Dec 4, 2008
Apex is a good development tool for SAAS. Not just because it is secure and scalable, but also because the web applications are generated dynamically. So , customizing each pages for each requirements is easier with APEX than using other traditionnal development tools.
Anyway, the other reason that I blog about SAAS again is that I am preparing for my ODTUG presentation about building multi-tenant SAAS applications with Oracle Application Express.
Here is a good PDF document listing the top ten DOs and Don'ts when providing SAAS. We have been working with our Adsum SAAS product for over 5 years now and I find that this document is very accurate.
Nov 27, 2008
Nov 17, 2008
How do you let your users move regions in a page ? How do you implement that "Working ..." image when your page is submitted ? How do you create modal pop-up windows ? etc ...
Those are all questions that we asked ourselves and were looking for answers.
Well, we started where Carl told us to : JQuery.
Check out our demo application at www.insum.ca/jquery . As we try and find different web2.0 things, we will post the results of our findings there.
At the same time that this is a central refrence for us, I hope that it will help some of you trying to do the same.
we are also open for comments and questions. Feel free to participate either in the forum, or on our blogs.
Nov 13, 2008
I am very happy. That means a lot of work ahead for me, but I think (and Hope) that it will bring a new perspective on APEX to the community.
The title of my presentation is : How to build a multi-tenant SAAS application with Oracle Application Express.
I will show some of the techniques that we use for our own SAAS application. I hope that it will also convince people to start using Apex for commercial applications.
Another conference to add to your Agenda !
Nov 5, 2008
Again, it was very interesting to see all those presentations. There is always new ways of integrating Apex with different technologies.
See all the conferences about Apex with other technologies :
- Integrating PL/Flow with Apex by Scott Stegemann
- Yahoo UI and Jquery with Apex by Tim St. Hilaire
- Integrating Apex and Web Services by Jason Straub
- Integrating Apex with DHTMLX Tree by Bharat Pappu
On the first morning, Scott Spendolini did his 408 slides presentation. Very entertaining. It was funny to see those old technologies that we used back than and the corrolation with today's technology. After that, Mike Hichwa presented some new features coming in the 4.0 release of Apex next year.
Scott Spendolini Payed a tribute to Carl Backstrom on the second morning during his Keynote. I think that it was very appropriate and that it had to be mentioned.
At the same time, his "Avoiding APEX Pitfalls" was very educating. He talked about how to deal with political issues when trying to get people to adopt Apex. I agree with him when he says that the adoption of a new technology is 10% technical and 90% political.
I had the chance to network with different people and is is always motivating to discuss the possibilities of Apex with them.
Another presentation that I liked was Steven Feuerstein's : "A Solid PL/SQL Foundation for Apex Developers". Basically, APEX has to be treated as any other PL/SQL development and Database Packages should be used in PL/SQL APEX Processes to ease maintenance and tuning.
So, this trip was short and sweet. Fly in and fly out of Chicago . I would have liked to visit downtown but the Hotel was a bit too far. So maybe another time.
ODTUG is a great association and I think that they are listening to their members and reacting in a good way. All I can say to them is "keep up the good work".
I submitted an abstract for the ODTUG Kaleidoscope next year. Who knows, maybe I will be presenting. The subject of my presentation is : How to build a multi-tenant SAAS application with Oracle Application Express.
Can't wait to see if it will be accepted.
Oct 28, 2008
Carl, we will miss you.
He was a really friendly person and a great guy. Always ready to help the community.
I am shocked. This is a big loss.
My condolences to his family.
Oct 8, 2008
Wednesday September 25
Yep, after this long day and after spending a lot of energy stressed about the presentation, well, it was time for Party !
This year, the appreciation event was on the Treasure Island in SFO. Treasure Island is a man-made atoll located in the middle of San Francisco Bay and just beneath the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
For the occasion, there was some thrill rides , arcades and two stages with live performances. It's my second OpenWorld and again, it was incredible. As last year, there was a lot of food and drinks. What a nice party.
