News, questions and Rumours from the ODTUG conference – APEX, SQL Developer, BEA, WebCenter, Forms,…

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Any conference with a large crowd of developers, passionate about their work and the tools they work with, is of course a breeding ground for speculations, rumours, frustrations, honest questions and subtle attempts at manipulation. The Oracle Development Tools User Group Conference – ODTUG 2008 Kaleidoscope – currently underway in New Orleans is certainly no exception to that rule. And here we have an interesting group of primarily developers who have been working with Oracle technology sometimes for as long as 20 years. Much longer than the average Oracle sales person or product manager has even been with Oracle. These developers typically love the tools even more than their points of contact within Oracle. And now they have the opportunity to spout their grievances, proclaim their devotion, share their worries and fears and hopefully be reassured.

 Later today, I will be informed of a number of upcoming developments. Alas, that information will be confidential, not for me to share on the blog. At the time of writing the blog, I have know no official knowledge – that I cannot share – and am therefore at liberty to share some of the rumours – as well as some of the actual news.....

BEA – OAS, WebCenter (Portal, Plumtree), JRockit, AuqaLogic & ESB

The most important rumours are about BEA – the middleware giant recently acquired by Oracle. From many sources, signals are sent out that the BEA product suite will have substantial impact on the Oracle product portfolio. There are some important areas of overlap – most notably of course the application server, the enterprise service bus and some of the other middleware components and the portal offerings. Apparently, starting July 1st, Thomas Kurian will start a series of townhall meetings to explain the plans Oracle has with the combined Oracle & BEA productlines. Advancing on those official announcement, the picture I am putting together – a purely speculative personal opinion based on talks with people without inside knowledge – is that WebLogic will be the primary application server, by and large replacing Oracle AS/OC4J. The latter will be around for a long time to come, will continue to be the primary platform for products such as Forms and Reports but will not be actively pushed as the main JEE and SOA platform.

The primary Portal offering – from a rich selection gathered by both Oracle and BEA – appears to be WebCenter. It will be enhanced with elements from BEA portal offerings. Oracle Portal and Plumtree will be supported for some time to come, but will not have primary development or sales focus.

The JVM of choice will be BEA’s JRockit – not surprisingly. The OJVM has not been a major focus for Oracle anyway and JRockit has more than proven its worth.

The Oracle Enterprise Service Bus – a fairly recent addition to the Oracle portfolio – is apparently to be replaced by the Aqualogic Service Bus, a more mature offering.

I just found this article: http://searchitchannel.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid96_gci1317340,00.html which confirms the information I have been putting together. 

Forms

JHeadstart will very soon – later this month – start to offer support for Forms migration to ADF. Instead of the previous offering called JHeadstart Designer Generator, this new tools (JHeadstart Forms Migrator) will read FMB files and turn them into ADF artefacts, including ADF Business Components (based on all blocks and query definitions in the Form) and JHeadstart Application Definitions (based on blocks and items) that can then be generated into JSF Pages and PageDefinitions (with data bindings). The tool will not convert PL/SQL to Java code – instead it will make all Trigger and Program Unit code available as comments in the JHeadstart Application Definition file. A next evolution of the tool may allow developers to migrate the PL/SQL code to the database and call it from the ADF application. The product architect for JHeadstart, Steven Davelaar, told me about a 50 block Form that he had been able to migrate! This new offering is certainly interesting to the large number of organizations trying to figure out what to do with their current Forms applications.

The Forms team is working on certification for the new and apparently wonderful JDK 6 Upgrade 10 (pka Consumer JRE), coming out in July from Sun. With this latest JVM plugin for browsers, support for applets like Forms should be much better. This JVM is smart, has a smaller footprint, should be much faster, has better Javascript integration and allows Applets to be dragged out of the browser and be made to run on the desktop (tight integration between applets and Java Web Start technology). However, the first experiments were not successful, so it is not possible telling at this stage when Forms will be certified against this JVM release.

ADF

ADF Bindings can be used from Excel. This means that you can turn Excel into a data presentation (report) as well as data entry front-end for ADF applications. By dragging and dropping ADF Data Control in much the same way as we typically do in JDevelopers, you can create data bound areas in Excel.

Duncan Mills stated quite resolutely that there will be no Flex components inside ADF. Some ADF Faces components can render to the Flash VM browser plug in, but that is as far as Flex adoption will go in ADF Faces. Mills also announced future support for disconnected ADF Applications, as well as support for the iPhone platform. He did not recommend working with Google Gears & ADF (as a client-side-database for disconnected situations) though he had not knowledge of anyone trying it out. (there is a challenge for you – and me).

APEX

Websheets – web-based spreadsheets for end users. It enables end users
to create, maintain, share and store spreadsheets in APEX. It can
possibly replace many of the versioning, security  and distribution
issues that exist with excel spreadsheets. The APEX agenda for 2009
contains amongst others the folllowing new features: Custom item types,
declarative AJAX and Anycharts v4.0 (more advanced charts).

 

SQL Developer

Very soon, SQL Developer will have support for modeling. Satisfying a growing popular demand, Oracle has acquired the CWD4ALL modeling solution from IKAN (see: http://www.cwd4all.com/index.asp?siteID=3 ) and will make its functionality part of SQL Developer. This will provide ER modeling at two levels (conceptual and logical/technical) as well as functional modeling.

 

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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.

5 Comments

  1. Malcolm Arnold on

    I heard the modeling will not be free, but they haven’t announced pricing yet. I’ve moved off Designer to use the database modeling tools in Oracle’s free JDeveloper product, which seem to have come a long way recently – check out the 11g technical previews.

  2. Robert Loren on

    Very interesting developments. The sessions have been cool. Wondering if you can hint as to some of what you’ve been informed? ;-) Or say if you are shocked at all? Was it interesting?

  3. The continued forms development is encouringing for those who still actively use this tool and want to keep using it rather than move to ADF. Any rumours when forms 11g is to be released?

  4. I haven’t seen CWD4ALL but it will be great to have a 2 level modelling tool that’s (a) free – presumably and (b) a bit lighter weight (and more up to date?) than Designer.