Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ODTUG Webinar: APEX Team Development & Agile PM

Patrick Cimolini will be conducting a FREE webinar on Tuesday, November 16th at 3:00PM EST entitled "APEX Team Development and Agile Project Management" sponsored by ODTUG.

Here's the abstract for the session:

The release of Oracle Application Express (APEX) version 4.0 has brought the product to a high level of maturity. This maturity is clearly demonstrated by the addition of the Team Development module. Team Development captures features, to dos, milestones, and bugs. Feedback from all hands-on stakeholders (including end users) is captured by the Feedback feature that can be installed declaratively in one or two minutes. This Webinar briefly describes Team Development and shows how it can be configured to work successfully with an Agile Project Management methodology.

If you haven't seen Patrick present at ODTUG before, then you can't miss this!  His knowledge of APEX is only surpassed by the wisdom that he has about project management in general.

You can sign up for it here and remember - there is no charge for this session!

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Oracle APEX Hashtag: #orclapex

I saw a Twittersation - or however you say Twitter + Conversation - between Martin D'Souza & Dan Mcghan about a potential new hashtag for Oracle APEX. This, in my opinion, has been a long time coming, since #apex will bring back anything from Oracle APEX to the upcoming APEX show in Las Vegas to Apex, NC to even a tattoo shop.

Martin suggested #orapex, which could likely get spelled #oraapex or #orapex, and thus added to the confusion.  Dan then chimed in with #oralcle_apex, which I thought was a spot long and replied with #orclapex.

I guess I won, because in the time it took to get my kids to bed, there was a blog post as well as other Tweetsin in multiple language, thus further justifying its logic!  And if it's on the Internet in not just one, but TWO places, then is HAS to be true!

Thus, while the iron is hot, might I be so bold to propose a new hashtag for Oracle Aces: #orclace.  The current one - #aced - pulls back more high school kids proclaiming victory over a challenging history test than it does Oracle-related content.

Thus, with these two new, sleek, streamlined hashtags, it would be possible to tag an APEX tweet with both #orclapex and #orclace and actually have over 120 characters left for actual content.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

APEXposed 2010 Dallas Discounts

The APEXposed conferences are almost here!  Brussels will kick off first on October 28th and Dallas will follow shortly after that on November 10th & 11th.

If you're on the fence about attending, then perhaps this will push you over:  If you sign up with the code APEX, you will get $150 off of the registration fee!  And one of the first ten people to use the code APEX will get a completely free registration!

That's only $450 for ODTUG members and $500 for non-members.  Remember - not only will you get to see some of the top APEX experts in the industry, but you can also attend any session in the PL/SQL track - all for one price!  Hope to see you there.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Comment Moderation Enabled

Hate to do this, but I have to turn on comment moderation.  Too many spammers out there, trying to convince me that my blog is the best blog in the world!

I'll still approve anything that's legitimate; just want to see if I can get a handle on the noise...

An Oracle Hat-trick!

I'm sure that Kris Rice will appreciate the Hockey analogy, as his team has brought not one, not two - but THREE EA releases to market this week with the addition of the APEX Listener EA that was just announced!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SQL Developer 3.0 EA Released

On the heels of the Oracle Data Modeler tool, SQL Developer 3.0 EA 1 was just released to the wild.  There's quite a number of new and/or enhanced features - most of which seem to be quite useful.  A complete list of the new features can be found here.

My favorite thing so far?  It uses a fixed-width font in the data grids. It's the little things...

However - a feature that is noticeably absent is the ability to automatically apply the APEX refactoring results.  It would be nice if that after it generated the corresponding packages, it could replace all of the PL/SQL with the stubs to call each procedure.  That would make refactoring truly useful, especially in environments with a lot of APEX applications that need to be better managed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

SQL Developer Data Modeler 3.0 EA

Oracle just announced the Early Adopter release of SQL Developer Data Modeler.  You can download it from here: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/datamodeler/overview/index.html

In case you missed it, Oracle is now offering SQL Developer Data Modeler for free, which is a tremendous savings from the original price tag and great for the database developer community.

As an added bonus, this release actually comes with an actual icon that when double-clicked, launches the application.  A far cry from having to hand-code your own script. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ready for OpenWorld 2010

I can't believe that another year has gone by already!  It's time to head out to San Francisco and spend a week with 40,000 other Oracle developers, DBA, managers, vendors and all of the people who work hard behind the scenes to make it all happen!

