Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the UKOUG Technology & EBS Conference. The 3 days of presentations and social networking started already on Sunday evening with the ACE dinner - very well organized by Mark and Debra. Thai food combined with good company is proven to be an excellent combination!
Amongst all the tracks I picked the ones on APEX 4.0, Forms-to-APEX conversions and some DBA / CBO / SQL presentations.
One of the greatest (of many) interesting features of APEX 4.0 is - without any doubt - the Plug-In functionality. Anyone can define snippets of code that can be used in a declarative way in your application. By defining a Dynamic Action based on a Plug-In, you can probably do anything - only limited by your imagination! Plug-Ins are defined per application, but can be published and subscribed, like you can do with Templates. Oracle is planning to have a Plug-In repository at apex.oracle.com (or samplecode.oracle.com) containing the Plug-In code itself or a reference to it.
Some native Dynamic Actions will be native, like a GetData Plug-In: Think about a POST-QUERY trigger in Oracle Forms to retrieve and present data dependent on something you entered, like a location of a company.
More native item types will be added as well: Text with Autocomplete, Resizeable Text Areas, a new Rich Text Editor and the jQuery Datepicker.
The $60,000 question is of course: when will APEX 4.0 be available???
The APEX Development team aims at an hosted Early Adopter Release around New Years Eve. So that will be just after or even before....(all disclaimers apply). Of course the actual official release date is not revealed (they may not even know it themselves), but my bet is somewhere at the end of the first quarter of 2010.
Forms to APEX conversions
Apart from my own presentation (about Integration of Forms and APEX), there were a couple more handling this subject. Some of them handled the choice of the "best" development environment, while others brought up their experience with conversions of Forms to APEX. The most interesting was the one by the guys from Northgate who already converted 1,500 Forms to APEX and are in the middle of converting another 3,500 (!) Forms. They prove that APEX can really be an Enterprise Development Tool.
DBA / CBO / SQL presentations
As mentioned I also attended some non-APEX sessions, mostly lightweight DBA stuff. For the DBA diehards there were enough interesting ones to choose from - presented by the some of the most famous DBA gurus - , but I admit that a lot of them were probably way over my head.
The ones I attended (Tom Kyte, Jonathan Lewis, Piet de Visser) had all one thing in common: don't be afraid to overload your indexes with more than the minimal set of columns that you need to enforce data integrity and prevent unnecessary locking. You can achieve performance gain on query when you (sensible) add columns that you're using in where-clauses and order-by's. Of course maintaining these indexes (on insert and update) will increase overhead, but as long as you retrieve your data more often than you insert/update it, it might lead to an overall performance gain. You can even extend this idea to the limit, by creating an index containing all columns of your table (then you'll get an IOT - Index Organized Table). If the optimizer uses that index, your table won't even be touched as all data will be retrieved from the index.
But as always: test, test, test....
All in all it was another great conference. Thanks to all who put in the effort to come up with a presentation and all the others that made such great company!
Already looking forward to next year!