Looking back at our flight at Apex World 2016

7 and 8 March iAdvise was present as Diamond Sponsor at Apex World. For the first time it was a two day event. Because of the success last year, the location of Apex World was again the beautiful SS Rotterdam. Over the past few years, the event became more and more international. This was clearly seen in the language of the presentations. Nearly all the presentations were held in English.

iAdvise APEXworld 2016 Summary

A special thanks to Chris Amelink and Yvonne van Dorst for presenting their achievements in UX design and APEX. It clearly showed that users demand modern and intuitive software. Chris explained the digitalization revolution for a logistics service provider like CB. Yvonne gave us insights about the challenges that come with developing a UX oriented project in Oracle Apex. She also talked about the process they had to go through to come to a UX Design that made users smile. One of the lucky attendees was rewarded with an iAdvise drone afterwards for taking this flight in UX design with us!

Apex 5.1

The Oracle Apex team would have liked to announce the early adopter version of Apex 5.1 but that’s scheduled for later this year. However we did get a sneak preview of the biggest features in 5.1, unmistakable the Interactive Grid and Oracle JET Charts. Oh boy, are we in for a treat!

Interactive grid

This new feature definitely got Apex World excited. Anthony Rayner fully dedicated his keynote to show us what they’ve been working on. The Interactive Grid is a new region component, which looks like an Interactive Report but can behave like a Tabular Form if you enable editing. Actually, the whole is better than the sum of parts because of all the neat little features it includes like:

  • Drag & drop column position
  • Live column resizing
  • Profound support for keyboard interaction on headers and cells of the grid
  • Infinite scrolling option instead of pagination
  • Row edit options to duplicate, copy or delete a row
  • Master, detail, detail, detail, etc
  • Use any page item type of custom plugin for a cell in the grid

It uses a JSON representation of the data which makes it lightweight and much faster. Apex 5.1 will also include an upgrade option for Interactive Reports and Tabular Forms.

Oracle JET Charts

Oracle JET is an open source JavaScript Toolkit created by Oracle. They’ve used it to create their cloud applications and decided to make it publicly available. Oracle Apex 5.1 will only implement the data visualisation widgets from Oracle JET. There are no current plans to include other Oracle JET features in Apex.

This brings us new chart types such as a funnel, area, line and radar chart.

The data source definition is much easier because you can use any query and map the columns to the charts attributes afterwards.

The existing AnyChart region type will still be a part of Apex 5.1 and a new packaged sample charts application is included.

Smaller features

You may also expect these new features in Apex 5.1:

  • The color wheel is removed from the themeroller. Although it looked nice, it won’t be missed.
  • Live Template Options, accessible via quick edit in the developer toolbar. It shows you on the fly how a template option affects the output and let’s you save the changes.
  • The component view becomes a new option as part of the page designer. The current component view will be removed in Apex 5.2.
  • Warning messages when a user leaves a page without saving changes.
  • JavaScript messaging API.
  • Several new JavaScript widgets.
  • Simplified wizards.
  • Additional callback functions for plugins in the Interactive Grid.

APEX Community

We are blessed to have such a vibrant community worldwide. Many initiatives have started to help the community grow, spread knowledge and boost development via plugins and other open source tools. Multiple presenters pointed us on their initiatives, which we welcome very much.

The website translate-apex.com brought to you by Pretius which now host up to 35 translations for the Internal Apex Messages. Each translation contains a list of 464 translated messages, free to use in your Apex application. Also check out the two applications which can help you translating.

A guide to setup Single Signon using Kerberos for Apex by Niels de Bruijn. Steps for windows (IIS) and Linux (Apache) are included.

Many, many tools publicly available via OraOpenSource to make your life as PL/SQL / Apex developer a lot better. The logger tool for example was used by multiple presenters in their demos.

ORDS & JSON

Especially the second day of the congress many speakers told something about the subjects ORDS & JSON. Marko Goricki gave a basic introduction about JSON, compared it with XML and showed how to use JSON in Oracle APEX using the different API packages.

Colm Divilly had a technical presentations about the best practices and design trade-offs when designing a RESTful API. He explained these best practices and trade-offs using Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS).

Oracle REST Data Services is a Java EE-based alternative for Oracle HTTP Server and mod_plsql. ORDS translates URLs into a call in the database. The Java EE implementation offers increased functionality including a command line based configuration, enhanced security, file caching, and RESTful web services. Oracle REST Data Services also provides increased flexibility by supporting deployments using Oracle WebLogic Server, GlassFish Server, Apache Tomcat, and a standalone mode.

The major use cases are the ability to create RESTful Web Services and use them within Oracle Application Express. And as mentioned above it supports the OWA toolkit application and will replace mod_plsql.

During Colm his presentation it was mentioned that the ORDS version in Oracle APEX does not match the current and newest version of ORDS 3.0.0. The ORDS version in Oracle APEX is currently on version 2.0.6. Colm mentioned that ORDS 3.0.0 has all the  API’s and functionality to operate in Oracle APEX 5.0 / 5.1 and looked at the APEX team when he said that. Unfortunately the APEX team is not ready to implement it because it has still some technical challenges.

Dietmar Aust also talked about create RESTful Web Services using ORDS. He published his sheets and demo material for everyone to see and is available here.

If you want to learn more about ORDS then please visit the following URL’s.

Oracle ORDS Developer Guide

Getting started with RESTful Services

Real Application Security (RAS)

To make your APEX application secure there are different kinds of security. Keep unknown people from entering by using Authentication Schemes. Control which content your users have access to by applying Authorization Schemes. And disable url tampering by enabling Session State Protection. But how do you control which data your users can see?

Except from providing a where clause at application of view level, you probably heard or used Virtual Private Database (VPD) before. Oracle Database 12c introduces the next generation of VPD known as Oracle Real Application Security (RAS).

Dimitri Gielis got curious about the option “Allow Real Application Security” at the APEX internal workspace instance security settings and decided to investigate what world lies beneath this simple Yes/No select list.

RAS is a policy-based authorization model with users, privileges and roles. This empowers you to control table access to the records and columns in your database. It provides controlled delegation, effective-data support, negative grants, code-based security, function security and auditing. Within APEX the RAS session contains the application user, its roles and session context based on APEX user’s security context.

The benefits of using RAS in your application are stronger security, simpler development because of declarative policies, high performance access control by typical data access patterns within core database and simpler administration because of centralized management.

Dimitri also told us Oracle providing a tool build in APEX to easily manage Oracle Real Application Security. Go here to read more about RAS and to download the Real Application Security Administration Application (RASADM).

 

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2 thoughts on “Looking back at our flight at Apex World 2016

  1. Thanks for the update – valuable for those of us on the other side of the planet ;p
    I’d like to see more dynamic actions for modals and the ability to edit template options for multiple items at once (same type of course).

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About Menno Hoogendijk

Oracle Apex Developer @Qualogy