I didn't know what to expect, although I got slightly worried when I read a (bad) review about the hotel I'm staying in. But to be fair, the Ramada hotel isn't that bad. The room is nice, but the hotel is a bit dead.

It's a bit too cold for me in Calgary (only 2 degrees), but I guess I can be lucky as the taxi-driver told me it can be -40 degrees over here! I didn't see much else yet, only 17 Avenue where I went to a famous bar/restaurant called Jack's.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

APEX Views are so useful

Oracle Application Express is getting more and more popular. A lot of people started to use it, even by some who are no real developers. They use APEX because it's helping them to do their "real job". And as with a lot of these "at-the-side" applications, the app becomes bigger and other people are starting to use it. Of course they are lucky as APEX can scale very well, but being a non-developer they hit at a certain time the limits or their technical capabilities and interest to make it an enterprise application.

On one of our projects we have to rebuild such an existing APEX application. There are a lot of pages in the application. In the requirements document there are screenshots of regions which need to be available in the new system. As you can imagine it can take a while to find a certain region.

Luckily, APEX is repository based, so all information of the application you find in a table. To make life easier, the APEX development team created APEX views on top of the APEX tables. You can compare it with the Oracle database itself where you have views on top of the x$ tables.

If you go to the Utilities tab in APEX, you'll see the APEX Views button (see screenshot above). If you click on that you'll get a nice screen with all the APEX views. You can also search for a view, for ex. I searched to get all APEX views that contain 'region'.

If you click on for ex the APEX Application Page Regions icon, you get all the details of the view and you can query it from there. You'll see the columns with explanation:

You have the possibility to select which columns you want to see when you run the query, which where clause you want to add and the query that will be run when you hit the go button.

It saved me a lot of time to find the regions I had to search for. A repository based system like APEX has so many advantages...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why? oh Why! A great friend, an amazing APEX guy...

I couldn't believe what I read when I first got up in the morning. But it got confirmed by other posts and some people in OraTweet....

Carl Backstrom had a car accident on Sunday and passed away.

It's unbelievable, I wish it wasn't true! What do you need to say? How do you need to react to such a thing? I'm very sad, it's very painful, it's a great loss... He was such a nice guy and a good friend. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

Carl was one of the key developers in the APEX team. I liked to call him "Mister AJAX", as he was so strong in all the fancy web stuff. He was one of the persons who gave us the Interactive Reports in Oracle Application Express. He still had so many plans to improve APEX and make it even nicer. Carl had a nice blog, an excellent APEX example site with lots of web 2.0 features and he was a frequent poster on twitter.

But next to all his good work for APEX, I would like to remember Carl as a great friend. When you were with him there was always something happening. He had great stories, he liked to go out and have fun... He was an exceptional person who was always willing to help others.
On the picture, taken at the APEX Meetup, Carl is they guy with the biggest smile on the left.

Carl thank you for everything, I'll miss you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


In the last years the number of APEX presentations at ODTUG have grown every year. For 2009 we plan to have even more! The ODTUG board asked John Scott, Scott Spendolini, Patrick Wolf and myself to be responsible for the Application Express Track content at Kaleidoscope 2009.

2009 will be a bit different, as we'll have our own APEX track. It will be even easier to find all the APEX presentations as they will be held in the same room, possibly two!

The content of the next conference will also be decided on what YOU want.

Make your Mark - You can shape the direction of the ODTUG Kaleidoscope conference by discussing and voting on topics in our new online Kaleidoscope Community. Tell us what you know you need to learn. You have ideas and we want to hear them!

Submit an Abstract - Don't wait until the last minute (abstract deadline is November 3), submit your abstract now. Not sure what to present? Begin participating in the Kaleidoscope Community and find out which topics are important to developers today.

Hope to see you there...

Monday, October 06, 2008 fixed

The last couple of weeks the blogger sites didn't get updated in the Apex Blogs aggregator. Apparently the site is getting popular as I got a lot of mails to tell me.

The problem was the comments were not retrieved due to a change somewhere in the xml. As a quick fix I don't try to get the comments anymore, but at least you should see the new blog posts again.

Once I've more time, I'll update the packages again to retrieve the comments as well.

