Oracle Forms: the road ahead…

At iAdvise we have about 12 full-time Oracle Forms consultants/developers, the complete Cronos group has got about 30 consultants/developers working with this ancient toolset ;-)

To stay up-to-date with current developments, I attended the “Oracle Forms: the road to SOA” seminar a few weeks ago (mar 6, 2007). This seminar was hosted by Oracle UK (London) and I think I was the only person from Belgium on site. Keynote speaker was Grant Ronald, Principal Product Manager in Oracle’s Tools division. He did a very good job explaining Oracle Forms is still alive and kicking . Even though a lot of people seem to doubt (some even regret) it, Oracle Forms will be around for many, many years to come.


A few months ago I also attended an Oracle web-seminar, hosted by Oracle HQ Forms Product Management (Jan Carlin) about new features in Forms 11. To be honest, I was one of the non-believers at first, just look at my comments on this post on the EuroTransplant blog.

Since then, I’ve read al lot of things about this issue and I’ve changed my opinion. Just look at some of these facts:
- Even though Grant could not provide exact numbers, he claimed 35-40% of all companies using an Oracle Database are also using Oracle Forms (custom build applications or Oracle Apps). Because of this very large install base, A LOT of money has been (and is being) invested in Oracle Forms. It’s naive to think any technology will take over this position in the short future.

- According to Grant, the Oracle Forms forum is in the Top 5 on OTN (only after SQL – PL/SQL – Database if I’m correct), with hundreds of new threads/messages each month. So, even after 20 years, Oracle Forms still is one of the most popular development platforms Oracle provides.

- Oracle’s current motto about Oracle Forms is “Upgrade & Integrate”. There are a lot of Oracle Forms applications worldwide which still run in character or Client-Server mode. In general it is much cheaper / quicker to upgrade these forms, instead of completely rebuilding them in a new environment. In fact, integration features of Oracle Forms 11 will make it even easier to leverage investments of the past.

- It’s been said many times before, but just read the Oracle statement of direction about Oracle Forms: Oracle Forms is supported until 2013 at least!

Quote from Jan Carlin (Oracle Forms product manager) on Jan 5,2007: Oracle have no plans to discontinue development or maintenance of Forms. Oracle Applications will continue to use Forms for at least another 10 years and we have many tens of thousands of customers using Forms for applications with thousands of users all over the world. We would be undermining ourselves if we desupported Forms any time soon.

With this in mind, I asked myself a few questions:
- What are claims like “Oracle webforms doesn’t have a real future anymore” or “Oracle Forms is history” based on? Which facts or official statements can you provide to support these statements?
- Why would you recommend a switch in development platforms to a customer if their current Forms investment perfectly fits their business needs?

I found no satisfying answer to any of these questions, so it’s pretty obvious I had to change my original opinion. I hope sales people will do the same ;-)

Feel free to give your opinion on this…

Wouter

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3 thoughts on “

  1. I think you still need to keep an open mind towards the future, towards the SOD Oracle is focussing on which is Fusion Middleware. You need to be able to integrate these forms into real-time applications, they need to be flexible but indeed the core business still is the Oracle DB.I think companies will need to invest in SOA to be able to integrate with external partners which are offering their services as web services, …

  2. Grant Ronald has a nice post about Oracle Forms: the road to SOA.I share his opinion.http://groundside.com/blog/GrantRonald.php?title=betting_your_mortgage_on_oracle_forms_th&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1Quote:”SOA is strategic for them, but they are adopting SOA by firstly securing and minimising risk by preserving their investment in Forms for delivering business as it has successfully been doing for years. By securing and mitigating risk, they can focus on adoption of new technologies and start architecting to deliver services – and JDeveloper and ADF are important for them in that respect as well.”

  3. What I would like to see is a major improvement with regard to user interface for the end user, i.e. a lot more options when it comes to layout and look-and-feel. Today it is possible to create applications that look “OK”, but takes a LOT of work if you want to create something anywhere near “NICE” or “IMPRESSIVE”. Oracle is way behind the .NET world here.

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