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Interesting finds in Oracle Forms survey

by Frank Dorst on August 31, 2011 · 16 comments

Oracle specialist Gerd Volberg shared the results of his 2011 Oracle Forms Poll on his blog Talk2Gerd. Nearly 1000 customers in Germany and the German-speaking countries completed the survey. You can read the full details on his blog (German version is available too).

The results are interesting and lead to some surprising conclusions:

  1. almost 40% of the respondents are (still) using Forms 6i. Although his survey didn’t differentiate between 6i webforms and 6i client/server, I guess they haven’t upgraded to a new version because they run in client/server mode;
  2. around 90% of the respondents have over 10 years experience working with Forms. The average was 15 years. This is an incredible amount of experience and it is most likely a main reason for the perceived “unrivaled” productivity of Forms.
  3. most site will upgrade their Forms environment in the (near) future, however over 60% is not considering to replace Forms.
  4. of all respondents that are considering to replace Forms, only a very small percentage will move to another Oracle toolset. Actually, 40% of the customers indicate they’ll more to .NET. Oracle’s ADF ranked third.
  5. Apex is not considered much as a next step after Forms.

I guess these answers could worry Oracle. 60% of the Oracle Forms customers are not going to replace Oracle Forms with something new. It is hard for developers to move from Forms, a tool they have many years of experience with to something entirely new and (at least in the beginning) much less productive. Not replacing Form is not a problem on itself. Forms customer are loyal database customers. If they however do replace, they apparently choose platforms like .NET or Java, with less ties to the Oracle database. Over time, this could cost Oracle also lot of database customers.

I did not expect these results and I’esponses, but it would be great to see what the results are in other countries. Please fill out our own Oracle Forms Usage Survey if you are currently using Orahttp://blog.whitehorses.nl/wp-admin/plugins.phpcle Forms for a production system. We’ll share the results on this blog.

The results and analysis of the Oracle Forms Survey are here….

Interesting finds in Oracle Forms survey, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

shay August 31, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Why should Oracle be worried that 60% are not going to replace Forms – it just means that these customers are going to continue using and licensing Oracle Forms which is good for Oracle.

Reply

Frank Dorst August 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Hi Shay,
You are of course correct that Forms users will continue to use the Oracle database. This is better than moving away from Oracle all together. Oracle has however carefully been pushing customers to move away from Forms (preferably towards ADF) They have done the same with their apps development. Fusion Apps is all ADF. Customers staying with Forms are not moving forwards, are continuing to use support and will most likely not be buying more licenses.
At least, this is my opinion. What do you think?
Regards,
Frank

Reply

Grant Ronald September 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Frank, I want everyone to be clear, we’ve been telling customers that if Forms meets their requirements then stay with Forms. Of course, ADF may offering something you may choose to adopt but I’m not pushing Forms customers anywhere.
I’m not sure what you mean by “not moving forward” and what license they choose depends on a number of factors – some are going for higher end license options because they want to adopt other features of the platform. For those who only exploit Forms they don’t need to go for high end license – surely a good thing for you???

Reply

Frank Dorst September 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Hi Grant,
Thanks for your comment. I am happy to see this response. You are off course correct that Oracle does not really push or force anybody to do something new. I have never seen anything like that from Oracle ever. A lot of customers I have spoken with, have “felt” pushed or were at least confused with what to do. I think most Forms customers will agree they have perceived a push from (Oracle) sales, consultants, etc. to “move forward” toward a newer tool set.
This survey is started from curiosity after reading the results from Gerd. And I see a lot of interest from our readers.
As for Whitehorses, we are into integration. Integrating systems, processes and end user experience mainly using SOA, BPM and WebCenter (not so much Forms as you can see). I believe in the business value of process and application integration. Using the assets you have to create something new. This can be done with, or without Forms.
Regards,
Frank

Reply

John Nagtzaam September 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Interesting to know why APEX is not considered as a replacement for Forms. And why Oracle is not pushing clients more in that direction…

Reply

Lake F. September 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Why not use apex to replace forms? A lot of reasons:
Apex does not allow more than 100 items to be rendered nor used on a page.
If you want to update more than 100 columns in a table in a form you have to figure out
how to implement that and handle the CRUD yourself.
Apex assumes generated keys. If you want to use natural keys it is very difficult to
get apex to do crud with that. I don’t even know if it is possible in a multirecord scenario.
Apex does not support aggregate keys of more than 2 parts.
Apex does not work in databases < 10.1.2.3
All work in apex is under the schema owner. Apex does not support user database permissions like forms did.
Apex has many attributes that are inefficient like fields default to 30 chars instead of
their actual size. These have to be corrected by the developer.
Session state is extremely hard to understand. This problem is nonexistent in forms.
Apex does not do relationships like forms and is extremely limited. Forms relationships are one of its best features.
Apex layout is not pixel by pixel. There is no equivalent to the forms layout editor. Instead you have to fiddle with html tables to lay things out. Definitely more timeconsuming and
difficult.
Apex dynamic actions are complicated and hard to understand cf just coding jquery
event handlers. The downside is the learning curve of learning jquery and javascript and the difficulty in debugging javascript.

Reply

Maarten van Luijtelaar September 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Lake,

“Why not use apex to replace forms? A lot of reasons:
Apex does not allow more than 100 items to be rendered nor used on a page.
If you want to update more than 100 columns in a table in a form you have to figure out
how to implement that and handle the CRUD yourself.”