I used a backup to bring back all posts and updated from there, so all APEX posts should be there.

Friday, October 03, 2008

APEX SIG on Linkedin

I realize I didn't blog about it yet, but some months ago I created also an APEX SIG group on Linkedin. There are currently over 60 members.

Linkedin is an online network of more than 25 million experienced professionals from around the world. Already a lot of ICT people have a kind of curriculum vitae there and are linked to others.

So if you're doing something with APEX (Oracle Application Express) and are using Linkedin, feel free to join. Small remark: I try to avoid to include recruiters...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

OOW08 - Last day

On the last day of Oracle Open World I followed one session.

At 9 AM John Scott presented Dispelling Myths About Oracle Application Express.
I really liked this session as it started differently, the topic is hot and he made use of some nice visual effects like a 3D Timeline and some nice videos.
The session answered the most common questions we get in the APEX community, especially from people who doubt the power of APEX. Is APEX new? Is APEX scalable? Is APEX web 2.0? etc.

I hope John will do this presentation again on some other events as I think it's a must seen presentation!

After having some Chinese food we went to the airport as our flight was already in the afternoon.

The flight went well, although it stays a long flight, but I could sleep a bit. Back home I'm recovering from a good Oracle Open World. It was especially nice to meet people in real life again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

OOW08 - XMLDB and APEX, keynote, Appreciation Event

After some nice breakfast with John I went to my first session of the day.

Mark Drake talked about "Oracle Application Express and Oracle XML Database: A Match Made in the Database". I really enjoyed the session as I think the possibilities of both technologies can work very nicely together. Mark and Carl made a document management system in APEX based on the XMLDB technology. I found it an awesome product. They will make it available in the next days/weeks. I'm using some of the functionalities of XMLDB in

Afterwards I had some lunch and prepared to go to the Keynote with Larry Ellison and Mark Hurd of HP. The queues were enormous! I already blogged about the keynote, so I'm not going to do that again.

This OOW is strange. Normally I bump up to the people I know and attend the other big Oracle conferences, but this time it didn't happen. Maybe because now there were sessions in a lot of different buildings (Marriott, Moscone South, West and North).

When I went to the OTN lounge I finally saw some people of the hard-core Oracle world ;-)
Tim Hall, Eddy Awad, Lewis Cunningham, Doug Burns etc.

Then it was time to fresh up for the Appreciation Event! Heading of to Treasure Island...
I'm still waiting for some pictures that John took as for once I left my camera in the hotel. The party was really nice and there were some fun things to do next to the concerts.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

OOW08 - work, demo grounds, APEX Meetup

In the morning I had to do some work for our customers, so I missed the Benelux event at San Francisco. I guess I can go to Oracle HQ and do some sailing next time too. Client is king ;-)

I didn't go to that many sessions, instead I went to the demo grounds to talk to the APEX and SQL Developer developers. I was particular interested in seeing more new features of the upcoming APEX 4.0 release. I saw the dynamic components, which allow to declarative hide or show an item for ex. It means you don't need to write that much javascript anymore in APEX 4.0. Another nice upcoming feature is the APEX listener. I'll do a dedicated blog post about it once I'm back as it's something really new. The screenshot shows you the new login screen. You'll see the possibility to login to the Websheets part.

Another area I was interested in was the new SQL Developer Modeling tool. Apparently the tool will also be released as a seperate product. Basically Oracle bought Ikan's software, CWD4ALL. I know some people at Ikan as it's a Belgian company. It was always nice to see them on events, so now some of them work for Oracle was a nice surprise. The romours are that the modeling tool will be a paid option for SQL Developer or you can buy it as a seperate product. The demo I saw was quite impressive. Thanks Rene!

In the afternoon I saw a presentation of Patrick Wolf, The Power of the Oracle Application Express Repository. I really liked this presentation as he touched different areas of the APEX repository. Patrick compared the APEX repository with the Garden of Eden and played some nice relaxing music with that thought.

Tuesday evening was fairly busy as I had two parties at the same time. I first went to the Benelux evening, had some drinks, food and nice chats with people from Belgium and the Netherlands.

