Sunday, June 26, 2016

Kscope16 APEX Symposium (live) Log

The Kscope16 APEX Sunday Symposium is entirely dedicated to the upcoming 5.1 version, naturally.

Most of the information on APEX 5.1 has been presented at conferences earlier this year, but here at Kscope there are 7 sessions from APEX Development team, entirely dedicated to APEX, which makes this the single most important one-event source of APEX news.
Here a short summary of the, in my opinion, highlights from the presentations of the Oracle APEX development team´s presentations.

1) Shakeeb showing improvements and new features in Universal Theme 5.1

- Font APEX icons replacing Font Awesome. That is: you can choose, but the APEX team did a wonderful job on the APEX Font, like adding declarative icon modifiers (an icon with an additional small icon in the lower right corner) in a different color. This is not only easy to use and very beautiful, but very useful too. I like this a lot.
- Themeroller like enhanced inline modifying of template options of Page Items, Regions, …
- UT JavaScript events are available and usable. Great for someone trying to customize UT, as UT makes extensive use of adding/removing classes on certain events, like hover etc…
- An integrated button builder! Are you kidding? Love this.
- easy upgrade from UT 5.0 to 5.1, if you left your applications UT copy subscribed. Custom components will be left untouched.
- The UT sample application has been refurbished to reflect all the new feature. Very nicely done. This is one of my most favorite references, next to APEX API guide.


The direction the APEX dev team took when developing UT is continued with these improvements, making the APEX developer life more and more easy. There is a lot (very much!) you will get out-of-the-box with UT in APEX.

2) Marc talking about Page Designer (enhancements):

- Component view is now integrated with the new Page Builder IDE as a tab and not a separate page anymore. Legacy Old Component View will be deprecated in 5.1, de-supported and removed in 5.2. The new component view component is fully integrated in the Page Builders client-side mechanism.
- except for some improvements in UI of the attribute tab there are not a lot changes, as far as I can notice. I really would have liked to see some of the features that are currently provided by the browser-plugin-name to be integrated in this release, as these have been proven to be very handy and just give you this extra bit of productivity. The Page Builder, after all, is very click-intensive and will let your mouse run a lot of miles/kilometers and every additional shortcut is welcome.

plans for Page Designer beyond 5.1:

- components options tab in attributes pane instead of item in tree
- more intuitive editing when creating new components, instead of error in item/region, like having to enter a query.

3) Marc on APEX 5.1 Chart enhancements:

- AnyChart 6.2.0, HTML5 & flash charts, XML 100% compatible, HTML5 default, maps & gantt´s flash only, improved performance
- chart plug-ins with D3.js, Flot and JustGage libs in new packaged chart sample applications. Very impressive demos. Use as reference (for additional JS functionality too)
- declarative support for most Oracle JET Chart components, entire library included, so special charts, not decoratively included can be coded manually.
- Jet charts are default option in builder. Responsive! Query in region source enables multiple series to be based on it.
- upgrade path from AnyChart to Oracle JET-Charts, … with tools, not the plug-in examples


Charts in APEX 5 very powerful and nicely integrated with Page Builder.

4) Interactive Grid, Patrick

one most talked about and awaited feature of APEX of 5.1, the multi-row edit, next level user interaction component in APEX. The Interactive Grid (IG) is so packed with features, I will only log the highlight, which is still a lot:

layout and reporting features:

- simply configurable
- but still possible to write advanced customization
- multiple IG in one page (no limits), master-detail possible, master-multi detail, master-detail-detail, group by formatting
- utilize standard item types in grid columns
- using application upgrade wizard to convert/upgrade from standard tab-form and IA reports to IG
- can be used as report or tab-form. IA features/options brought down to a minimum, based on usage experience for IA
- functionality is fully accessible with keyboard
- column resize
- deferred query changes, allowing to modify multiple filters, etc and afterwards re-query the data
- possible to define column groups
- fixed header scrolling and optional endless scrolling (with AJAX lazy loading?)
- attributes to tackle common performance problems decoratively
- responsive, to some degree

editing features:

- edit mode enables row menu (delete, duplicate, add, refresh row …) and multi row selector
- changes (edit, delete, updates, adds) are not immediately submitted to server, user has to submit all changes at once.
- tab to navigate next/previous cells and up-/down-keys to navigate vertically
- textarea popup
- final release is planned with row cascading select-list capability. Yeah!!!
- improved inline-validations error handling
There is a IG sample application. Have a look at it!


This component is a mayor step forward for creating applications with APEX. End users have been asking and waiting for this feature. Developers have spend (far too) much time, trying to build just a fraction of these functionalities, resulting in avoiding tabular forms, and loosing the build-in features. I´m very excited to finally be able to use the IG in my projects. Very well done, APEX team!!!

