Tag Archives: APEX

#Oracle cutting in inspiration and new business?


Over the many years Oracle has been leading the database world, I guess they are now taking something of a wrong turn.
Let me briefly fill you in on my thoughts.

Basically I see two “minor” shifts that are significantly indicative of this:

  1. Oracle Standard Edition 2
  2. Oracle ACE Program

Okay, so you might think I am crazy, but let me try to explain.

Oracle Standard Edition 2

Sometime last year, the long expected, anticipated…, dreaded perhaps even, change to the Oracle database licensing strategy was there.

Oracle Standard Edition (SE) and Oracle Standard Edition One (SE1) licenses were addressed.
There was A LOT of debate on this, I mean, A LOT. Discussions which ran all the way back to HQ, and were driven by passionate people inside and outside of Oracle, inside and outside of the Oracle community… To no avail.

It had been very clear for quite a long time that the SE / SE1 strategy was nothing short of unsustainable inside the Oracle licensing realm. Even though, Oracle SE and SE1 enabled many projects and customers to adopt the phenomenal Oracle technology for their projects. It has some limitations, but with smart thinking and smart planning, a lot of projects could be run with Oracle SE(1). “I am such a good DBA, I can even do it with Oracle Standard Edition!”
Alas, we now have Oracle Standard Edition 2 (SE2) with a new and upgraded price of US 17k (!!) making this solution rather out of the question for many of the projects meant in the above. Please note that SE1 already was a significant investment for some of the projects I have learned to know over the years in regions as the Baltics and Africa.
Yes, of course, I know you can do all of this “In the cloud”. But with the limitation that there are hardly any CSPs (Cloud Service Providers 😉 that enable you to make use of the “cheaper” Oracle license. If you want to leverage your local cloud vendor (mind my word-choice here) it’s BYOL (Bring Your Own License) and, voila, you’re done in for anyway.

Hence, the first significant “shift” in Oracle’s span of attention for new business, creativity and growth…

Oracle ACE Program

More recently there was also a change in the Oracle ACE Program. Which has also led to much debate. But… that bit of the change I am not referring too, I am referring to the bit that does not affect me directly…

Oracle has a small number of very highly appreciated and “industry leading” community advocates called “Oracle ACE Directors”. These people not only have a deep knowledge of everything that is happening in this corner “of the industry”, but are also very passionate about sharing this knowledge. Sharing with Oracle Users, sharing with stakeholders within the Oracle organization, basically, with everyone with a hunger for knowledge around the technology.

For this, these Directors had a few privileges. When the invested their time and their energy in traveling this globe to share, Oracle would support them in some of their travel expenses. This always had the air of “wow, they are paid”. Believe me, it was bare minimal support, just a flying ticket and a hotel-bed to a previously approved conference, when they actually were accepted to do a talk. Nothing shiny, nothing business-classy…

Until now. With the changes to the system, also these modest privileges for the Directors have seized to be.

There was my second significant “shift” in Oracle’s span of attention for new business, creativity and growth…

It has me worried… I should not worry, as it does not affect my day-to-day business… yet.

Albeit we have this cool tech, with PL/SQL, with APEX, with all the features, options and what not, to create solutions that could really better the word (I also firmly believe this).

Oracle is just closing this door, and my toes were still in the doorway, so that hurts.

This was my rant, hope it helps.


#DOAG2016, definitely a crazy week.

#DOAG2016, the largest Oracle Community gathering in Europe. Taking place in Nuremberg, at the Nuremberg Convention Center NCC, one of the more impressive places to hold such a conference, towering 4 stories high, with a big central atrium!!
It is a huge effort to get all of this together!

In this blog-post I want to highlight some of the crazy things I experienced this week… And… I did try to follow my own schedule, but I wasn’t overly successful.

Young talent

One of the things that was somehow quite clear this week, is that we have a lot of young talent out there, eager to learn and share experiences. It is not just the #NextGen “movement” of DOAG, of which Carolin Hagemann made me aware, but just young people on the conference itself.

