Monday, November 06, 2006

OOW2006 - Day 4 (Thursday) : The Final, Closing Ceremony

Due to a pleasant evening on Wednesday, I had to skip the first session (at 8:00!). But at the start of the second session, Test-Driven Development in the World of PL/SQL by PL/SQL Evangelist Steven Feuerstein, I was quite awake. Steven demonstrated - in his own special interesting way : what a great presenter! - the advantages of Test Driven Development. The message: Specify your testcases and build your test program before you even start building the program-to-test!. He also announced and demonstrated Quest Code Tester, what looks like a great tool to support PL/SQL unit tests. I surely will try this out soon. Available for download at ToadWorld, free until the end of February.

After that one I went to Peter Koletzke for a session with the - rather long title Oracle JDeveloper 10g with Oracle ADF Faces and Oracle JHeadstart: Is it Oracle Forms Yet?. He pointed out the similarities and dissimilarities between Oracle Forms and JDeveloper - with and without JHeadstart. His conclusion was that Oracle Forms is still better than JDeveloper (because of the learning curve and the more interactive Forms UI), but JDeveloper with JHeadstart is way ahead of Forms - and the development is still going on! One of the funniest parts of his presentation was the moment that a cell phone rang very loud at the first row and he jumped up - dropping his microphone - stating that he would request a JDev enhancement for a ringtones option! Quote of the day: Whatever it is that hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

The next session was Implementation of an End-to-End Application with Oracle SOA Suite by Roman Dobrik. A good overview presentation of the diverse SOA components, when to choose which component and how these components should co-operate.

The last session of this OOW was a very interesting Oracle BI Discoverer Futures: Protect, Extend, Integrate by Mike Durran. The presentation covers three aspects:
  • Protect : He made clear how Oracle sees the future of Discoverer: SE with new releases and functionality or EE to gain new functionality like integration with BI Publisher (aka XML Publisher), Dashboards and Delivers.
  • Extend : New functionality like Custom Members, Graph Styles and Portal Publishing
  • Integrate : With BI Publisher (he even showed a working demo of this one), Delivers - with Alerting and Distributing iBots that act on worksheets, like BPEL processes that are instantiated upon specific outcomes of worksheet data - and Dashboards. All very cool and promising features!


The last event was the closing ceremony/party, called It's a wrap!, with - again - lots of good food, drinks and music.
All in all it was a very interesting OOW and I really enjoyed it. Hopefully I'll be back next year....

Sunday, November 05, 2006

OOW2006 - Day 3 (Wednesday) : The Day of the Penguin

Wednesday was Keynote Day. First in line was John Wookey, who emphasized the continuity of the complete Oracle Applications stack and pointed out a couple of new features and enhancements in the future releases of Peoplesoft, JD Edwards, Siebel and the E-Business Suite. In this timeslot Giovanni Contino of Ducati got 15 minutes to present himself as an "happy customer". The two Ducati motorbikes that drove through the hall were rather cool. After this break John continued with the four key values of the new features of the products:
  • Search: A Google look-a-like search engine to search through structured and unstructured enterprise data.
  • XML based reporting: Using XML Publisher to create good looking reports.
  • Role based analytics: Presenting exact the information the user needs given his role.
  • Sustainable Integration: Creating a layer above all the different applications, so the end users doesn't even know what application he's using.

Then he showed a Sneak Preview of Fusion - one of the two buzzwords of OOW2006, with the WebCenter Suite. By combining different kinds of (un)structured enterprise content with the current messaging options, search and "Web 2.0" technology in the WebCenter a total new kind of user interface is created, that hides the base applications completely and relates closely to the desktop applications (like Google, Messenger etc) every uses knows nowadays. Oracle comes to your desktop!
According to the timeframe the Application Suite should be available in 2008.

Then I entered the Exhibit Hall (one of the two) and wandered around for some time. Unfortunately I did not win an iPod (it seems that every exhibitor had been shopping at the Apple Store three blocks away), a PSP or an Harley, but I did manage to fill my bag with a couple of (useful) goodies. They had to scan my badge a lot, so I expect some spamlike mail in the near future.

After lunch back to Hall D for the main keynote: Larry himself would address us, but not until we first went through the NASDAQ Closing Bell Ceremony. For non-Americans a rather strange phenomenon. What's all the excitement about? They close the NASDAQ every day, don't they?
As everybody knows now Larry announced the Oracle support of Red Hat Linux. Obviously Oracle didn't like the take over of JBoss by Red Hat; by that acquisition Red Hat was competing Oracle on the middle tier. And the empire strikes back... After the announcement the stock price of Red Hat lost about 25%. IMHO another reason to support Linux is that the more support on Linux, the more customers will make the switch to Linux from...Microsoft. So this move is a double hit!
To me Larry's quote of the day was (on a question what Red Hat's reaction could be) : Hey man, this is the way capitalism works!
During Larry's speech the transformed the Moscone to a Penguin Palace, with free t-shirts and other penguin goodies everywhere.

