Mobile Applications with APEX & jQuery Mobile

Mobile development is not the next big thing anymore, it is THE big thing today. And as you may already know, Oracle APEX is ready to take on the challenge of creating mobile business solutions.

We at iAdvise already started to experiment with mobile application development in APEX 4.0, but off course this was not the ideal environment yet. Since APEX 4.1 you can declaratively create mobile applications with jQuery mobile, and with the latest release (4.2) it’s really starting to lift off. You can even declaratively build responsive applications.

In May 2012 we gave a seminar about mobile development, and since then we successfully developed several mobile solutions for our clients. Below you can find a demo of an application we created for one of our most valued customers, New Holland Tractor Ltd.

New Holland Tractor Ltd

About New Holland: Since 1895, New Holland is committed to providing solutions that improve farming efficiency and productivity.
New Holland offers cash crop producers, livestock farmers, contractors, vineyards and groundcare professionals the largest choice of easy-to-operate tractors, harvesters and material handling equipment.

New Holland complements the widest agricultural equipment offering in the world with efficient Parts and Service support and a range of tailored financial services from a specialist in agriculture. Setting themselves the highest standards in quality and service, is part of the culture of New Holland, part of the DNA of New Holland. The plant in Antwerp (New Holland Tractor Limited) with some 1,000 employees, is a major manufacturing unit of tractor parts such as rear axles and drive systems.

Mobile application

New Holland Tractor requested a mobile solution to let their workers use checklists at the quality gates of the assembly lines in the plant.
In the past they had to manage all these checklists by hand. For each checklist, a paper form had to be filled out after which it had to be processed by hand. This created a lot of overhead and it was very easy to make errors.

The application had to be developed in Oracle APEX 4.1 and had to be super user-friendly. The result is a simple, yet elegant application.

Usability

At iAdvise we invest a lot to make our applications user-friendly. For this project we started off by designing mockups that were used as guidelines during the development phase, those helped us to create a very simple and efficient application.

For the workers of New Holland Tractor, this solution was a huge improvement. Now that the checklists are processed automatically, it’s very easy to analyze the production process and there’s less room for errors, hence it further increased both productivity and efficiency at the assembly lines.

We feel that mobile development with APEX is really kicking off and the APEX development team is on the right track to make APEX a mobile enabled development environment.

Exciting times are coming!

Seminar: Oracle and Reporting(Mechelen 08/11/2012)

Do you have one or more applications on top of on Oracle Database?

Do you want to show this data in documents and/or reports?

Did you know you don’t have to make a big investment in a BI solution to create attractive letters, orders, invoices or lists?

But which reporting tool, from a long list, is the best solution?

After many years of using and testing different tools, we will show and share our experiences of our preferred reporting tools:

  • Oracle Application Express
  • Oracle Reports
  • Oracle BI Publisher
  • JasperReports
  • SQL Word
  • Eclipse Birt
  • PL/PDF
  • DocuFy

We’re going to demo and compare those tools so you can learn the possibilities, advantages/disadvantages, …
Of course we’re also taking the learning curves and prices in count, so you can find out the best solution for you and your company.

More info and Registration(Dutch)

Apex Extension

About a month ago I saw a mail coming by where a colleague of mine had integrated the jQuery plug-in Codemirror into a text area for the end-user. I hadn’t seen this plug-in before, but I really liked the feel of it.

I’m sure all of us can recognize the fact that we miss tab indentation in  APEX, or that we would like to see key words, numbers and strings in color, or how about some line numbers? Perhaps line numbers that hold into account that the line number of an error in a PL/SQL APEX process is never quite the same as the place of the error. This last one is because APEX places BEGIN and END; automatically around PL/SQL processes. Convenient for the developer so he can develop faster, not so much when it comes down to debugging.

Since we can not change the APEX Application Builder, it would be nice to find another solution? And that solution exists: take a look at the following screenshots:

Image

Image

So how did I do it? A little “thinking outside the box” did the trick. While we might not want to mess with Apex directly, we can use browser Extensions and add-ons, to alter the looks, safely from a distance. So I created a small Chrome Extension that integrates CodeMirror into the APEX Text Areas.

Chrome Extensions are created with HTML5 and JS so once you have the basics of your Extension set up you can convert an Apex Text Area like this:
var vTextArea=document.getElementById(“F4000_P4312_PROCESS_SQL2″);

vMyEditor = CodeMirror.fromTextArea(vTextArea, {

mode: “text/x-plsql”,
tabMode: “indent”,
tabSize : 2,
lineNumbers: true,
firstLineNumber: 2,
lineWrapping: true
});

I wrapped this in a “$(document).ready(function(){});” to make sure it is executed after loading all plug-ins.

I hope I showed you all that you can do allot with a little imagination, and I welcome any questions or suggestions.

Joni Vandenberghe

Oracle Forms community at Oracle Open World 2012

Less than 3 weeks before the biggest Oracle event in the world kicks off: Oracle Open World 2012!

I already wrote about some interesting events: ADF EMG Sunday and the Oracle Benelux Architectural event.

In case you’re into Oracle Forms, you can add an extra event to that: The Oracle Forms Community Event.