Discussing “Young PL/SQL” at the unconference session made us all aware that our part of the IT trade is no very sexy and popular with the youngsters. This all despite what was mentioned above. In universities we train SQL, but we don’t train to create real-life business applications, leveraging the power of the one language that keeps SQL close to the data it feasts on, PL/SQL. But, more on that below (Thick Database Paradigm).
To promote PL/SQL, basically two ground requirements were defined:

  1. Create a free ‘PDB as a Service’ for schools;
  2. Inspire teachers to talk about data centric computing

By finding somebody to be regionally or globally owner of this quest, it should be possible to get young professionals as familiar using PL/SQL for creating performant and business-ready applications as they were familiar using Microsoft Excel to do their accounting “back in the days”

ACE program

“There is a disturbance in the force!”

For everybody not acquainted with the Oracle ACE Program by the Oracle Technology Network… You should be!! Please read up, as it is an incredible cool initiative.

The disturbance, you ask?
Well, to retain your “status”, Oracle expects you to do “stuff” and this “stuff” is then evaluated on a yearly basis. Basically the initiative, the disturbance, is to get some transparency in “the stuff”. And, as always, everybody wants change, but few actually are good at “change”. There are rimples and things that change, but in the end; everything will be fine, unless, obviously, when it will not be fine.

Talks

I was honored to (co)host to talks at #DOAG2016:

Bad Boys of Replication – Changing everything…
With Oracle ACED and good friend Björn Rost, about an intense migration project we did some time ago. We were even offered to host our talk in Tokio, the biggest hall at DOAG!

Saving lives at sea at an industrial scale using Oracle Cloud Technology
An insightful (at least I like to think so) talk with my colleague Oliver Limberg. The talk is about the rapid development of a global portal for the maritime logistics branch.

I had a blast, and I hope you did too!

Community spirit

Oracle User Group conferences are about sharing and are about fun. Mr. Martin Widlake wrote a good post about that.

Apart from all the “more formal” things that happened, there were quite a few extracurricular activities, mostly involving an Irish Pub or a restaurant.

This all may sound quite funny and exciting, and, yes, it is alto talk with your co-workers: “Oh, hey, you are going to have fun and party all week!” Of course it is not a drag and a bore, but it has very profound function!
Whenever you run into trouble, these are the exact same people that are not only able, but probably also inclined to help you out, as you would help them out, as friends do among each other. In the end, they, you, your boss and your clients benefit. This is not to be underestimated too much.

The extra, special bit, that DOAG offers are the so called “unconference sessions”.
Not scheduled, no slides, nothing official, just getting together and discussing subjects of interest. Our “Young PL/SQL” was one of these “unconference session”, which turned out to be a great (and valuable) success!

Meeting people

Just to name a few, heroes of long and of yet to come for #DOAG2016:

Dietmar Neugebauer
Frank Dernoncourt
Joel Kallman
Johannes Ahrends
Kamil Stawiarski
Laurent Leturgez
Maja Veselica
Marcel Hofstetter
Piet de Visser
Sabine Heimsath
Stefan Kinnen
Stew Ashton
Uwe Hesse
Zoran Pavlovic
And alle the ones I forget to mention here!!

Thick Database Paradigm

Noting new in IT…

Well, no.

The Thick Database Paradigm (opposed to the “No PL/SQL Paradigm”) is nothing new. We have actually all been doing this since the eighties. Program your business rules, your constraints, everything that makes sure that your data is all that you want it to be, close to that data.
There are so many reasons that speak in favor of this approach that it is nearly overwhelming and deserves at least a book in itself. But, let me make a small attempt to highlighting a few here:

  • spare yourself network bandwidth, by not sending data all over your network to be processed
  • safeguard your data inside the (Oracle) database, so it can be protected by all that has been invented to do so
  • Transact data where it lives and combine and aggregate it there, you will be amazed by the efficiency
  • Remind yourself why you used to think “business logic in middle teer” was a good idea

If you leave possibile religious believes aside, there is no other conclusion possible then that the reinvention of “Thick Database” is the (re)discovery of 2016, right from the time when IT still made sense.

