Monthly Archives: March 2008

2nd European APEX Training Days – a success!

Last week APEX Evangelists held the second European APEX Training Days event in London (the first event was held in Belgium and was so successful we decided to continue the theme and move to another major European city).

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The course was a 3-day Advanced class covering many different topics related to APEX, from Best Practices, through the APEX Dictionary through to APEX 3.1 New Features (and beyond).

The attendees had a variety of backgrounds and were using APEX in many different ways and it was really interesting to discuss what they had (and had not) been able to do in APEX. Obviously the things they had not been able to do we took as a challenge to try and show them how they could do it!

We always try to make our training events nice and informal, so that the attendees always know they can ask us questions to either clarify something that we discussed in a presentation, or even just ask us a pop-question if they bump into us in the elevator first thing in the morning (it happened and I ended up missing my floor because I was engrossed in the problem!).

One thing we keep noticing about people who use APEX is that they’re so passionate about the technology and eager to learn new ways to use it. The challenge for us was to show them things they weren’t aware of, or to solve some of the problems they had.

We also try to keep the training interesting (always helps!) and interactive, so we always make time for questions, include dedicated open Q&A time (which from the feedback was greatly appreciated, as an example Dimitri sat and demonstrated how to solve a problem that someone had been trying to solve for a while in their own system).

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We also held an APEX Quiz which went down very well (although it helped that we had some nice prizes to give out for the top 3 people!).

On wednesday evening we took the attendees out to a great little Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge called Sale e Pepe, the staff there were absolutely crazy, particularly the manager, but the food was amazing and it gave everyone a great chance to ‘bond’ even more. The only drawback to this of course was that I was the first to present on thursday morning (Dimitri managed to schedule that on the Agenda without me spotting it!).

Some particular highlights for me:

  • One attendee told me it was the best course he’d ever been on (thanks Roger!), of course I then had to check it wasn’t the first course he’d been on! It is always amazing to hear feedback like that. Particularly when it comes from someone who is already using APEX on a daily basis.
  • An attendee from the first training we held came back for the second one. That type of ‘vote of confidence’ really does help us to know we’re doing something useful!
  • We managed to ‘re-unite’ a couple of attendees who hadn’t seen each other for close to 20 years, they looked at each other on the first morning at the Welcome Break and recognised each other (perhaps we should rename ourselves ‘APEX Friends Reunited?).
  • Attendees asking us almost as soon as the course had ended, when the next one would be held…now that’s keen!

I really enjoyed last week and it’s particularly nice to see that the attendees are not only staying in touch with us after the training, but they’re also staying in touch with each other…the APEX community is indeed a friendly one!

It’s been a hectic week, I got the train back from London on friday afternoon (a public holiday here in the UK, which was fun…let’s just say that the UK does not manage to make public transport run on public holidays very well).

I have about 30 hours at home, before getting ready to fly out on Easter Sunday (another bad day to travel!) to do some more APEX Training, time to check those demos work again!

Once again, thank you to all who attended, it was a pleasure to meet you all.

We will be announcing the locations and dates of our next training sessions very shortly.

First ever APEX 3.1 Training?

These last few weeks we have been doing some Beginner APEX training classes for some companies here in the UK (APEX is certainly becoming more popular here in the UK).

Now, I am quite risk averse when it comes to updating software, especially when I’m going to be demoing or training in the near future. However when APEX 3.1 became available a week ago (on the friday evening), I knew I had to download it and play around with it. I’d previously tried it out on the Beta evaluation provided by Oracle, however it’s still not the same as having it on your own machines.

My test upgrades went smoothly, but I also had a dilemma, did I dare risk using 3.1 for a training session I was doing on the monday (giving me just 48 hours or so to test it all worked nicely).

Well call me stupid or call me brave, but I decided that the risks were outweighed by the rewards and I decided to upgrade my ‘presentation’ instance to 3.1 (after taking a backup of course!).

Roll forward to monday and the start of the 3-day training session, it was my first time to demo (in the wild, so to speak) the new 3.1 features to an audience. Bear in mind this was beginner level training to people who hadn’t even used APEX before, so as far as they were concerned *all* the features were new.

However, I needn’t have worried, APEX 3.1 was extremely stable and the new features in 3.1 (particularly interactive reports and the declarative blob support) went down extremely well with the attendees.

Once again, by the middle of the 3-day course a couple of the attendees had downloaded XE and one person was trying to upgrade their XE to use APEX 3.1 (they ran into a few problems but I helped to sort those out).

By the way, I put ‘First APEX 3.1 Training’ with a trailing question mark, since as far as I’m aware this was probably the first training course which 3.1 has been used on (outside of some of the demos done by the Oracle team themselves of course!).

So, I can rest easy that nothing could possibly go wrong during my next training session in London (hint of sarcasm there, since to assume nothing will go wrong when you’re planning to do that many live demos would be plain self-delusion!).