Then I had to run to the next event, the APEX Meetup. Around 30 people joined us during the evening and we had talks about APEX and other things. It's nice to also know more about their situation at home, family, region they live in etc.

Tough night, but worth it...

OOW08 - Larry announces Oracle hardware - APEX will run fast

The keynote just finished. Larry Ellison announced Oracle is also providing hardware together with HP. If you want the worlds fastest machine for the Oracle database you should buy Exadata!

If you think about it... some say that APEX can't scale (which is absolute rubbish), if you get Exadata, how fast will that be then? Every APEX page in less then 0.01 second ;-)

I got up to the stage and talked about it to Larry and he gave me one of these nice machines as a present! Thanks Larry!

For the people believing I got such a machine, it was a joke ;-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

OOW08 - APEX Charts, Meetings, Oracle Forms conversion, Dinner

On Monday at 11.30 I gave my presentation about Charting in Oracle Application Express.
I tried to build things up, so beginner and more advanced users would learn something. The room was pretty full, around 70 people I think. I talked why you would like to use charts, how to create and adapt them and how they work under the hood. Paulo already blogged about my presentation.

At the end of my presentation I talked about other charting possibilities if APEX doesn't fit all your needs. I was very proud to publicly announce the partnership between Apex Evangelists and Anychart. I'll do a proper blog post about it, once I'm back from OOW, but it comes down that we'll provide you with an upgrade for your APEX environment. It will allow you to profit from the nicer look and feel and more possibilities in Anychart 5.0. Next to that we'll provide consultancy to guide you to create even nicer charts like Interactive Dashboards, Gauges etc. More information about that will follow next week.

At lunch I had a meeting to discuss more things we could do for the APEX community and the upcoming events like Kaleidoscope.

In the afternoon I went to David Peake's session about converting Oracle Forms to APEX. The room was very full, lots of interest in this... Earlier I created a video about the migrations tool, but in the meanwhile the look and feel has changed. It's even easier to see and search how the migration went. The tool is not intended to give you a silver bullet to do a complete 100% migration from Forms to Application Express. Instead it's a conversion tool that allows you to give you a headstart and guide you through the complete process of the Forms convertion.

I got a lot of comments on my previous blog post about the tool, but I still believe it will a killer feature and the logic migration path if you're looking into something to replace your Oracle Forms because your business require it. If your Forms still fit your need, you don't need to convert of course, as the process you need to handle as a real project and it's not something you'll do in a day.

At the end of the day I went to Carl Backstrom's session about Web 2.0 Development with Oracle Application Express. Carl is the guy behind a lot of the ajax functionalities in APEX. He talked about $x, $s, $v, a lot of the javascript libraries that are in APEX and he told that jquery will be using in further releases of APEX. He also stressed you need to develop in Firefox and use Firebug, which I absolutely agree with.

In the evening I went to the Partner Executive Dinner organized by Oracle Benelux. It was nice to meet other people from Belgium, but even nicer was the ride to the restaurant. I was waiting for a cab together with some people of Oracle Belgium, but as it was rush hour, we had to wait a long time. After 45 minutes queuing we were tired of waiting and finally took a limo! That was awesome! Just like in the movies...

OOW08 - Waiting for Larry

I'm currently in the keynote session at Oracle Open World. 30 minutes to go before Larry Ellison will come and do a big announcement ;-)

This time I've a good seat... people are still coming in...

Didn't have the time yet to finish the blog posts of the other days, but hope to finish that later today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

OOW08 - APEX Ask the Experts, APEX Symposium, US Politics and Welcome Reception

On Sunday I started with the APEX - Ask the Experts panel.

Considering the time (Sunday morning) we got quiet some interest, over 100 people attended. I talked a bit about the APEX SIGs and started with one question to every member of the Panel. After that the people in the room could ask questions. The hour and a half flew bye. There were questions about the forms conversion to apex tool, printing, scalability etc. A very broad range of questions! I would like to thank Denes Kubicek, John Scott, Anton Nielsen, Scott Spendolini and David Peake to be in the panel and for nicely answering the questions. (picture taken 10 mins before)

Ohh and... David said that APEX 3.2 will come out "soon" and an Early adopter "sooner" ;-) APEX 4.0 is planned for somewhere in 2009.

