Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Important Change Is Coming for Application Express 5.2 (if you use the Mobile User Interface)

An important change is coming in Oracle Application Express 5.2.  The mobile user interface (based upon jQuery Mobile) will be deprecated.  The deprecation announcement will be included with the forthcoming Application Express 5.1.3 patch set release.

What this means for you

  • If you have applications developed with the mobile user interface based upon jQuery Mobile, they will continue to function in a supported fashion in Application Express 5.1.x.  Premier Support of Oracle Application Express 5.1.x continues until December 2021.
  • New mobile applications should be created using the Desktop User Interface and Universal Theme (Theme 42) and not the Mobile User Interface & jQuery Mobile-based theme (Theme 51).
  • Existing mobile applications should be migrated to the Universal Theme if you want to run them on Oracle Application Express 5.2 and later.

Why is this happening?

The last stable version of the jQuery Mobile library was released on October 31, 2014, and it only provides support for jQuery versions 1.8 through 1.11, and jQuery 2.1.  Patches are no longer provided for these versions of jQuery.  Application Express 5.2 will ship with jQuery 3.2 (necessary for us to adopt the latest Oracle JET libraries).  jQuery Mobile will not function properly with jQuery 3.2.

While we will make every effort to devise a way to include the necessary libraries for jQuery-mobile based applications in Application Express 5.2, that may not solve all problems entirely, especially when we try to include the data visualizations via Oracle JET, which have different dependencies.  We do truly strive to ensure backward compatibility of APEX applications across upgrades.  It's of paramount importance to us, and we spend a lot of time and energy ensuring that stability, operation, look and feel remain constant across APEX version upgrades.  But in this specific case, there doesn't appear to be a practical solution.  We're in a box.

There has been some recent activity in a new version of jQuery Mobile, namely 1.5alpha.  But given the fact that there was a very long hiatus on jQuery Mobile for an extended period of time, and it's unlikely that jQuery Mobile 1.5 will be stable enough by the time Application Express 5.2 is released, we collectively decided to announce depreciation of the Mobile User Interface based upon jQuery Mobile.  We literally spent months researching and contemplating this dilemma.  It's unfortunate.  The positive angle, though, is that we're in complete control of the Universal Theme and should not encounter similar issues with Universal Theme-based applications in the future.


Scott Wesley said...

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in some of those discussions.

Is this move going to be accompanied with some declarative options in regard to content management between devices?

ie: User opens page x on 4" device, but it was mostly designed for min 10".
Do we need to rely on our own methods to control what regions / columns displayed (or branch to dedicated page), or will APEX help the developer?

Andre said...

Hi Joel,

So there will be no other alternative provided by the apex team? No mobile theme at all?

I have one app that has over 60 mobile pages and its growing, it's a custom WMS system and the customer really likes how the solution was presented using oracle apex and that it was lot faster than he was expecting for the app to be in production. What should I tell this customer now?

UT has the responsive design but for apps that will run on mobile phones it's just not the ideal theme to use.


Joel R. Kallman said...

Hi André,

Thank you for the feedback. As stated in the blog post, it's never in our interest to cause a customer or a partner additional work or pain. In this case, we were severely limited with what we could do. We surely can't develop jQuery Mobile ourselves.

In the short-term, nothing drastic needs to be done. The version of APEX they're on will continue to be supported by Oracle through December 2021. But they will not be able to upgrade to APEX 5.2 or beyond.

The strategic long-term direction remains Universal Theme for both desktop applications and mobile applications. We intend to extend Universal Theme with more mobile and touch-friendly features. We also intend to improve the functionality of our native components (especially Interactive Grid) to work better on smaller screen / touch devices.

I hope this helps. If I can be of assistance to you or your customer, please do let me know.


Long Acre said...

Hi Joel,

Thanks for this candid blog post and for explaining the reasons behind the choice.

My reading of this is that we now have two broad choices:
i) wait for Universal Theme to evolve enough to have mobile and touch-friendly feature
ii) look at alternative technologies.

Obviously my ideal choice would be to try and use the UT but, as the APEX 5.2 statement of direction doesn't mention any new mobile-oriented features, in reality we're probably waiting until 5.3 or later. Optimistically, these would arrive at the end of 2018 or thereabouts.

We're planning to start a mobile project in a few months time, so I'm now wondering what direction to take. Any advice / input would be welcome.

All the best.

APEX 5.2 Statement of Direction: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/testcontent/apex-sod-087560.html

Bifin said...

Hi Joel,

in September it is worth waiting for a patchset 5.1.3?

Diego Gerena (SNIPERCAT) said...

I was ready to start a project using JQuery Movile D:
Do you know when Apex 5.2 will be released? Right now we are using Apex 4.2 and I wanted to upgrade to Apex 5.1 before begin the Development,I was searching for Apex 5.2 Release when the search drove me to this post. If Apex 5.2 will be released soon I could wait a little before the Upgrade.

Thanks for this post.

Joel R. Kallman said...

Hi Diego,

It's my personal recommendation that you start with APEX 5.1.2 now (soon to be 5.1.3). It will be more than "a little" before 5.2 is available.


Joel R. Kallman said...

Hi Bifin - there will be bug fixes on top of APEX 5.1.2. Nothing really major, but fixes in general.