All of the Sumneva folks will be busy this year, too, as we have quite an aggressive presentation schedule.  You can have a look at it here - we did update some of the Unconference times & locations.

From the sounds of all of the Oracle Ace Directors, it seems like there will be many interesting announcements over the next few days.

And if you will be in San Francisco, don't forget about the APEX meetup on Tuesday evening.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Better Method

Just posted a new Tip over on sumneva.com that deals with quickly creating a package that can manage all DML transactions against a table or tables.

I came across this feature in the days of APEX 4.0 EA1.  I immediately thought that it was a new APEX 4.0 feature - until I checked 3.2, and it was there too.  Basically, this allows you to easily create a table API which can be used to replace the built-in APEX DML processes.

Why would you do this?

If you wanted to create a more secure architecture, you may want to have a tableless schema - thus, the built in processes will do you little good.  This API can live in a separate schema, and facilitate all DML calls used to manage your data.

Since it's in a PL/SQL package, you can easily add additional security or data integrity checks before performing any of the DML transactions - another major reason to consider this approach.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Software. Hardware. Complete.

Looks like Mark Hurd's unemployment stint is coming to a close, as it was announced that he would be joining Oracle this past weekend.  He will be replacing Charles Philips, who has since resigned his position.  It seems that Phillips had been looking to leave for some time, but had decided to stay through the Sun acquisition.

Sure, there was a lot of controversy surrounding his departure, but even HP itself concluded that it could find no hard evidence of wrongdoing.  And as for the falsified expense reports, I think that Larry Ellison summed it up quite simply when he said that no CEO fills out his own expense reports, so if there was fraud, it was done by someone else.

All issues aside, this move seems to put Oracle on a path to go squarely after IBM, as no doubt that Hurd won't be the last ex-HP employee making the switch to Oracle in the next few months.   Hurd's experience in hardware is something that Oracle needed in order to parlay the Sun hardware acquired in the merger.  As with all things Larry, it will be interesting to see how this - as well as the Java lawsuit, which has been strangely quiet - play out over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Anonymous Pro

Anonymous Pro is a fixed-width font developed specifically for developers by Mark Simonson. Best of all - it's free under the Open Font License.

From it's home page:  "Characters that could be mistaken for one another (O, 0, I, l, 1, etc.) have distinct shapes to make them easier to tell apart in the context of source code."

I installed it on my Mac and set SQL Developer's default font to it, and the text is a little crisper than Courier, my previous default.

Anyone else have a favorite "coding" font?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Standard Screen Design Patterns

Very cool article, outlining some common & simple screen design patterns - for both web and desktop applications.  Be sure to check out the 2010 Update as well.

I always tell students in our training classes that they should not try to re-invent the design patterns used in most applications - especially since they are database developers and not graphic designers.  Users have come to expect specific things to be in specific places - login/logout in the upper left/right, a site map of sorts at the bottom of each page, tabs for navigation, etc.  Deviating from that expectation will likely create more confusion than anything else, and should be avoided at all costs.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OOW Advice

Jeff Smith offers up some excellent advice for those traveling to OOW 2010.

As a more-than-I-can-count-time attendee of OOW, here's a few additions to his list:

  • Don't eat dinner anywhere near Moscone.  
    Sure, it's easy, especially after a long day or sessions, but most of San Francisco's best restaurants are not adjacent to Moscone.  Head to North Beach or the Marina instead.
  • Attend a session or sessions on something that you have never heard of.
    You don't know what you don't know...
  • Talk to strangers.
    As Jeff said, this is one of the best places to network.  If you don't talk, then you may as well catch the sessions online.  No where else will there be as many people with similar technical interests than OOW.
  • Don't jaywalk.  Seriously.
    The SFPD was giving out jaywalking tickets around Moscone the last couple of years, and I know a couple people who were "lucky" enough to get them.  Not fun.
  • Come early or leave late.  
    Take a day to explore not just San Francisco, but the surrounding area.  Often, airlines will give you a better rate if you have a Saturday night stay included in your ticket.  See if your company travel policy allows for reimbursing your hotel Saturday night if you can get a fare that makes the overall cost of the trip less.
  • Download TripAdvisor or Yelp to your smartphone.
    Either of these sites offer decent opinions of local restaurants and the like, and it's handy to have when you get a recommendation from a concierge.
  • Visit the Union Square Hyatt's Grandviews Lounge
    For a drink, dinner of only for the view.  Try to get there around sunset - you won't be disappointed!