Yes, there are cases where an “Enterprise Service Bus” makes sense, but, as with every technology withing IT, it has a very specific area where it actually adds value or even makes sense. At best, a lot less than all the places where it is used currently!
Not to get carried away in this joyful blog-post, I will leave this topic at this.

The end

I hope to see you at the next Oracle User Group conference, somewhere… Please watch for the asterisk at his page for the conferences that I will attend.

OTN Appreciation Day: PL/SQL

We are posting these blog posts today as part of the OTN Appreciation Day, a celebration for the Oracle Technology Network as suggested by Tim Hall, inspired by Debra Lilley.

The mission was not too hard: write about your favorite bit of Oracle Technology.

As a developer and a core-tech DBA and APEX enthusiast… the choice was easy! PL/SQL (apart from how it is pronounced or even written ;-)!

Why? Easy!

Not just because PL/SQL is easy to learn, for a language that is basically so extremely powerfull! But foremost because it is an easy choice.
If you have a database like the Oracle database and you have your valuable data living inside that database, you want to maximize the potential value of that data. Use and manipulate it quickly, keep it safe, make it available in a sensible way. For that you use PL/SQL.
You create a safe haven for the data, making sure it can only be manipulated in a safe and pre-defined way by exposing data retrieval and manipulation through PL/SQL packages and business logic, creating an API-interface, controlling the access to one of your most valuable assets.

One of the master showmanship features of PL/SQL is Oracle Application Express! Based entirely on PL/SQL, showing how powerful it is to incorporate modern web-technology on top of data-centric, data-driven application development.
With this technology, I see very little need to create utterly complex multi layered (mind you, I explicitly did not say multi tiered!) software stack approach, to create agile and modern applications. Add Edition Based Redifinition, and you have the perfect CI/CD* Agile Rapid Web Application Development environment everybody dreams of! Please, for once accept this simple truth 😉

So, my choice for this celebration: Please embrace PL/SQL and make your world a better place.

Long live the Oracle Technology Network!! Hurray!!

* Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery

#doag2016 my picks and suggestions

As many conferences evolve over the years, the number of sessions on offer can easily be overwhelming. I have overheard many conference attendees wrestling with their choices for what to see and which sessions to attend.

For DOAG 2016 I have a short overview with my picks and with one or two tip-sessions. I hope this helps, though it is just my personal preference of course…

Please note that this post is based on the printed version of the conference planner and this may obviously be subject to change. Find the on-line version of the conference planner here!

Tuesday, November 15th
08:30
Goto-session
Connecting Oracle & Hadoop by Tanel Poder
Tip
Structuring an APEX Application by Alex Nuyten
Meet your match: Advanced Row Pattern Matching by Stew Ashton

11:00
Goto-session
How to identify the Right Workload for Database In-Memory by Andy Rivenes
Tip
Die Schlechten ins Kröpfchen – SQL analyse für DBAs by Martin Klier

12:00
Goto-session
Was die IT von der Luftfahrt lernen kann by Uwe Küchler
Tip
Using image copies for Oracle Database Backup by Ilmar Kerm
Using SQL Transaction Framework to rewrite Bad SQL on the fly by Kerry Osborne

13:00
Goto-session
Plötzlich Multitennant – was ändert sich für den DBA by Uwe Hesse
Tip
Oracle VM auf Exadata – Erfahrungen aus der Praxis by Christian Pfundtner
Einsatz von Maps in APEX by Denis Kubicek

14:00
Goto-session (TOP-tip)
–> Session got cancelled, but will be at UKOUG!
Patch you application with No Downtime (& No extra Costs!) by Oren Nakdimon
Tip
Hacking Oracle’s memory – About Internals & Troubleshooting by Stefan Koehler

15:00
Goto-session
XML in der Oracle DB by Wolfgang Nast
Tip
PL/SQL Performance – Best practices für Laufzeitoptimierung by Jan Gorkow

16:00
Goto-session
The Oracle Optimizer – Upgrading Without Pain by Nigel Bayliss
Tip
Erfahrung nach einem Jahr Fusion Middleware 12c by Jan-Peter Timmerman

