Tag Archives: Development

#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

#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!

Why GUI sucks…

Of course we all know GUI stands for Graphical User Interface, just as CLI stands for Command Line Interface, right!
Or, rather, a GUI is this nice, flashy screen where you can easily roam with your mouse, comparable to a multiple choice quiz, where the right answer is there for the picking.
A CLI on the other hand is this dark, mysterious blinking cursor… Nothing happens unless you know more or less what you are doing. Comparable to an open questions quiz.

Sparked by a recent Twitter discussion, I decided I should probably write the umpth blog post about this to make my contribution to this lasting dispute.

Disclaimer:
This post discusses GUI in relation to system administration, not necessarily in relation to data-entry or data manipulation applications that are used in front offices all over the world. I guess CLI has no place in a world like that…

bad gui

Why GUI sucks?
I have done my fair share of installing, scripting, ad-hoc fiddling, testing and trying. And, I have found myself in the situation where I worked with younger computer geeks or even in situations where nobody had the time to figure anything out – stuff just had to be made to work.

Probably in the few lines above, we could already have the basics for this discussion!

But, why then does GUI suck?

GIU’s suck because they are limiting, labor (or rather RSI) intense and require you, the operator, to be there, physically clicking away on your computer.

Limiting
They are limiting, or at least most of the time they are, because it is often quite hard to get a visual representation of each and every function of a device / program / system etc. If you consider, for instance, a networking device and then try to imagine having to create a GUI that lets the operator configure and define each and every parameter of a specific VLAN or VPN. And then also bear in mind that the GUI has to stay crisp, clean and intuitive.
For this reason, I have seen many vendors who have created a GUI for basic setup only, relying on the professionals to find their way in the CLI. They GUI can then stay intuitive enough to at least get the basics done.

GUI’s that aim not to be limiting, of which there also are a few out there too, need to sacrifice a lot of the things that a good GUI should stand for:

  • Short click paths (3 clicks from anywhere to get where you want to be)
  • Intuitive (don’t have to guess or read a manual to use a GUI)

So, what you end up with, then, is a maze of riddles, where you can easily spend a good day setting up some new functionality. Somehow I believe this is not what the designers had set out for nor is it a valid solution for most tasks at hand.

Labor intense
I personally find GUI’s often, quite labor intense. Not just for the absence of the ability to automate tasks, though. Especially if there is a lot of specific configuration that needs to be done, you often end up left and right clicking until your hands start hurting.
And, in the end, you always end up with the eerie feeling that you missed out on that one specific setting that would really put the icing on your configuration.

Operator presence
Last, but not least… For a GUI to work, you need to be at your workstation. Period.
Anybody who has ever worked on automated testing of applications that rely on a GUI, knows about the hideous crime of having to script test-cases, either working with hidden button-labels, screen coordinates, etc. Where these scripts fail every other day because a developer moved a window to a better spot or used a new button-label. You end up coding your application just to make it testable.
No, GUI requires operator presence, making it useless for automation or scaling.

good_cliThe bliss of CLI
Okay, middle Ages… or Stone Age…
Nothing really fancy, just a black (or, if you are feeling frivoled, you may choose some nice color) square on your screen with a blinking underscore – most often. And then you say; GUI sucks?

One of the challenges in this hyper fast moving world full of smart phones, tablet PC’s and what have you, loaded with intuitive and fast apps, is to realize that actually “hard core IT” is hard core.
You need to learn your stuff first, know what you do and know about the consequences of choices you make. You will have to learn to be able to walk the walk and to talk the talk. Once you have mastered that, this blinking underscore is no longer a roadblock but a invitation! Just like after mastering a foreign language, you will know what to say and do to open up the potential at your fingertips.

And now, reality
Of course, the above is ranting is just one side of the story.
It is even just one side of the story in hard core IT!

As already stated above, sometimes there is no time to really dive into stuff and get to know the tools you need to get to work for you. I am pretty sure we all have been in a place where we needed to get a project done or some functionality realized, where we just did not have the right devices.

