Switching to Oracle Apex or … not ?

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Posted by Hafed | Posted in apex(htmldb), oracle | Posted on 14-03-2011

I have been following Oracle Apex since 2004 and while I was no big fan at the beginning, I am more and more inclined to say that there is a case for adopting this tool in a number of cases, especially in situations where budget and time are severe constraints. I will try to summarize my current experience with Oracle Apex.

Please bear in mind that I wrote this post as a way to explain to a friend whether it makes sense to switch to Oracle Apex or Oracle JDeveloper coming from an Oracle Forms perspective.

Good points

  • Shared components: excellent repository approach that will boost the productivity of any team. Important stuff that I have been using are: LOV, templates, Lists, application items and globalization.
  • Themes and templates: Graphic look for your APEX application. While web purists may look the other way at how Apex provides support for putting together the user interface, I find it very simple and intelligent at the same time. There are a large number of templates for any theme but it is important to realize you do not need to use all of them in any given applications. As such, if it is required to develop a new theme, only a limited number of templates could be designed. There are a couple of articles that have been written on how to put together a new theme for an Oracle Apex application. The best I have seen is from SUMNEVA. Best proof is their website which uses a custom theme. There is another one which got me started and explains the details behind an Oracle Apex theme (see sie-solutions.com)
  • Javascript and JQuery: while I was really not very happy in seeing Javascript as a pre-requisite when developing under Apex, it was more because of a lack of understanding of its role in the overall production pipeline. Since we are on a web platform, there are cases where you do need to perform validations or calculations on the client side and in these cases, it is important to understand Javascript and the way to use it properly. An added plus is the JQuery library, included with Apex, is outstanding and provides almost limitless opportunities.
  • Dynamic actions: For those that are still not inclined to use Javascript, dynamic actions are another way to provide excellent support for writing client-side behavior.
  • Plugins: without them, Apex would be severely hampered, well not entirely true but very useful for integrating external functionnalities. The community does provide a number of outstanding extensions and there are more and more plugins being developed. However, I am still wanting to see Apex plugins developed with Java. That could open an entirely new avenue for Apex. But given that so many DBAs are reluctant to give Java support on the DB side, I believe PL/SQL for now is the only language for Apex plugins.

Bad points

  • Application development: while we can regroup pages as a group, the visual layout of the application pages in the Apex IDE is a bit overwhelming. I think a treeview display of the pages with a folder and pages arrangement will tremendously help.
  • Application prototyping and branching: since we are talking about a web application, it might be very useful to layout the page navigation beforehand and from there generate just the application skeleton. Something similar to what we have in Oracle JDeveloper.
  • Form icons: very confusing icons for the forms and reports. While there is a rich palette of forms and reports under Apex, it is hard for those starting with the tool to differentiate between for example a tabular form and a form on a table with report.

Summary

Well, there are other good and bad points but I tried to summarize the points I have seen lately. Overall, I do appreciate the design behind Oracle Apex and I strongly believe that now is the time to switch to Oracle Apex, at least for those that do not know whether to go to Oracle JDeveloper or Oracle Apex. You will not be disappointed !

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Comments (5)

Je suis le premier qui va swticher de Forms 10g vers APEX 4. Vraiment, rien à dire avec les cours que vous nous donnez pour APEX. Intéressant comme outil de développement pour le web.

Merci Abed !

Dear Hafed,

First of all I like to thank you very much for your excelent RichText Editor in JAVA for Oracle Forms10g.

I’m doing experiment in your RTE and I have source also as you send me.

I’m getting an exception while I type a long text and then Press DEL key for a long and simultaneously click on the editor here and there.

the exception is as follows.
Exception occurred during event dispatching:
javax.swing.text.StateInvariantError: GlyphView: Stale view: javax.swing.text.BadLocationException: Length must be positive
at javax.swing.text.GlyphView.getText(Unknown Source)
at javax.swing.text.GlyphPainter1.getSpan(Unknown Source)
at javax.swing.text.GlyphView.getPreferredSpan(Unknown Source)

Please enlighten me if possible so that I can fix this issue.

Thanks & Regards,
Partha Sarathi Paul
+91-9836494923

Were I asked, I’d want to know if the questioner enjoyed jumping through hoops to get a slick interface from a clunky 80s style 3 1/2 GL.

If yes, then I’d say APEX was right up their street, with its reliance on deprecated page layout techniques, extreme design constraints, disjointed code blocks and the multiple technology layers which must be learnt in addition to APEX in order to deliver an application which looks and behaves like a modern web app.

If no, I’d say learn HTML, CSS and javascript(plus jquery) – all of which are needed for APEX anyway – and write it properly. The result will be faster, slicker and more easily maintained from a far larger pool of talent.

hello to all,

i can second the comment that is made with regard to the visual layout of apex. equally i have problems trying to get more familiar with themes and templates. i have the feeling that a more in-depth knowledge of HTML(5), CSS and JavaScript won’t go amiss when trying to learn how to – for instance – properly influence object positions. if anybody has some valuable advice then please feel free to share some.

kind regards,

-victorbax-

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