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Results Oracle Forms Survey

by Frank Dorst on October 1, 2011 · 7 comments

After reading about the results of a German survey on Forms usage, we decided to test if the results would be similar outside the German marketplace. We published our own Forms Users Survey and received 131 replies.

The results are mostly in line with the findings in Germany. We do see some interesting outcomes.

Forms Users

With the first question we identify which versions of Oracle Forms is used:

What version(s) of Forms are you running today?

First of all, it’s of course a big shock to see that there are still sites running Forms 4.5 out there. But seriously, more than a third of all participants is running a client/server version of Oracle Forms. Most of them are running the highest version that still supports client/server. They have probably not upgraded due to the disruptive nature of upgrade to Web Forms.

A large group of users is currently on 10g. They will most likely upgrade, especially since premier support for Oracle Forms 10g will end this year on December 31st.

It’s hard to say why almost 20% of the users are running 6i or 9i. My guess is that they are thinking about moving away from Oracle Forms to an alternative development platform.

It is clear that Forms is been around for a while and most responding organizations have been running forms for a long time. The survey shows that over 75% of the companies have been building and running Forms applications for over 10 years and almost 40% for 16 years or more.

How many years is Forms used in the organization?

Forms Developers

It is not surprising to see that most Forms Developers have worked with the tool for a long time. 60% has 16 years or more experience and 12% even more than 21 years of experience.

Experience in years of Forms Developers

If programming productivity increases with experience, working for 16 years with the same tool will make a developer very productive.

We got a big variety of answers on the question “What are the 3 things you like most about Forms?”. The most mentioned are:

  • integration with Oracle database, everything is SQL, PL/SQL support;
  • stable platform, simple architecture, proven technology;
  • productive platform, cheap to develop
  • Designer.

These are in my opinion the “usual suspects” and the reason why a lot of companies have stayed with Oracle Forms.

The most mentioned answers on our “What are the 3 things you like least about Forms?” were:

  • old fashioned UI, difficult to defer from “standard” behavior, not really web;
  • bad integration with other technologies (i.e. Office);
  • lack of future for Forms, no more Designer…

The answers also show quite some frustration from the current Forms users. One responder answered: “where to begin…”.

Upgrade to new version of Forms

With 95% of Forms users running an unsupported or almost unsupported version of Forms, we asked if they were considering an upgrade. As you can see in the graph below, more than 50% is not.

Will you upgrade Oracle Forms?

41% is looking to upgrade to the latest version 11g, bringing them to a fully supported platform. Why anyone would upgrade to 9i or even 10g is beyond me. Maybe they use it as an intermediate step.

The future of Forms

So, with all this feedback, what do the participants expect the future of their environments to be. Are these organizations planning to replace Forms for application development?

The graph below shows that almost half of the participants indicated that they did not see Forms being replaced.

Replacing Forms?

However, of those considering to replace Forms, only half is looking at an Oracle solution – ADF or Apex. Apex is the most considered alternative (a third choose Apex), followed by “something else”. This is significantly different from the results in the German Oracle Forms 2011 Poll. In that poll, Apex was the least considered alternative. A third of the respondents that considers replacing Forms is moving to some form of Java, ADF or otherwise. It would be great to know the reasons behind these choices.

When asked after the feelings about the future of Oracle Forms, almost 45% had a negative sentiment and only 19% a positive one.

What is your feeling towards the Future of Oracle Forms

Oracle Forms 11g

For companies that continue with Oracle Forms, it is important that Oracle continues to improve their product. The final question of our survey asked what the top-priority enhancements should be for the next release of the product.

This was a free text question, so there were many different answers. Still a number of replies we given many times:

  • IDE improvements, like code highlighting, easy debugging etc.;
  • more modern user interface and UI options;
  • Designer;
  • stand alone runtime: “bring client/server back”.

It is clear that many of the long term users are longing back to “the old days”, while also looking for a more modern user experience.

Conclusions

There is still a vast group of companies and users on Oracle Forms. A significant number of them is running client/server and are faced with an “interesting” upgrade path if they want to continue with Forms.

Developers and customers are very experienced in running and developing Oracle Forms applications. They are therefore probably very successful and highly productive with the toolset. It is safe to say that it will take a long time before they can reach similar productivity with any new environment. On the other hand, many participants want to create more modern, user friendly applications. With the current versions of Oracle Forms, they will not get that. A forced move to another development platform will happen, if the business need for “Google-like” applications is big enough.

Although 50% say they will continue with Forms in the future, the sentiment towards the future of Forms is mostly negative. Oracle is still supporting and enhancing the product. So if Forms continues to deliver, why go to something else.

Results Oracle Forms Survey, 4.6 out of 5 based on 7 ratings

Ratings:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.6/5 (7 votes cast)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Stefan Müller October 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Interesting findings. A 5% adaption rate for Forms11g is indeed a bit worrisome and more or less confirms the other survey done on that very same topic.

Forms11g is a terrible beast to install on a developer PC … not to mention the incompatibilities with Windows7. Add to that that there hasn’t really been a lot of change ever since Forms9i that would justify an upgrade and the numbers about usage and new customers growth make kind of sense. The only reason customers update is to have a supported certified environment.

Reply

Frank Dorst October 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Check out the new 11g R2 release. It is supposed to tackle some of the technical problems you mention: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/forms/forms11gr2newfeatures-497502-en-gb.pdf.

Reply

Stefan Müller October 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm

True, just heard about it today – looking forward to give that one a try and see how much better things got.

Reply

David Roberts February 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’ve installed the 11gR2 developer twice (once sucessfully, once not).

As always the advice has to be don’t instal and configure, always install, complete the installation then configure with the batch file. I also chose on the second installation to use the JDK .29 release. ,31 was not yet available, and I’d experienced issues with .30 on another project.

Odly the default instance name was of a different format the scond time I attempted the install, presumably becaue I chose the install only option.

Reply

Francisco April 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Oracle should to hear its customers, we want a better IDE, the same IDE. I’m a sofware developer of 10 years in oracle forms development tasks.

Reply

Yalim K. Gerger June 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

Our product Formspider provides a new home for Oracle Forms developers. We kept what’s good in Forms and replaced what’s bad in it with modern concepts. Obviously, I am biased but I would like to urge you to form your own opinion about Formspider.

Reply

Frank Dorst June 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I know there are many alternatives for Forms, even targeted at Forms developers. Your product is probably very good, but we are not comparing solutions here. I think Forms developers have the choice to adapt new technologies from Oracle (Apex and/or ADF) or chose an alternative. If they decide to look beyond Oracle for a development tool, than the choice is limitless.

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