What are your options at such a moment?
Get a hardcore IT specialist who does “talk the talk”?
Probably it will not be cheap and probably it will be a very thorough configuration, but just not exactly as you need it to be… Though still a valid option, even in a number of cases it’s a no-go.
This… is where a good GUI comes in handy.
It will allow you, yourself, to organize that which needs organizing in an orderly fashion. Okay, the GUI will have to be accurate and well thought through, but I that goes for all interfacing, that is also true for the CLI.

Seeing this story unfold… I guess I still think GUI sucks. (sorry!)
But GUI has a place, a very well earned place in a super-fast and highly demanding world. Still I am convinced that if you are working in a highly professional environment, having to do intricate stuff on ever live environments, I would say a good script for a CLI is the only way you can create some assurance that whatever change you need to execute will actually have a predictable result.

And putting in the effort of learning how to use any CLI? Well, I guess that’s why it is called “professional IT”.

DBA_FEATURE_USAGE_STATISTICS and SE2

This blog post is inspired on work I have been doing on Standard Edition databases and the returning confusion about what is and what is not part of Standard Edition.

DBA_FEATURE_USAGE_STATISTICS is a tool in determining license usage for the Oracle database. It is good to understand the implications of each entry, know what is happening in your database and thus be able to have a substantial conversation about the usage of your license, being SE, SEO, SE2 or EE!

This list is the full list of DBA_FEATURE_USAGE_STATISTICS and I have found no source where there is a mapping of these features to database editions. As it is a lot of tedious work I call upon the community to help complete the list and make it as accurate as can be. So, if you have news, improvements, other bits of information, please send it to me and I will make sure it gets added!

WARNING: Still… with all the work that goes into these answers, it is not the law, it is a very serious interpretation of facts which will pay a part in helping you make the right decision when it comes to database licensing.