After the session of Mia Urman and Grant Ronald “CON5639 - Give Your Forms a Face-lift: Tips and Tricks for Oracle Forms GUI Modernization“(Tuesday, Oct 2, 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM – Marriott Marquis – Foothill F) there will be an “Ask the experts” event.
Here we will answer questions from the audience with Grant Ronald (Oracle Forms Product Manager) as our moderator and a panel of experts(with Lucas Jellema, Oracle Ace Director, as one of them) both solution providers and consultants.

I will be one of the experts too:
– 14 years of Oracle Forms experience
– Presented on several conferences and seminars on Forms and Forms Modernization(OOW, UKOUG, …)
– Presenting this year on OOW: UGF3783 – Oracle ADF Immersion: How an Oracle Forms Developer Immersed Himself in the Oracle ADF World

You can register and add questions using this form.

APEX & mobile seminar

On May 12 iAdvise hosted the “APEX and mobile seminar”.
With a turnout of more than 50 customers and interested developers, it indicates that mobile development is a real hype and the demand for mobile applications is rising.

This was the starting point for Stijn who started with an overview of the current situation and evolution of mobile applications.
It became clear that as a developer you can’t ignore mobile devices in the future.
He continued with explaining the challenges in mobile development and which guidelines and strategies could help in choosing the right technology for mobile applications.

Bart took the word and focused on developing web application for mobile devices using APEX.
By combining APEX with JQuery Mobile, HTML5 and CSS3, one could develop a mobile web application rather fast and simple.
Also implementing specific mobile behaviour(eg. “swiping”) and generating extra content on a tablet are rather simple using APEX.

After Bart, Jan showed a demo about the opportunities on offering APEX applications to users as a native app.
This sounds rather strange, but is possible. He had worked out a demo using PhoneGap, a javascript library which create the communication between a web application and the API of the mobile device.
The demo showed how the APEX application from the other demos was wrapped in a native app.
This makes it possible to add a new contact in the contact list of Jan’s IPhone.

After the demos, they gaves us a look at the future of mobile development with APEX, what we could expect in APEX 4.2 and how PhoneGap will take its place in this future.

At the end Johan Byl of Hestia showed us some points which had to be taken in mind when using mobile devices in a company.
This was also very interesting for application developers.
When developing applications, they’re not always keeping in mind that there will be a maintenance phase.
Eg. The support for the application will be allright, but what about the devices itself?
How will we get the application on all the mobile devices of our company?
Can everybody connect to the company network with his or her device?
Or should we prepare a different infrastructure/security?
These and a lot of other questions were explained and answered by Johan and showed us there are a lot of things we have to think over again before putting a mobile application in production.

At the end, a lucky attendee won an IPad3.
For him, iAdvise and regarding the positive feedback for others as well, it was a succesful seminar.

If you missed this seminar, there will another one at the office of our dutch colleagues in Breda, The Netherlands on May 24 2012.

Click here to subscribe.

Gartner Report: “Modernization and Migration Strategies for Oracle Forms”

Grant Ronald brought this Gartner Report to attention on his blog: “Modernization and Migration Strategies for Oracle Forms“.

It’s great to see that our message brought to our customers and at our presentations is confirmed by this Gartner analysis

  • Upgrade to the latest version – At the moment this is Oracle Forms 11gR2
  • Modernize and integrate
  • Migrate(ADF, APEX, Open Source, …)

If you want more information on this topic, you can read my article on All Things Oracle: “What’s Your Choice for Oracle Forms?“.

OGH APEX Dag 2012

This monday I gave a presentation at the OGH APEX Day about a Forms to APEX migration together with my colleague Ronny Boeykens.

Everything went smoothly, except when my laptop decided to install some windows updates and restarted out of the blue :).

Our presentation was kind of a follow-up on the ‘Forms Modernization’ presentation of my colleague Gert Poel, where they illustrated what the possibilities are when you want to modernize your Forms applications.

In our presentation we explained that APEX can be a worthy substitute for Forms, by showing some examples of a business case.

OGH APEX Dag - Can APEX replace forms

OGH APEX Dag - Can APEX replace forms

I also saw some interesting presentations during the day:

First off was the keynote by Patrick Wolf, where he gave a nice glance at the features we can expect in APEX 4.2.
The things that stood out the most for me were:

  • jQuery mobile will be fully integrated.
  • It will be possible to attach multiple themes to one application, so you can have a mobile and desktop theme in your application.
  • Subscription will be possible on theme level: Thank you!
  • The max. number of items on a page will be raised to 200. Offcourse Patrick noted that when you have more then 100 items on your page, you seriously have to consider if your page is still usable!
  • You will be able to download packaged applications from the Oracle Cloud.

Next up was the presentation of Roel Hartman, that showed some interesting things you can do with HTML5. Especially the websockets, where you can push data from your database to your webpage was really cool. Also the local storage caught my eye.

I also liked the presentation of John Scott, that demonstrated the possibilities of the error handling feature in APEX 4.1. I’m still waiting for the result of the last demo though :).

A big thank you to the organization, everything was perfect! I really enjoyed the day and saw some interesting things.