Authored by: John Hoefflin
I'm frequently surprised when I speak with clients who have a LOT of investment in Oracle databases and applications, yet know nothing about Oracle's Application Express (APEX) development tool-set.
Why am I surprised? For starters, there are no additional licensing costs for APEX. If you have licensed the database, you can use APEX. It's a "no-cost database feature" and it really works: the ROI on it is almost immediate!
Interested in learning a little more about APEX? Well then, let's start with this brief definition, from Oracle:
"Oracle Application Express (Oracle APEX), formerly called HTML DB, is a rapid web application development tool for the Oracle database. Using only a web browser and limited programming experience, you can develop and deploy professional applications that are both fast and secure."
It's simple to set up, simple to use, and simple to administer. The development tool-set, and also the deployment environment, are browser-based: no client software is required. And if your data is already in Oracle, APEX is the quickest, easiest way I know of to get at it for data entry and reporting via the web. And it provides the security and stability of the Oracle database.
How can it be used effectively?
Creating New Applications, or Doing Rapid Application Prototyping - APEX is the quickest way I know of to create web-based applications. More than once, I've been able to demonstrate an initial prototype of an application within days. I've also used it for rapid prototyping even if it's not 100% certain that the eventual deployment will use APEX. But once a client sees what APEX can do, it becomes very likely that direction will be chosen.
Replacing Oracle Forms Applications or Departmental MS Access Applications - APEX provides conversion tools to help you re-create these in APEX. If you are struggling with the on-going support of old Forms apps, or you are being confronted with the short-comings of Access in a multi-user environment, APEX deserves serious consideration.
Managing Spreadsheet Data - APEX provides wizards and data loading utilities to help you pull spreadsheet data into the database. The reporting tools also allow you to download data from the database back to spreadsheets. Do you have a shared drive full of spreadsheets you need to organize? APEX can help.
Reporting/Charting/Dash-Boarding - The reporting and charting wizards make it simple to create browser-based reports and charts. Downloading or emailing a report as a PDF is a snap. APEX's "interactive reports" make it easy for users to customize and save a report for their own use. I'll say it again, if your data is in Oracle, APEX is the quickest and easiest way to provide visibility into it.
Web Services - APEX provides wizards to help you consume existing web services, and you can also use the PL/SQL UTL_HTTP API to write code for more complex situations. There is also growing support in APEX for publishing web services.
The list goes on, but I'll leave it at that for now. Suffice it to say, I think every Oracle shop should be well aware of APEX: it can be used to solve a LOT of problems!
If you'd like to hear more, I'd love to hear from you.
Oracle Application Express "No-Cost Database Feature"