Find out how Oracle developers can use the Oracle Application Express (APEX) development environment and other Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools to implement Web-enabled Oracle databases.
Read the other sections of this guide on Web development tools:
Toad 10: Good for database developers, good for administrators
Codeless AJAX development improves Alpha Five V10 for the Web
Oracle APEX is totally RAD for Web development
RAD Studio 2010 supports Oracle databases, .NET environments
Oracle Application Express (Oracle APEX) is designed with one major goal in mind: to quickly create Web applications for Oracle databases. The product fully leverages the Web experience and is used to build applications that report on data existing in Oracle databases. APEX is also very adept at editing database data and supporting a large number of declarative form controls, including radio groups, checkboxes, select lists, shuttles, text editors, and date pickers.
Developers can access the complete Oracle APEX development environment using a Web browser; no local application needs to be installed. This allows organizations to quickly provide APEX’s capabilities to groups of developers or even to departments just needing basic applications. APEX can serve several purposes when it is paired with Oracle Database 10g Express Edition (Oracle Database XE), which is an entry-level, small-footprint database. For a disconnected development environment, APEX acts much like a desktop database product. But when it is used with an enterprise implementation of Oracle Database 11g, 10g or Oracle9i, APEX becomes a more powerful application development tool that can serve hundreds of users.
APEX is built around three primary capabilities: Application Builder, which is used to create dynamic database-driven Web applications; SQL Workshop, which is used to browse database objects, run ad hoc SQL queries, and also contains a graphical query builder; and Utilities, which allows for data to be loaded and unloaded from both flat files and spreadsheets.
For most, Oracle APEX development starts as a solution to move the information normally stored in spreadsheets over to a database and then provides Web access to that information. The goal is to consolidate spreadsheets and/or desktop databases into an Oracle database system and benefit from the improved security, enhanced reliability and scalability natively offered by Oracle.
Users with no database or Web development skills will appreciate the ease with which applications can be developed for the Web. Database administrators, too, will enjoy management benefits through centralizing applications and data into an Oracle database.
Developers will find powerful reporting tools available in APEX, which can be used to build nested queries that will be available via a browser. Reports are typically hypertext linked with other reports, allowing users to navigate through database data in the same way they navigate websites. Columns in reports can be easily linked to other reports, charts and data entry forms, and it is all done declaratively. An extensive charting engine allows SQL queries to be represented graphically, and that allows data to be more effectively communicated.
On the surface, APEX proves to be a very basic tool that offers a lot of RAD capabilities and is quite simple to get started with. As users delve deeper into the tool, they will find a lot of powerful capabilities that may offer just enough flexibility to delay the need to buy more advanced development suites. It all comes down to how developers want to present data and fill table forms on the Web for their users.
This was first published in February 2010