Monthly Archives: January 2007

APEX Amnesty

I don’t usually like to advertise the services I run on Shellprompt Hosting in this blog, however I’ve had a few emails lately regarding people who are actually using the public Oracle APEX server to run production applications (that’s against one of the few rules that the public Oracle server has).

Well, to try and tempt those people aware from (mis)using the public server, I’ve come up with a couple of new offers, firstly I’m running an amnesty where you can actually try out the services on Shellprompt free for a month to help you to see what the uptime/service/performance etc is like, secondly I’ve dropped the prices for entry level APEX hosting to under 5 UK pounds a month, which depending on the US/UK exchange rate when you read this, could be under 10USD a month.

There are more details available on the Shellprompt site or if anyone has any questions (or suggestions! I’m always open to suggestions), feel free to drop me an email

APEX Frameworks and Add-Ons

I’ve noticed that Application Express sometimes seems a bit ‘lacking’ in the kind of 3rd party plugins and libraries that you can use to extend and improve the original product, I’m not entirely sure why this is when you compare it against the sort of community development going on with Ruby On Rails and some other development environments.

There are packaged applications you can download from the Oracle OTN, however there don’t seem to be that many independent applications, frameworks or libraries available out there at the moment, perhaps people are doing lots of development on their own and can’t/won’t share their code?

However, there are two people out there who have done some great work that you can incorporate into your APEX applications, the first is Patrick Wolf who is developing the ApexLib Framework which includes a whole host of features (too many to list here!) which can make your life easier when working with APEX applications, you can also view an online demo which shows off some of the features. I find this sort of framework very exciting and interesting and I’m sure if more people shared the work they were doing then it would help all of us in the long run. Thanks Patrick!

The second thing that has caught my eye lately is the work done by Denes Kubicek in providing a framework which allows you to incorporate Maani Flash Charts inside APEX easily. Denes has written some packaged functions which simplify working with the Maani flash components and has also provided an online demo which shows how it works.

By all accounts Application Express 3.0 is expected to include significant enhancements to the standard charting, including native flash charts, however there will undoubtedly be many people who won’t be able to upgrade to the latest version of APEX immediately (I’m aware of quite a few sites out there still running APEX 1.6) so the work Denes has done will help those people immensely.

I think it’s great that the APEX community is doing work like this, long may it continue!

Presenting at Collaborate 07

Just like Dimitri Gielis, I also received my confirmation last week that my paper I submitted for the Collaborate 07 event has been accepted by the IOUG Conference Committee.

The paper I will be presenting is –

Session Code: 117
Abstract Title: APEX – Delivering pages in 3 seconds or less (because users don’t like waiting!)
Date: 04/17/2007 / 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM

I struggled for quite a while to come up with a title that would sum up what I’m going to present about, one of my first attempts was ‘Application Express in 3 seconds or less’, until someone pointed out that it might seem like I was trying to teach people how to use APEX in less than 3 seconds…so that one was quickly dropped.

There were quite a few different topics that I considered for the presentation, however I eventually decided on something just a little bit different since it’s an area that quite often isn’t considered until your application is deployed (if it’s considered at all!), namely ‘ways in which you can make the application behave better from the users perspective’.

The ‘3 seconds or less’ in the Abstract Title refers to the fact that the longer it takes your website pages to load, the more unsatisfied and frustrated with the website as a whole your users will become.

I’m actually going to present some techniques you can use which can potentially have a huge effect on the usability of your application from the users perspective, not only that they can greatly benefit you as an organisation too, both from a performance, scalability and resourcing aspect.

I really would encourage anyone using APEX to look into some of the techniques I’m going to present because they can *really* make a difference to how your application behaves.

Anyway, Vegas in April….hope to see you there!

I want one of those

I watched the Apple keynote which was released yesterday and as soon as I saw the iPhone I knew I wanted one. This ‘device’ looks absolutely gorgeous, it’s fit well in the hand unlike some of the other bulkier smartphones out there) and as you come to expect from Apple, it lets you perform the tasks you want to perform without being overcomplicated.

I’ve been an Apple user for over 18 months now and I have to admit I wouldn’t actually go back to using a Windows machine now, there’s a bit of a misconception that Macs are for people who ‘don’t need the power of Windows’ but from my perspective that’s simply not true. I would certainly say that I was a ‘Power User’ type of Windows user, I’ve used Borland Delphi to work on all sorts of Windows development projects over the years, I’ve read about, eaten and slept the Windows API, I’ve written multi-threaded Windows services which handled millions of transactions per hour and whats more….I enjoyed it.

However, about 18+ months ago my Windows laptop began showing signs of age and I rather than go out and buy a new one, I decided to go for a Powerbook instead (yep, I bought a G4 powerbook right before Apple announced they’d be moving to Intel chips). I’d say (looking back) that within a couple of days I’d gotten used to the new user interface, within a couple of weeks I’d got used to the new Operating System (OSX) and within a month or so I felt completely at home as a ‘Mac Switcher’ (as we’re known apparently).

I have been completely impressed with the way that using a Mac just lets me get on with doing whatever I want to do, my productivity has definitely increased (that’s a general feeling, I haven’t quantitatively measured it!), I no longer need to ‘hack around in the registry’ or hunt around to ‘find the right drivers’, things ‘just work’ and ‘work nicely’.

I have met or talked to a few people who said they tried a Mac and didn’t like it, although this usually turns out to mean they used one for a day or tried one out in an Apple store, or even worse they didn’t try one out themselves they just read someone elses review on one. However I have yet to meet someone who has used a Mac and has taken the time to learn how to use it properly and has then regretted the decision and gone back to Windows.

So, I know that getting an iPhone will mean that it integrates well with my existing setup and my ‘workflow’ (I can’t say I ever really had a ‘workflow’ when I was a Windows user). My contacts, appointments, notes etc will all seamlessly sync between my laptop and the phone, which is exactly what I need (or should that be ‘want’?).

Unfortunately being in the UK it means that I’ll have to wait until close to the end of the year before it arrives over here, the upside is that it gets to be tested in the wild by lots of people in the US before it gets here. Another potential issue is which network provider will pick the iPhone up over here (Apple have partnered with Cingular in the US), it would be nice to have an unlocked device which I can use on any network that I chose without having to sign up for a contract, but we shall see.