According to an article I read on the BBC website there's a whole coterie of people out there who still believe that the earth is flat. Yes, they're a bunch of crazies but I'm kinda grateful they exist cos they've given me the opportunity to use the word coterie in a sentence: admit it, you never have, have you?
But when you ask these flat-earthers what is beyond the edge of the earth they've got one simple answer: More earth.
Oracle Application Express, I've found, is kinda like that. Yes, you're occasionally going to hit the outer edges of its capabilities, but if you push against these edges you find more earth. Today I had a requirement to integrate a genogram into my app. It was immediately obvious that I'd need a Flash chart. And then it became immediately obvious that none of the pre-packaged Flash charts (pies, lines, bars, dials etc) would fullfil the need.
All of which led me to FusionCharts, which is a brilliant set of flash charts and widgets. All I had to do was figure out how to integrate it into my app. First I had to write a function to extract the data I needed from my database and output it as correctly-formatted XML. That bit was easy so I won't bore you with it.
Next I uploaded the Flash (SWF) file for my chart into my workspace. (Tell me something: when you upload an image to your application using Apex's image uploader you refer to it by pointing at # APP_IMAGES#, so how do you think you'd refer to a file you've uploaded using Apex's file uploader? #APP_FILES#? Wrong! Illogically, all files uploaded into your application should be pointed at using the #APP_IMAGES# substitution string.)
Finally, I created a dynamic PL/SQL content region outputting the necessary wrapper tags for my Flash movie (which I copied from the FusionCharts examples), pointing it to my uploaded swf file and feeding it the XML from my database function (which I call in "before regions" page process).
And there you have it - more earth. Suddenly you are no longer constrained by the limited list of flash charts that come packaged with Apex. Easy-peasy when you know how.
(Apparently, Scott Spendolini recently presented a paper on integrating FusionCharts into Apex but I couldn't find it on the internet. Go ye forth and Google for it for thou might have more luck than I.)