Here are some pictures of the event :
Thursday September 26
After a short night, I attendted Jonh Scott's presentation "Dispelling Myths About Oracle Application Express" . Of all the presentation I saw during the week, I think that this one was one of my favourite. Why ? Because, we have been using APEX for more than 4 years now and we used it in all kinds of architectures, applications, configurations and it is working very well but, when you talk to your customers about Apex, they do not believe us when we say that this new tool is : a good tool, it scales, it's web enabled, it's secure, it's simple. Everything today is so complicated that when you say "well, all you need is an oracle database" the customer says "What's the catch ?" "Can it scale", "Will Oracle support it", "If it's free it's not good", "It's not a proven technology" .
Well, Scott did a good job in listing all of those myths and dispelled them one by one. Nice job. If you have the chance to see that presentation, go. It's worth it. Especially for the Apex timeline that he shows . It's surprising to see for how long this product (Apex) has been there. Longer than you think...
Friday September 27
Well, that was my last day in SFO and we went visiting Alacatraz , Fisherman's warf and Pier 39. We also did a last ride in the Cable Car.
With so many new things in my mind, I now have to find a way to communicate everything to my team here in Montreal.
Oct 5, 2008
Wednesday was a big day for me. I was going to be part of a presentation for the first time at OOW !
I was a bit nervous since I had nothing prepared. The fact that English is not my native language added to the nervousness. But it was a round table and we were there to just talk about our experience with APEX in a Software as a sevice (SAAS) environment and answer questions from the audience.
So, in the morning, I attended the "Soup-to-Nuts RAD Development Using Oracle SQL Developer and Oracle Application Express" presentation by Mike Hichwa and David Peake.
here is a snapshot of what it looks like :
There was also a demo of APEX and the Forms conversion tool.
After that we took a look at the Demo ground and Exhibition Hall and went to lunch.
We then decided to go to Larry's Keynote. I think that it is a must see for people attending OOW.
We had to wait in line an hour before. There was a lot of people there ! But it was worth the wait.
Larry officially launched the Exadata storage servers in partneship with HP. Very interesting piece of equipement.
After the Keynote , it was my turn, I was a speaker in the "S300458 - Building commercial Software-As-A-Service (SAAS) applications with Oracle Application Express" presentation.
So we went back to Moscone South. I think that the presentation went pretty well. We were six on the Panel and David Peake hosted the roundtable. Our product was a bit different than the others since our SAAS solution is a CRM but also generates dynamically the public websites of our customers. All this in the same multi tenant APEX application.
The participants of the roundtable were :
- Jim Brull, Centroid
- Doug Gault, Hotsos
- Francis Mignault, Insum Solutions
- Anton Nielsen, C2Consulting
- Paulo Vale, Neoface
- Dennis Vanill, Paetec
Our solution is an integrated Association Management service. We host the application on our servers and our clients uses it to maintain their membership database. With only a web browser, they have access to an application that stores the information of all their members and suppliers in one single place. They can print members cards, print labels, follow their communications, renew the memberships automatically, generate public and private web pages, list the activities, allow on-line subscription, interface with their accounting system and produce different reports.
We also provide a job offer system where external suppliers can post job offers themselves and the result is automatically sent to all the members on a daily basis.
They can generate mailing lists, members can print and pay their invoices on-line. They can also update their profile on-line. The general public can query the members database with specific criterias.
It is even possible to display ads on their web-sites through a user friendly interface. This is really the beauty of our solution since our software become a source of revenue for the association. Not only it allows associations to give a better service to their members by communicating the information more rapidly, it eases the burdon of having to maintain and support the software and the hardware. It also reduces the manual administration of the association by automating a lot of the business processes.
It is a management system for Assoctions memberships with some content management.
Our customers benefits of an up-to-date software at all time. We constantly add new features and everyone using the software gets those features automatically. It's a living software without having to worry about upgrades, licenses and technical issues.
The application also make extensive use of the globalization functionalities integrated in APEX. That allows us to offer a bilingual (French and English) software.
We host our SAAS in a secure environment with a redundant database on a remote site and by doing so our service is reliable and always available.
All this using Oracle Application Express. Because APEX is scalable (we currently support over 60 000 user accounts) and because the architecture is simple (Oracle database only) this allow us to offer our solution at an affordable price without any worries.