Feature Standard Edition
Active Data Guard – Real-Time Query on Physical Standby NO !
ADDM NO !
Advanced Replication NO !
Application Express YES
ASO native encryption and checksumming NO – EE option !
Audit Options NO !
Automatic Maintenance – Optimizer Statistics Gathering YES
Automatic Maintenance – Space Advisor YES
Automatic Maintenance – SQL Tuning Advisor NO !
Automatic Memory Tuning
Automatic Segment Space Management (system) YES
Automatic Segment Space Management (user)
Automatic SGA Tuning YES
Automatic SQL Execution Memory YES
Automatic SQL Tuning Advisor NO !
Automatic Storage Management
Automatic Undo Management
Automatic Workload Repository
AWR Baseline NO !
AWR Baseline Template NO !
AWR Report NO !
Backup BASIC Compression
Backup BZIP2 Compression
Backup Encryption
Backup HIGH Compression
Backup LOW Compression
Backup MEDIUM Compression
Backup Rollforward
Backup ZLIB Compression
Baseline Adaptive Thresholds
Baseline Static Computations
Bigfile Tablespace
Block Media Recovery NO !
Change Data Capture NO !
Change-Aware Incremental Backup
Character Semantics
Character Set
Client Identifier
Clusterwide Global Transactions
Compression Advisor
Crossedition Triggers
CSSCAN
Data Guard NO !
Data Mining NO – EE option !
Data Recovery Advisor
Database Migration Assistant for Unicode
Database Replay: Workload Capture NO ! 1
Database Replay: Workload Replay NO ! 1
DBMS_STATS Incremental Maintenance
Deferred Open Read Only
Deferred Segment Creation NO !
Direct NFS
Dynamic SGA
Editioning Views
Editions
EM Database Control
EM Grid Control
EM Performance Page
Encrypted Tablespaces
Exadata
Extensibility
File Mapping
Flashback Data Archive NO ! 2
Flashback Database NO !
GoldenGate NO – EE option ! 3
HeapCompression
Hybrid Columnar Compression NO !
Instance Caging NO !
Internode Parallel Execution
Job Scheduler
Label Security NO – EE option !
LOB
Locally Managed Tablespaces (system) YES
Locally Managed Tablespaces (user)
Locator YES
Logfile Multiplexing
Long-term Archival Backup
Materialized Views (User) NO !
Messaging Gateway NO !
MTTR Advisor
Multi Section Backup
Multiple Block Sizes
Object
OLAP – Analytic Workspaces NO – EE option !
OLAP – Cubes NO – EE option !
Oracle Database Vault NO – EE option !
Oracle Java Virtual Machine (system) YES
Oracle Java Virtual Machine (user)
Oracle Managed Files
Oracle Multimedia
Oracle Multimedia DICOM
Oracle Secure Backup
Oracle Text
Oracle Utility Datapump (Export)
Oracle Utility Datapump (Import)
Oracle Utility External Table
Oracle Utility Metadata API
Oracle Utility SQL Loader (Direct Path Load)
Parallel SQL DDL Execution NO !
Parallel SQL DML Execution NO !
Parallel SQL Query Execution NO !
Partitioning (system) YES
Partitioning (user) NO – EE option !
PL/SQL Native Compilation
Quality of Service Management NO !
Read Only Tablespace
Real Application Clusters (RAC) YES 4
Real-Time SQL Monitoring
Recovery Area
Recovery Manager (RMAN) YES
Resource Manager NO !
Restore Point
Result Cache NO !
RMAN – Disk Backup
RMAN – Tape Backup
Rules Manager
SecureFile Compression (system) YES
SecureFile Compression (user)
SecureFile Deduplication (system) YES
SecureFile Deduplication (user)
SecureFile Encryption (system) YES
SecureFile Encryption (user)
SecureFiles (system) YES
SecureFiles (user)
Segment Advisor (user)
Segment Shrink
Semantics/RDF NO !
Server Flash Cache
Server Parameter File
Services
Shared Server
Spatial NO – EE option !
SQL Access Advisor
SQL Monitoring and Tuning pages NO – EE option !
SQL Performance Analyzer NO !
SQL Plan Management NO !
SQL Profile
SQL Repair Advisor
SQL Tuning Advisor
SQL Tuning Set (system) YES
SQL Tuning Set (user)
SQL Workload Manager
Streams (system) YES 5
Streams (user)
Transparent Data Encryption
Transparent Gateway YES – option
Transportable Tablespace NO ! 6
Tune MView
Undo Advisor
Very Large Memory
Virtual Private Database (VPD) NO !  7
Workspace Manager
  1. Unless used for upgrade to Enterprise Edition.
  2. Unless used without history table optimization.
  3. Goldengate can also be used with Standard Edition, it is a separate product.
  4. RAC on Enterprise Edition is an option.
  5. No capture from redo.
  6. Import transportable tablespaces in all editions.
  7. Policies on XDB$ACL$xd_sp in sys.v_$vpd_policy are internal ( “out of the box”) policies that are used by XDB to control the access to certain internal tables. All the logic is implemented in the xdb.DBMS_XDBZ package and there is no way one can control / influence the way this is working.

Updating SQL Developer to use newer Java version

I was being teased by SQL Developer.

Everytime I started it came nagging about that it was being forced to live in an old Java version called jdk1.7.0_45 and that is was not feeling happy about it.
So, I should remedy this, I thought to myself.

First visit was, inspired by some search-work on the WWW, a file called product.conf. Which offered two possiblities:

java

SetJavaHome to some logical location
or
SetJavaHome to nothing, and then SQL Developer would kindly ask me to point it to somwhere to live.

Well… no. My SQL Developer refused it all and just started with this jdk 1.7.

Same hack done in another file on another location, a file called sqldeveloper.conf.
Same result.

Freshly downloaded SQL Developer, put in place… No help!