Less is More

Spent a few minutes yesterday building my schedule for OOW.  Lots of sessions, and unfortunately, some of the good ones are already booked.  That didn't matter, as there were plenty more to choose from.

There's not a whole lot of APEX sessions this year - or at least ones that I have not already seen.  Thus, I'm going to focus more on other database technologies, such as security & performance.  Lots of sessions under that category.

My only gripe is that the Schedule Builder UI needs a major overhaul.  First off, you need a 30" monitor just to view all of the content on one screen - especially when you have the Advanced Search option enabled.   Also, I kept getting a "Search Timeout" error when I tried to search for sessions.  The only way to resolve this is to log out and log back in again.  Such basic functionality for a database conference should NEVER break, at least in my opinion...

The Schedule Builder also tries to use a lot of Ajax-type controls; lots of popup boxes and asynchronous stuff going on.  Maybe it works better in IE, but in Safari, it's a bit clunky.

This is part of the danger of using jQuery or similar Ajax-based technologies - without thorough testing on multiple browsers, the user experience may vary greatly.  This can often be mitigated when building applications that are used internally, as most organizations can lock down which browsers are allowed.  However, this is obviously not the case on the public Internet.

While the Advanced Search is more sophisticated and allows you to search by day, for instance, there is no Google-like interface to search all fields for a specific string.  There are two text fields - Speaker/Company & Free Text - that each search different parts of the content.  But if you're searching for a string, the system will AND these two fields together, producing a different set of results than you may expect.

It seems like too much attention was paid to adding features vs. thinking of a logical design for this site.  Some common things - such as the aforementioned Google-like search, a weekly view of the agenda, and a map of where each session takes place - all seem to be left out.

Hopefully this tool will be enhanced for future events and be made simpler and better at the same time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

apex.oracle.com Upgraded to 4.0.1

As per Patrick Wolf, apex.oracle.com has been upgraded to 4.0.1, fixing all of the known issues listed here.

Thus, we can conclude that it won't be long before the 4.0.1 patchset is available to the general public.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Programmatically Reset Interactive Reports

This one may be review - and is definitely not a new feature of APEX 4.0 - but it's something that I just stumbled upon.  If you pass in "RIR" to the Clear Cache parameter of an APEX page that contains an Interactive Report, it will programmatically reset the Interactive Report on that page - the same way as if the user selected the Reset option from the IR's menu.

Best of all, you can pass both a page and the RIR directive simply by separating them with a comma.  For example, to clear the cache and reset the Interactive Report on page 10, you would pass 10,RIR to the clear cache parameter.

How APEX Parses SQL

Joel Kallman from the APEX development team has another clearly written & concise article giving us a look at the inner-workings of APEX - specifically how it uses DBMS_SYS_SQL to parse as any schema.

Friday, August 13, 2010

APEX Discussed on Reddit

This thread (language NSFW) on Reddit discusses Oracle's decision to sue Google - and APEX gets some discussion about 2-3 pages down!

Unfortunately, most of the comments are just plain wrong.  I understand that people are entitled to their opinions, but when things are misstated, that's another issue entirely.  I think this is proof that most developers - Oracle and non-Oracle - simply don't know what APEX is and what it can & can't do.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oracle Sues Google

This one should be all over the news by tomorrow AM: Oracle Sues Google Over Java in Android

Not a lot of details about the specifics, but it should be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Safari Extensions

For all of you Mac users out there, have a look at Safari Extensions.  I initially thought that these would be akin to Firefox Add-Ons.  However, they are a lot less and more at the same time.  Translation: they add bits & pieces of functionality that make your browsing experience better.

I started with the Google Reader extension.  Google does a lot of things well - UI, however, has not traditionally been one of them.  Apple is great at UI, but has no RSS reader aside from Mail - which doesn't sync with Google Reader.  The Google Reader extension marries the best of both worlds and provides an Apple-like UI right on top of Google Reader.

What was confusing to me at first was how to use this extension.  I struggled to look for a toolbar or menu entry.  Finally, I just navigated to reader.google.com, and there it was - a stunning new interface on top of Google's excellent RSS reader site.

Here's the before image:



And the after:


It's not a dramatic difference, but enough to add some style to an otherwise excellent RSS reader.

