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[Oracle APEX 4.0] Team Development

by Douwe Pieter van den Bos on December 31, 2009 · 21 comments

There is, and deservedly, a lot to do about the next version of Oracle Application Express. APEX 4.0 is very much the way to take RAD development on the Oracle Database platform into the new decade and rightfully APEX is getting more and more popular. The thing I personally really start to like, while playing with the early adopters release of APEX 4.0, is the brand new ‘Team Development’ part of the APEX developers front-end.

It is now a while back that APEX development was merely for the small and not so critical applications, to be used by only a few people in an organization and developed by a hand full of developers who tended to know what they where doing. Nowadays APEX development has taken a leap. Very large, business critical web applications are being developed in this great Oracle tool. Smart guy’s who know the business work together with large teams of web developers and the development team consists of database specialists, user experience designers, PL/SQL code jammers, JavaScript editors and more and more and more.

These large teams need to be addressed when developing in Oracle Application Express, or any other tooling for that matter. The new version of APEX, 4.0, seems to do a better job at it. With the possibility for project managers, team leads and developers to edit and assign features, milestones, to dos, bugs and feedback into releases of any APEX application, this is done. Especially the potential benefits with the tools for release management, and therefore a great SCRUM approach to APEX projects, are to be considered.

It seems that APEX will become a great all in one project tool for delivering web applications.

[Oracle APEX 4.0] Team Development, 3.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Brookes January 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Actually, I’ve been working with a large client for the last 18 months developing in Apex in a Scrum environment, and even in these pre-4.0 days it’s the perfect tool for Agile. I just think the team development aspects of 4.0 will just make it smoother.

Reply

Frank Dorst January 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Hi Paul,
Can you eleborate a bit on this? What are you developing? Is it an internal project for you own organization? What is the team size? How did you organize this projects? Do you have any lessons learned you can share?

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Paul Brookes January 6, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Hi Frank,

I’m happy to oblige.

I’m a freelance IT consultant in the UK (specialising in Oracle DB and Apex development), and have been working with a multinational media/financial data provider for the last 18 months on a Scrum project to deliver a web based commodiity and energy market data application.

The team was made up of 3 on the backend (delivering database design/development, Apex apps, and web services), which includes the Scrum Master, and a further 3 to deliver the web front end (unfortunately not developed using Apex but an internal enterprise wide framework). I say ‘was’, as the team is now being replaced with a larger internal team of around 20 based in China and Thailand.

The project has been an ideal candidate for Scrum, as focus has been on delivering a number of data sets for different commodity or energy types each quarter to fit in with the enterprise release cycle.

The project initially started out as a traditional ‘waterfall’ project which after 12 months of design/development work had not delivered anything and that work was effectively scrapped. Within 3 months of a restart under Scrum with a new team the project had started to deliver and at 12 months had already delivered much more than was scoped for the original project. Of course, the business are extremely happy with the new approach!

Apex has been used primarily for data entry and ETL of a large number of disparate data sets, plus administration, etc. There is a large team based in Bangalore who use these applications.

Lessons learnt and random observations:
1. The business and team is spread across many locations (I myself tend to work remotely for the majority of the time), and in Scrum this tends to be frowned upon. Until recently we could get the core of the team together in London for all Sprint review and planning meetings, but with the core development team now in China/Thailand this is now impossible. So meetings take longer as communication is more difficult due to issues such as quality of comms, English as second language, etc. On the plus side everyone uses VOIP, IM, Webex sessions, etc, so the tools are there for collaboration.

2. Team size. 20 people is probably a lot for Scrum and from what I am seeing in the early days, there is a tendency to steer towards ‘waterfall’ approach, with more formal documentation and procedures being discussed. This is probably also a by-product of a new team who don’t come from a Scrum background being left to there own devices – ie the natural desire to veer towards the safety net of the familiar and away from the apparent ‘safety net’ less Scrum!

2. As for Apex, where possible it has been sensible to work with as much ‘out of the box’ functionality as possible, but this is difficult for many of the complex data entry forms that are needed. As you are no doubt aware, tabular forms are not the best to work with and to do anything remotely useful involves much bespoking. This usually involves a lot of Javascript development, but some awareness of the issues up front would mean that generic Javascript can be written for reuse across many pages. Version 4.0 looks to address some of the issues such as validations and dynamic actions on tabular form items.

I must get back to work, but I am happy to expand on this if you want, maybe post an email address?

Paul.

Reply

MFOConsulting April 7, 2010 at 1:34 am

Hello,

As an early Apex developper ( Apex 2.5) I found that the conversion of the old applications to Apex 4.0 is difficult because the product is not fully tested.