Then back to normal, the first real session of the day with the (to me prize winning title): Data Design Reviews: Using Extreme Humiliation to Ensure Quality Data Models by Kent Graziano. He told the audience in what way he managed to enhance the quality of the data models. The "extreme humiliation" part was somewhat exceeded, but he had some good tips. It was quite similar to the (in The Netherlands well known) Headstart Tools, Productivity Boosters and Quality Reports and CDM from Oracle Consulting. Afterwards he atmitted he was "strongly influenced" by Headstart and CDM.

The last session of the day was Dynamic SQL in a Dynamic World by Michael Rosenblum. He stated that a solution to imperfect analysis, specification and hardware is: generic models (don't mention this to Tom Kyte, it's one of his "worst practices"), code generators and repository based systems. You can argue to this statement, but let's move on. To support this solution he uses Dynamic PL/SQL. He showed some really good examples, but nobody did stop him on time. To me it seems that during his project dynamic SQL was more a goal than (part of) a solution. And he didn't mention SQL Injection (finally after a question from the audience) or - even worse - PL/SQL Injection (next to dynamic sql he uses dynamic pl/sql a lot). Also the problem of Dependency Analysis (e.g. if you drop a column, your program still compiles and fails only at runtime) was not covered.

That night we had a dinner with our colleagues from WM Data and the UK. It was really nice meeting these new people, hope we'll meet again somewhere in Europe.
Afterwards we went back to the hotel with a stretched limo (we managed to get 11 people inside).

Friday, November 03, 2006

OOW2006 - Day 2 (Tuesday) : Developer Day

On this Tuesday I spent the whole day at the Hilton (only 1,5 block from our hotel) attending sessions from the Developer track. The day started of with the Developer keynote of the day : Tom Kyte with Things you think you know. The message was that things (read "Oracle software") changes over time and with every Oracle update your knowledge needs an update too. The quote of the day :
      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble.
      It's the things you know
      that just ain't so or
      just ain’t so anymore or
      just ain’t always so."
This great presentation (especially if it's presented by the master himself) is also downloadable from asktom. You can get an impression by watching the first 3 minutes on video from Eddy Awad's site.

The second session of the day was Oracle BPEL Process Manager Performance and High Availability by Francis Ip and Randy Stafford. This was the only session at OOW where I misjudged my knowledge (obviously I didn't read the abstract quite well): I got lost after 15 minutes and took the time to finish my notes from the previous day.

After that I went to Business Rules : Core to Agile Applications by Manoj Das. He explained the goals and working of Business Rules a new part of the SOA Suite - rules can be integrated in a BPEL process. The statement was that, because (some) business rules are not static, but dynamic, you need an easy way to change the rules (by the end user). Business Rules is Oracle's solution to that. You should use BR only for rules that are volatile, like discount percentages, client categorization (e.g. gold, silver or bronze customers) etc. He showed some screen prints of the tool, alas no live demo. The IT savings of using a business rule engine is estimated by Gartner on 5 up to 40%, so it looks quite promising - when the product is mature.

The next thing was a Hands-on-Lab Oracle ESB Synchronization. In this session we were challenged to create an end-to-end solution using ESB. A nice break: doing something yourself instead of listening....

The last session of the day was CERN: Building Real-World Solutions with Oracle Application Express by Giovanni Chierico. At CERN (the inventors of the internet!), APEX is used for developing small database centric applications for users all over the world. They managed to put as many as 10 applications in production in 1 year. He showed some screen shots that looked really nice and ended with giving some tips to the audience.

After that I headed over to the Blogger meetup, where I met around 10 of my fellow bloggers. Very good to meet the people you read! A couple of us broke up halfway the meeting to take a bus (one of the 250!) to the Cow Palace to watch the Elton John show. Arriving there I was astonished by the quantity and quality of the food and drinks (even when we arrived quite late). The show of Elton and Devo was great - sadly I had to miss Joan Jett. I went back rather early and had just to wait 10 minutes for a bus (in contrast to some colleagues who had to wait over an hour).

OOW2006 - Day 1 (Monday) : Worst Practices Day

For me this Monday started with an (Developer) Keynote by Thomas Kurian: The next application platform. Thomas pointed out three main trends : SOA, Information Driven Architecture an Grid Computing Architecture. For the developers (about 1200 in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton) he mentioned the tools Oracle offers for building applications on the 3-tier architecture (of course: JDev, SOA Suite and SQL Developer). The most important announcement was the availabilty of the Oracle Developer Depot, were you can easily download an install Java applications to facilitate code reuse and simplify the development process. Of course you can upload your work to this comunity. You can even win a meet and greet with Larry (or an HD TV) if your software is selected as "the best".

