I do not understand Oracleâ€™s strategy with regard to Oracle Forms. If such a thing really exists. Oracle has made it very clear that Development Tools are only considered â€˜enablers of run time licensesâ€™. So Oracle only sells us development tools â€“ probably far below cost price â€“ to keep us buying Oracle RDBMS and AppServer licenses. And the development tools are hanging around anyway because Oracle Apps needs them to develop the E Business Suite.
It is perfectly possible to develop applications using JDeveloper and deploy them on any Application Server. AMIS has been deploying application built using JDeveloper in web servers and application servers like Tomcat and WebSphere. And these applications can make use of any JDBC Driver enabled database, such as MySQL, DB2 or SQLServer. So clearly, hooking us onto JDeveloper is by no means a guarantee for selling run time licenses.
On the other hand, anyone building applications using Oracle Forms is certain to use the Oracle RDBMS for deployment. And with WebForms also the Oracle Application Server for middle tier infrastructure. So the easiest way to continue selling licenses it to make darned sure that existing Forms customers are not cut loose from Forms, moving to JDeveloper and essentially being free to choose any Application Server and any Database.
All Oracle would have to do for this, is send out a clear message. That it is and stays committed to Oracle Forms. That Oracle Apps will use Forms for quite some time to come. That investments in new functionality will continue to be made â€“ even if these are small investments.
And it should not certify partner solutions for migrating away from Oracle Forms, especially if such a migration is to an far more uncertain architecture. It is quite unclear whether certification of partners like Churchill, NIOS and CipherSoft suggests that Oracle actually endorses these solutions, actually actively recommends its Forms customers to move away from Forms.
In my opinion, organizations currently using Forms, having the skills available, that are going to develop intra-net applications for intensive use, should definitely go on using Oracle Forms.
Forms is not a very suitable tool for developing internet web applications. Forms is not ideal for self-service style applications, that are only very infrequently used by relatively unskilled end-users. In those instances, build an HTML user interface on top of a Java middle tier. That is where ADF and JDeveloper typically come in.
It seems unlikely, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Forms, that any new customers will start using Forms, although I have heard stories about companies doing some exactly that in the recent past. And I would say: why not? The benefits of tight integration with the database, the very high development productivity, the leveraging of existing server side SQL and PL/SQL skills combined with the administrative benefits of web-deployment as well as the recent integration option with J2EE applications make Forms still a strong candidate in many development tools selections. The Development Tools race that was recently held in The Netherlands saw the classic Oracle tool stack â€“ Designer and Forms â€“ finish in second place, well ahead of Java and especially .Net based solutions. (the number one by the way was Magic).
Forms to J2EE migration tools, such as Churchillâ€™s JAutomator and Ciphersoft, do not seem to be getting a lot of traction. I would say: if you do not like Forms, do not migrate to something that exactly looks like Forms â€“ even though it is J2EE technology, it is definitely not architectured and maintainable the way a typical J2EE application would or should be. The only reason I could think of doing it like this is when upper management for some reason wants to get off Oracle technology fast! If you like your Forms, do not migrate! If you do not like Forms anymore, do not migrate using a tool that will give you something very similar to Forms.
Forms will be around for many years, if only because of the Oracle Apps base. A quick inventarization of the current status and ongoing developments within Apps â€“ investigations into ADF, merger with PeopleSoft, evaluation of People Tools and building of Fusion Vision â€“ suggests that it will take up to 5-7 years before there might be an Apps release without any Forms technology. Then support for Apps releases that contain Oracle Forms will run at least until four years after that. So I do not think Forms is really going to fade away before 2015 or so.