Thursday, December 11, 2014

Can you build business critical applications with APEX?

Now and then this question pops up. And today this question was delivered in my mailbox again. A customer is starting a project to replace a current Oracle Forms application. So he asked Oracle and one of the Oracle partners: What should we use, APEX or ADF? A valid question that has been asked - and will be asked - by numerous customers. 
Of course, there is only one correct answer and that is: "It depends…"

But in this case, the Oracle representative and the partner answered (according to the client - so their might be some noise on the line) that you can’t build a business critical application with APEX, but only in ADF. My reaction was: "Sigh, here we go again…"
The mean reason was : Many APEX users means a high load on your database server. Most other solutions will have a high load on the application server, but the database server doesn’t suffer from that.

So what would my reaction be? Herewith some of my thoughts:

1. As this application is positioned as a replacement of Oracle Forms, all current users of the application already have their own session in the database. So if the current database can handle that volume of users, an APEX application - where you share the database resources / sessions - can handle even maybe up to 10 times more users.

2. There are examples out there of APEX applications that have a heavy load and are business critical. The internal Oracle Aria People system (to look up employees) may be a small one, but very heavily used and business critical as well - see Joel's blog for the proof of that. Another client of mine uses APEX as the main part of their logistics process. Up to a 1,000,000 page views a day serving 100’s of users. And certainly very business critical. 

3. In my opinion you can build everything with APEX. That doesn’t mean you should. There are certainly use cases where APEX wouldn’t be the tool of choice. And where ADF or .Net or whatever would be a better choice. But that’s all dependent on the situation. So in this particular case I can’t tell whether APEX would be the tool of choice. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

So the statement “You can not build business critical applications with APEX” is simply not true. I would really like to see this based on evidence. If you say something like that, you have to prove it: What APEX projects building a business critical application failed because APEX just couldn’t handle it? I know some ADF projects that either failed or ran way out of time. A proof of the latter is Oracle’s own Fusion Applications. Oracle spent over 50,000 man years on building Fusion Apps. If you would remembers the first announcements, you know it was a couple of years late…. I don’t see that as a prove you can’t build something like that with ADF. I wouldn’t suggest you should build Fusion Apps with APEX. Not at all. But Oracle’s Fusion Apps project is often used as the “proof” you should use ADF for business critical applications. My conclusion is: Building Fusion Applications wasn’t the huge success / example project as it is often claimed for. And as a side remark: I really would like to meet the customer that can afford spending 50,000 man years of work. No other company in the world would or could do that! So the project of this customer we’re talking about is maybe1% of the size of Oracle’s one. But probably more in the magnitude of 0.01% = 5 man years. So my conclusion is: What works for Oracle doesn’t necessarily apply to you! It is all dependent of the situation. You can't and shouldn't generalise on this matter. That's like saying that you need the same tools and approach used building the Burj Khalifa in Dubai when you're building your own house.

Another issue, quite easily overseen at first, is the number of available ADF resources is rather limited - outside of Oracle. There are just a few companies that deliver theses scarce ADF resources. However APEX resources are widely available. So do you want to be dependent on just a few companies to deliver what you need? Or do you want to compare and make a well balanced choice? And of course there is a reason there's just not that many ADF developers...that's because there not that many ADF projects. Recently I heard a rumour that there were less than a 100. Worldwide...
And if your currents staff is used to code in PL/SQL and Oracle Forms they can be productive in APEX within a few days, while being proficient in ADF takes way longer.

Oh, and you would like to see some (general) proof that APEX can be used for building big business critical applications? Check out these examples:
- CampusIT from Dublin has created "Student Interaction and Management Solutions" in APEX - used by 100,000's of students, teachers, etc.
- Hoyer is using an APEX system, build by Yellowstar to manage their logistics. The previous version was based on Java btw.. It is huge, with 1,000's of pages and very business critical. You can read more about it on this Oracle's official own Customer and Partner page. So it seems that the statement that you can't use APEX for this kind of projects is not Oracle's official point of view. But more a personal opinion of the Oracle representative this particular company spoke with. And the bespoke partner might had some influence as well - being a 95% ADF shop....

If you have more examples of business critical APEX applications with some public accessible information, please leave a link in the comments and I will add it to this list!



UKOUG 2014 - A special edition

Although I’ve attended the UKOUG conferences since 2008, this year’s edition was somewhat special to me. Based on the attendee reviews of last year’s UKOUG, I was elected as “Best Overseas Speaker”. And for me that’s quite an honour and of course a recognition for years of work - and practice ;-)
And with a title comes a plaque - it’ll get a special place on my bookshelf. 

