Tuesday, September 30, 2008

APEX 4.0 New Features

At OOW some new features of the upcoming major release of APEX, version 4.0, were revealed - ofcourse with all the regular disclamers applied. Here a (non complete) list of the announced features - in a random order:
  1. The option to use an Application Timestamp Format, next to the existing Application Date Format;
  2. The option to use the Client Time Zone;
  3. jQuery will be included in the APEX distribution;
  4. instead of the (horrible) HTML-calendars, the much better looking jQuery Calendar will be used;
  5. the jQuery Calendar will offer an Extensible Item Framework, to create your own calendar types;
  6. ofcourse the famous Websheets;
  7. an Oracle APEX Listener as a replacement for the MOD/PLSQL gateway;
  8. Improved Tabular Forms, thus reducing the need to build these manually;
  9. more JSON;
  10. Dynamic Recreation of Select List (from JSON), used - o.a. - for cascading LOV's;
  11. Namespaced apex.*.*, to reduce the risk of confusing variables in Javascript;
  12. Chainability;
  13. and last, but certainly not least, Dynamic Actions.
At the demo booth I saw a demonstration of these Dynamic Actions: a declarative way to define show/hide and enable/disable of items - depending on other items values. The goal is to reduce the manual Javascript coding. This was just a first example and more functions will be added in the final version. Also the option to create a Dynamic Action for a validation (e.g. P3_ORDER_DATE is not null) will be available in the future!

Reading this everbody screams : I want it and I want it now! But you have to be patient. The 4.0 release is aimed at "early 2009". First we should get our hands on the 3.2 release (this year), supporting the Forms2Apex migration.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The OOW Party

This year the Appreciation Event was held on Treasure Island, a piece of land between SF and Oakland, just below the Bay Bridge. When we arrived there - in one of the 300 buses - we were directly surprised by the all the carnival attractions. It was a really nice fair on a beautiful place - with a great view on San Francisco. And of course lots of good food and drinks, accompanied with really good music: o.a. Seal and Elvis Costello! Both were really, really good...
Yeah, Oracle surely knows how to throw a party!
And on the way back we didn't even have to wait for the bus!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

SQL Developer Data Modeller definitely is the end of Designer

From the demo's I've seen of the SQL Developer Data Modeller the functionality exceeds the Designer modelling functionality by far. It's support physical and logical modelling as well as multi dimensional models (OLAP). You can import models from multiple sources - also from Designer. The functionality includes domains, glossaries, naming conventions and standards, abbreviations and even a process modeller. There are even more, newer, database types supported than Designer does. The metadata can be stored in a file based repository or in a database repository - that even will include versioning. The tool will (eventually) be available as a stand alone version, as a SQL Developer extension, viewer only and as a web-publishing version. So all in all it seems to be a complete solution for data modelling that can - and probably will - replace Designer... As the presenter said : You can still buy Designer [but]...
"Soon" the beta version of Data Modeller will be released, using the filebased repository. And about the $$$: The licensing model is not sure yet...(see this for my previous post about this subject).

And keeping the best for last: They're also thinking about an APEX generator (because Mike Hitchwa wants it..).

Larry goes eXtreme!

