Monday, March 31, 2014

APEX World 2014

The fifth edition of OGh APEX World took place last Tuesday at Hotel Figi, Zeist in the Netherlands. Again it was a beautiful day full of great APEX sessions. Every year I think we've reached the maximum number of people interested in APEX and we'll never attract more participants. But, after welcoming 300 attendees last year, 347 people showed up this year. Michel van Zoest and Denes Kubicek also wrote about the event. Below is a short summary my experiences.

Each year, Joel Kallman, head of the APEX development team, sends one of his team members to our conference. This year Joel Kallman himself agreed to come and deliver the keynote. The title was Oracle Application Express 5.0 - By APEX Developers, for APEX Developers. This summarizes the essence of the next major release very well. All new features seem to focus on making the life of an APEX developer even easier than it already was. The interactive page designer, one universal theme, uploading zipped files, builtin syntax highlighting and much more. Also, the design of the tool itself has improved with all the fresh new flat icons in iOS7 style. Can't wait to download the new version.

The first parallel session I visited was Dimitri Gielis' session "Things I do in every APEX project". I was eager to hear tips from someone as experienced with APEX as Dimitri. I think all people in the room, from beginner to expert, will have heard a few good tips they can use for themselves. The only unfortunate thing was the sessions length: only 50 minutes. It looked like Dimitri had lots more tips to share. Maybe a part two in the future?

Peter Raganitsch talked about "Going Public - What to consider when the world has access to your APEX Application." After a great introduction of some of the quirks around the APEX url, authentication and the session identifier, he showed several possibilities for having human readable URL's, applicable only to public (non-authenticated) applications. I've read about several alternatives in the past, but his method of using a RESTful webservice in the APEX listener (nowadays: Oracle Rest Data Services) seems the best I've encountered yet. If you're interested, you should check out his blog for a 3 part series on this subject.

The next speaker came all the way from Canada to the Netherlands for us to talk about APEX & HTML5: Martin Giffy D'Souza. After a brief introduction about how the web evolved, and speed skating (the Dutch sure made an impression at the other side of the ocean), Martin demonstrated a few of the new native HTML5 tags. These tags makes the life of a developer much easier. Fewer plugins are needed and fewer compatibility issues should arise. Martin is a great presenter and his demonstrations were impressive, especially of the canvas- and video-tag. He left out some of the technical details of his solutions, but you can check them out on the OGh site, once the demonstrations and Martin's demo app are uploaded. On Twitter, Martin asked if he could bring anything from Canada for someone and received two reactions: maple syrup and a moose. The two respondents were in the room and received their presents on stage. The moose was a bit difficult to get through customs, so he brought a nice cuddly moose instead.

Dan McGhan's (from the USA) session was about "Using AngularJS in Oracle Application Express". He decided to explore a change in approach and use the MEAN stack (MongoDB, Ember, Angular & Node). In this session he showed how to use AngularJS for his planning task application, gradually expanding it, so we learned step-by-step what to do. The main thought behind the process was to describe the state and let the UI "just" reflect that state, without having to do roundtrips to the database, as we would normally do with AJAX in APEX. It is all done at the client side. This session won the price for most difficult session, but I liked it very much for the brave effort of presenting us something so refreshingly different.

Nick Buytaert and Christel van Aerschot talked about single-click deployment in APEX development. Even though I already listened to Nick's ODTUG webinar about the same subject, I had to attend this session, since it is a subject close to my heart. Fortunately, the session contained quite a number of differences with the webinar. Jenkins was replaced by the CI Server Bamboo and git took the place of Subversion. Both are somewhat new for me and I was especially impressed by the user interface of Bamboo. Nick and Christel told their story very well and the demos went fine, except for a brief "oops, I now installed it in production" moment.

I decided to skip the 6th slot to be able to chat with several people. I talked with Nick, Christel and David from Contribute about some of their challenges and experiences with single-click deployment and continuous delivery. After the conference a group of almost 20 people wrapped up with a dinner at the neighboring restaurant.

If you attended the event and are a member of OGh, you have received an email with a poll about the future of APEX World. Please make sure you fill it in, if you haven't already.