Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kaleidoscope – A look back and then ahead

The first time I went to ODTUG Kaleidoscope was 2008 in New Orleans. To meet the many people that I’d communicated with for so long and some cases aspired to, well, that for me was a real treat. But after missing last year’s conference (due to budget cuts), I’d nearly forgotten the feeling.

I’m happy to say this year’s Kaleidoscope did not disappoint! It was great to see some familiar faces and some new ones as well. The coverage of APEX is second to none and allows for an impressive amount of knowledge transfer. Can’t wait to go again next year…

It’s hard not to get excited about the new features released in APEX 4. I was joking with Patrick Wolf about how APEX is getting closer to Forms – but in a good way ;)

Forms has a very rich client side event system that allowed developers to easily create highly interactive applications. It’s as though you can add “triggers” to just about any end user action – even if just to call an anonymous PL/SQL block.

In the web world, a similar client side event system has existed for some time - perhaps even more robust than that of Forms. But to take advantage of it you had to learn some other languages: JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

With APEX 4.0 that’s no longer “the rule”. Dynamic Actions have put a declarative framework on top of the event system used in web development and the learning curve to create interactive applications is amazingly small. Knowledge of JavaScript is not yet obsolete, but perhaps the APEX team is not quite finished…

And then there’s the new plug-in architecture. The community now has a stake in the future success of APEX like never before. Keep an eye on plug-ins… As the the community migrates APEX systems over to 4.0, the number of plug-ins will grow and they will mature over time. Hopefully when you have a need, there’ll be a plug-in for that!

Have a look at some of the plug-ins being added to http://www.apex-plugin.com/.

I used to write complex blog posts that would walk readers through a series of steps (which often included lots of code) to achieve a task. Many readers wanted the end result, but didn’t want to have do deal with the code – plug-ins are making that possible. And for the others that did want to look at the code, you’re more than welcome to open the plug-in up and take a look “under the hood” so to speak.

In short, lots of changes -  all of them great. I’m already looking forward to APEXposed!

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