Two years after the moment that Oracle went into Operating Systems - Unbreakable Linux - today Larry announced that Oracle (partnering with HP) will sell hardware also. And it's not a simple commodity server... It's the HP Oracle Database Machine. This beast contains 8 database servers (with 64 cores in total) and 14 eXadata servers (with 112 cores). And an enormous amount of storage: 1400 times more than the largest iPod! I think it could contain all mp3's in the world...
An eXadata Server (officially known as the HP Oracle Exadata Programmable Storage Server) contains 2 processors with 8 cores each, 12 disks, Enterprise Linux and - and this is the coolest part - Parallel Query processing capability for every disk. By bringing processing capability close to the storage, the amount of data going through the wires from a storage server to a database server is dramatically reduced - because results are passed instead of datablocks. Because of this architecure the performance will remain the same as the database is growing - just add some more servers and it will be fine. So this is the last piece of the grid-puzzle: Next to Fusion Middleware grid and Database Grid, Oracle can provide us now with Storage Grid.
The performance of this thing is gigantic: tests proved that queries will run 10 to 50 (!) times faster than on current available hardware.
And now ofcourse the closing question: What does it cost?
A Database Machine costs $650,000 - which is $4,000 per terabyte, and that is much cheaper than other storage around. Apart from that there is 'some' license involved for the software : $1,680,000 (and surely an annual fee of 15% of that amount). So it's not for free...but it can replace a room full of yout current hardware!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Moscone South Room 309, a really big (300 cap.) room with a stage and a giant screen. There were about 40 people attending my session and it went fairly well. I wasn't too nervous and I ended the presentation in 50 minutes, including some Q&A. After the session some people came up in front to ask some extra information and I also got some positive feedback from Francis and Raj. Most questions where related to Can I have to code? So here we go: For the explanation of the Drag & Drop feature I showed you can also take a look at Rutgers blog. That part of the application is also available apex.oracle.com. If you use Firefox and Firebug it's easy to see the javascript that does all the work. If you want to have it in a single file, please leave a comment using your e-mail address or send me an e-mail directly (look at LinkedIn or my complete profile). I promise I will upload the generic LOV solution to apex.oracle.com next week - I'll write a post about is as well.

The X is coming,,,

I don't know who or what X is, but it surely has to do something with Larry's keynote. From a reasonable reliable source I heard that Larry is gonna announce something that will shock the world.... Tomorrow we will know what X is (and if my source is reliable)...

Monday, September 22, 2008

OOW2008 - Monday : What's buzzzzzing round here?

Today Charles Phillips and Chuck Rozwat created a new buzzzword : Oracle Beehive. The Beehive is all about Collaboration in a Web2.0 environment. Communication using e-mail, wiki's etc. and Coordination like calendars, contacts and tags. The goal is to move from fragmentation - different kinds of applications and servers - to integration, so reducing infrastructure (and infrastructural costs). Using the exitsing Oracle Infrastructure, Beehive is intergrated, secure and open, making users more productive. It seems alike a total new version of Oracle Collaboration Suite.

Let's see where this buzzzz is leading to. Oracle docs are online.

The keynote had even a small Dutch part; Jan Muchez, the CIO of KPN, spoke some words about the use of the Telco industry application within KPN.

OOW2008 - Sunday

Due to the jet lag this Sunday had a very early start. I was wide awake at 5:oo AM, so I had a long time to check my e-mail, take a shower and eat a full American breakfast. After registering for the conference it took about 5 minutes to walk into someone I know...it's a small world after all.
For me the conference started with a Hands-on-Lab : Extending the APEX Framework with Web 2.0. To me there where just a few new features mentioned in the handbook, but I guess most people didn't finish all examples within an hour. The handbook will be available as an OBE within a couple of weeks. The next session was on Achieving ROI with Oracle Database 11g and APEX. It was about a new application Harvard Pilgrim needed to offer health insurance to individuals. Instead of taking 1000's of phone calls, they decided they needed an on line self service application - and built it in APEX. Another good example how you can build an application with APEX in less than a month. You can find the application here.
After that Joel Kallman presented on Globalization with APEX. Apart from Java (with resource bundles) and .Net (using resource files), in APEX you can do the translation after the development. It needs just 6 easy steps: Map, Seed, Export (to XLIFF), Translate, Import/Apply and Publish. The translated versions of an application are replica's from the original one (with their own application id). You can only make changes to the original application. After changes you just have to make the additional translations and (re)publish the translated one. Live has never been so easy. One free tip from Joel : Create your database using the AL32UTF8 character set, so you can easily handle all languages... Examples of multi language APEX applications are BioQuebec and ProMed. He also announced some new APEX 4.0 features, but I will collect all those features for a separate post.
After the session about Weird PL/SQL by Steven Feuerstein and the - funny political - keynote by Carville and Matalin I went to the Blogger meetup. Allways good to match names and faces...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Green on Red

