Wednesday, August 05, 2009

APEX 4.0 Highlights and Video

If you didn't see the video or ppt of Mike Hichwa's APEX 4.0 presentation at ODTUG, you should definitely have a look at it, so you know what is coming.

I decided to take notes during the video to remember myself about the highlights and decided to share them in this blog post. So here you go...

History of Oracle Application Express

I didn't know that Mike Hichwa got inspired by an ATM machine to create APEX.
Basically an ATM is very simple;
- You authenticate
- You need to select what you want through a menu
- You enter things in a Form
- Validations cick in to check if you do the right things
- Finally the process is run
- You can get your transaction as a printed report
This is exactly what we have in APEX, no? Why make it complex if things can be simple ;-)

Oracle Shop

The APEX Development team created a more sophistic APEX application which is the Oracle Shop where you can basically order Oracle software.
The application has some nice features like:
- it integrates with Oracle Apps in the backend
- it uses webservices to check your credit card
- it has some nice integration with javascript

The Oracle Shop is already live, you see it here.

Seven demonstrations of APEX 4.0

1. Websheets (start at minute 25)
Business people are able to create an application very fast with a lot of features. You can see this as a very rich web 2.0 Interactive Report with collaboration features build-in.
But also for experienced APEX people this is a good thing as you can transform it into a real APEX app. I included a screenshot with the main differences between APEX and Websheets.

2. Dynamic Actions
This basically allows developers to write more AJAX applications without needing to write javascript.
E.g. if you want to show an item dynamically based on a value of a previous item

3. Upgrade of Anychart 3.3 to Anychart 5.1
Not only will you get nicer looking charts, you will also get more types of charts.
I also find it usefull the wizard got improved, so directly you see which type of chart you are going to get.
If you wanted to have the Anychart 5.1 charts already in APEX 3.x you had to use the Anychart Integration Kit for APEX.

4. REST Web Services
It will make things easier to integrate with other sites and applications
In the video you see the integration with Yahoo Maps, Flickr, Picasa and Amazon.
Jason also mentioned that APEX Collections will get stored in an XMLType column, so it will be preparsed and the query will run a lot faster.

5. Plug-Ins (in the Shared Components section)
APEX 4.0 will allow people to extend the built-in functionalities. So we would be able to create our own widgets (item types, region types).
These plugins you can find on a specific site where people can share them. You would create these plugins in PL/SQL.
E.g. the video talks about a plugin to get a video region, or a star-rating item

6. Improved Interactive Reports
E.g. create your own where clauses inside your IR, be able to notify people when a specific report gets changed, be able to provide saved reports (as a developer and not like now that the end-user needs to save the report), share reports, download the IR as a searchable html etc.

7. Improved Application Builder
E.g. make the most important button yellow, very cool search functionalities with regular expressions

APEX 4.0 features that did not get demoed, but are things to look forward to:

- Declarative Tabular Forms
- AJAX Client-Side Validations
- Improved Error Handling
- Improved Tree Controls
- JQuery and JQuery UI
- Item Attributes
- Javascript Date pickers
- Editable combo-box
- APEX Listener is faster and has bigger possibilities than mod_plsql. It will also be able to have native access to the filesystem by using the APEX Listener.
- This will help a lot if you store your javascript files, etc on the filesystem. It will also simplify printing as FOP will be burned in.
- Thight integration with SQL Developer Data Modeler.
- In APEX 4.0 the wizards are also a lot shorter and more intuitive.
- Better integration with Subversion (more declarative).

A release date got also mentioned of APEX 4.0: planned for early 2010.
Just a reminder; APEX 4.0 will only run on Oracle Database 10gR2 and higher. That is another reason for people to upgrade their database...

The APEX Dev-team also showed a new packaged application with higher quality and ready to see web 2.0 features. E.g. "APEX Teamspace"; which allow team collaboration. It's a nice example of a Web 2.0 application. This would also run in APEX 3.2.

If you want to see it live, you have a chance to see it again on Oracle Open World!


Tobias Arnhold said...

Hi Dimitri,

thanks for the nice recap of new APEX 4.0 features. I'm really looking forward to the new improvements.

The only point I'm not happy about is the requirement of 10gR2.

Have a nice week.


Dimitri Gielis said...

Hi Tobias,

I think it's a good thing as with earlier releases you lose a lot of nice features. 9i is not supported anymore and 10.1 wasn't the greatest release, so for me it's logic 10gR2 is the one they start from.

I didn't mention it in my blog post but you can still use APEX 4.0 on XE too. Maybe that is what you meant?


Tobias Arnhold said...

Hi Dimitri,

you are right 9i is not supported and 10.1 wasn't the best. But there are a lot of people out there which maybe can't upgrade there version so easily. Anyway this decision is fix and hopefully new Oracle features will be supported then.

Tobias said...

Hi Dimitri.

Have they said anything about Oracle XE support for ApEx 4?. Anything about a better and free option for pdf printing?.



Dimitri Gielis said...

As mentioned in previous comment. XE will be supported yes.
PDF Printing will be made easier, but not like a free BI Publisher version...


Unknown said...

For cheap PDF printing, you could have a look at instead. I haven't tried it, but it looks like a good option.

Anonymous said...

Will the Oracle Shop APEX application be used as a demo (great demonstration of link with Oracle Apps, ecommerce, credit card, web services) or will be kept as a private, internal application?

WoSMeN said...

Hi All,

for PDF or any kind of document printing i suggest you guys to have a look at JasperReports...

It's really fast and easy to implement APEX...


Nikhil Karnik said...

As per your comments, I was very happy to read that APEX 4.0 can work with XE.

Currently XE is based on 10gR2 code base.
My question : Is Oracle going to release a XE version of 11g Database ?

The reason I ask is, I want to develop applications using APEX which work on XE, which is free.
Are they going to continue with future releases of 11g XE free to develop, deploy, and distribute database?