I created an account in http://www.tryapexnow.com for Apex 4.0 EA II and I discovered two main problems:

1.0 No people answering the “feedback” .
2.0 Any modification to an Apex application, produce the following issue:

Freezing screen unde IE 8.0 or others web browsers.
url: (18 items remaining) Downloading pictures….
no way to go out, only possibility: cancel the job on Windows Task Manager.

This is a big issue…

MFOConsulting-Geneva
mfo

Reply

Michel van Zoest April 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Hi,

APEX 4.0 is still in it’s Beta stage, so it’s always possible that there are bugs.
The problem you have with freezing screens in IE8 is something I haven’t seen before (and I work a lot on tryapexnow with IE8, Firefox and Chrome). Did you try to work with Firefox?

Feedback is almost always answered by the APEX development team. It’s just a little hard to find. You can imagine that they can’t answer everyone individually through email, because they are a small team with limited time.
If you want to review your own feedback and the status, login to your workspace and use the link that is in the yellow notification near the top of the page. http://tryapexnow.com/apex/f?p=4850:1:1033841218346690
From there you can click on “My feedback” or search through all feedback to find similar issues to yours.

Regards,
Michel van Zoest

Reply

MFOConsulting April 7, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Hello Michel,

I installed Firefox 3.6.3 and now all is ok, no more freezing screen!

But I always worked wit IE since the version of Apex 2.1 in 2006-2007 years !

Something does not work well with IE and Apex 4.0 when I have a connection to Internet (http://tryapexnow.com)

I still continue to work with Apex 321 on Windows 7 ultimate for the moment.

Do you have an idea about the official release of the Apex 4.x version under Oracle11gr1 or better r2?

I did not work with Unix-linux OS ?

Does your company do training on the Apex 4.0 product when released.?

Do you know http://www.sumneva.com and John Scott?

I still wait the book on Apex 4.x of Jason Williamson? (www.amazon.com)

I remember the early days of Apex 2.1 (2006) … And the wars againt developpers believing in Java language only.

At this time I was an Oracle DBA not a programmer…

best regards and hope to discuss again in your blog.

mfo

Reply

Foggiato Mike June 22, 2010 at 7:05 am

Hello,

Do you know when we can download the Apex 4.0 product?

Are they produce OracleExpress 11g r1 with embedded Apex 4.x ?

I tested the phase III and there is a very improuvement on the product.

The only issue: I have 3000 lines of sql code to import on my shema on Apex 4.0. this script contains all tables,triggers,sequences etc of my schema.

I don’t want to rewrite by hand this schema.
Do you have an idea to import schema tables on Oracle under Apex 4.0 in Amazon EC 2 environment?

best see you maybe for Apex 4.0 training somewere in Europe or US.

MFOConsulting
The only expert on Apex in French Switzerland…

Reply

Douwe Pieter van den Bos June 22, 2010 at 8:07 am

Hi there Mike,

Unfortunately APEX 4.0 isn’t officially there yet. Recently the apex.oracle.com instance got updated and therefore extensively tested, but it’s not available for download yet…

But: have a bit of patience because it can’t be long now. Nobody knows when, but I assume it will be within a couple of weeks. APEX 4.0 will be able to run on 11gr1, even embedded. I just don’t think that the 11g database will soon have APEX 4.0 installed by default.

If you upgrade your APEX instance you probably won’t loose all the database components like tables, views and triggers. The best way to go however, is to install APEX in it’s own database schema, so you can always upgrade without hassle.

So basically: there’s no need to rewrite anything, because you simply can reuse the existing schema. When using a completely new instance on something like amazon EC2, you will want to create at least two schemes: one for the database and all it’s objects, one for APEX. There are several products that you can use, like Oracle’s SQL Developer.

Regards,

Douwe Pieter van den Bos

Reply

Foggiato Mike June 22, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Hi Pieter,
thanks for your nicely reply on my small issues… My purpose was to test a big application with 45 tables on Phase III Amazon EC2 , I know that when release of Apex 4.0 will be ok , I for shure not loosing nothing… I’am just an old Oracle DBA … so these issues are not issues for me.
I stratecd with Oracle 8.0 … years ago!

best

mfo

best regrads

Reply

Frank Dorst June 22, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Hi Mike,
Thank you for your input and helping us make this blog active.

I just saw increased Twitter activity hinting on a 4.0 production release very very soon. Who knows, it may be tonight.

Please send me an e-mail if there’s anything we can do for you or any any questions. Or, just post it here. We’ll monitor.

Best regards,

Frank

Reply

Douwe Pieter van den Bos June 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Well, Frank, you where quite acurate; APEX 4.0 (like Peter also mentioned in his Blog) is here now! Today!

