Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who uses (as of August 28, 2011)?

I was recently browsing a blog post over at, where they showed the breakdown of visitors by country to their site, and found that most developers visiting their site came from the U.S. and Germany and asked the "guys who manage" if they could confirm this. From time to time, I like to post the Google Analytics report for, so people can see where users are coming from.

Note that I only capture the Google Analytics information from the login page and nowhere else.

Here is the map overlay and table by country of visitors to the login page. - Google Analytics - 20110828

My interpretation of this report:

  • This report should not be used to determine the primary geographies of Application Express developers. There are countless developers who happily use APEX yet never visit the login page of
  • The U.S. consistently has more visits than any other country.
  • Since I did this same exercise in 2008, there has been a significant increase from India.
  • Canada has also climbed into the top 5.
  • Poland and Brazil have vaulted into the top 10. Three years ago, Brazil was 23rd, now they are 7th. Impressive.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Where did the online help go in APEX 4.1?

This morning, I responded to an inquiry from Oracle Support (on behalf of a customer) about the lack of "online help" in Application Express 4.1. There is also a current thread on the Oracle Technology Network discussion forum that is asking the question "where did the help go?"

This is not an oversight. This was intentional by design and for the following reasons:

  • This gives our documentation team greater flexibility in correcting documentation and online help issues. Here is a great example of why this is beneficial to us and our customers.
  • Many customers would never use the online help and use Google Search instead.
  • The online documentation is searchable.
  • This dramatically reduces the overall distribution size of APEX 4.1 as well as the size of the content loaded into the XDB repository (if you're using the embedded PL/SQL gateway).
  • This removes the complexity associated with indexing the online help files, especially if your instance is accessed over SSL and/or the database is behind a firewall that cannot get to the Web server.
And what about a customer who cannot get to the Internet, if they are disconnected or at a facility (like a military customer or government intelligence) where access to the Internet is blocked? Well, this customer can download the entire documentation, stage it somewhere, and then adjust the URL that is used when clicking the 'Help' link from within Oracle Application Express. this "improvement on the wrong side" as one customer suggests? I personally don't think so.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Error in Installation Guide for Oracle Application Express 4.1

The new release of Oracle Application Express 4.1 will be installed into a new schema in your database. The name of this schema is 'APEX_040100'. Unfortunately, the Installation Guide for Oracle Application Express 4.1 references a schema name of 'APEX_041000'. This is incorrect. For any example code (e.g., creation of Network ACL) which references APEX_041000, simply replace it first with APEX_040100.

Hopefully this error is short-lived, as I have reported this error to our documentation team and requested that they correct this in the hosted documentation. If you're reading this blog post a month from now and you don't see any reference to the incorrect APEX_041000, then the problem has been resolved.

Thanks to Dimitri Gielis of APEX Evangelists for finding and reporting this error.

Important Update: As of August 26, 2011, this problem is now resolved. This is the beauty and flexibility of online help and documentation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oracle Application Express 4.1 released

Oracle Application Express 4.1 was officially released today and is available for download from the Oracle Technology Network.

  • Data Upload - add functionality to your application so your end users can upload CSV data (similar to what you can use in Application Express SQL Workshop)

  • Error Handling - Dramatically improved error handling, where you can define how exceptions are handled in your application instead of being constrained by the APEX engine itself. Patrick discussed this in detail here and here.

  • ROWID - Instead of being constrained by one or two element primary keys, you can simply use ROWID as the unique identifier for Automatic DML forms and tabular forms.

  • Websheets - Websheets have undergone a complete overhaul of the user interface, as well as some interesting new features, like the ability to create reports on SQL queries against DataGrid data.

  • Tabular Forms - Many new features with tabular forms, including tabular forms processes and tabular form validations.

  • Plug-Ins - Support for Authentication and Authorization plug-ins

  • Calendars - Enable editing of data directly from links in a calendar, and also support drag-and-drop to move rows from one day/time to another.