17:00
Goto-session
Active Session History: Advanced Analytics by David Kurtz
Tip
MySQL for Oracle DBAs by Philipp Michaly
Deploying PL/SQL Applications, Building Rome in a Day by Alan Arentsen

Wednesday, November 16th.
08:00
Goto-session
Logical Replication in 12cR2 – What are the options now? by Vit Špinka
Tip
Function madness: Use and Abuse of PL/SQL Functions by Piet de Visser

09:00
Goto-session
Ensuring your Physical Standby is Usable by Michael Abbey
Tip
RMAN – From Beginner to Advanced by Marcin Przepiorowski

10:00
Goto-session
Oracle Secure Backup – eine Livedemo by Sven-Olaf Hilmer
Tip
Oracle Hacking Session by Kamil Stawiarski
Advanced Interactive Grids by Patrick Wolf

11:00
Goto-session
The Battle: Linux vs. Windows by Dierk Lenz, Johannes Ahrends and Martin Klier
Tip
Adaptive Features or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying… by Ludovico Caldara
Controlling Execution Plans – Workshop by Kerry Osborne

12:00
Goto-session
Application Express für den DBA? Geht das? by Joel Kallman
Tip
Und Sie bewegt sich doch by Lothar Flatz
APEX Desktop Apps – Interaktion mit dem Client System by Daniel Hochleitner

13:00
Goto-session
Hash Joins and Bloom Filters by Toon Koppelaars
Tip
Ansible für Oracle DBAs by Alexander Hofstetter

14:00
Goto-session
Delivering Continuous Availability for Database Services by Michael Timpanaro-Perrotta
Tip
Dbvisit – Oder doch lieber Data Guard by Andreas Kother
Chase the Optimizer Every Step of the Way by Mauro Pagano

15:00
Goto-session
Top 7 Plan Stability Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them by Neil Chandler
Tip
Advanced RAC Programming Features by Martin Bach
Weblogic 101 for DBA by Osama Mustafa

16:00
Goto-session
Bad Boys of Replication – Changing Everything by Björn Rost and yours truly

17:00
Goto-session
Oracle System Statistics by Paul Matuszyk
Tip
Compression – Technik und sinnvolle Umsetzung by Klaus Reimers
Node.js der Alleskönner by Kai Donato

Thursday, November 17th.
08:00
Goto-session
FAQ about Masking Sensitive Data in Oracle Database by Maja Veselica
Tip
Data Guard in Oracle 12.2 – Crash Course by Zoran Pavlovic

09:00
Goto-session
Mining the AWR v2: Trend Analysis by Maris Elsins
Tip
Regular Expressions: Say What? by Alex Nuyten

10:00
Goto-session
Databases Clone Using ACFS by David Hueber
Tip
R.I.P. Oracle Database by Markus Lohn

12:00
Goto-session
Writing Efficient SQL Statements by Joze Senegacnik
Tip
Validate User Input in APEX by Richard Martens

13:00
Goto-session
Backup und Recovery PoC auf der Recovery Appliance by Frank Schneede
Tip
Ready, Steady, GIT: Einführung eines Versionskontrollsystems by Carolin Hagemann

14:00
Goto-session
Warum sollte man die Multitennant Database Option Verwenden by Johannes Ahrends
Tip
Collections in PL/SQL by Frank Haney

15:00
Goto-session
Saving Lives at Sea – At an Industrial Scale Using Oracle Cloud Technology by Oliver Limberg and yours truly
Tip
Part 1: The NoPL/SQL and Thick Database Paradigms by Toon Koppelaars and Bryn Llewellyn

16:00
Goto-session
Part 2: The NoPL/SQL and Thick Database Paradigms by Bryn Llewellyn and Toon Koppelaars

And!!
Do not forget…
The first ever APEX Hack’a’thlon is going down on Friday the 18th of November at the DOAG Education day. If you are interested or just want more information, don’t hesitate to drop a line.

