Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review: Pro jQuery for APEX

Pro jQuery in Oracle Application Express. Scott Wesley. 2015. APRESS. 221 pages. [Source: Safari Books Online]

I've been absent from the APEX world for about 4 years.  In that span I've missed quite a bit of Oracle APEX 4 including new features of AJAX and the use of plugins.  Now I find myself trying to play catch up in the whole new world of Oracle APEX 5.0.

Through my searches for solutions and participation in the Oracle APEX community forum I came across an excellent website which is the APEX blog of Scott Wesley.  Browsing through Scott's blog I found very helpful and instantly relevant posts such as Improving PL/SQL performance in APEX.  I also read the abstract for a training class that he was holding on jQuery and Dynamic Actions.  Although I wanted to attend the training course, Perth, Australia is a long way to travel from Hawaii for a 2 day training course.  So that's when I discovered that he wrote the above book which covered some of the same topics that are covered in his class.

Who should read this book?:  In my opinion, a working knowledge of APEX and PL/SQL is essential.  This is not a book for someone who doesn't know Oracle APEX at all, but more for someone who would like to gain better knowledge of and learn tips on how to interact with the APEX DOM model and javascript APIs. 

What's so good about this book?: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this is by far the best APEX book I've read.  Why?  I guess mostly because I fall into my description of who should read this book.  I'm an experienced PL/SQL & APEX developer, but I have long struggled with CSS and trying to control the layout and look and feel of APEX.  Scott does an excellent job of not only presenting examples of how to change certain things, but more importantly, he aims to teach the reader how to use debugging tools to figure it out for themselves.  Moreover, he also delves into the inner workings of the APIs behind the scenes that Oracle APEX uses in transactions.  A little more than I needed to know, but it's always nice to have that information in your back pocket for when the situation arises. The reading is easy and most of his topics covers solutions you probably were already looking for (ie highlight a report row on click, change the value or style of an item using a dynamic action, etc..). 

Not so good about the book?: At times I found that I wished there was a more comprehensive example during my reading.  That being said, I did appreciate that the examples were short and concise.  With my experience level I feel that I could definitely get his examples to work with a few extra minutes invested because of the lack of details in some areas.  But that's also why I wouldn't recommend this book for beginners.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hello World!

In my experience as a consultant, I've found that the perceived success or failure of any project most times comes down to properly or improperly setting the expectations of the client.  So what can you expect from my blog?  Honestly, I'm not really sure...Obviously I'm new to this blogging game so you can expect a lot of mistakes for sure, so please be kind.  OJT at it's finest.

I can tell you that if you've come for groundbreaking and innovative solutions using cutting edge technologies with Oracle APEX, you've come to the wrong place.  What I envision using this blog for is kind of an index of useful solutions and ideas not only for myself, but for other APEX developers out there.

I named this site Simply APEX as a reflection of my theory of APEX development.  That it's in everyone's best interest to try to remain within the constructs of the product as much as possible.

I spent a large part of my early career developing with a custom Oracle PL/SQL htp development framework called "The Framework" that in many ways worked just like Oracle HTMLDB.  It worked great and the clients loved the custom applications that I was able to build for them.  However, when you use a proprietary tool for development, they have no choice but to use your services for bugs and upgrades.  This poses a major problem for your clients when you decide to leave to pursue other opportunities.  When Oracle released Oracle APEX 3.0 I was blown away.  After evaluating the product and the new features I decided that it was a prudent decision to convert all my Framework clients to use Oracle APEX.  It was a no brainer.  All my colleagues had left Oracle Hawaii and I was a team of 1 supporting an application framework that provided the same functions as a product supported by a team of professional developers.  I never regretted this decision because I left all my clients in a position to continue using their custom applications for years beyond my time at Oracle.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that customizing is cool and fun, but hard to support.  So I've made a conscious decision to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).  And why not?  Have you seen APEX 5.0? Universal Theme?  Oracle certainly has a capable team of developers that will continue to build and enhance this wonderful product.

Hopefully, I can at least help the newbies out there and provide simple solutions for simpletons like me.