Oracle APEX 4.0 Cookbook out December 15th

It’s now official. On December 15th the Oracle APEX 4.0 Cookbook that I have written together with Marcel van der Plas will be available from (e-)bookstores everywhere.

It can still be ordered from the Packt Publishing website, but also at many other bookstores. Use Google to search for ISBN 978-1-84968-134-6 to find if it’s available in your favorite store like Amazon.com.

Excuse me while I do a little dance of joy :)
Perfect Strangers – Dance of joy

Pre-order Oracle APEX 4.0 Cookbook now!

For the past months I have been working together with Marcel van der Plas on a book on APEX 4.0. The publisher Packt has just released the website, so it can now be pre-ordered.

Find the link here: Oracle APEX 4.0 Cookbook

The book offers more than 70 recipes that cover almost all topics of Application Express 4.0.
We are currently finishing up and expect that the book will come out in January.

Review: Oracle Application Express 3.2 – The Essentials and More

For the past few months I’ve been working together with Marcel van der Plas on a new book that will cover APEX 4.0. But the Application Express 3.2 community is still very much alive.
In May of this year the authors Arie Geller and Matthew Lyon have published a book at Packt Publishing describing some (or most) of the essential features of APEX 3.2. Since I am writing for the same publisher, I have been asked to review the book and give my opinion.

After reading the book description on the internet and on the cover, I was expecting a book that would introduce the reader softly into the world of developing web applications with APEX. So I did what I usually do with a new tech book; I opened it at a random page and start browsing it for a while.

To my big surprise, it scared the living daylights out of me!

Instead of reading the usual descriptions of APEX features that I’ve learned to know in the past few years, I found pages and pages full of stuff I didn’t know! Was there so much that I could still learn? After so many projects, posting blogs, writing my book, could it be that APEX holds many more secrets?

The answer to that would be simply yes. This book taught me new ways of working with APEX. But how did they do that?

From the beginning of the book, the authors are comfortable in mixing the basics with many advanced features. They are not afraid to describe a simple task as creating a new item with an example of javascript calls.
But this is also a bit of a problem with a part of the book. Because the authors have tried to tell -everything- there is to know about APEX, they had to make compromises in how to describe the different aspects. This often results in quickly stepping over the more simple descriptions and start on the advanced bits. Because of this the book looks not as suitable for beginning developers as I would expect.
But don’t let this scare away the developers just starting with Application Express, the book is in fact suited for beginners and advanced users alike. If you can read past the bits that aren’t up your alley, there are many gems to be found for any developer.

Arie and Matthew have described a huge number of subjects in the book. They not only covered the programming side of APEX, but also the server architecture and configuration of the APEX environment.
The subject that immediately drew my attention is Globalization and Localization. Since I’ve had experience in that field, I read this chapter with extra interest. As a bonus Arie explained a great deal about creating right-to-left applications in the next chapter. This is his area of expertise and you can tell by the chapter. A very thorough description, with smart solutions for every developer that needs to make his or her application available for right-to-left reading users.

It’s impossible to describe all chapters of the book, simply because there is so much in the book. The 24 chapters will lead you through all parts of Application Express 3.2 and guide you in building applications and configuring the building environment. I recommend this book as a good read for anyone that is working with or is thinking of working with Application Express.

If this review made you curious about “Oracle Application Express 3.2 – The Essentials and More”. You can buy the book directly at the website of Packt as a hard-copy or eBook.

Passed APEX 3.2 Beta Certification

Oracle Application Express Developer Certified Expert Logo

Yesterday I returned from my summer vacation in the French town of Pierrefite-sur-Sauldre. Me and my family spend 2 wonderful weeks in the Alicourts resort.

This morning I opened my e-mail for the first time and found a nice little surprise from the Oracle Certification Program.
A while ago (in february) I participated in the Application Express 3.2 certification beta program. I took the exam in Utrecht and waited for the beta period to end.
The e-mail I received from Oracle and Pearson VUE contained a link to my Score Report. The verdict was: Passed!

So now I’m officially certified in “1Z1-450: Oracle Application Express 3.2: Developing Web Applications” or Oracle Application Express Developer Certified Expert for “short” :)

“Oracle Application Express 3.2 – The Essentials and More” book published

Last week a new APEX book was published. It was written by Arie Geller and Matthew Lyon. It’s on the current version of APEX and covers basic and advanced features of Application Express 3.2.