>> When it comes down to pure data-entry I agree nothing beats the speed of Forms (yet). How many 100+ field screens do you have? moving to web means thorough redesign anyway imo.

“Apex assumes generated keys. If you want to use natural keys it is very difficult to
get apex to do crud with that. I don’t even know if it is possible in a multirecord scenario.
Apex does not support aggregate keys of more than 2 parts.”

>> solved in 4.1

“Apex does not work in databases > You did at some point upgrade from 8 to 9, did you?

“All work in apex is under the schema owner. Apex does not support user database permissions like forms did.”

>> Even better now, you can use either built-in security, create your own autorisation scheme, make use of VPD, create a “poor mans VPD”- solution yourself etc…

“Apex has many attributes that are inefficient like fields default to 30 chars instead of
their actual size. These have to be corrected by the developer.”

>> If you want to you can make use of UI defaults based on table definitons.

“Session state is extremely hard to understand. This problem is nonexistent in forms.”

>> What’s so hard to understand? everything you submit to the server is persisted waiting for you to make use of (or used by automatic processing) . And probably the most beautiful part of it: If your server was rebooted or was temporarily unavailable, you can continue what you were doing without any losing any of your current session state.

“Apex does not do relationships like forms and is extremely limited. Forms relationships are one of its best features.”

>> I agree on this one, however as I have mentioned above, moving from Forms to Apex will always require some form of redesign. Web and “client/server-like” are totally different beasts when it comes down to architecture/navigation etc.

“Apex layout is not pixel by pixel. There is no equivalent to the forms layout editor. Instead you have to fiddle with html tables to lay things out. Definitely more timeconsuming and difficult.”

>> you can make it pixel by pixel if you wanted to by creating a proper template. I agree in previous versions of Apex it was sometimes hard to intervene in the generation of some parts of the UI, but now I have yet to encounter a situation I could not alter/steer the way I wanted to. No need to fiddle with tables anymore.

“Apex dynamic actions are complicated and hard to understand cf just coding jquery
event handlers. The downside is the learning curve of learning jquery and javascript and the difficulty in debugging javascript.”

>> Dynamic actions seem not so hard once you take the time to see what is actually going on when you use them. besides, if you want to use something else for client-side UI manipulation, you are free to use something else (as well).

Regards,

Maarten

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Sherif ElKiki September 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Current technical specs of Forms can easily used by developers to carry out user demands
ApEx 4.0 plus Forms are enough for developers to do Web applications perfectly.
In my opinion ;Oracle introduced ADF to survive Java developers and face .Net framework !!
Even that will kill two of its products ; Apex & Forms, Oracle intentionally sacrifices with the great old sector of PL/SQL developers to create new sector of Java developers .
I ask Forms developers to resist this trial and do not convert their work to ADF to force Oracle respect them .

Reply

Frank Dorst September 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Hi Sherif,
Thanks for your comment. I understand where you come from. I do feel however that Oracle has great respect for the Forms community. Oracle gives continues support for Forms and even has released a great new version 11g. Other vendors would not continue the support of a “legacy” platform.
Still, we can all see that the “Oracle preferred” way forward is towards ADF. And that is a big step for traditional PL/SQL developers. So don’t convert yet (unless you absolutely need to) but do investigate Forms alternatives for future development.
BTW, the first (preliminary) results show that many respondents are not considering to replace Forms. So, you are not alone 😉
Regards,
Frank Dorst

Reply

Sherif ElKiki September 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Thank you Frank; Sherif

Reply

Yalim K. Gerger December 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Excellent article. We saw this trend as well and for what it is worth, we are building the Forms for the 21st century for the PL/SQL Developers. Our tool, Formspider, lets you build cross platform applications with only PL/SQL just like Forms. I’d truly appreciate your feedback on our tool. http://www.theformspider.com .

Regards,

Yalim

Reply

Mia January 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Hi,

Great article. It brought 3 things to mind:

1) I am also an Oracle Forms modernization avangelist. I have been able to make modern forms applications with migration. I have written a post on it in my blog http://oracleformsinfo.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/oracle-forms-modernization-teaching-an-old-dog-new-tricks/

2) We are holding an Oracle Forms developer Day here in Israel next week with over 200 developers so if you send me a copy of the survey I can pass it around there as well.

3) There is a very cool modernization / integration solution that allow people to run Oracle Forms via a mobile phone or webservice. You should check it out http://www.orasoa.com

Thanks
Mia

Reply

Cavid March 2, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Hello.
I want to use oracle forms.
What can i do, which applications i must download, install?
Thanks/

Reply

Frank Dorst March 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Hi Cavid,
You can find everything about Oracle Forms on the Oracle site (check out http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/forms/overview/index.html). If you’ve never worked with Forms and do not have specific customer requirements, I would advise you to make sure you are choosing the right tool. There are more modern alternatives that are most likely better suited for the business needs of your customers. If Forms is what you need, check out the link and have a blast.
Have fun,
Frank Dorst

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Adrian Youmans Putulonase May 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

It is also much too complicated for developers and consumers of apps to host web apps on a server that mobile device users can connect too.

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Stuart Fleming August 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I wonder if browsers will continue to support applets. If they don’t what does this mean for Forms Applications that are now sitting in applets?

I am sure Oracle would be secretly quite happy about it — gee, that’s too bad, but we have ADF and APEX!

I have chosen to learn ADF. The APEX sites I have reviewed just don’t impress me.

Reply

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