Monday, May 12, 2008

ApEx: What is it?

Surprisingly it seems, very few Oracle professionals know about ApEx. At WellCare, no one knew about it. Many others I have talked to have no idea what it is.

How can this be?

I'm hard-pressed to believe I am an early adopter. I like to think of myself as such, but perception and reality are two totally different things.

In a nutshell, ApEx (or Application Express, aka HTMLDB) is a rapid application tool that allows you to quickly build web based applications on top of an Oracle database. If I remember correctly, it was initially billed as the Microsoft Access killer.

It is also the front end for Oracle XE.

I've personally built 3 (professional, i.e. paid for) ApEx applications. One for my former day job with 350 pages (1.5 years to build and maintain), one for my fellow baseball alumni at the University of Florida, and one for my now defunct business, CABEZE.

I believe the question I get most often is: "Can you format it?"

Which I take to mean can you make it pretty or design it anyway you want?

The answer to that is a resounding "Yes!"

So, what follows is a list of ApEx applications for you to evaluate on style and design (borrowed from the unofficial ApEx wiki housed at shellprompt):


  • Dance Tunes - arguably the best designed ApEx application out there.

  • AskTom - We all know, or should know, this site. 40,000 page hits a day on a 4 CPU box.

  • Metalink - In my opinion not the best implementation of ApEx, but it's a busy site.

  • Shellprompt - host your applications here for a very reasonable price.

  • View other examples here


In summary, you can do with ApEx what you can do with any other web tool/environment. Want AJAX? Done. CSS? Done.

You're only limited by your imagination.

(Polls are fun...I'll stop apologizing for it soon)

Create polls and vote for free. dPolls.com

13 comments:

prodlife said...

A friend from the local user group convinced me to give APEX a try (well, it was HTMLDB when he convinced me). I failed to understand the installation instructions, so I never tried it.

Now that it is part of 11g installation, maybe it is time to try again.

oraclenerd said...

It's incredibly easy to understand.

1. Set up the HTTP server that comes on the companion disc (for 10g, 9i)
2. Run the script to install the schemas and objects
3. Configure the DADS.conf file

Voila!

Maybe I should post a primer on versions prior to 11g...

PaoloM said...

It looks to me that the current version (3.0) of DanceTunes.com site has changed technology and it is now using PHP instead of Apex.
Just have a look for yourself at the web page sources and look for "php"...

Time to remove it from the list??

Thanks,
Paolo

Paul Brookes said...

I can't agree more. For a product that has the top 2 or 3 posts on the Oracle TechNet forums it sure is strange that so many people in the Oracle arena have never heard of it.

I would like to see Oracle give Apex a bit of a push, but I expect they like to see these things grow 'organically'. Which is a shame, as due to it's pairing with XE, it really could be a genuine My-SQL killer. Imagine if all those hosting companies had Apex as an option, that really would raise it's profile.

John Scott said...

Prodlife,

Rather than trying to install it yourself (which admittedly can be far from straight-forward if you're not that familiar with Oracle), you could opt to use the free public APEX instance provided by Oracle.

It's available at - http://apex.oracle.com

It's completely free to signup and use and you don't need to worry about installing it yourself.

John.

oraclenerd said...

John, good point. The hosted version is a great place to get started. I always ran into the issue of "I want control!"

As it stands, with 49 respondents, only 14% of those have used APEX. WTF?

How is that possible?

JT - Rev$ said...

Interesting stuff. Looks like a nice tool for small/medium websites, maybe departmental stuff.

I'd still go with a nTeir approach for a large web site.

oraclenerd said...

define large? google, ebay?

prodlife said...

The installation instructions did not say where to find that HTTP server. They said something obscure like "install HTTP Server" or maybe even assumed I already had it installed.

I had no idea how to find an HTTP server or install one, and got stuck right at the beginning.

oraclenerd said...

@prodlife

That sucks.

I've had my share of woes with Oracle software. Three months into my IT career (with no formal education in it), I had to install the 9iAS. I must have installed/uninstalled 30 times (no joke).

The point of my rambling is that it's like the email with all the jumbled words, yet you can still read it...I think I do that with the Oracle documentation sometimes.

JT Rev$ said...

"define large? google, ebay?"

Now you're thinking ;-)

oraclenerd said...

Perhaps not...but I can't say for sure since I've not tried.

It's something I would like to explore more though...how far will it scale?

Sujay Dutta, PMP said...

I have been an avid fan of Oracle Apex and have been using for past 3 years. Check out some of the websites I have developed using this:

Philaelphia Cricket League: www.philadelphiacricketleague.com

Byers Station Home Owner's Association:
www.byershoa.com

More details on other portals at www.cricketclubportal.com

Thanks
Sujay