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APEX Roadmap : APEX 4.0

Since 2006 I haven’t been developing by using Oracle APEX. As far as I remember version was 1.5 or 1.6 at that time. In time, I heard lots of great things about APEX from many people (maybe the most important one is Tonguc). So I have decided to attend Oracle Application Express 4.0 sessions at ODTUG this year. As Oracle guys have mentioned in their presentations, I will also stress that the things written in this post is just reflecting a direction. No promise that you will find all in the production release. So, here are the list of a few things thought to be available by APEX 4.0

Easy Way to Develope : Web Sheets

Even for simple form & report based applications (acutally it is a much general problem) the major problem is that users always ask for something different from what developers put on.It seems that Oracle APEX development will be possible by the actual users of the applications in the near future. With Web Sheets, Oracle’s aim is to let user to produce his/her own applications on APEX without bothering any developers. Builder and Run Time components of APEX are being merged within Web Sheets to let the development of dirty quick applications by users themselves.

For example, instead of a marketing guy sending a report to a sales guy in an Excel sheet (including some tabular data, charting, may be some input fields, etc in it) attached to an e-mail, he can simply put the report on intranet via an application easily developed on APEX. He or others can add some attachments, tags, comments on some data. Moreover, if the producer of the application or anyone else changes any piece of data, all chages will be audited. Even more they can add some notifications for their reports so that reports can be automatically sent to their e-mail boxes.

Obviously there are some differences in developing a classical APEX application and a Web Sheet. Here are just three differences between an APEX application and a Web Sheet:

APEX Application Web Sheets
Primary Key Maintenance Trigger or Sequence Automatically Managed
Page Flow Controlled by branches Limited
Look & Feel Themes & templates Basic Control

Declarative Way of Scripting : Dynamic Actions

One of the most popular things on web technologies is to put some intelligence on client-side by using cool AJAX stuff. The major problem in here is for such database geeks like me who doesn’t know anything about writing a piece of javascript. The basic idea behind dynamic actions is to allow developer to create client side AJAX actions in a declarative fashion without writing a piece of code.

Better Charts : Integration with AnyChart 5.1

When I gave up developing APEX, the only charting option you had was SVG (Support Vector Graphics). It seems that in time Oracle put another option of charting, namely flash charts into APEX. APEX uses the flash charts developed by an Oracle Partner company AnyChart. In version 4.0 the latest version of this charting module (currently 5.1) will be embedded into APEX.

Integration with Other Applications : REST Web Services

It seems that currently APEX does support SOAP Web Service calls from the applications you have built with APEX. By APEX 4.0, Oracle will also allow you to call REST Web services. Besides the architectural differences between a SOAP web service and a REST web service, the list of a few REST web services seems to be very attractive for many applications:

  • Yahoo Map
  • Flicker
  • Google Picasa
  • Amazon Products

And in the demo, Oracle guys show that how it is easy to embed a map into your application.

Extensibility : Plug-ins

Due to the fact that it is impossible /impractical to satisfy all individual customer needs, by APEX 4.0 Oracle introduces the concept of plug-in. You will be designing your own plug-ins by using bare PL/SQL APIs and you will be able to use it as an item in your applications and hopefully you will share that item for me (or the rest of the community) to use it. I think this is one of the best features and we will be using very fancy APEX plug-ins developed by many people just like the plug-ins developed for Firefox. In the presentation one classical example of these plugins was demonstrated. That was infamous star rating plugin

star rating plugin

Finally, I am pretty sure that there will be many more in APEX 4.0 when it becomes available. So hope to return back to development some day and meet with APEX 10.0 at that time J