I will post a review somewhere in the coming weeks, but since the publisher is the same that will be bringing out my own APEX 4.0 book later this year, I wanted to let you know that this is out there. You can find more information at the website of
Packt Publishing

TNS_ADMIN for multiple Oracle Homes

Last week I tried to install Oracle Forms 11g. This install created a new Oracle_Home on my computer, which resulted in my database not starting up anymore.
The cause of this was, that my computer did not pick up the right tnsnames.ora file anymore, but instead it picked up the new tnsnames.ora that was created during my Forms installation.

To avoid having to have multiple copies of the same tnsnames.ora file on your computer, you can create a registry key in all Oracle_Homes. This will force your computer to pick up the same file for all your Oracle_Homes and thus allow you to have just a single copy of tnsnames.ora to manage.

To do this, start the Windows Registry editor by using Start -> Run -> Regedit and find your Oracle_Homes under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> ORACLE and rightclick on your Oracle_Home entry. Choose New -> String Value and enter the required information similar to the following screenshot (directory on harddrive may differ on your computer).

TNS_ADMIN registry entry

The registry key is called TNS_ADMIN and it’s value is the location of your tnsnames.ora file on the harddrive.
But remember to only add this key to the Oracle_Homes that do not contain your central tnsnames.ora.

APEX 4.0 New Features

I did another Whitebook (in dutch). This time the subject is New Features in the APEX 4.0 Early Adopters release.
You can find it at the Whitehorses website.

By the way; besides this personal blog I also publish articles on the blog at the Whitehorses site together with the other Oracle, Java and SOA specialists of the company. These blogs are in english. A direct link to the list of my blogs is in my profile.

New Whitebook and blog

For my employer Whitehorses I have written a new Whitebook on Application Translations in APEX. This Whitebook was written together with colleague Ome-B, the owner of www.Ome-B.nl and author of the book Oracle Application Express Forms Converter.

Following up on this Whitebook I have posted a blog at blog.whitehorses.nl, to explain how these translations work in the early adopters release of APEX 4.0.

Configure APEX in Oracle 11g

Application Express comes packaged with the OracleXE and Oracle11g database versions. In XE you can get started with APEX right away. In 11g the embedded PL/SQL gateway has to be configured first. These steps take you through the process of running the configuration script apxconf.sql.
Running this script enables you to configure the port for the Oracle XML DB HTTP server and to specify a password for the Oracle Application Express ADMIN account. Then you unlock the ANONYMOUS account.

Perform the following steps:

1. Open a terminal window and enter the following commands:

cd $ORACLE_HOME/apex
sqlplus sys/ as sysdba
@apxconf

2. Enter an administrator password for the Application Express Administrator account and press Enter.

3. Enter 8080 for the port for the XDB HTTP server and press Enter. This is also the default port. Change this number when another application (eg. Tomcat) is running on the same port. Keep in mind that ports below 1024 are not advisable when running Linux/Unix.
(The embedded PL/SQL gateway has now been configured.)

4. Unlock the anonymous user. From your terminal window, enter the following command:

ALTER USER ANONYMOUS ACCOUNT UNLOCK;

And now you’re all set to start developing APEX applications in 11g.

When you later want to change the port on which APEX is configured, you can run the following command:
dbms_xdb.sethttpport('9090');
If you want to check what the current port is, use the following query:
select dbms_xdb.gethttpport from dual;

For more information, visit the Oracle site at www.oracle.com

Performance checks in APEX

Sometimes an APEX application performs worse than expected. This can have many causes, ranging from wrong parameters in the database (for example the SGA allocation) to less-than-optimal queries.
Besides the tools that a DBA has to check the performance and take action according to his findings, a developer also has some options to use in Application Express.

1. In the Apex Admin application there are some reports under the tab Monitor Activity. In the Page Views by View report that is found in the Page Views section, you can see how long it takes a page to load in the browser. Using this it is possible to see which pages take too long to load.

2. By using the Debug option in the developer toolbar, APEX generates a lot of debug information. Using this information a developer can see how a page is built-up in the browser. In front of each line of debug information is a time-stamp. This information allows a developer to analyze what part of a page is causing the delays.

3. It’s possible to let Application Express generate a trace file from the URL. To do this, simply add &p_trace=YES to the URL and call the page again. This generates a trc file in the user_dump_dest directory (find this using show parameter user_dump_dest). This file can also be analyzed to find where the problems may occur.

Offcourse this list is not a complete overview of all tools that are available to analyze performance problems, but I think you can get a good start.