#DBADev (Ops), who knows what is going on…

I have been considering writing this article for quite some time now.
APEX Connect 2016 in Germany’s capital Berlin and the DOAG Database days have finally persuaded me to talk more about #DBADev, let me explain why…

Whenever in the stone age…

During my career as DBA, I was always working closely together with Oracle Forms & Reports developers. In retrospect, the cooperation in that time was remarkable.
These Forms & Reports developers had always been used to working on a host-based platform.

For those of you who actually remember Oracle Forms & Reports and wonder…
Was there ever Forms & Reports host based?
Yes there was, but it is creepily long ago!!

Because of the nature of Forms & Reports, there always was a lot of consideration about where to place application code. This especially became true when PL/SQL was introduced and the migration to Oracle Forms & Reports 6.5 came about.
This brought the transition to client/server based computing and introduced physical distance between the database and the “front-end”.
Front-end between quotation marks, as in today’s world we don’t actually know “front-end” anymore in this same qualification. The “Frond-end” was always more elegantly and fittingly described as a “fat-client”, because of the sheer size of the software and utilities that were required on the end-users workstation.

The physical separation and distance between the presentation entity and the data manipulation engine required and inspired a lot of thought and debate on where the bulk of data processing had to be done.
You can imagine the impact of having a specific data manipulation done inside an Oracle Form that lived on a desktop on the other end of the network. Especially when the required data set is large. Having 1,000 records being fetched, where 2 where manipulated and then send back in bulk, repeated 100 times, 4 times a minute on a 10 Mbps network. OK, clear, that needs to be done smarter.
The solution: work with small data sets and do database side manipulation to limit client/server communication. And actually, that worked quite well!!

All good and fine… But how does this tie in to #DBADev? This already sounds so harmonious. And how could APEX Connect 2016 have inspired this article?

Well… Let’s see

Later on, I found that this cooperation appeared to be not so normal.
If you step out of the world of client-server computing and move on to “todays world”, that started more or less in the nineties with web based computing – or cloud-computing “avant la lettre“ or “my stuff on your computer” or however you describe it – you find a world that consists of “strange things”.
I find these things “strange things” because I believe they are suboptimal, and luckily I find myself not alone in this corner.
Suboptimal in a way that data manipulation solutions (lets call them applications for now) should be considered to be database agnostic. This independence dictates that you use the database as just a data store or even more accurately, as a persistency store. Blane Carter 2 minute TechTip

In another scenario these applications are designed and build by developers who are very good at creating intuitive and sharp looking user interfaces. Unfortunately often with a lesser developed understanding of the mechanics involved in dishing up and serving data to this newly established middle tier.

With the continuing professionalization of IT over the past 20 years, we have seen the creation of a wide variety of disciplines. These range from those who think about IT (architects, managers, designers) to those who build IT (programmers, engineers) to those who run IT (system administrators, operators) and the majority of these disciplines today are self-contained groups of professionals and specialists who excel at their own game. Basically that is good as the profession is wide and complex enough to support this.
The problem is that there is no longer anyone who has the whole picture.

Bring it on / together!

apex-logoAPEX Connect 2016, to me personally, was the first time I really saw #DBADev in practice. With the following two examples I want to illustrate my inspiration.

The first talk of this genre was @alexnuijten with his confessions, and subsequent smart tips and best practices in “Structuring an APEX application”.
As a pure database developer like Alex, you are automatically more prone to thinking about “DBA-stuff”. A lot of these best practices, although they are very database centric, like using a view for each application screen, are obviously primarily there to help the developer. And, don’t get me wrong, that is a very good thing! Alex inspires to try and combine the best of both worlds, which helps getting the most out of your application, your database, and therewith frankly, out of your total investment.

The second example was the information-packed presentation by Dietmar Aust @daust_de, called “Oracle APEX Scripting – die Kommandozeile ist Dein Freund“ (the command line is your friend).
Much more than “just about developing”, this presentation bridged gaps in more than one way. Perhaps it is even #DBADevOps if you think about it.