We have a dedicated team that are working exclusively on support and maintenance of our product.
To find out more about our SAAS solution, you can check our website at www.insum.ca
You can check some of our customers sites here on the right of my blog : "Websites using our SAAS product (Association Management Software)"
We are also listed on the Oracle Apex website in the Commercial Applications section.
I really enjoyed this session. I would like to thank the other participants and especially David Peake who made this possible.
If you are thinking about a SAAS hosted solution made with Oracle Aplication EXpress and you don't know where to start, need help or if you have any questions, feel free to send me an e-mail .
You can download the powerpoint presentation here.
Oct 1, 2008
Again, this year, it was very impressive being part of Oracle Open World.
The city was painted in Red and there was Oracle logos everywhere, on the sidewalks, on the busses , on the taxis, literally everywhere.
Saturday September 20th
We arrived in San Francisco on Saturday , the flight was ok and everything went smoothly. This year, my colleague Patrick was part of the trip. It was fun being able to share those moments with someone. After our registration , in order to get in the mood of the city, we decided to go for a Cable Car ride and go check Fishermans Warf.
Sunday September 21st
Now it was time for the real thing. Meeting again with Apex related friends. It's always nice to see everyone again .
So we started the day with the "Oracle Application Express SIG: Ask the Experts (IOUG)" session where the panel discussed and answered questions about Apex. It would be a good idea to have this session at the end of the week after all the Apex sessions. Maybe next year.
After I attended the session : "Using Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Application Express to Change Business Practices and Realize ROI" by Anton Neilsen. It was again very interesting to hear real life situations where Apex was used and where the time constraints where very high. Another success story about using Apex and delivering a stable application in a record time.
And then, it was time for Joel Kallman presentation about Globalization. We, at Insum, do use this feature a lot. Here in Montreal, our customers are both French and English speaking. And let me tell you that this is just a great feature. It's not only about translation but about globalization itself. Things like date formats and NLS formats are all available declaratively in Apex out of the box. Today with the web and the opening to the rest of the world ( Open. World ;) ) , I think that this is a must. So again, another great APEX presentation.
During the day, I also had the chance to meet with Paulo Vale. We where both participating in the round table about SAAS with APEX. It is always fun to meet in person with people you only knew through their blog.
I finished the day at the Welcome Reception. Food, drinks and live music. What more can you ask for ?
Monday September 22nd
Tuesday September 23
Sep 5, 2008
Why ? Well I think that is beacuse of the way that Apex was initially sold, an MS Access replacement (Maybe Oracle Sales also tend to push IAS a bit more...)
Having used APEX (Htmldb) since version 1.5 (April 2004), I can certify that Apex can compare with pretty much any other development software out there. It is scalable, it is easy to use and it is easy to install/upgrade.
During Openworld 2008, I will be part of a round table about SAAS and APEX. We currently support over 40000 user accounts and 20 different customers public web sites on a single APEX instance. Come see us, I will be more than glad to meet and discuss about APEX with you.
You still don't believe that APEX can be used for building complex applications ? Well, check out Tom Kyte blog post on the Oracle Application Express book, that should convince you.
Jul 8, 2008
A long time ago [read htmldb 1.5], I made an application that can manage appointments. I was using the monthly calendar to show a summary for everyday. I had to make my own daily calendar. Thanks to the ApEx dev team for improving the built-in calendar so now we have 3 different view: monthly, weekly, and daily.
Unfortunatly, the functionnality I was looking for isn't implemented yet. I wanted to be able to click in a cell of a monthly calendar and be redirected to the daily calendar of this day. From the daily view, I wanted to be able to click in a cell of an hour and be redirected to a form where the selected date and time would have been pre-entered in a date picker item.
Knowing Apex, I know I could quickly come up with something.
Here's the solution:
1) Create a calendar report.
For my exemple, I will add to page 5 a calendar region of type SQL Calendar.
N.B. The SQL query entered will be used by the 3 differents views (monthly, weekly, and daily).
2) Modify the monthly calendar template.