I didn’t just get all the way to Liverpool to collect my award. I also did three presentations - from my point of view it was only 2.5, but I have to round up according to Brendan Tierney…
The first one I did was “Ten Tiny Things” about a couple of the less known new features of APEX 5. And I showed something even one of the APEX Development Team members didn’t know ;-) . The second one was together with Brendan (that’s why I usually count this one only as .5) about the things you can do with the Oracle Data Miner and Oracle Text features in combination with APEX. We both thought it went very well and we had some very positive feedback.
The last one - and even the last one of the conference - was the same presentation that won that prize last year about creating hybrid APEX applications. Although I have done this one quite some times, I still like doing it.
Apart from my bow presentations I attended some other ones of course. Especially the ones about NodeJS - one from John Scott and one from Alex Nuijten - got my attention. And of course the presentations of the APEX Development Team about APEX 5: You see some new stuff every time they show it. And getting more and more eager to get my hands on it !
Alas I had to miss some of the sessions, because a couple of rooms were so tiny, they could only hold like 20 people or so. So they “sold out” in minutes. Too bad - luckily that doesn’t happen in Birmingham (where the conference will be held again next year).
And apart from the sessions, it again was an excellent opportunity to hang out with all the old and new friends. Really enjoyed it again. Hope to see you all back in Birmingham next year!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I am running for the ODTUG Board of Directors

After some thought, I decided I will be running for the ODTUG Board of Directors this year. I have been attending Kscope since 2008 (New Orleans). Presented at Kscope and APEXPosed since 2009. Did a few webinars. Was a member of the APEX Content Team for Kscope12 and 13. And now I am the Content Lead for the APEX track for KScope14 and Kscope15. So I like spending my free time for ODTUG, to keep Kscope the best conference out there. But ODTUG is more than Kscope. And I would love to add my time, expertise and network to ODTUG in order to do more.
So that's why I am running for the Board.

But it seems I am not the only one running.... As for four positions, there are 24 nominations. Twenty-four! That means the changes are slim, but it shows how vivid ODTUG is. Most organisations that run on volunteers have a hard time filling these kind of positions. ODTUG doesn't. I don't have a full list of names, but I now know about six of them. And they are all well known persons and excellent for the job.
So that's good for ODTUG. Good for the community. And good for you.

My campaign will be focused around internationalisation. The current Board members are all based in North America. So it is natural ODTUG's focus is in that area. But luckily there already are some initiatives to "go global" - but that's not so easy. So I would like to add the views of other regions to the board, whether it's Asia, Australia, South America or Europe. In my opinion ODTUG should go more global, in close collaboration with the local user groups. (Co-)Organising events, webinars and web pages in other languages, etc. Doing so ODTUG should be able to get more members in those areas as well.
That's good for ODTUG, That's good for the community. And good for you as well.

My second focus will be around my favourite Oracle tool of course: Oracle Application Express. So I am in favour of special events that focus in APEX - like the APEXposed we had earlier. And probably we can make this global - that would be awesome. The APEX community within ODTUG already has a strong presence. Therefor we should benefit from this presence and grow even more.
That's good for ODTUG. Good for the community. And thus good for you.

You can cast your vote between October 7 and October 28. And you have to be a paid  member to vote. But that's only $99 a year. And for that small amount of money, you are not only allowed to vote, you have also access to tons of material: articles, recorded webinars and presentations. And you get either a discount or free access to ODTUG events. So in the end ... becoming a member is a no-brainer. Thus if you haven't signed up for it: do it now.
Good for ODTUG. Good for the community. And definitely good for you!

Oh, and then don't forget to vote in October. On me .... 

Friday, September 19, 2014

What happened at the first ORCLAPEX-NL Meetup?

Yesterday the first ORCLAPEX-NL Meetup was held. Finally. We seemed to be a little behind other locations - but pretty sure we'll catch up quickly!

After (a lot of) great pizza - kindly sponsored by smart4apex - and a round of introduction of every attendee, Richard kicked off the meeting by explaining the concept of these kinds of meetups. He also gave a nice review of his first experience of Kscope during Kscope14.
The weather was summer like outside - but the real die-hards were listening and discussing inside ....

... where Dick explained the limitations and challenges of developing web applications for smart phones.
During the Open Mic Night part of the evening, Steven showed a very nice APEX Web Application developed for mobile devices. The user interface looked very good and the flow was very well thought through. And it uses some very neat features like Local Database Storage and WebWorkers to temporarily storage pictures and send them over the wire when possible without interfering the performance / flow of the application itself.
Very well done!

And finally a picture of the whole gang. Thanks Oracle for having us! Especially thanks to Iloon for arranging that hospitality!
Until next Meetup .....

Friday, September 12, 2014

What happened at the first ORCLAPEX-BE Meetup?

Yesterday I attended the first ORCLAPEX-BE Meetup. Very well organised by Dimitri and Roeland. Remarkable fact: I was not the only "foreigner" as around 30 - 40% of the - around 16 - attendees where Dutch! So Meetups can even easily cross borders ...




So after some initial socialising.... 
... ... Roeland explained the concept of these kind of meetups.






In the next hour Dimitri went over all the great new features of APEX5, like Page Designer, Modal Pages, Syntax Highlighter etc.