The recent DOAG Database days held a few additional surprises with the presence of @cczarski and @nielsdb. A very will pitched presentation by Bruno Cirone really sparked the growing interest in the topic!!

It is funny how an idea that was initiated some 18 months ago, conceived together with Sabine Heimsath @flederbine has grown and evolved out of natural demand. For me, this is one other aspect of the industry, where APEX is setting new frontiers.
With a growing awareness and more people recognizing the gap, the deficits it is bringing and the benefits cooperation brings, I have good hopes.

APEX is not only the technology that enables you to create web-based apps super quickly, it is also the technology that brings developers and DBA’s truly closer to each other, ensuring a maximum bang for the buck when it comes to utilizing your database infrastructure investments!
I am not saying we are there, but this is definitely a first step in the right direction!

Username & password required at Weblogic domain startup

When installing a new WebLogic Domain for any a-specific Oracle (Fusion) Middleware application or any other implementation requiring a WebLogic domain like ORDS for instance, a new ‘home’ is created under [MW-home]/user_domains/. [MW-Home] translates, for instance, to /u01/oracle/product/Middleware.

ordsTo start your brand-new domain, or perhaps and rather, to automate the startup of your domain, you would use the supplied [MW-home]/user_domains/[DomainName]/startWebLogic.sh command-file.
This file will start the Weblogic domain (the Admin Server) and the deployed components. After this start, you will be able to follow through with the administration over the web-console. Typically its URL is: http://[ServerName]:[PortNumber]/console.

One nasty thing you can run into, is that starting the server can require you to enter username and password during the run of [MW-home]/user_domains/[DomainName]/startWebLogic.sh. Of course this is rather annoying because it requires interaction which is not good for auto-start. Regular input-tooling you can wrap around this command-file, for example with input redirection, would require you to save your username / password combination in plain text. That is certainly never a good idea!!

Luckily there is a trick to enable your WebLogic domain to start without this interaction. And it also makes sure that username & password are not stored in plain text. Actually it is quite easy to get this facility in place.

This is how:

Go to [MW-home]/user_domains/[DomainName]/Servers/AdminServer/security and create a plain text file called boot.properties.

This file gets two lines:
username: Your WebLogic Username
password: Your WebLogic Password

Basically, this is now a plain-text recording of the username and password on the server, which seems quite scary.

Good thing though, is that when you have successfully run [MW-home]/user_domains/[DomainName]/startWebLogic.sh command file, which will now continuously run through, username and password will be encrypted:

#Thu Mar 10 14:11:38 UTC 2016
password={AES}JoMm+ymJUvbcQld84ofjSR5KhwFVP7mCgTpYBtTS7TA\=
username={AES}vY8NlWXCh156j/uAIpyFY4MVxPt8cdAbUpaTku+sJsU\=

You will now be able to call [MW-home]/user_domains/[DomainName]/startWebLogic.sh from your startup-script without having to worry about the need to interactively entering username / password or have to worry about plain text storage of these to artifacts.

Hope this helps!

@HrOUG_2015 in Rovinj, Croatia

In a hectic year it is good to attend and contribute to Oracle user group sessions. This adds an element of a ‘Working Holiday’ to someones schedule. I can promise you, the vacation isle of Rovinj is a perfect venue for this and especially since it is the last week of the opening of the Hotel for this season.
Of course you can find all information about contributing to these events right here!!

@HrOUG_2015, as the official twitter-account of the conference goes, brings just this!! Content combined with pleasure. Ranging from quality sessions by Rock star speakers to relaxation in the pool and late night party in “The Castle”.

Currently the biggest worry is rain… At least for the attendees. As always the (very) hard working organizers are doing their best to create a super experience for everyone attending the conference, and my personal biggest worry is that the participants will actually bring their laptop to the hands-on experience. Actually doing logical replication yourself is so much cooler than seeing it demonstrated. It will be an interesting experience anyhow.

This conference also led to another series of Oracle Hero’s I got to meet in person!

