Apex, RTF and MS-Word
At the end of last year we had to re-write a MS-Access application with Apex for maitaining information on the Belgian football competition. Besides storing all kind of information related to the teams, players and games, this application needed also to provide a module for exporting the entered data to different RTF output-files.
Our first idea was to write a PL/SQL package in analogy with the well-known HTP-package, providing for every special formatting (like bold, italic, new line, …) a specific function, wrapping the rtf-tags around a given text. But when we looked at the RTF specifications, we had to recognise that we could not accomplish this on time and on budget.
In the meanwhile we googled for alternative solutions, but couldn’t find any that could be easily integrated in Apex and PL/SQL.
In the end we realized that we already had a tool at ours disposal that is well suited to solve this problem: namely SQLWord, a product developed by Sequel Solutions.
This product gives you the possibility to retrieve Oracle data into Microsoft Word documents. It already exists for years; initially as a client-server tool where it could be integrated with Oracle Forms.
When Oracle Forms moved to the web, the tool was extended with a possibility to create a document from within a browser (based on Mod Pl/Sql).
In fact, those MS-Word documents are RTF-files … and that was what we were looking for !
Additionally, SQL Word provides also a PL/SQL interface that makes it possible to run SQL Word in a kind of batch-mode. By use of DBMS_JOB and an Oracle Directory we could generate all desired RTF-outputs in the background.
So, SQL Word was the ideal solution for the given problem and well suited to integrate with Application Express. When you need to create MS-Word documents, this product can be considered as an alternative for XML Publisher.