Wednesday, March 1, 2017

APEX 5.1 - Goodbye Component View

In Oracle APEX 5.1 it's possible to remove the Component View from the Page Designer.

From the Page Designer open the browsers console window and type the following code:

$("#componentView,[aria-controls='componentView']").remove();pageDesigner.storeTabsLayout();
This is a per user preference, and persists across APEX sessions.

For more details see John Snyders' blog, I've just repeated it here so I don't forget.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Oracle ACE Alumnus - so long, and thanks for all the fish

The Oracle ACE program has morphed once again, with ACEs at all levels now required to fill out their contributions in the ACE Program app (written in Oracle APEX of course).

The level of detail includes:
  • type of activity (presentation, book, article, blog, forum activity, tweets etc.)
  • substantiation (conference links, presentation links, book ISBN etc)
  • analytics where relevant (blogs, tweets)

Meaning the Oracle ACE program website is out of date:
What expectations does Oracle have of an Oracle ACE?
The Oracle ACE designation is given to individuals as recognition of his/her past contributions.
Oracle's only future expectation is that the recipient maintains his/her level of community activity.
Currently to maintain an ACE status requires 200 points of activity for a year.
I did look at entering my activity, but quickly decided it just wasn’t worth the time and effort to do so.

Here is how I calculated what I would need to do to generate 200 points using my typical activities:

A new presentation takes about 100 hours to write and prepare.
A decent blog post takes about 2-4 hours to write, a cynical one to rort the system takes a few minutes.

2 presentations (2*100 hours) presented 3 times (20 points each)             => 200 hours, 120 points
16 blogs (16*3 hours) (5 points each, unless mention "Cloud" for 15 points ) =>  64 hours,  80 points

So roughly:
6 weeks to produce content (spread over months of evenings and weekends)
1 week  to present content (travel, accommodation)

Direct cost to present content (lost income, travel and accomodation expenses) => 2 weeks salary
Indirect cost to family and work/life balance - incalculable.

Plus the time taken to record activities; all this effort for something that is just a nice accolade.

I don’t get any financial benefit for presenting, either directly or indirectly, it’s just my way of giving back to the Oracle community and sharing my insights. Similarly with blogging, I only blog when I’ve got something worth sharing.

I believe the ACE program contributions criteria will have the following impacts:
  • large reduction in the number of ACEs (probably the intent)
  • a number of disenchanted and disgruntled ex-ACEs
  • rules driven behaviour to maintain status at the cost of quality/integrity
  • ACEs predominantly coming from consulting/training firms with a direct financial incentive.

Overall I think I’m better off to not bother with the ACE program, hence I've now converted to an Oracle ACE Alumnus.
Instead I'll contribute when I have something worth sharing,  and use the time/money recouped with my wife and family.

So in the words of Douglas Adams, "so long, and thanks for all the fish".


Monday, January 2, 2017

Always read the latest documentation

Something that stuck in my mind from a presentation I saw several years ago was:

Always read the latest documentation, even if you're not using that version

- Connor McDonald

 So just before Christmas APEX 5.1 was released, giving me some new APEX 5.1 documentation to read over the break. Yeah - "get a life" I here you thinking.

Where I'm currently working we're already pretty current (Oracle 12.1 database, APEX 5.0), so I'm hoping I can convince the DBA to upgrade to APEX 5.1 reasonably soon. For me the case to upgrade is pretty simple - the application was built in 5.0 using declarative development as much as possible, has legacy features switched off, and only went live a few weeks ago, so not much data or users just yet.

Obviously reading the latest documentation is completely relevant in this situation, but why would you read the latest documentation if you're unlikely to upgrade for some time?

Here's a couple of reasons:

  • documentation improves with new releases just like code does, so you will often see better examples, improved content, or features that were previously un(der)documented.
  • by knowing whats in newer versions of APEX, you can make better decisions on how to build your application and thus future proofing todays solutions
  •  APEX 5.1 has quite a few deprecated features and desupported features, so knowing what they are allows you to start pro-actively removing them from your application now, even before an official application upgrade project kicks off.
I'm sure you can think of more/better reasons, so now you have no excuse - get reading!!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Oracle APEX - Performance tuning sequences


I've been recently reading about performance issues for sequences with cache values set too low.

  • Daniel Morgan www.morganslibrary.org, covers it in his ACE Director Performance Tuning Bootcamp presentation
  • Tom Kyte says "you would be amazed what setting a sequence cache via alter sequence to 100,000 or more can do during a large load -- amazed."
  • Simon Pane from Pythian goes into great detail in a blog post performance issues with the sequence nextval call. He also show to detect when sequences are impacting performance.

With APEX 5.0 nearing general release, I thought it would be interesting to see what the cache value was set to for WWV_SEQ. In case you don't recognize the sequence, it's used by the APEX engine as part of a calculation to generate globally unique ids for APEX items.

A quick check on apex.oracle.com reveals the APEX team have been thinking about it also:

select sequence_owner, cache_size, last_number
  from all_sequences
 where sequence_name = 'WWV_SEQ';

SEQUENCE_OWNERCACHE_SIZELAST_NUMBER
APEX_0500001006939179
APEX_04020020719290506

Interesting to see the cache size was set to the default value of 20 in APEX 4.2 and is now set to 100 in APEX 5.0. That's the "sweet spot" identified in Simon Panes blog also.

So, if you have an active Oracle APEX 4.2 instance, it may be worthwhile investigating..

Monday, February 2, 2015

APEX 5 EA 3 - Universal theme

Oracle APEX 5 early adopter 3 just came out.

I've been taking the Universal Theme Sample Application for a quick test drive.


I'm truly impressed by what I've seen so far, and a little sad at the same time..

Oracle APEX developers typically come from a database development background, so have strong database design and PL/SQL skills, with relatively few of them having strong web design skills.

In some respects, this has held back the adoption of Oracle APEX in organisations. Developers have been able to quickly build useful and functional web applications using the provided themes with relative ease.

Functional Lada
Sexy Veyron Super Sport
Trouble is "functional" websites don't evoke the same emotional experience as a "sexy" website, just like a functional car like a Lada doesn't evoke the excitement and desire of a super car like a Veyron (pinched from Joel Kallmans' blog).

Out there in "user-land" functional and practical websites don't engage our customers in the same way a visually appealing and well thought out interface does. The visual appeal of any website plays a vital role in user satisfaction. A visually appealing website give the user a positive first impression, and builds the desire to work with it.

Now thanks to the Universal Theme, having a "sexy" website is within the reach of every APEX developer. It looks fantastic out of the box, chock full of the latest UI components and highly configurable with little or no knowledge of CSS. With Oracle APEX 5.0 everyone can build web applications that are both functional and sexy.

To the APEX development team, I tip my hat to you and say very well done.

So why do I feel a little sad; it's always been a fun putting together a great UI for an application to transform it from functional to appealing. I won't get to do that so much now, it looks great already.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oracle APEX Listener is no more..

Just noticed the Oracle APEX Listener is no more.. it's now known as Oracle Rest Data Services



Notable items on the website:
  • Can be used for Application Express or any Oracle web-toolkit application
  • Apache Tomcat support is back
  • Default context path has changed from /apex to /ords, but you can change it back to /apex easily.