And as always there is really serious stuff going on as well. One of the main challenges or worries today is the developments surrounding Oracle Database Standard Edition Two, and the impact it brings for the development of the European market.
Eliminating this database version forces emerging projects to use the Oracle Cloud, as the super-sharp priced project startup version is no longer available. We had this with Standard Edition One. It also counters Oracles own statement, quite recently presented by Andrew Sutherland, of hybrid cloud functionality, since there is no “on-premise” equivalent for a small scale project anymore!
We are hoping for a good discussion on Friday during the Standard Edition Round Table version at HrOUG, co-hosted by Philippe Fierens, as this development is very heartfelt in Croatia as it is in many European countries.

If you want to read more about this years event in Croatia, please checkout the many tweets and facebook entries by @helifromfinland, @alexnuijten, @roelhartman (ps. Vote for Roel as member of the ODTUG board) and many more!!

Oh, and as far a basic life’s needs go… The Internet on the island is the best ever!!

Complex UI’s versus Simple UI’s

A few days ago I attended the AMIS UX & UI event.

During this interesting event, Niels Mansveld from AMIS presented about UX Frameworks. And he started off his presentation with an illustration about how user interfaces can create an “experience”, so to say. This illustration was a movie clip by Pixar, taken from the movie “Lifted”. It was so funny and, if you would watch it, you immediately know what Niels meant!

lifted uiThe day after I thought to show this movie at home and I found the YouTube link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY1_HrhwaXU). When I watched the clip, I realized that there was a second part to the preview, which Niels had left out, probably because of time concerns.
What struck me is actually the following…

I have seen quite a few views on user interfaces lately… Most of them talk about having clean and intuitive layouts and that it is important to think thoroughly about this. Shakeeb Rahman and Ultan O’broin are names that pop into my mind when thinking about this, and these gentleman are very clear about this!
Clean, intuitive UI’s make the Enterprise thrive!

Okay, but, as said, the clip went on for a little bit!TOAD saves

The second half tells the story of the Toad saving the situation, by using this same ultra intricate interface! By knowing what knob did which function, he was super-quick in saving the day!
Now, what would that mean?

Having a clean and intuitive layout may not be the ultimate solution in any situation, regardless! Having an application with a learning curve (not immediately judging the steepness of this learning curve is not always bad. If this interface helps the professional do his/her job in just a fraction of the time, because he/she knows what button to push, I think it’s a good thing.
I have to admit, there were one or two remarks about this in the flashing demo by Paco van der Linden… Bit I guess it is too little emphasized.

cockpitThere are several applications where these, more complicated interfaces do a superb job in helping the task at hand. And, as with anything, don’t blindly follow “best practices”, also in designing user interfaces!
Step back and think what would work best in your situation!

Hope this helps!

DOAG 2014, Nüremberg visited

Traveling to Nuremberg, anticipating three days of Oracle submersion. There are so many speaker heading over there it cannot be anything but successful.
This will be the first conference I will attend after being accredited as Oracle ACE Associate which, for me, makes it again a little more special.TurboProp
The first surprise, though, was just that. Arriving, by bus, at the boarding-location, there was a Bombardier DASH8-Q400 waiting, which turned out to be a turbo-prop aircraft. Okay, I jumped from a Cessna Caravan twin engine turbo-prop before, but this was still a first. As I am writing these lines, we’re descending upon Nüremberg.

On the first day of the conference, which started with a beautiful but rainy morning stroll to the conference center, The action started to really kick in from about 12:00 with the first session of my good friend Peter Raganitsch, talking about the 10 worst practices in APEX. A refresingh way of looking at software development by focussing on how to do it wrong!
The day ended with one of the “most pleasantly unorganized sessions” of the conference, where Johannes Ahrends and Philppe Fierens joined me on stage for the Standard Edition Round Table, #DOAG14-edition.

The second day was full of sessions, and I vistited Joel Kallman “APEX fast=true”, discussing the the knowledge needed to do serious application development on APEX, creating #DBADev. And, off course, the sharp presentation of my friend Franck Pachot about interpreting AWR-reports!
At 17:00 it was time for my third event, the “Electronic Patients Records system based on Oracle APEX” talk, which had quite a good turnout.
GatheringThe day ended with a super-cool meet-up with Mia Urman, Lonneke Dikmans AND Brynn Llewellyn… And later on we had a real nice depiction of #DBADev 2.0, involving Joel Kallman, Philippe Fierens, Illoon Ellen and myself.

