On Tuesday, March 25th the 5th edition of the APEX World event was held by the Dutch Oracle User Group OGh. It has always been the largest APEX only event in the world, but this year it was even bigger. Almost 350 people came to Zeist to listen to a group with some of the most famous names in Application Express.
To see a list of all presentations of this day visit the OGh website. Most presentations will be made available for download later.
The keynote was held by Joel Kallman, the Director Software Development at Oracle. Joel is one of the original creators of APEX in 1999 and it’s first production release as HTML DB 1.5 in 2004.
His keynote speech included an overview of the many new features to be expected in the next big APEX release 5.0.
The theme of this next release is “By developers, for developers”. So the main object of APEX 5.0 is to make it easier for developers to work with APEX.
This is shown in the new visual design environment that will be available. This designer will allow drag&drop of elements onto pages, edit multiple items at the same time, syntax highlighting and code completion to highlight just a few.
Other enhancements and new features include support for Modal windows, a new calendar region, enhancements to Interactive Reports (multiple reports on a page, pivot), a new universal theme, better security and much more.
To show a hint of what is coming, Oracle has opened an Early Adopters Release.
Like every year there were three parallel tracks with sessions to follow. One track included customer stories, another was a technical track and the third included all international presentations. I really had a hard time choosing between all these sessions, but I found a good mix between all three tracks.
In the International Track I visited the sessions by Martin Giffy D’Souza, Denes Kubicek and Dietmar Aust. I learned a lot of new things about HTML5, APEX Deployment strategies and reporting with APEX.
A great example of a customer case was explained by the Billiet company from Belgium. They now have a B2B webshop built in APEX that fully integrates with their existing ERP system. It includes many cool features like Google Maps integration, multiple languages and multi-level authorization. A very good example of what is possible with APEX nowadays.
The final session of the day I visited, was the open microphone session “Ask The Experts!” where a panel including Joel Kallman, Martin Giffy D’Souza, Dimitri Gielis, Roel Hartman, Denes Kubicek and Peter Raganitsch answered questions from the audience. These questions varied from students asking where to start to learn APEX to very high-level technical questions. A great session that gave the audience as well as the panel a lot to think about.
In his opening speech, Robin Buitenhuis, the chairman of OGh, hinted at the possibility of APEX World becoming a two-day event as of next year. In my opinion this would be a good way to get more people involved and have more sessions. Like every other year that I visited APEX World, I sometimes had to choose between 2 or even 3 equally interesting sessions that I would loved to have seen. So if this new setup will give me a chance to see even more sessions, I am all for it.
In one way APEX World can still grow. It has mostly been a developers event in the past five years. It’s seldom that customers that are not presenting a case visit the event. In my opinion it would be a good idea to find a way to gain more attention from those companies, so developers and customer cases can show the possibilities of APEX to a new crowd that is not using Application Express yet. If APEX World would become a two-day event, there certainly is room for that.