Infrastructure at your Service

For the second and last virtual conference day, I decided to attend presentations on following topics:
– Universal Theme new features
– Oracle APEX Source Code Management and Release Lifecycle
– Why Google Hates My APEX App
– We ain’t got no time! Pragmatic testing with utPLSQL
– Why APEX developers should know FLASHBACK
– ORDS – Behind the scenes … and more!
and the day ended with a keynote from Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman about “Becoming – A Technical Leadership Story”

Universal Theme new features

What is the Universal Theme (UT)?
The user interface of APEX integrated since APEX version 5.0 also known as Theme 42 (“Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams)
New features introduced with UT:
– Template options
– Font APEX
– Full modal dialog page
– Responsive design
– Mobile support
With APEX 20.1 released in April, a new version 1.5 of the UT comes. With that new version different other components related to it like JQuery libraries, OracleJET, Font APEX, … have changed, so check the release notes.
One of the most relevant new features is Mega Menu introducing a new navigation useful if you need to maximize the display of your application pages. You can check the UT sample app embedded on APEX to test it.
Some other changes are:
– Theme Roller enhancement
– Application Builder Redwood UI
– Interactive Grid with Control Break editing
– Friendly URL
Note also that Font Awesome is no longer natively supported (since APEX 19.2) so consider moving to Font APEX.
You can find more about UT online with the dedicated page.

Oracle APEX Source Code Management and Release Lifecycle

Source code management with APEX is always a challenging question for developers used to work with other programming languages and source code version control systems like GitHub.
There are different aspects to be considered like:
– 1 central instance for all developers or 1 local instance for each developer?
– Export full application or export pages individually?
– How to best automate application exports?
There is no universal answers to them. This must be considered based on the size of the development team and the size of the project.
There are different tools provided by APEX to manage export of the applications:
– ApexExport java classes
– Page UI
– APEX_EXPORT package
– SQLcl
But you need to be careful about workspace and application IDs when you run multiple instances.
Don’t forget that merge changes are not supported in APEX!
You should have a look into the Oracle apex life cycle management White Paper for further insight.

Why Google Hates My APEX App

When publishing a public web site Google provides different tools to help you getting more out of it with tools based on:
– Statistics
– Promotion
– Search
– Adds (to get money back)
When checking Google Analytics for the statistics of an APEX application, you realize that the outcome doesn’t really reflect the content of the APEX application, specially in terms of pages. This is mainly due to the way APEX manages page parameter in the f?p= procedure call. That call is much different than the standards URLs where parameters are given by “&” (which Goggle tools are looking for) and not “:”.
LEt’s hope this is going to improve with the new Friendly URL feature introduced by APEX 20.1.

We ain’t got no time! Pragmatic testing with utPLSQL

Unit testing should be considered right from the beginning while developing new PL/SQL packages.
utPLSQL is an open source PL/SQL package that can help to unit test your code. Tests created as part of the development process deliver value during implementation.
What are the criteria of choice for test automation?
– Risk
– Value
– Cost efficiency
– Change probability
Unit testing can be integrated into test automation which is of great value in the validation of your application.
If you want to know more about test automation you can visit the page of Angie Jones.

Why APEX developers should know FLASHBACK

For most people Flashback is an emergency procedure, but it’s much more in fact!
APEX developers know about flashback thanks to the restore as of functionality on pages in the app Builder.
Flashback is provided at different levels:

  1. Flashback query: allows to restore data associated to a specific query based on the SCN. This can be useful for unit testing.
  2. Flashback session: allows to flashback all queries of the session. By default up to 900 seconds in the past (undo retention parameter).
  3. Flashback transaction: allows to rollback committed transaction thanks to transaction ID (XID) with dbms_transaction.undo_transaction
  4. Flashback drop: allows to recover dropped objects thanks to the user recycle bin. Deleted objects are kept until space is free (advice: keep 20% of free sapce). BEWARE! this is not working for truncated objects.
  5. Flashback table: allows to recover a table to a given point in time. Only applicable for data and cannot help in case of DDL or drop.
  6. Flashback database: allows to restore the database to a given point in time based on restore points. This is only for DBAs. This can be useful to rollback an APEX application deployment as a lot of objects are changed. As it works with pluggable databases it can be used to produce copies to be distributed to individual XE instances for multiple developers.
  7. Data archive: allows to recover based on audit history. It’s secure and efficient and can be imported from existing application audits. It’s now FREE (unless using compression option).

The different flashback option can be used to rollback mistakes, but not only. They can also be used for unit testing or reproducing issues. Nevertheless you should always be careful when using commands like DROP and even more TRUNCATE.

ORDS – Behind the scenes … and more!

ORDS provides multiple functionalities:
– RESTful services for the DB
– Web Listener for APEX
– Web Client for the DB
– DB Management REST API
– Mongo style API for the DB
Regarding APEX Web Listener, EPG and mod_plsql are deprecated so ORDS is the only option for the future.
ORDS integrates into different architectures allowing to provide isolation like:
– APEX application isolation
– REST isolation
– LB whitelists
With APEX there are 2 options to use RESTful services:
– Auto REST
– ORDS RESTful services
developers can choose the best suited one according to their needs.
The most powerful feature is REST enabled SQL.

Becoming – A Technical Leadership Story

Being a leader is defined by different streams:
-Influencing others
-Leadership satisfaction
-Technical leadership
and more…
A couple of thoughts to be kept:
– Leaders are not always managers.
– Mentors are really important because they talk to you not about you like sponsors.
– Communication is more than speaking
But what is most important on my point of you is caring about others, how about you?

Thanks to virtualization of the conference all the presentations have been recorded, so keep tuned on DOAG and you will be able to see those and much more! So take some time and watch as much as possible because everything is precious learning. Thanks a lot to the community.
Keep sharing and enjoy APEX!

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Alain Lacour
Alain Lacour

Delivery Manager and Consultant