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.
With the first question we identify which versions of Oracle Forms is used:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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;
- 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.
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,