Anyone else have any must-have Safari extensions?  Please share them in the comments!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Scott Spadafore

The Oracle community lost a good friend & colleague this past weekend.

Scott Spadafore was one of the most intelligent developers that I have ever met. I had the pleasure of working with him on the APEX team during my tenure at Oracle. His thoroughness and ability to see a problem from all angles was simply amazing.

He also liked to help people. A lot. Scott had 16,582 posts on the OTN Forum. That's one post a day EVERY day for almost 45 1/2 years. I'll say it again: 1 post a day for almost 45 1/2 years. Simply amazing!

I was often confused with Scott, only because the first 7 letters of our full names are the same. I'd always joke with him about how many e-mails that I'd have to forward to him, as someone thought that I was the one who helped them on the OTN Forums. He'd joke back that he never had to return the favor.

Scott will be missed dearly, and my thoughts are with his friend & family during this difficult time.

In an effort to consolidate comments, please post them on Joel Kallman's blog entry about Scott, which can be found here: http://joelkallman.blogspot.com/2010/03/scott-spadafore.html

Monday, March 08, 2010

My Interview with Mike Riley

Recently, I sat down with ODTUG President Mike Riley and answered a few questions about the upcoming ODTUG Kaleidoscope Conference which will be held in Washington, DC this year.  (OK, we didn't actually sit down together, but I answered his questions nevertheless!)

Have a look at my interview here.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Get a Suite Deal at ODTUG

As Dimitri mentioned, one way to get a Suite at this year's ODTUG is to mention his (or my) name when you register.  Now, there's another way:  just create a 3-minute video on "Why You Need to Attend ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010".

Here's the details via the folks at ODTUG:

Make it funny…or Make it musical…or Make it informational…or Make it Rhyme…or…???. Use your imagination to create the catchiest video possible. Make sure to include the ODTUG Kaleidoscope logo.

To submit your video for consideration, send an e-mail to ODTUG with your name and YouTube video link.

Video Contest Guidelines: Video must be three minutes or less, contain no inappropriate content, and be posted publicly to YouTube by March 31, midnight EST. All videos must remain in public domain until after July 1st, 2010.  The winning video will be selected from among all the entries.  The judges’ decision will be final.  Judges may include members of the ODTUG Kaleidoscope Conference Committee and others.  Winner will be notified by April 2nd, 2010. Winner will have the choice of a complimentary non-transferable registration to ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010 or a suite upgrade at theMarriott Wardman Park.

Monday, February 15, 2010

RMOUG & MAOP 2010

Talk about a busy week ahead... I'm about to head to the airport and hop a flight to Denver, CO, where I will be presenting Troubleshooting Oracle APEX at the RMOUG 2010 Training Days. If you're in the Denver area, it's not too late to register, but you have to do it on-site at the Colorado Convention Center.

Later this week on Friday, I will be presenting at MAOP 2010, which will be held in the Oracle Reston office. There, I will be presenting a shorter version of Troubleshooting Oracle APEX as well as Extreme Makeover: APEX Edition. MAOP only has a few slots left, so be sure to register soon to reserve yours soon.

Be sure to say hello if you're at either event.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Uploading XLS Files with APEX Listener EA2

Kris Rice just posted that the APEX Listener EA2 is available for download.

Quoting Kris on the new features:

  • New /listenerAdmin with real-time statistics
  • Mechanism for logging DB Requests
  • Capability to upload .xls files into an APEX Collection

The last of these features interests me the most, as we get that request all of the time.  The de facto solution is to save your Excel data as CSV, then upload that.  Not very elegant.

So before even completing my first cup of coffee this morning, I decided to try it out.

Downloading the new listener was as snap, as was re-deploying the .war file.  Took no time at all, and I was up and running.

Next, I created a quick little application that simply had a File Browse item on the page and a button whose request value is set to 'XLS2COLLECTION', as per Kris's instructions.  I ran the application, located an XLS file, and clicked "Go".  Upon checking the session state for collections, the results were a little different than Kris outlined.

The one potentially major flaw with how its currently implemented is that the item name - not ID - of the item is used for the collection name.  Since APEX sets the item's ID to be the same as the APEX item name that developers enter, this is inconsistent and will likely cause some confusion.