Erm…

Rename
drwxr-xr-x  3 root  wheel  102 Jan  6  2014 jdk1.7.0_45.jdk
in /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines
to
drwxr-xr-x  3 root  wheel  102 Jan  6  2014 xxx-jdk1.7.0_45.jdk

Nope! Still the same nagging…

What now?

In the end, I wound up with one of Jeff Smits’s helpers.
This guy aksed me to “start SQL Developer from the commandline”. Right, but how?

So I finally found:
/Applications/SQLDeveloper.app/Contents/MacOS/sqldeveloper.sh

And that did start SQL Developer from the command-line…

But… wait… an .sh-file!! Interesting!!

And, behold… in this .sh-file lies the answer:sqldev_startup1

So the file reads:
export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.7`
Which I hacked to:
export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.8`

And, presto, error-message gone and SQL Developer now happily lives in Java 8.

Hope this helps somebody out!!

Big Data: Hadoop and Oracle technologies explained

MarkRittmanUnder the title “Hadoop and Oracle technologies on BI projects” Mark Rittman flew to The Netherlands on the 14th of July to visit the Oracle Usergroup Holland.

As I had obviously heard a lot about Hadoop, I never really did anything further with it and left it to a synaptic link to Gwen Shapira. This lack of action created a kind of threshold in the understanding of the technology. When I heard about this session I realized this would be the moment to take a step further. It turned out the be the  first real talk that puts “Big Data” in the perspective it needs to be consumable and realistic.

In these current times where “The Internet of Things”, more and more social media and ever further digitization we are heading to a Big Data Disruption. This is both a conceptual as a very real thing if you take a moment to think about it. According to real world experience it is also not something “which will once be”, it is something which is actually here today!

On the technical side of thhadoopings, data is captured in something that is called a “data reservoir” (or “data lake” or “data dump (yard)”). Compared with “regular” data storage, you can conclude that data-governance, or a data-structure, in a Big Data system is applied later  We are used to apply this structure, this governance, beforehand, by applying data definition. Using Hadoop in combination with noSQL give you “schema on read” capabilities making quering of the Hadoop data reservoir possible.

Adding this structure later is harder! This leads to the following:

  • Data is much easier to get into Hadoop then into a star-schema
  • Data is much easier to get out of a star-schema then out of Hadoop

This could be one of the essential things to consider when thinking about engaging in a Big Data project!

As Tanel Poder concluded: “High value, high density data will remain in the Oracle database” which I think is a very true conclusion. In the end, the high value conclusions (or the engineering of Big Data results) will also happen within the Oracle database.

On the horizon is “Oracle Big Data Discovery” which will help with the time consuming and tedious work of sorting and interpreting raw data in the data reservoir. The use of ‘R’, as the data exploration tool of duty, is expected to be replaced by this discovery tooling, over time…

To sum up the concept of the first half of the presentation, to my taste:

  • Hadoop changes business
  • NoSQL scales business
  • Oracle runs business

It takes eons to list all names of the Buddha” nicely sums up the number of different applications that make up and are needed to execute a successful Big Data project.
Plus, “You’d better keep the 13 rules for relational databases close at hand“!

presentation

Part two of the evening was spent on mapping these concepts on actually tools, disclosing data through Hadoop to Oracle SQL and making actual use of Big Data. The exercise was completed by demos and illustrated by screenshots from the slides (link below).
A special word of warning goes out to the security aspect of Big Data, which is something to really pay close attention to. Kerberos authentication and apache Sentry are imperative things to implement in your Big Data environment.

All in all, this evening turned out to be 110% more informative and necessary as I expected when I embarked on the journey to Utrecht! Thank you for sharing, Mark!

Thanks to Piet de Visser for the nice quotes! And a great “hi there” to Klaas-jan Jongsma, René Kuipers and Marti Koppelmans.

If you want to work with Big Data on your Smal(ler) Device, please download the Big data light VM from OTN.

The link to the slides for anyone who wants to review the “extended remix”!