Make a copy of the existing calendar template so we can modify it without impacting anything.
We have 4 HTML tags to modify.
-Monthly Calendar > Weekday Formats > Day Open Format
-Monthly Calendar > Weekday Formats > Today Open Format
-Monthly Calendar > Non-Day Formats > Non-Day Open Format
-Monthly Calendar > Weekend Formats > Weekend Open Format
4) Modify the daily calendar template.
We want to be able to click in a cell of a an hour and be redirected to a form.
We have 2 HTML tags to modify.
-Daily Calendar > Weekday Formats > Day Open Format
-Daily Calendar > Weekday Formats > Today Open Format
5) Formatting the date+time for the date picker item.
The date+time passed in the URL might not have the format your date picker item needs.
Simply add an item computation on the target page.
ApEx calendar demo
Jun 30, 2008
The good news is that I will be part of a conference about SAAS and Oracle Application Express.
See the details here :
We have been using APEX for our Association software that we host. So far, we have 19 customers using it and it is running like a charm.
You can get more details here : http://www.insum.ca
and in the Apex Commercial Applications page on OTN.
There is already 16 conferences about Oracle Application Express planned at OpenWorld.
Some of them seems very interesting (I will attend for sure) :
- Migrating from Oracle Forms to Oracle Application Express
- Oracle Application Express and Oracle XML Database: A Match Made in the Database
- Soup-to-Nuts RAD Development Using Oracle SQL Developer and Oracle Application Express
Jun 24, 2008
All I can say is that Oracle Application Express is more popular that last year. Some conferences , I had to stay in the door since there was no place left in the room to sit.
My highlights are :
1- Sunday symposium .
Scott Spendolini did a very good presentation presenting 400 slides in about 20 minutes. Very good and very funny. He talked about some of the early versions of Oracle tools and bring back good memories ...
Mike Hichwa presented some of the new features that will be in the next releases. I did not had time to note them all up but one thing is for sure, I can't wait ... He also talked about Websheets wich is somekind of APEX lite. Very promising.
The presentation from Vista Technology (Bharat) was also very interesting. Knowing that the Army is using APEX means that Apex can be used for enterprised applications.
The presentation from Rich Mutell was great. This time we got the chance to get the point of view of a end user (not IT). It was really constructive.
Dietmar presentation was also very interesting. He talked about how the could develop rapidly an application for a big telecom company. Again, a good experience with APEX for an enterprise application.
2- Apex presentations
I will not go in detail but there was a lot of Apex presentations. Here are my favorites :
- Apex Best Practices , John Scott
- top 10 of things to do in APEX .
- Apex 3.1 , David Peake
- Especially the last 15 minutes about forms converter to APEX. We saw a small demo and it is very promising.
- Go Global with Oracle Application Express, Joel Kallman
- Using the globalization feature in APEX quite a lot, this presentation was of interest for me. Very good presentation and people should be aware of this feature a bit more since being on the web means being multilingual. And Apex can handle that quite well.
- Creating Advanced Charts in APEX, Dimitri Gielis
- I knew about charts but I did not really had the chance to play with it. This presentation was a good overview on what can be done with charts in APEX.
- How to hack an Oracle Application Express Application , Anton Nielsen
- This was a very good presentation and it showed some of the things to be careful with when we code with APEX. Anton is a good presenter and I would have like to see the whole presentation since he did not had time to finish it. Anyway, people using APEX and doing web developement should be aware of these security issues and learn how to make sure their application can be made more secure.
- Building the New stuff: AJAX, JSON and APEX 3.1, Carl Backstrom
- Very intersting. Carl showed us how we can implement AJAX in our APEX application. I can't wait to get my hands on that sample application. That is the beauty of APEX, it is declarative and you get applications up and running very rapidly but you also have access to all the nice things "under the hood" to build your own nice interfaces. very cool.
3- Non APEX presentations
I also attended some Non Apex presentations ;) Even if I was there mostly for the APEX stuff , I attended some others presentations.
I especially like the one about BI Publisher by Eric Marcoux and the one about PL/SQL webservices.