One would expect that if I called the File Browse item "P1_XLS_FILE" that my collection name would also be called "P1_XLS_FILE".  This is not the case;  rather, the collection name is called "P_T01" - which if you look at the HTML source, is the item name associated with P1_XLS_FILE.

If you add additional items to the page before P1_XLS_FILE, its name will change accordingly.  Simply adding a text field with a lower sequence number than P1_XLS_FILE in my test application caused the item name to change to P_T02.

Hopefully, Oracle will address this and make it more consistent, so that we as developers can easily get the name of the collection that was just created.

Despite this flaw, this is an amazing feature, which is likely to save a lot of people a lot of time.

Just to be thorough, I also tested it with the newer XLSX format, and not surprisingly, it did not work.  Thus, be sure to save your XLS spreadsheets to the more commonly used XLS format before using this feature.

You can download my test application here.  Keep in mind that you'll also need to have the current APEX listener installed on your server for this to work.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Look, But Don't Touch

Joel Kallman had an interesting post about a customer who broke all of the rules and modified some constraints in the APEX_030200 schema.  In this case, there was a happy ending, as Joel went the extra mile to craft a custom patch to remedy the issue.  However, things don't always end up this way.

This reminds me of my early days with Oracle, when I used to work with the eBusiness Suite.  The first page of any documentation of the suite said something like this: "WARNING: Do not use SQL*Plus to modify any database object directly".  We used to laugh at this, as we used SQL*Plus & TOAD to modify these database objects several times a day, if not more frequently.

However, this was done on internal systems used to build demos.  If we messed something up - and boy did we ever - we could easily refresh the instance with little effort.

Fast-forward a few years to today:  FND & APPLSYS have been replaced by a single, much smaller schema called APEX_030200.  Despite this, the same rules apply:  NEVER modify anything in the APEX_030200 schema.  Period.  I always make it a point to emphasize this as much as possible during our training classes.

Now, if you MUST take a look at that schema - and many of you reading this will - please do it in a test environment that is not used for anything else.  This can easily be done by using VMWare or one of the many other virtual machine programs.  You can also do this in the Amazon Cloud.  It doesn't matter as much WHERE you set up a test instance, but rather that you DO set up a test instance, and then poke around there.  This way, nothing gets corrupted - now or in the future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Introducing Sumneva

Early this morning (and well before the iPad), we launched a new company called Sumneva.

Sumneva (sum-NEE-va) is the collaborative effort between Sumner Technologies and APEX Evangelists. Since we were basically doing the same things in different parts of the world, we unanimously agreed that we would be able to cover more ground together. Thus, Sumneva was formed!

We have a lot of exciting plans that we're going to be implementing - starting with the best kind - FREE! We're hosting APEX 4.0 preview web seminars, where we can show you what to expect in the much-anticipated APEX 4.0. We're also planning to have monthly "Ask the Experts" web seminars, where you'll get to interact with all four us of over a live conference call.

In addition to the new services we're offering, we've also combined our training curriculum and have a number of new additions in our course catalog to offer both publicly and privately.

Now that the iPad announcement is done, come on over to sumneva.com and have a look!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ODTUG 2010 Registration Open

ODTUG 2010 promises to be the best ever, with close to 40 APEX sessions - many of which will focus on APEX 4.0!

There's also a lot of new & innovative ideas this year that have not been done in the past:
  • APEX Sunday Symposium
    In the past, the Sunday Symposiums have been less technical and more business and case study focused.  Well, that all changes this year, as we have a lineup that can't be matched!  This year, we have invited some of the top names in the APEX community to team up and show you how to design, develop, deploy, tune, secure, beautify and translate an application - right before your eyes!  Also, for the first time, you can sign up just for the Sunday Session - which makes it nice if you're local to DC and can't get the full time off for the bulk of the conference.

  • APEX Plugin Workshop
    Since APEX Plugins will dramatically change the way in which we build APEX Applications, we've decided to have a 1 1/2 hr session that focuses on this new amazing feature.  As an added bonus, you'll get to take the code used home with you!

  • APEX Open Mic Night
    Didn't get your presentation accepted or just have something cool you'd like to show off?  Then bring it to APEX Open Mic Night.  We'll give you 10 minutes and a laptop connected to the Internet; you do the rest.  Leave you slides at home, as this evening is demo-only!
You can register for ODTUG 2010 here: http://odtugkaleidoscope.com/registration.html

Hope to see you there!