UKOUG: Forms Migration

There were a lot of sessions on forms, most of them handled about migration.
So, here’s a little wrap up of the forms migration sessions I followed on the UKOUG conference.

When thinking about migration, you need to think again before making a decision.
Do it for the right reasons, make a good analysis and plan everything upfront.
The right reason is not because there’s a migration tool that migrates everything.
Such tool does not exist.
This is what most experienced people will tell you, unless they sell a migration tool.
Allthough, this is even told by Steven Davelaar(Oracle The Netherlands), who gave two sessions:
- Guidelines for moving from Forms to ADF and SOA
- JHeadstart Forms2ADF generator: Moving form Oracle Forms to a best practice ADF application
Two very interesting sessions on migration.

The first session was about making the decision, the strategy and the pitfalls.
Before you even want to migrate, ask yourself the proper questions and make an analysis:

  • current situation: forms version, designer, how is it used(standard or “creative forms”),…
  • current functionality: integration with standard functionalities
  • current DB model & future plans
  • current UI: need for a redesign?
  • current documentation: if there is none, what are you going to migrate?
  • current end users:  how are they using the application, are they happy?
  • current IT staff: are they eager to learn? (everything will be new)
  • what direction to you want to move to: richer ui, customization & personalization,…

And start with the beginning: pull out the logic from forms!
Well do this anyway, this will leave all options open, no matter what presentation layer.

Migration has a lot of pitfalls, so watch out!
When migrating, a re-design and re-implementation is probably needed.
Steven ended that session with the following sentence:

Make lasagna (layered approach) and/or ravioli (service oriented approach) instead of spaghetti (like most forms application with code and business logic in forms and on the database)

The second session was about the tool JHeadstart and how it can help you in a best practice migration.
He reminded us on the monday session: define a strategy before you start!
He explained what JHeadstart was (not a migration tool!): an ADF generator and a best practice toolkit.
It generates metadata(XML), not code.
A part of JHeadstart is the Forms2ADF generator, it generates metadata from your forms application.
The demo he gave was pretty impressive, he took an old forms application (that he made in 2002) and generated a new ADF application.
But watch out, it doesn’t migrate everything: not one line PL/SQL is converted, it’s only documented though in JHeadstart.
You have to choose by yourself where to implement that code(business logic on the database, forms logic in the different ADF layers).
What are the JHeadstart benefits: autocreated ADF business components, metadata, best practice architecture.
Steven mentioned also OraFormsFaces, this an integration module to let your forms run in a JSF web application.
Definitly check this tool when you’re thinking about moving/integrating forms to/into ADF.

Another session on migration: “Is Apex the new forms?”
Not a great session, but they started also with the same idea as Steven: analyse before migrating and put all Business logic on the database.
The session was given by an employee of PITTS, so of course the migration tool of the company was shown.
This tool takes a form as input and creates an Apex import script.

It was not as detailed as the demo that Steven did about JHeadstart, but maybe it can be used as best practice.
The tool didn’t convince me…it even didn’t convince the speaker, as his conclusion was simple: “Is Apex the new forms?  No!  Or at least not yet.”
At least he was honest: the tool is no silver bullet and there are limitations.

Conclusion: when doing a migration, think…and think again.
Do you have good reason to migrate?
Then analyse.
Don’t try to find the silver bullet…

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One thought on “UKOUG: Forms Migration

  1. This is a good point: think before you start.

    A lot of true words, which are often overheard by people promoting migrations. Often there is no “need” to migrate to another tool.
    Forms is still good working and still under (very little) development.

    And you can’t definitely expect any other tool (including APEX) to work exactly as Forms, after you migrated.

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