Gathering

The third and last day of the conference was spend executing #RepAttack. This session concluded 3 full days of hands-on hacking with cool software and getting a feel of some of the new stuff.

RepAttack

A few of the cool new meetings (which we’ve dubbed the e-people to real people conversion by IRL) involved:

Thank you, DOAG, for a superb conference. I thoroughly enjoyed it. To all the Oracle aficionados, until next time!!

Printing directly with APEX

When looking for a print solution with APEX you will find .PDF

You will find a lot of .PDF

And .PDF is good. There is nothing wrong with .PDF. In fact, .PDF looks cool and you can do a lot of neat stuff with it. With toolkits like pl/pdf you can create .PDF’s directly from PL/SQL.

But sometimes there is the need to be able to print directly.
For instance with batch-processing or with nightly print-runs or whatever. And this is where you would find yourself locked out with .PDF and, glancing Google, you would guess you’d be out of luck!
Since we had:

  • created a web based solution
  • the need to print directly
  • print in nightly-runs

plus we had:

  • about 400 reports (.rdf files) which we need to reuse (without having the opportunity to rebuild them in something like pl/pdf)
  • combine different output / distribution mechanisms

we needed to tackle this challenge!

So we did !!

It was fixed by using some old and new technology mixed together:

Oracle reports builder
and
Oracle Fusion Middleware, more specifically, Oracle Reports Server, aka WLS_Reports

By using this combination of products, you can create a printing solutions which is capable of printing directly to your network printer, create HTML or PDF reports.
Schedule them, e-mail them, and all this by URL-control!

http://<your-reports-server-node>:8888/reports/rwservlet?command=argument&command=argument&and-so-on

Use the following (much used, but far from a complete list of) control-commands:

  • report=<name of your .rdf>
  • userid=<userid/password@database>
  • desformat=HTML/PDF
  • destype=type of output of the report
  • desname=name of your output (device, file, whatever)

More commands in the link to the documentation on the bottom of this post!!

Notes:

  • You can post these parameters to the Reports Server without calling them in the original URL!
  • You can set a “local” on your Reports Server for omitting <@database> in ‘userid’ for your default database
  • Actually you can set all environment variables, like TNS_ADMIN, NLS_LANG, REPORTS_PATH, etc.

What we found is we needed to run Oracle Reports Server on Windows, just to take advantage of the Windows Printing System which is quite stable and easy to configure. (So, yes, okay, there you have it, a good thing about Windoze!)

Basically you can create a simple solution, but you can easily expand it quite a bit, making a printing and reporting solutions worthy of and enterprise environment, with distributing reports via e-mail, creating reports in file-systems, embedding reports in websites, and basically anything you want or would need.

And, you get a nice Management Console for free with this installation!

08-forms-em
Oracle Enterprise Manager Console

From this management console you can administer your print-jobs, set all kinds of parameters, which is quite neat!!

But, wait… the catch… It’s gonna cost you!

Or, can you keep it under control?

But of course!

Printing is mostly a half-on-line thing, and for a lot of stuff, it’s not extremely performance / time critical… So what can we do?

Oracle Reports Server is licensed as “Oracle Forms & Reports Server” and it will set you back € 370 per Named User or € 18.200 per CPU (being Oracle CPU’s according to the Core Factor Table!)
It’s still a whole lot of money, but would you really need more than 2 cores? If you give the machine enough memory and fast disks? Probably not.

Is it worth considering taking another node in your environment? Perhaps. This print-solutions could be a viable reason to do so. It brings you quite a bit of functionality straight from the box. But, as always, do your math and make educated choices.

The documentation link promised:
https://docs.oracle.com/cd/E16764_01/bi.1111/b32121/toc.htm

If you would like more info, please just drop me a line!