I attended a presentation about SOA but it was a bit too theorical (I prefer when it is a bit more technical). I am sure that we can do SOA with APEX. I really would like to have some real life examples about SOA with APEX. anyway.
I also had the chance to participate at an Oracle Development Tools Usability. It is interesting to participate and have a chance to express our experience with Oracle tools. During this session, we had to discuss about how Oracle can make our life easier with using their tools. This was a first for me and I will probably participate again if they ask me.
4- New Orleans, Burbon Street, French Quarter.
Well, this part is more about walking around in the city. I did not go very far from the Hotel but still was very nice to see a bit of New Orleans. It was also great to hang out with the others APEX afficionados ;) .
The temperature was very hot and humid.
The Sheraton hotel where ODTUG 2008 was held is on Canal Street.
I also had some great cigars at the New Orleans Cigar Factory .
One of those old boats on the missipi river.
They call it the French Quarter ... but I think that they forgot how to write in French :) (My English is probably worst ...)
I Love those tramways . I think that is a very good thing for those cities . We used to have some in Montreal but we don't anymore. Maybe someday in the future.
I can't wait for the next conference to see how people are using APEX in their day to day work.
As always , people from the Apex team are very available and this is very appreciated.
I think that there is a place for every technologies and that there should not be a war between Apex and other tools. If you know PL SQL and HTML then Apex may be the tool for you. At least, you should give it a try. It's there in your database, so why not try it ?
I would like to see a comparaison with other technologies (not a shoot out) to see the pros and cons. Like how much does it cost , how secure, how scalable, how easy is it to install, how easy is it to maintain, what kind of architecture , What is the expertise required etc
How does it compares with PHP , ADF , Ruby , Forms , .Net , Delphi etc...
I also have to mention that I met a lot of peolple from around the world. That in itself was worth the trip. I've met some very nice people and I can't wait to meet them again. Maybe at Openworld in San Francisco !
Jun 12, 2008
I can't wait to see all those presentations about APEX.
We have a SaaS Apex application (Software as a Service) and I would be very curious to find out if there any other offering this kind of service with APEX (.
Also, I am very curious to find out how APEX can be used in an SOA architecture.
I will keep you posted.
Can't wait also to see what New Orleans looks like ;)
See you there ...
Jun 6, 2008
Here's the the presentation Insum made at the first APEX SIG.
During the presentation, we made a complete application and we showed a finished version.
This is the final version of the application called "Collection de films".
During the last 2 days, people meet in Montreal for the Open Ora*Gec 2008. Of course, networking and discussing about Oracle technologies were the main reasons the be there.
It was good to see the interest for Oracle Application Express, again.
Our job at Open Oragec 2008 was to promote APEX as an option in web development and not only for small internal applications.
Insum was a gold sponsor (commanditaire Or) for this event.
Francis Mignault and Michel St-Amour from Insum made a presentation called "APEX - Push back the limits" (APEX - Repousser les limites).
There was also a presentation by Serge Tremblay from Oracle about APEX (same presentation that David Peake did) part1 and part2.
By the look at Francis' face, we can see how happy this man is working with APEX. ;)
Francis is getting ready for his presentation.
It was a good opportunity to get people to learn about the possibilities of Oracle Application Express.
More pictures here !
May 28, 2008
François Prévost, president of the ORA*GEC
David Peake presenting Apex and the new functionnalities from the latest version (3.1).
A lot of people assisted to the presentations.
Round table (Quebec city) :
Daniel Ste-Croix, Momentum technologies
Jean Lemieux, Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport
Éliane Noël, Fonds de recherche du Québec
Michel Ganache, Momentum technologies
Round table (Montreal) :
Michelle Skamene, MUHC
Michel St-Amour, Insum
Nathalie Godechot, Bell Helicopter
Francis Mignault showing how easy it is to make a complete application with Application Express.
(Collection de films)
Louis-Guillaume Carrier-Bédard (me) helping Francis with his presentation.
Daniel Ste-Croix, Momentum technologies
Bruno Cloutier, Momentum technologies
Michel St-Amour, Insum
Francis Mignault, Insum
Patrick Bonneville, Insum
Thanks to everyone for making this event a success!!