Oracle Apex–first brush and some niceties

Working on another project. This time it uses a relatively easy, and inconspicuous(at least for me) technology from Oracle®, that runs on top of the Oracle database. Known as Application Express, in short ApEx.

Basic Intro:

You can get the official information here… In my words, ApEx is a tool that allows you to build browser-based applications, running on top of the database and interacting with it, and all this requires no knowledge whatsoever of web-technologies(although HTML and JavaScript may help). It’s a RAD-tool, and it indeed lives up to this classification.

Features I Loved:

  1. Almost as simple as writing SQL and/or PL/SQL, with the added benefit that you get a GUI in your app with minimal effort.
  2. Greatly simplified model for an application:
    1. Pages: the basic building blocks
    2. Regions: contained within pages, act as containers for items. There are various types of regions: HTML, report, calendar, forms etc..
    3. Items: Actual items that hold your data
    4. Processes, Computations and loads of other stuff
  3. Wide range of items, that support almost any task you may want to do.
  4. Amazingly intuitive interface for designing and modifying your application..
  5. Drag and drop method of layout design if you’re into it.
  6. Subtle, well tuned, and close to exhaustive list of attributes for everything you create.
  7. SQL Workshop: Contains:
    1. Object Browser: lets you view all objects in your database, and their details.
    2. SQL Commands: the old and trusted sql command center. Run anything you want here.
    3. SQL Scripts: just in case you want to run a long list of commands, repeatedly.
    4. Query Builder: build your query graphically.

Tips(if you’re beginning apex)

  • Get to know the basic interface before you begin development.
  • Create a test application on a miniature scale to get a feel. You’ll save tons of time later on. Trust me!!
  • Keep a handy list of your database objects, or, better still, open up the object browser in ApEx while you’re working.
  • Follow a nice and handy naming convention for all your objects. Great time-saver.
  • If you want to do something with apex, and you can’t find a way, make a way. This thing is so customizable, that apart from changing the “nitty-gritty-html-javascript-css” stuff, almost anything can be accomplished with ease and some creative thinking.

Some Issues:

  1. You can have great control over most of your application, but the UI is still mostly out of your hand unless you’re willing to get down into the mud.
  2. Apex will add some overhead to the queries that you’ll run through it. Not much though.
  3. Creating an application is also through a browser, and this means at least some fretting over page rendering delays and stuff like that.
If you have an Oracle database, chances are, Apex can improve your efficiency in dealing with your database for simple tasks. Use it if possible.

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