I went to Tom Kyte's session about Schema Design and learned I should also look more into clustered tables. He didn't talk about ERD design, but more about which choices you have in Oracle design and why you should do certain things. I had the feeling he could talk a lot more about the topic and I also wanted to hear more about it, but time is limited at OOW.

In the afternoon I had another session together with Rich Mutell, one of our customers to talk about an APEX case study. I just had to introduce Rich. He did most of the talking, which was great for me ;-) It was a very different presentation from others as he talked about his experience with APEX, but he's not really a developer, but a business user.

Next there was a keynote session with Safra Catz, mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newson and an interesting talk from Washington's best-loved political couple Mary Matalin and James Carville. They entertain the crowd with a bitingly humorous look at the world of politics. Although I didn't get all the jokes and didn't understand everything it was quite nice to listen to them.

At the end of the day I had two parties: the Welcome Party and the Blogger Meetup. As I didn't sleep for over 30 hours the previous day I didn't get to them. I just took some food and went straight to bed...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

OOW08 - Registration, dinner and drinks

The weather on Saturday was good, not very warm, but not too cold either. I went down to Moscone to register. It was still quiet, which will be very different from the next days ;-)

As John didn't arrive yet (he drove from LA to San Francisco, a 10h drive!) I went for a small walk and recognized almost everything. It looks like I came too many times to the States (and San Francisco) now. At 7.30 PM I had a dinner with the people of the ODTUG Symposium. Scott Spendolini, John Scott and Mike Riley were also there.

Later that night I bumped up to Marc Sewtz, Joel Kallman, Ashish, Raj and Denes Kubicek and had one last drink with them.

Thanks guys for the nice evening.

OOW08 - Arrived in San Francisco

I just arrived in San Francisco.

The flights weren't that bad after all. Actually the local flight from LA to San Francisco was really good! There was a steward called Tim and he was really funny. With the safety procedure he put humor into it and with success! For the first time I saw people actually listening to the whole explanation. He got a nice applause at the end too. Flying with Southwest airlines was a bit special, as you can pick your seat. I had position 5, meaning I could get into the plane as one of the first and had plenty of choice. Next to that I got a drink of the house.

And for the first time I managed to pass customs in less than 30 minutes! But then I had to wait for my luggage for 15 minutes ;-)

I'm currently in my hotel room, same place as last year, the King George hotel. I didn't get that much sleep yet and am awake for over 20h. In the plane I saw some good movies, one called "in Bruges", which I was surprised to see on the list, as it's a town in Belgium.

Now I'm quickly freshing up and going to have something to eat and drink...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

OOW08 - Taking off

I'm currently in the UK waiting for my next flight.

It will be a long day as my first flight was at 7.25 AM from Brussels to London. My next flight is in 2 hours to LA. I first thought to drive together with John Scott from LA to San Francisco to see the nice scenery (coast drive). But at the last moment we buried that idea as people told us it would be a very long drive, especially at the time we would take off in LA.

I called BA to change my ticket, but it would cost more to change the ticket from London to LA then the whole ticket (BRU-LHR-LAX + SFO-LHR-BRU) had cost! So I now end up to fly to LA and take a local plane to San Francisco. I'll normally arrive in San Francisco around 6 PM (SF time).

Let's hope I don't get stuck in LA... especially when I read what happened to Tim!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

OOW08 - APEX Meetup

Some of you are maybe already on the way to San Francisco as Oracle Open World is just around the corner! San Francisco will look completely red and crowded with people affiliated with Oracle once more. I'll be one of them.

This time it promises to be a hectic one. The schedule is loaded with APEX sessions (overlapping even), parties are all over the place and I'm down for three presentations; two on Sunday and one on Monday. You find my schedule in a nice APEX app that works on my HTC Touch. (my presentations are marked in red)

But I look forward to OOW'08. Meeting all other Oracle and APEX minded people again is always fun!

As every year and on all big Oracle conferences, also this year we're organizing another APEX Meetup.

APEX lovers come together to chat about Application Express, work, the past and the future in a very relaxed atmosphere with some food and drinks.

