Monday, 28 July 2008

What does the future hold for Apex?

Last year was the worst year of my working life. Okay, maybe that's putting it a little too strongly - it's not as if I ended up sleeping in cornershop doorways being pissed on by drunks, fighting over half-eaten sandwiches with rats while supporting my crack cocaine habit by selling my body. But sometimes things seemed that bad: I spent, you see, last year working with Oracle ADF. (Arrgh, even after this much time the very name floods my mouth with bile.)

I'm willing to give ADF the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe (just maybe) it's actually a ... passable product, but it's definitely NOT the right product for an Oracle Forms developer to graduate to. The learning curve is far too steep and the technology is still far too tetchy.

Oracle Application Express is altogether a different story. I returned from a rather elementary 5 day course at Oracle and immediately felt ready to dive in head first. Yes, I'm still discovering new facets of the product even now, but at no point has this mountain felt unclimbable.

The one question I do have is one that no one outside Oracle would really be able to answer, and one which no one inside Oracle would necessarily answer truthfully: what does the future hold for Apex?

Just last week my boss at work informed us that the majority of our new development would now be written in Apex (which is great for me since I'm currently the only Apex 'expert' that we have). But at that meeting everyone turned to me and asked what my feelings about the future of Apex are - would Oracle give it the investment it will need to become an industry-leading development tool or will they abandon it one year down the line and move on to the next hyped thing? Does Apex even possess the oomph to power large-scale applications? Will we regret hitching our future to this bandwagon?

My answer was this: I don't know. However I'll be very interested in hearing what everyone else thinks.

1 comment:

David Peake said...

David,

Let me tell you what I can on the future of Oracle Application Express.
Being Product Manager for the tool it is a question I often get asked.

In short, there are never any guarantees with any development tool, no matter how good or popular it is. That being said, the future for Application Express looks very bright indeed.

Application Express is a no-cost option of the Oracle Database and as such gets very little marketing investment compared to other development tools. This does not mean that Oracle does not value the tool and its capabilities enormously, merely that it is not promoted in the same manner. The tool has rapidly become very popular within the Oracle community instead through word-of-mouth.

Examples of APEX's popularity include the third largest OTN Forum behind SQL + PL/SQL and General Database, our free development hosted site (http://apex.oracle.com) gets over 2 Million hits and on average 150 new account requests a week, 7 out of 25 Oracle Mix sessions selected based on community voting, over thirty sessions total at Oracle Openworld 2008, a large and growing APEX Community & Partners listing on OTN (Over 60 consulting and/or hosting companies, over 40 Blogs).

Oracle has shown its commitment to Application Express by making it part of the seed installation of Oracle Database 11g. Therefore, whenever you install Oracle Database 11g it automatically installs Application Express. Such decisions are not made lightly and not made for tools with limited life expectancy.

Internally Oracle Application Express has also become a critical development tool. Every Oracle Employee utilizes our ARIA People Search application (also downloadable from our Packaged Applications on OTN) built with APEX. There are countless internal applications hosted on our internal site with the majority of development teams using APEX applications in varying degrees.

Oracle Application Express is now built directly into Audit Vault R2, a for-cost database option. Application Express currently provides the reporting capabilities for Audit Vault with future development looking to incorporate more Application Express functionality.

There are also a growing number of internet sites and commercial applications built with Oracle Application Express.

So in answering your question I have no reason to lie as Oracle Application Express is going from strength to strength and our dynamic development team keep creating innovative new releases

Regards,
David Peake
Product Manager
Oracle Application Express

{P.S. Please send me an email (david.peake@oracle.com) to be added to our OTN list of APEX Bloggers}