Sunday morning 6:00 AM and I'm wide awake in a nice hotel in San Francisco. That's what they call a jet lag. The Show is starting in a couple of hours, the first session is at 10:30. The whole conference is 'going Green', so no hand outs and as less paper and plastic bottles as possible. And during OOW San Francisco is going Red, with red Oracle banners on taxi's, buses, pavements and lamp posts.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

AMIS Pre-OOW session

Last Thursday AMIS organized a pre-OOW session for the major part of the Dutch presenters on the upcoming OOW. There were nine sessions, divided into three parallel tracks. In one of the tracks I had to go up first. It was actually the first time I did my presentation, and it went rather well. There were some useful comments on the evaluation form that I will use in the actual session next Monday at 13:00 (session S301752 - there are still some of the 300 seats available!). After a good dinner I attended the Designer2APEX migration session by Douwe Pieter van den Bos. He showed us what his company achieved on the migration path from Designer to APEX (if you can read Dutch, take a look at his blog). The last session I attended was by Marco Gralike about XML-DB. I'm not really into this subject, but it was interesting tough to see what problems and solutions he encountered using XML-DB. On the AMIS blog there is also a review of some presentations of that evening. AMIS, thank you for the good opportunity to practise!
Up to the grand finale next week!

"Pro Oracle Application Express" is shipped

This morning I received the message that the long awaited book Pro Oracle Application Express by John Scott and Scott Spendolini is shipped. I ordered it on December 28, 2007, and now, after nearly a year, I expect to get my hands on it soon. I hope it will be worth waiting for....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2009 : Call for Abstracts

While Kaleidoscope 2008 is just around the corner (at least, that's how it feels), you can submit an abstract for the 2009 version already! Kaleidoscope 2009 will be held in Monterey, June 21-25. Abstracts must be submitted before October 15, so you've got one month to come up with some creative lines of text. My recent experience is that Kaleidoscope is a great conference with very good content and a lot of opportunities to network with Oracle peers from all around the globe. Take a look at the Kaleidoscope website for all detailed information.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Chrome : Shiny and/or toxic?

Yesterday I installed Google's new toy: The Chrome webbrowser. The looks are very slim as it's using your full screen, nice fonts, no needless borders and I really like the tabs at the top! So it's shiny like chrome...
And Google claims that Chrome is also very fast. Indeed a lot of pages seems to render more quickly than FF or IE did. But I also noticed that on some sites pictures or other more advanced/heavy features are shown half or aren't loaded at all. That way it is easy to claim to have the fastest browser...
But remember how Google earns it's money! It sells adds on their search pages. The better the advertisements fits the fervour of the searcher, the higher the number of hits, the higher the fee. So Google looks for the adds based on your current search...and your previous searches. I think they also record the results you click on (if you look at the source code of a search result page, you can see that the links are not 'just links', but there is also a javascript function executed when you click on them). But until now Google only gathers information when using their search engine.
But what happens when you use a Google browser? When Google can track all your internet traffic by their own browser, they can show you advertisements based on your complete internet history, so matching your fascination even better, and thus earning more money.
Remember, Chrome (or Chromium) is shiny and toxic (wikipedia)!
Or am I just being paranoid?

Hey, I'm in the Spotlight!

Just like all the other 'Suggest a Session' winners the OOW organization 'interviewed' me (they asked 3 questions by e-mail). And the results are on the official Oracle OpenWorld blog, right in the Spotlight!.

Monday, September 01, 2008

UKOUG 2008 agenda live

3 Months before the show starts, the agenda for the UKOUG 2008 is available on line. So you can view and pick the sessions you like on forehand. The organization committee probably will ask for 'ambassadors' for the sessions in a couple of weeks. That's a great opportunity to meet the presenters one-to-one. But be careful though, because last year I had to introduce Mr. Tom Kyte for an audience of about 1,000 people....
One shameless plug: My session, on '(Re)Developing a logistic application in APEX in the real world' is on Thursday at 15:05. You're welcome!