  • Dynamic Actions - Support added for dynamic actions against buttons, and other enhancements.

  • Accessibility - Numerous accessibility improvements have been made in the templates and HTML produced by Application Express.

  • Translations - Complete overhaul of the user interface, previously discussed here.

One obvious question is going to be "where is mobile support?" When jQuery Mobile becomes production software, we will include it in the very next patch set of Oracle Application Express. The infrastructure is there in APEX 4.1 to support it. And Marc Sewtz has promised to blog about how you can drop in the jQuery Mobile Beta into an APEX 4.1 installation. The jQuery Mobile Beta portion can't be supported by Oracle Support, obviously.

Our many thanks to the countless people who participated in the Application Express 4.1 Early Adopter program and provided feedback, suggestions and bug reports. We also owe a special thanks to the many Oracle employees who run their mission critical applications on (an internal instance of Application Express, but for production applications, used by virtually every business unit in the company). They reported many issues and endured some outages while we rectified flaws in the upgrade process and Application Express engine itself. It is thanks to their patience and problem reporting that we were able to avoid embarrassing and reputation-breaking occasions for our customers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

UK Ministry of Justice, Zippy Zebra and Oracle Application Express

An Oracle partner, Zippy Zebra, has recently published a case study of one of their most recent engagements. The system is for the Ministry of Justice in the United Kingdom. Zippy Zebra was commissioned by Capita and HP on this program, and their efforts were part of a modernization program for a system called OASys, which is the abbreviated term for the Offender Assessment System.

I received a personal demonstration of the Web interface of OASsys (written in Oracle Application Express) from Jonathan Rhind of Zippy Zebra. I was impressed not only with their expert knowledge of Oracle Application Express, but also their competence in Web technologies and user interface design. Most Web applications are "okay"; this system was beautiful.

You can read the full details in the case study on the Zippy Zebra site. Please note that the system is targeted to support a user population of 30,000, all running on Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC), with Oracle Database 11g Enterprise Edition.

And who said APEX is only good for Access or Excel replacement? for APEX 4.1 Early Adopter going away

This may be a late blog posting, but for those who haven't noticed, on the login page of there is the following message:

"This instance will be turned off on 12-AUG-2011."

After this Friday, August 12, 2011, we will be extinguishing the database instance and server. It has served its purpose. If you want anything from there, please go grab it now.

Thanks to the 1,411 customers who signed up to kick the tires of Application Express 4.1 Early Adopter. Your time spent is appreciated and your feedback has been invaluable.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Need Your Support

Firstly, this post has nothing to do with Oracle nor Oracle Application Express. So you can stop reading now, if you wish. Also, this is a shameless request for financial donations. So, again, you can stop reading now. As our friend Carl Backstrom said so many years ago, "Hey it's my blog I can post what I want ! :)"

In a few weeks, I will be participating in a bike tour with the sole purpose of raising money for cancer research. Last year, I rode with a group of guys for 43 miles. This year, I am doing the full 180 mile (289.6 km) tour over two days. I get nothing out of this endeavor other than tired legs and sore arms. My goals are to to raise awareness of this dreadful disease and help solicit donations which will help fund cancer research.

The tour is called Pelotonia. 100% of every donation will fund essential research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. I am simply asking you to help me reach my fundraising goal. Large or small, every donation makes a difference. Even a $5 donation is relevant - every contribution is important. In 2010, over 4,000 riders and volunteers participated to raise $7,846,705 for cancer research.

My ride this year has extra meaning for me. I am dedicating my 180 mile ride in honor of my father, Robert R. Kallman, a prostate cancer survivor, who passed away on July 22, 2011. He handled his disease and old age with both grace and zeal.

If you're interested, my Pelotonia profile is at: Look for the "Donate To My Ride" link in red. And I know that you can be on the opposite side of the planet and still make a donation, as my good friend Arie Geller from Israel has already proven.

I am grateful for your support in this cause, no matter how large or small. Thank you.