Oracle Forms 11g – under construction

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Another message from ODTUG 2006. The main development tools for most of the participants on this conference is Oracle Forms. Today was an important session, by Grant Ronald (Principal Product Manager for Oracle Forms). His first and most important message: Oracle Forms is not going away. There are no plans for abandoning Forms. There will be Forms 11g with some major new features. Oracle Applications is currently in the process of developing Release 12 that will be on Forms 10.1.2 (10gR2). Forms will be supported for a long time to come. Then he somewhat weakened the message by the repeated use of the word ‘still’: there still is a substantial development team, there are still plans for new features…

But the message on the whole was pretty clear: Forms will be an important technology for Oracle.

Grant went then on to tell about where we can expect functional changes, going forward to the 11g release – for which he most specifically did not give a timeframe. The main theme is application integration (think SOA).....

Integration of Forms application with the J2EE mid-tier environment as well as the HTML client environment is the essence of the road ahead. Focus areas – already addressed to some extent in 10gR2 (10.1.2) – include:

  • Application Server Integration (including SSO, LDAP integration and Enterprise Manager (Grid) Control)
  • Applications Interoperability:
  • call out from Forms to BPEL Processes,
  • to Java Middle Tier processes and Web Services
  • call out to JavaScript in the the web browser (Web.JavaScript_eval(‘piece of javascript’)) as well as allow JavaScript code to trigger Forms events (WHEN-CUSTOM-JAVASCRIPT-EVENT).
  • have Forms respond to External Events like arrival of a message in a (n advanced) queue
  • Support for Database Proxy Users (using the same database account, users are still told apart based on proxy users in the database, so each one has his own identity)
  • Performance Tuning – Forms 11g will contain a Tuning Wizard that will scan the Forms definition (the FMB or the XML derived from the FMB) and alert the developer with potential performance issues in the Form like heavy use of stacked canvases
  • Furthermore, currently only PJCs that extend VBean can raise Java Events; in 11g all PJCs (Pluggable Java Components) will be able to do so.

    Grant’s slides indicated that currently only Forms 10gR1 (9.0.4) and Forms 10gR2 (10.1.2) are certified releases. It was also clear that Forms 10.1.2 is supported (in extended mode) until at least 2013 and 11g will be supported way beyond that. While he did not give specific dates, the graphics suggested early 2008 as the 11g timeline.

    By the way, it seems that many organisations are still on Forms 6i or even 6.0/4.5 Client/Server! The uptake of WebForms is still far from complete.

    All in all a good talk and a strong reaffirmation of the position and future of Forms.

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    About Author

    Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director for Fusion Middleware. Consultant, trainer and instructor on diverse areas including Oracle Database (SQL & PLSQL), Service Oriented Architecture, BPM, ADF, Java in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook. Frequent presenter on conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle OpenWorld, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Devoxx and OBUG. Presenter for Oracle University Celebrity specials.

    10 Comments

    1. Jean-Marc Desvaux on

      ADF has a huge potential but won’t be able to compete very soon with Forms on lots of ground including developer productivity and most importantly as an effective solution for lots of day to day business applications with heavy data entries workloads and where you need very short response time. If once dare to replace these apps with ADF today, he takes the risk of triggering a Forms end-users sit-in !
      That’s why Forms HAS to remain.
      Sure that every Forms developers are not happy to be restricted to one architecture to deploy and would have prefer to retain the choice of C/S and Web.
      Qui peut le plus peut le moins (tentative of translation: once who can do much can do less) ! To my opinion, to make sure 100% of forms developers stick to Oracle dev. tools, Oracle should provide a lighter way (both technically and financially) to deploy form.
      6 years ago, I thought that Oracle strategy with Forms will be to progressively make the whole forms stack sit on an ADF kind of framework by introducing a hidden layer to progressively evolve forms framework to an ADF framework keeping the Forms builder tool to retain the Forms development experience. But this was utopia.
      Sure that the move to J2EE/ADF is putting a lot of pressure on IT Depts and is adding to the fact that they had or have to move to AS which was not required before and is much slower than in a C/S terminal servers or Citrix servers deployment where Web access is not a requirement.
      But to my opinion, (very optimistic one) we need to put our energy in Forms and ADF and as we move forward and ADF evolves, we will be at the end ADF pros…and will be able to rip the associated benefits.

    2. In our business area clients cannot (and don’t want to) pay for web deployment. They are happy with the client-server app as it is. We built a file server based launching environment which is as good for centralising the code as the web deployment.
      We understand that ORACLE wants a lot of money for their app server but nobody in Forms development actually needs it. It keeps most of the Forms based applications on 6i which is a shame because the XML based source format would be a great thing (among other thing we could move to Subversion finally).
      What we would really need is a full-Java Forms/Reports Runtime which can be installed with WebStart. If we get this soon, we will stay on Forms, otherwise we are going to move to Java Swing. In this case, of course, we will be very careful NOT to choose anything from ORACLE. ORACLE ADF is a nonsense, since it requires a huge licensing fee if you deploy on non-ORACLE application servers.

    3. Was at DOAG Conference Nov. 2006 in Manheim, Germany.
      The Forms product manager spoke on a “forms future” session. The information given about is correct in general. But it was interesting to hear between the lines from the forms product manager: He has very few ressources. What does this mean? I don’t know – but with no ressources you can’t move much.
      So my DOAG conclusion: For big and complex applications -> move to ADF. Nearby you can run APEX for smaller applications. Run both, bot no Forms anymore.
      Sorry, this is my oppinion.

    4. Juan Carlos Reyes on

      Hi,

      Even more there is not need to have applicatoin server, to have a zero installation developer runtime and developer.

      Setting variables in a bat is enough, it works really good. we got developer 6i zero instalation, one of the major reasons to go to application server.

      I always had been complaining about to force to use application server to upgrade, when your customers has at maximum 10 client conections, this is forgot about oracle standard edition customer.

      Anyway we are planning to move in the future to java, definetively there is the future, the other better chance is net. :)

    5. We are a Oracle solution provider in Malaysia and we have built many applications using Oracle Forms/Reports 6i. Most of the clients in Malaysia don’t really need the web-form (either because of the infra overhead or additional app server cost) and we are only looking at 5-20 clients. So for us standalone client is sufficient. So, for clients that want web-form, we just take the 6i forms and recompile them on 10g to deploy on the forms server. Can Oracle bring back the standalone client please ? We are comtemplating moving all our apps to Java Swing otherwise.

    6. A lot of organizations are still sticking to Forms 6i because the client mode was more or less blown away for a pure web-based product. It doesn’t make much sense to me why you would want to deploy a middle-tier in a manufacturing or distribution environment. It just adds overhead, reduces scalability, and adds and additional point of failure in the overall architecture.

      I would love to see Oracle fork the codebase and bring back a Forms & Reports standalone client.

    7. Grant Ronald on

      Lucas – the use of the word “still”was not mean to weaken but to show that we “are still” committed – as in, we were always were committed and nothing changed – this is one of the key points I wanted to make – Oracle has had a clear published strategy and its has hardly changed..
      The other point I need to make is that as per my second slide, all the features for 11 are targetted features and not committed features. Of course we are working hard to make sure all the features make version 11 but I just want people to be clear that, as we all know from our own experiences, some features MAY slip…
      Thanks for the write up and its good to see that our plans seem to be pretty much well accepted.
      Many thanks
      Grant