Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Creating a Cool Dashboard in APEX

In my current project I have to create a dashboards that reflects the actual (and historical) situation in a factory. At first I tried something like the dashboards Anychart provides on it's site, like this. It is possible to create that kind of stuff in APEX, but then you have to generate all the XML data by yourself. And the fastest way to do something is...don't do it at all.

So, since the subregion-feature of APEX 4, you can achieve the same results by only tweaking the Chart XML itself a "little". And now I have something like this:
Kinda cool huh? I also created an example on apex.oracle.com (refreshes every 3 seconds with random data).

Friday, December 03, 2010

UKOUG 2010 Recap - Wednesday

Wednesday I started late, because I skipped the first session to prepare for my second one "Tales from a Parallel Universe: Using 11gR2’s Edition Based Redefinitions". Went also pretty good as well I think, ended nice on time - even, again, with a session chair. And I received some really positive feedback from people like John King and Christian Antognini. Thanks guys!
Then there was a funny debate kind of session between Tony Hasler and Jonathan Lewis about "Does Oracle ignore hints?". In the end it was all about semantics...if you discard bugs, poor or wrong documentation and more or less hidden features and unexpected optimizer processes, Oracle never ignores your hint (which in fact is more a 'directive' than a hint) - otherwise you might say that Oracle actually does  ignore your hint.
After lunch - instead of the good hot lunches we received a school-like lunch bag this time - I chaired my second session : "Edition-Based Redefinition: Testing Live Application Upgrades (Without Actually Being Live)". Because I already was familiar with the subject at hand, there wasn't very much new stuff in there - but I am always curious to see if I missed someting in my own presentation...
The last session of the event I attended was "Still using ratios" by my colleague Piet de Visser. Due to the worst time slot of the week - and the weather -  there were only a few attendees (around 10). The content was good though. He should have the chance to redo that presentation on a better time!
Then the people that didn't left Birmingham (or couldn't) all winded down in All Bar One and O'Neills for some final drinks and talks.
All in all again a good conference qua content and attendees. Always good to catch up with people you only met a couple of times a year during this kind of events. Hope everybody made it back home eventually and already looking forward to the 2011 edition of the conference!

UKOUG 2010 Recap - Tuesday

Tuesday started of with a two hour Masterclass by Cary Millsap "Thinking clearly about performance". A really great session that explained clearly what performance actually is (so the content covered the title). Using with a lot of nice stories, examples and analogies Cary has the ability to explain stuff that seems difficult in a way everybody can understand. If you haven't seen this one, it is really a must see if you have the chance!
Because the next session on my agenda was shifted to another place and time a had some time to walk through my own presentation for that afternoon before attending the APEX Roundtable. A nice Q&A about what all APEX stuff. Some person from Oracle even gave us some insight on when to expect APEX 4.1, but I won't repeat the schedule, because he actually was not allowed to say that (but if you are really interested, I already tweeted about that...).
After lunch I chaired Anthony Ashton's session about "Practical Oracle 11g XML from a developer’s perspective". It contained a thorough explanation of the difference in the deprecated and new ways to handle and query the XL stuff in an Oracle Database. Also there is some open source stuff they created out there for creating PDF's and Reports called FoxOpen. If you have some time, you might want to check it out!
Then I prepared and ran my session about "Creating a subzero dashboard Plugin for APEX with Google Visualizations" - probably one of the longest titles around. Went pretty well I think. I thought I ended exactly on time, but afterwards I realized I ended exactly 5 minutes late... That's the consequence of not having a person charing your session...
The last session of the day was by Iloon Ellen called "Security within Application Express". Good content that emphasizes that you need to think about your security thoroughly. APEX in itself is secure, but developers can make every application insecure!
After some drinks in the exhibition hall we went to the ACE Dinner where we had some good Indian food and I had nice talks with my co-eaters: Sten Vesterli, James Morle and Dave Kurtz. 

UKOUG 2010 Recap - Monday

Compared to some other attendees I had a fairly easy travel back home from another great UKOUG conference. And now I finally have the time to look back and write a blog post about my experiences over seas. As usual I planned to do a daily blogpost, but - also as usual - I can't find the time during the conference to blog. All those "social commitments" in the evening...sigh... 
I'll split it in three, otherwise it will become too long.

At Monday I started of with Grant Ronald's "The Quick Start Guide to Fusion Development with Oracle ADF". A good session that covered baby's first steps in ADF Development. As always, as Grant shows is, it seems so easy... But, coming from a Oracle Forms/Designer background, to me JDeveloper is still a huge box with tons of options to me. But I think I've forgotten how impressed I was when I first opened up Designer - with also tons of options! So IMHO developing in JDev might be fast (and definitely can result in really cool and useful applications), but you need "some" time getting acquainted with the technology and the toolset. So take your time! (I never said it was easy).
The second one I attended was "Oracle Business Rules 11g – Capture & Implementation". With only 6 people in the room, I admire the presenter on his enthusiasm! The presentation was more on how to drill down and manage from top level rules to a implementable version of the rules. I was hoping of a demo of BR, but alas, it was more about the management of the process than about the technique itself.
Then John Scott did a really good presentation (as usual) on "APEX 4-Building plugins". A nice one, with a lot of slides that were similar (qua content) to my presentation the next day... But especially the demo of the Plugins he build was cool. I really liked the non-flash charts plugin! Will be available "soon", as John mentioned - but we all know how often he has mentioned that when he was writing his book - just kidding, John ;-).
Then, after lunch, Steven Davelaar did his presentation on "Guidelines for moving from Oracle Forms to Oracle ADF and SOA". I happen to know Steven from a long, long time ago when I was working on a project that used one of the first versions of Headstart (around 1995!). His key message was: First look where you want to go, what your goal is, before determining the best way to get there. So don't look at conversion or migration tools before you've decided on your future architecture! Too often the goal is led by the tool... And I really liked his emphasis on creating a "thick" database: Move all your business logic from Forms to the database before moving on! Never trust the "higher" layer, doesn't matter if it is .Net, APEX, ADF or Forms, always enforce your data integrity and quality in your database! You might as well do that in the UI as well, but that is more from a user friendliness perspective.
Next I had planned a session with Pete Finnigan, but he got stuck in the snow somewhere, so I changed my plan and attended "Is APEX the new Forms?" by a guy from PITSS. To start with the answer he gave: "Not yet". But IMHO the question is irrelevant. He would only answer that question with a sound "Yes" if he could mimic all Forms functionality in APEX. But that is not the way to go. APEX and Forms are two completely different things - they only share the same database! Don't even try to recreate all Forms triggers in APEX. You'll end up with an application that scales the same way as Forms does (not very good) and is far more complex than it should be. And, in the end, you have spend a lot of money and the result is the same thing you had before. So where's the business case in that? And also there was no real demo: Why not show the whole conversion process "live"? That might have made me just a little bit interested... If this was a sales pitch, it was not a very good one...
My last "real" session was SQL a Weird and Wonderful Language. A nice session with lots of examples on how SQL doesn't always behaves in a way you might expect. And also some hidden and undocumented functions passed by...
Alas, John Scott's presentation on the different APEX listeners didn't make it in real - seems a good subject though for a next conference!
And then it was time for the keynote, the pantomime with the "shaving of Doug" (search Youtube on that) and the drinks. And after that, I attended the APEX meetup. Very well organized by Ben (a.k.a. Munky) and he even made it there - a little late due to the snow on the Island of Man... It was good to meetup again with around 20 people. But watch out for the blower in the mens toilet in Pennyblack's ;-) - if you want to know about that, ask John.