Visiting User Experience Event 18|3|2014

Today I had the privilege to visit the Oracle UX team from the USA. This special event was hosted by Amis Services (@AMIS_Services) and my visit was with Michel Koolwaaij, my esteemed colleague from VIR e-Care Solutions.

The event was super-well attended by a lot of enthusiastic people, comprised of students, novel developers and experienced seniors alike. I also got to meet a whole bunch of super interesting people (again) like:

  • Ultan Ó Broin (@ultan)
  • Patrick Barel (@patch72)
  • Noel Portugal (@noelportugal)
  • Lucas Jellema (@lucasjellema)
  • Lonneke Dikmans (@lonnekedikmans)
  • Mark Vilrokx (@mvilrokx)
  • Aylin Uysal

Through this post I would like to share some of what I picked up from the presentations and demos I went to and key learning points I figured out for myself.

Demo of Oracle voice (by Mark Vilrokx)
Oracle voice is a solutions based on Siri powered by Nuance which in fact now comprises a super lightweight front-end interface for voice-controlling Oracle Fusion Apps. The actual voice recognition and lexicon integration is done on the Nuance back-end.
A personal fun thing to find out is that actually the technology is again based on the work of the Belgian speech-specialists of Lernout & Hauspie, which I got to meet over 10 years ago!

Demo of Oracle mobilitics
Basically this is a demonstration of one of my key-take-aways for today.
These days you, as a classical developer, are challenged to step back, forget “grabbing data and throwing it into a grid or master-detail” and think about how you would “interact” with the data you have in your system.
If you think about it, you would not really want to scroll through master-detail… You want to visualize your data, so it becomes something more tangible and give you an overview with the ability to drill down or zoom in.
The “Designing for Mobility & Simplicity” talk of Aylin Uysal dove deeper into this.

Presentation UX directions with HTML5 by Mark Vilrokx
For me this was somewhat of a confirmation, strangely enough. Basically HTML5 is used as a rapid application development framework for Oracle ADF applications. In effect meaning that an Oracle APEX development environment supersedes Oracle ADF in both speed and diversity of application development (J) End of sentence

Presentation Designing for simplicity by Aylin Uysal
Stressing that person to person collaboration is still super important also (and perhaps even especially) for UX design. Organize several sesison consisting of different stakeholder groups, since UI design differs by user (or stakeholder) category.
Information abundance in classical UIs is to be replaced by minimal data UI design. Having less data, better (more visually represented) strongly increases UX!

Presentation Wireframing 101 by Ultan Ó Broin
Wireframing, in this context was new to me. Create a low fidelity “sketch” of what you want, don’t prototype anything yet! Create difference wireframes of applications and application flows to prevent “Squeak and poop” behavior of management or customers when presenting UX designs in wireframe format. A wireframe is no nicely worked out app, making it difficult to judge for outsiders.
A nice example of such rapid prototyping is the way Google Glasses is developed.
A good tool for digital wireframing (but also just for that) is Balsamiq which is used by the Oracle UX team as the preferred wireframing tool.

Presentation One picture worth a thousand words by Lucas Jellema
In this presentation of more pictures that words, Lucas gave some very cool examples of how pictures are able to, indeed, transfer much more information that words. An inspiration to use when you are UX-ing.

Visit to the Chamber of Secrets
I am so sorry, I had to sign quite an NDA before being let in… Please visit your local Oracle UX-session!

So, what are the key learning points:

  • Step back, and think free-flow how you would consume information. Unthink current UI design and… step back!
  • Less is more, also in UI design. A user experience is about getting to what the NEED as quickly as possible.
  • APEX is a viable development tool, in any situation!
  • User Interface design is becoming a serious trade, a trade to take into account.
  • Watch out for those InfoTiles!

A special “Thank you” to Wieteke Gaykema from AMIS who worked like crazy and still got me in at the Chamer of Secerts, even though I was shamefully late with my NDA!