Just like the previous times at OOW we choose for the Fourth Street Bar & Deli place. You're free to join us on Tuesday 7:30 PM.

Hope to see you all in a couple of days!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Preview Oracle APEX 4.0 - Websheets

Oracle Application Express 4.0 will include a lot of nice new features. You can read about these in the statement of direction.

A few months ago I put some screen shots of the Websheets functionality on my blog.

Now I'm happy to show you a video so you can see it working live! As like my previous post this presentation got recorded during Marc Sewtz's APEX presentation. Again I edited it and put some music to it. The music is carefully chosen of course, but if you don't like it, put the volume to mute. The preview takes just over 4 minutes. Here we go...

A better quality video can be downloaded in m4v format or swf format.

Preview Oracle APEX 3.2 - Forms Migration

APEX 3.2 won't include much changes in the development tool itself, but there will be a killer feature added: the Forms Migration tool.

A lot of people are looking into other directions to replace their Oracle Forms/Reports or Designer environment. Till a few months ago Oracle themselves pushed you towards JDeveloper. A lot of people I spoke to were not that java minded and even started to look after other solutions (non-Oracle). With a Forms to Apex migration possibility I think a real solution is waiting for you.

The main reasons I believe such a tool has a big change to succeed:

  • You want to keep your Oracle investments. APEX is living in the Oracle database so 100% ok.
  • You want to reuse your Oracle knowledge. Forms developers know SQL and PL/SQL very good, which is exactly the knowledge you need for APEX.
  • You want your migration be so streamlined as possible. Hopefully the Forms2APEX migration tool provides you with that. I don't believe a tool doing the migration for 100% automatically exists, but you should be able to reuse a lot and get a head start.
  • You want your Forms environment in a Web 2.0 way, which APEX is providing you.
As you could read on David Peake's blog, the limited Early adapter is not going to happen, instead a normal Early adapter is foreseen. I'm not sure how the final screens will look like, but here's alread a preview of the Forms to APEX migration tool! I recorded this video from Marc Sewtz presentation for the German APEX Community. I edited it and added some music. When putting the video on Youtube the quality dropped, better quality video can be downloaded in m4v format or swf format. You might want to turn the volume down or up ;-) Hope you like it!

You can see to the full presentation of Marc here (in German).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Free Oracle BI Publisher with APEX?

If you login into the INTERNAL workspace in APEX and go to Manage Environment Settings - Instance Settings and go to the Report Printing section, you'll see following screen:

If you then click on the Print Server label, you'll see following text:
"Select the appropriate option:

  • Standard Support - Select this option if you are using the free version of Oracle BI Publisher. This option enables you to use the basic printing functionality, which includes creating report queries and printing report regions using the default templates provided in Application Express.
  • Advanced Support - Select this option if you are using the licensed version of Oracle BI Publisher. This option enables you to take report query results and convert them from XML to RTF format using Oracle BI Publisher. Select this option if you want to upload your own customized RTF or XSL-FO templates for printing reports within Application Express."
I didn't notice that before, but if you read it carefully it says "if you are using the free version of Oracle BI Publisher"!? I didn't know there was a free version? Is Oracle going to announce a free version or is it just a mistake in the documentation/help?

It would be really cool if they announced a free version of a fantastic tool as BIP on OOW ;-)

Friday, August 29, 2008

APEX 3.1.2 patch applied successfully

If you didn't hear about it yet, you must only read this blog and no others ;-)

Yesterday a new Patch came out for Oracle Application Express. If you look at the number of fixes I think it's worthwhile to apply the patch. Depending the version of APEX you're running you need to install the full patch or get the patch from Metalink (patch number 7313609).

I applied the patch today to some of my systems and it went like a charm. Don't forget to read the Patch Notes before you apply the patch. Two commands to run: "SQL>@apxpatch.sql" and "SQL>@apxldimg.sql /tmp/patch" (if you run with XMLDB) or copying the images directory (if you run with Apache).

The patch took just over 3 minutes to finish.

John Scott did an excellent post about Bug Number 7298389. He proves that the patch does what it needs to do to minimise the redirects, which hopefully improves our Google ranking of our APEX sites.