European Application Express Training – Day 3

Final day already! Wow, you spend months planning something and then before you know it, it’s almost over!

The way it worked out, Dimitri had the first session today after our ‘all the wine you can drink’ meal last night (merely a coincidence I hasten to add!), but fortunately the adrenaline seemed to counteract the effects of the wine the evening before 😉

Todays sessions were:

  • APEX Integration with BI Publisher – Dimitri has already posted about his BI Publisher ‘demo gone bad’. To be fair, I’ve seen him give this type of demo before and it’s always worked flawlessly and is usually one of the ‘wow!’ type demos because of how slick the integration is. However, the laws of averages were against us today and after a *lot* of successful live demos, the inevitable happened and this one hit a snag.

    It is kind of ironic that the thing that failed was APEX or the Database, it was actually a Java issue. This (for us) raises an interesting question, should we do *less* live demos to avoid this kind of possibility? Well, personally I think not, since live demos are such an integral part of how we try to get our message across that if we reduced the number that we do then I’m not sure we could be as effective. Sure you can show lots of slides, but there’s nothing quite like doing something ‘live’ infront of someone to really make them sit up and take notice (it also helps to ‘stretch’ us as presenters I think).

    One of the first slides I showed during the introduction on day 1 said “We do a lot of live demos – something will go wrong”, well today was that day I guess! Everyone who has ever given a live demo will understand that these things happen. However, ever the professional, during lunch Dimitri worked on it and got his demo back to a working state so he could show it working later.
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  • Network Services – This was one of ‘mine’, it’s a bit of a strange title but essentially I demonstrated some techniques you can use to allow your APEX applications to integrate and interface with other remote systems. I presented some of the more obvious techniques, such as webservices, as well as some not so obvious (but still extremely useful) techniques. This is a particular favorite of mine since over the years I’ve been involved with a lot of ‘integration type’ projects where we have had to integrate data from system A with system B (and sometimes with system C thrown into the mix too), so I’m a big believer that almost anything is possible if only you take the time to investigate the tools at your disposal.
  • Localisation – This was Dimitri’s final presentation and the final presentation of the training. Strangely even though the event was hosted in Europe, very few of the attendees actually use localisation techniques in their applications to provide multi-lingual or multi-timezone aware applications. Dimitri showed how easily you can make your applications multi-lingual as well as some of the cool features available to allow users to see dates, times, currencies etc in a format that makes sense for them. I really do hope that more people take advantage of these features as it can make an incredible difference to the experience of the end users of your application.

After the final session, we had a quick speech to thank everyone for coming, then we had a quick break for some food and drinks. However, it became apparent that lots of people had general (or sometimes very specific!) questions about APEX (things we hadn’t covered in the training, or a particular problem they might have). So after the quick break, Dimitri and I decided to do an impromptu question and answer session where we had an open floor for any questions. We didn’t know how many people would come back in for this, so we were extremely pleased when almost everyone came back for it (a couple of people had to leave to catch flights/trains home).

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I really enjoyed this open Q&A, it is one thing to have weeks and months to prepare a presentation, it is quite another to put yourself in a position where almost 30 people can ask you almost any question (about APEX at least!) and you try and answer it. I think it went really well and I think we answered almost every question satisfactorily (I might have said “That’s a bit too big to get into right now, but send me an email later” to one or two people). I really like the interactive nature of our training format (and some people said that was where we were *very* different to some of the other training they had been on).

Finally it was time for (another) “thank you!” speech and then a ‘traditional group photo’ (although some people had already had to leave unfortunately)

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We had asked everyone to fill out an Evaluation form for the training, I did stress that we wanted people to be brutally honest since I believe the worst thing would be if we walked away thinking we’d done a good job, but the attendees had thought we’d done a bad job.

So after everyone else had left, Dimitri and I had a final photo to remember the training by and then we sat down (or collapsed exausted would be more accurate!) and had a look through the feedback forms (it’s very difficult to resists looking through what people have written about you!).

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On the whole the feedback was extremely complimentary, there were certainly some points that we can take on-board to improve (trust me…we always want to improve!), for example a couple of people said that sometimes I speak too quickly, which is definitely something I can control (it isn’t due to nerves, I guess it’s more to do with trying to get through so much material in such a short space of time).

One of the best things to read on the feedback forms was that every single attendee said they would recommend the training…praise indeed!

It’s strange to now look back and think that so much planning went into our first training event like that and now it’s all over. I’m very pleased with how it went and I’m even more pleased that all the attendees seemed to agree with us that it was a success, so I would like to thank everyone who was there for making it a very enjoyable experience for me personally. I’d also like to thank Dimitri, not only for being a great business partner but also a great friend, without whom the experience wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable.

So…time to announce our next training location and dates perhaps?

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