5) Other New 5.1 Features

- inline error validation improvement: no page refresh
- client side validation for required items
- warn on unsaved changes, default enabled (for new pages), disable for items possible
- client-side data model, will be accessible in future
- asynchronous Ajax calls for dynamic actions and declarative client side (page item) conditions
- HTML5 multiple file upload with file type restriction possibility
- nice Yes/No item as switch (button group) and not select lists anymore
- build in dynamic actions for calendar component: (date/event selected, view changed); sample application has been updates with new demos
- calendar keyboard navigation
- JavaScript API to access FullCalendar library options
- Interactive Grid Item Type plugin support
- RequireJS included in APEX
- Read-only administrator role in builder
- remote Trace and Debug (handy for admin to check error at user session)
- Build Options default ¨excluded¨
- improved error page


Many of these features will makes the life of an APEX developer so much (MUCH) easier. I myself have implemented some of these features in every recent APEX project. Now these features are available declarative is great and proves that the APEX development team is growing and expanding APEX with the real-life development in mind. Bravo!

Friday, October 16, 2015

(Unconfirmed) New Features APEX 5.1


Following the news feeds on the internet, tagged #orclapex, a series of slides presented at a UKOUG event came along that I think are worth to get summarized in a blog post and shared with the community. It's a list of (unconfirmed) new features we could find in APEX release 5.1.

The list looks impressive. The APEX Development Team once again would prove, that development of APEX is much driven by developer/community feedback and customer demands.

·         Interactive Grid
o   Modern, rich & interactive multi-row editing
o   Used for Master > Detail(s), Master > Detail > Detail
o   Great for existing Forms customers, who are used to having rich Master > Detail blocks
o   Interactive Report style end-user customization, but better!
o   Mid-term goal to replace Interactive Reports, Tabular Forms and Websheet Data Grids
o   Fast, Responsive, JSON-based, lightweight AJAX communications
o   Using jQuery UI Widget Factory
o   Infinite scrolling with fixed headers and columns
o   RTL support
o   Accessible, with outstanding keyboard support
o   Expose all existing Item types for use in Grid Columns
o   Plug-in infrastructure enhancements to allow item plug-ins that can be used in this context
o   Declarative support for all APEX server processing; validations, processes, computations
o   Allow use of custom PL/SQL API’s instead of native DML processes, if necessary
o   Declarative support for Cascading LOV’s and Dynamic Actions
·         New Charts
o   New charting engine build by Oracle
o   HTML5 only
o   Responsive and accessible
o   Migration facility for existing charts
o   Same chart types as 5.0 + new types (like Bubble, Funnel, …)
o   Advanced customization available through documented JavaScript API’s
·         Page Designer Enhancements
o   2-column mode
o   Component View integrated into Page Designer
o   Create Component prompt for key information
o   Property Editor multi-tab mode
o   Property Editor search capability
o   Style and contrast enhancements
·         Greatly simplified Wizards
o   Fewer steps, more defaults
o   Attributes no longer exposed in wizards can easily be edited in Page Designer post-creation
o   Consistency across component types

If you miss a feature rich, interactive, drag-n-drop enabled, Excel-like data analyzing component in this list, no worries: you still can choose to integrate the APEX SmartPivot plug-in to greatly enhance your application, even when upgrading to APEX 5.1.
APEX SmartPivot Plugin

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Join me at KScope 14 in Seattle


My first ODTUG Kaleidoscope conference was Monterey in 2009. I was very impressed with the speaker lineup and managed to convince my manager to fund trip and conference. The conference was great in every aspect: Lots of good quality sessions, perfect food and lots of people to talk too. What I like most about KScope: it’s all focused on us developers; making us feel comfortable and creating an atmosphere, almost like you are a part of one big family. Speakers, fellow developers, Oracle development teams, everybody comes for the same reason: share knowledge. I was so impressed with the conference format and got to meet so many people, I decided to come back again. Another thing I learned: Being an Oracle developer for many years, I too have knowledge, people are interested in hearing and learning from. When the Call-for-Papers for KScope 10 was opened a few months later, I submitted 2 abstract. Unfortunately these didn’t get accepted and being busy starting up my own business in 2010, I had to miss that year’s conference. KScope 11 (Longbeach, CA), 12 (San Antonio, TX) and 13 (New Orleans, LA) I managed to participate again, this time as a presenter myself. Again, the events were perfectly organized and I went home with my luggage full of inspiration and ideas.

I’m already looking forward to present at KScope 14 in Seattle this year. It feels like a family reunion. I still think: this is one of the best conferences to learn, meet, expand your network and have fun at the same time, worth the money and 12 hour flight. It pays off for me, definitely.

Don’t forget: ODTUG is organizing an APEX Theming Competition his year. Winners will be announced during the conference. I was asked to take a seat in the committee to judge the submitted themes, alongside with Jorge Rimblas and Shakeeb Rahman. BTW: you don’t have to be in Seattle to qualify for submitting your work.

Visit the KScope site for information about the event.