For the next session a headed over to Moscone for The Future of DB Technology by Andy Mendelsohn. He addressed (a.o.) the next interesting new products / features / options :
      Information Lifecycle Management
      How to match storage to the information lifecycle to minimize costs (put data that you need less often - or with less performance - on less expensive storage ) by using partitioning. For decision support Oracle offers the Oracle ILM Assistant, a free downloadable program that shows the gains and migration of implementing ILM.

      Database Vault
      Audit and manage the use of data by other users (even the DBA) under the motto "Keep your DBA out of the database".

      Online Application Upgrade (or Online Hot Patching)
      To assure 24x7 availability in Oracle 11 you can upgrade your database while users are using the application. Currently logged in users continue working in the pre upgrade version of the application, new logins will use the upgraded application. They even showed an impressive live demo of this feature!

      Database Capture (I think that was the name he used)
      A tool to capture SQL statements from one environment (e.g. Production) and run it in another (e.g. Test) and localize the differences in the CBO and/or capture statements in a pre upgrade version (e.g. Oracle 10g) and replay these statements in an upgraded version (e.g. Oracle 11) to spot the differences in execution plans - to facilitate the tuning pre- and post upgrade.

The third session this day was Developing PL/SQL Programs Using Automated Unit Testing by my honourable colleague Andrew Clarke. He used the utPLSQL framework ( http://utplsql.sourceforge.net, http://utplsql.oracledeveloper.nl) to facilitate Test Driven Development - an approach that is also strongly supported by Quests PL/SQL Evangelist Steven Feuerstein.

The fourth session was Database Worst Practices by Thomas Kyte. A very popular session, because although the session was sold out, 200 people stood in line to get in! Luckily for those who missed it, Tom repeated this gig on Thursday. In his own special way, with lots of humour, Tom gave a tongue-in-cheek presentation (which is not - yet - available on the Openworld Presentation Download site, but it is on asktom!).
The most important "worst practices" were:
      Never ever question authority
      You do not need bind variables
      You don't want to expose end users to errors (exception when others then null)
      Generic is better
      You don't need a design
      Create as many instance per server
      Reinvent database features
      No need to test
      Only use varchar
      Commit frequently
      No scalability needed, because nothing ever changes

The fifth and last session (who says that visiting OOW isn't hard work!) was called Unleashing the Power of Oracle Streams by Patricia McElroy. I wasn't familiar with Streams (a little with AQ), but was quite impressed with the capabilities of this feature (option?). Streams facilitates an asynchronous information sharing architecture by capturing, staging and consumption of data. IMHO the functionality is similar to the ESB but on the database tier instead of the middle tier. Because the processes run close to the data I expect that the throughput of Streams will be much higher (compared to using the ESB).

After all this hard work this evening was reserved for the OTN Night in the St Francis (just across the street from our hotel). By accident I first visited a Quest party on the 32nd floor of the hotel, with good food, free drinks and a splendid view of SF. When I came down to the 2nd floor the OTN Jeopardy game was still going on, where the contesters excellerated in giving wrong (or no) answers to difficult Oracle related questions (I did not get one right answer...) and everybody was having good time eating, drinking, talking, dancing and looking and the belly dancers (with snake).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

OOW2006 - Day 0 (Sunday) : The Opening Ceremony

For me OOW started on Sunday morning with the ODTUG Oracle Developer Suite Special Interest Group Meeting in the Hilton. In this session 2 Oracle Emps of the Forms and Designer Development Depts answered questions of the audience.

The highlights :
  • The main goals for Forms 11 are : better Application Server integration; higher interoperability (with webservices, BPEL and browser); ease of upgrade.

  • JInitiator will be replaced by (native) JVM

  • WebUtil will be a part of Forms (not a seperate utility anymore)

  • Forms PL/SQL scanner that checks the quality of the code

  • No plans for extra UI widgets

  • Oracle Applications is migrating to Forms 10gR2, so Forms is here to stay

  • XML Publisher is the standard reporting tool in Applications (you can imagine the consequences for the future of Oracle Reports)

  • Designer 11 will not contain any new functionality, just a new version to keep up with Forms
Of course no time frame for the release has been given.

At 6:00 pm Charles Phillips had the honour of kicking of OOW with the Opening Keynote. Charles announced that the Oakland Arena will be renamed to Oracle Arena (according to the basket and ball, it had something to do with basketball....). After that Charles emphasized that all Applications (EBS, JD Edwards, Peoplesoft etc), will be supported and extended "unlimited", next to Fusion. Then he announced - and even live demo'ed! - Oracle Accelerate, a tool to simplify the setup for your Oracle Apps instance, just by answering a few questions.

At 7:00 the first party of OOW started: The Welcome Reception in the tents on Howard Street.