Mike, you can certainly try out APEX 4.0 on Amazon. Do you want to do this on your own Amazon instance or the apex.oracle.com version? In case of the latter: remember that the workspace isn’t that large, so there might be a problem with that.

Regards.

Douwe Pieter

Reply

Foggiato Mike June 23, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Hi,

I still testing Apex 4.0 since EA Amazon EC phase I, so now I’m testing Apex 4.0 phase III , and everithing seems going ok except the small workspace..offered by Amazon EC2. but no issues.

Wait final release (download) of Apex 4.0 Hope before Oracle Open world in SF California ( september 19…. )
All the best

MFOConsulting
Geneva-Swiss
mfo

Reply

Douwe Pieter van den Bos June 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Hi Mike,

Today APEX 4.0 is officially released! This means that you can download it at the Oracle Technology Network: http://www.oracle.com/technology/products/database/application_express/index.html

So, now you can install it on any 10.2 DB or up. Have fun with it!

Regards,

Douwe Pieter

Reply

Foggiato Mike June 24, 2010 at 3:29 am

Hi Pieter,

Fantastic…… I will organize very soon a seminar under Oracle French Swiss organisation on Apex 4.0 . 1/2 day overall presentation.

Are you maybe interested to participate as a “testimonial” Apex consultant?

There are are also IT members of http://www.iec.ch International Electrotecnical Company (standards IEC) who developped complex Apex applications since 2007…

I was the guy who convinced the IT dvlpt as senior DBA … staff to forget JAVA and COMPLEX FRAMEWORKS and to adopt: PL-SQL, Apex 2.5.. 3.2.1 – Ajax- Javascript…

Very initial hard work to convict “Java gurus…”. but the Financial Manager had no ISSUES to go from Java applications to Apex Applications : 60 % saving overall costs!

MFOConsulting.

mfo

Reply

Douwe Pieter van den Bos June 24, 2010 at 9:46 am

Hi there Foggiato Mike,

Sounds like a great plan and of course I would like to participate. I think it’s a good plan to do a seminar and I will send you my credentials to discuss about the possibilities.

There should be more people like you, convincing other about the power of APEX. Great!

Regards,

Douwe Pieter

PS: played all night with APEX 4.0, so excuses if my English isn’t that well… ;-)

Reply

Foggiato Mike July 1, 2010 at 2:26 am

Does someone know the release date of Oracle XE 11g with embedded Apex 4.0 ?

What is missing on Oracle XE is the Enterprise Manager plugin… but the product is free of charges.

MFOConsulting Geneva

Reply

Douwe Pieter van den Bos July 1, 2010 at 8:46 am

Hi there Mike,

there’s nothing certain on Oracle Database Xe 11g. Not even if it will be released at all… So, no, a release date is not published.

It would be great though…

Regards,
Douwe

Reply

Foggiato Mike July 2, 2010 at 3:58 am

Hi Pieter,

I just spended all the night to read your very interesting book on Forms to Apex converter tool…( Packt Publishing)

The application written with Forms and “spagetti” PL-SQL is hard to to convert and my provision “time” too much optimistic!

But this is a challenge and I found in the past others applications written by non professionals people!

All the best and I will have the opportunity to talk with David Peake if this person is in SF “OracleWorld” in september 2010.
subject: Official recognition of Product Apex by Oracle Worldwide… and release of Oracle xe 11g with embedded apex40 ( just a little dream) for people using to promote this “marvel” product!
Do you remenber the “first” days of release of Apex and the Mod_plsql DAD configurations?

all the best

MFOConsulting

Reply

foggiato Mike July 21, 2010 at 3:53 am

Hello Pieter,

To solve temporarely the Tabular Form issues with ADD button and SCROLL button , I change the standard theme (red) theme to theme 16 (blue) …

But the standard (red) theme is not OK!

I found strange that there no response from someone of Apex Oracle dvlpt team!

Are they working on a new build : 47 ?

For me is a bad solution to change the standard theme ( red) for all developped applications.

best regards

MFOConsulting

PS: At Oracleworld in SF 19.09.2010 there a lot of JAVA sessions…

Are old SUN staff ( JAVA) creating strong pressure for this “nightmare” developpent environnement?

Apex infra versus Java infra = 60 % overall costs saving in favor of Apex…

Financials CFO like… CIO don’t like… MFOConsulting … increase revenues.. smile!

SUN-Oracle : push JAVA .. , Java = money for Larry!

CFO : chef Financial Officers..
CIO: Chef Informations Officers…

Strange:

I see no sessions on APex 4.0 during this event.

Is David Peake present to OracleWorld 2010?

Any comments?

Reply

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