Then there was plenty of pizza (and more socialising).





And then I went over the smaller - but nevertheless cool - features of APEX5 (as described in earlier blogposts).

Alas I had to leave after my presentation - looking at an almost 3 hour drive back home. But I know that the last 20 minutes or so where filled with two "Open Mic Night"-style demo's.
I think all attendees had a good time. I really like the concept: relaxed networking, some presentations - with a lot of interaction due to the smaller crowd - and pizza. 
The next ORCLAPEX-BE Meetup is already planned at November 19. Sign up here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Your Kscope15 abstract is due today (or before Oct 15)!

It is still a long time before Kscope15. But if I look at the website .... I can hardly wait! 
A good conference needs a good time for preparation. An awesome conference .... needs even more time. So that's why we need your abstracts a.s.a.p. After the close every member of the review committee will go over every abstract and will give it a rating and a comment. When that's all done, the committee will have a number of (virtual) meetings to select the best abstracts and create the stunning program you expect from Kscope. And last but not least the schedule for the event has to be created where everything falls into it's place ... So we really do need some time after October 15!

But what are we looking for - and this only applies to the Oracle Application Express track as every track has it's own "wish list"...you can see that when you enter your abstract in the Sub Category field. We split it up into these six:
  1. Integration: We often see that it is not "just APEX" out there. As APEX is an open framework it can be integrated with a lot of different technologies: AngularJS, NodeJS, ORDS, MySQL, NoSQL, EBS, Sharepoint, Web services, etc, etc. This integration can be on the front end / browser side or on the back end / database side. It doesn't matter. If you have something to share where APEX is used in combination with any other technology or tool. This is your subcategory.
  2. New Release: With APEX5 lurking somewhere around the corner - and it is pretty save to assume it will be production at Kscope15 ;-) - it is time to share your ideas, thoughts, experiences with this New Release. Did you build your own Universal Theme? Please show it! Did you discover features that boosted your productivity? This is your chance to share it. So everything that's related to specific APEX 5.x features should go into this subcategory.
  3. Real World: How is APEX used within your company? By your clients? We want to hear stories from the real world. Maybe not cutting edge technology - but therefore even more valuable to the audience as they can use it immediately when they get home. Did you built a 3,000 page application? We want to hear about it! Did you built a 5 page application that is used by 10,000 people? We want to know that as well. And everything in between. 
  4. Detail Plunge: You might be familiar with the Deep Dive sessions at previous Kscope's. A specific subject covered to every little detail for two or three hours. For Kscope15 we came up with the idea of a Detail Plunge: similar but way shorter Just grab your most favourite small piece of APEX and tell us all about it! Do you know everything about Interactive Reports? This is your chance to share that knowledge. Totally enthusiastic about web services or XML? Come up and tell! So it isn't a broad subject, but it should be deep ... 
  5. Other: For everything that doesn't fall into one of the other categories. That doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile. Absolutely not! That just might mean we missed a very good subject... So don't hesitate to categorise your abstract as such.
  6. Hands on: There's always place for a good Hands On session. Ideas are more than welcome.
So you should submit your abstract soon .... but certainly before October 15. This is the absolute deadline. No negations possible. No exceptions ... You only have to be an ODTUG member to submit. That can be either a full member for $99,- or an associate member for ... free. But hey, it's just $99,- a year - and for that small amount you get access an awful lot of content on the ODTUG site - and there are other advantages as well, check out the ODTUG web site.

You can submit here
See you in Hollywood, Florida!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

First ORCLAPEX-NL Meetup !

Earlier this year Dan McGhan - inspired by local JavaScript meetups - started the first Oracle APEX Meetup. Since then it has gone viral. As you can see on ApexMeetups the meetups are more or less global nowadays!
And even in The Netherlands we will officially join this virtual group and have our first ORCLAPEX Meetup on Thursday September 18. The location is central and well known: The Dutch Oracle HQ alongside the A2 highway. Thanks Oracle for providing the accommodation!
From 6PM onwards you can come in and join the group with a slice of pizza and a soda. As usual with these meetups, the structure of the meeting is more or less free format. The most important goal is to meet and greet fellow APEX Developers. We will have one or two (short) presentations: One about the concept of these Meetups - to set everyone's expectations - some and one about using Angular JS for mobile APEX development. If you want to share your experiences, questions knowledge etc : this is the place to be!
Seating is limited - and pizza as well - so you have to register at ORCLAPEX-NL Meetup a.s.a.p.. Please use your full name as we need it for getting you into the building ;-)
Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 08, 2014

10 New APEX 5 Features

The last two weeks I wrote a daily blogpost about a new feature in APEX 5. And intentionally I didn't cover the "big" features, like the new Page Designer, the Modal Pages, the Universal Theme etc as these probably are - or will be - covered by other people. So in my 10 blogposts I covered "Ten Tiny Things" ... 
For those who missed it - all or parts of it - herewith a list of subjects with the links:
I hope you liked it!