OOW 2006: Keynote speech at Oracle Develop by Thomas Kurian

Yesterday (Monday) was the Keynote speech by Thomas Kurian, Oracle VP, that started the Oracle Develop event. In what can be described as a crisp, well organized presentation, Kurian gave an overview of the most important components of the Oracle Development Tools portfolio. In quick succession, we saw introductions and demonstration on SQL Developer, Application Express, EJB 3.0 & JPA, Java Server Faces, ADF Faces, the brief Spring interlude (see The Spring Framework and Oracle – best of pals
), and a lot about the SOA Suite. Then there were announcemens of the Oracle Developer Depot and the Oracle Development Challenge (see earlier posts on our weblog).

Although it was a good presentation....
for an interested audience of many hundreds (maybe well over a 1000) of developers, it lacked real spirit. There was hardly any audience participation, apart from the obligatory round of applause for every demonstrator, and if there were any jokes – there were certainly no laughs. I would have liked to crowd to come alive, feel inspired and little spurred on. As it was, the information came across but I doubt any enthousiasm did.

Some observations on different parts of the presentation:

SQL Developer is continually improving while staying free. At some point I would expect the TOAD folks to get a little worried. Especially for PL/SQL and SQL development, SQL Developer is making good progress, including features like Code Folding that are common in more advanced Java IDEs (code folding allows us to collapse sections of code like procedures and functions in a large package to allow a better overview of the code being worked on).

A lot of attention for Application Express (pka HTML DB pka WebDB). APEX is shipped as free component in the Oracle Database (companion CD). It has always sat a little awkward, in search of a target audience. In yesterday’s presentation the focus for APEX as on ‘opportunistic application with a short time to market and a short life expectancy’. When an organisation needs a web application quickly without tight integration with back office enterprise systems and with intermediate user interface requirement, then APEX allows for easy, web based development and deployment using  nothing more than a simple webbrowser and a single Oracle RDBMS instance. No high level developer skills are required to create an APEX application.

The Application Express tool is benefiting from progress made in other areas of web development it seems. APEX now has Partial Page Rendering (like UIX and ADF Faces) that make for a highly interactive and dynamic UI. APEX also has built in pagination (scroll datasets in subsets at a time), declarative master-detail constructions and fancy dhtml popup menus.

I also heard that early 2007, there will be a migration tool for migrating Microsoft Access application to APEX.

I am impressed by what you can do with APEX. I am still not sure who exactly will use it. It seems to be too hard for non-IT staff and not the best choice of tool for real IT staff. But then again, as there is a market for Access, who knows what will happen if APEX has better integration with the Desktop (Windows, Excel).

Next up was a good introduction of EJB 3.0 and the Java Persistence API. Oracle’s commitment to Open Source was stressed by explicit reference to Oracle’s donation of part of Toplink as the Reference Implementation (Toplink Essentials) for the JPA as well as the donations of most of ADF Faces to the Apache MyFaces project under the name of Trinidad. Following this was a brief introduction of JSR-227 – that we and other parties are actively working on – for Data Binding. I am curious to know who these parties are and to what extend they are involved with JSR-227. I was also a bit surprised when, in his discussion of the value of JSR-227 and the OO-XML mapping in Toplink – Kurian referred to XML data as ‘unstructured’ data.

The value of data binding was made all the more clear by the next demonstration of EJB 3.0, JPA and ADF Faces:

  • Create an Entity mapped to a table (wizard, creating the POJO with the required annotations as well as the persistence.xml file)
  • Create a Service Facade for this Entity (wizard generating a class with the primary data services for the entity)
  • Add a method to this facade, for example to find entities based on specific search criteria
  • Deploy the Service Facade as a WebService

Next the WebService was used in a JSF application developed using JDeveloper and the latest generation of ADF Faces rich client components (not yet available to the public):

  • first an ADF Model (JSR-227) Data Control was created for the WebService created for the Service Facade in the previousstep
  • drag and drop the Data Control on a new JSF page as a Table Component 
  • the WYSIWYG JSF editor showed a live preview of the data: inside JDeveloper the table component shows up with the data that is queried live from the Web Service!

In less than three minutes a architecturally faily complex application was created with virtually no coding!

Absent from the presentation

Notably absent from Thomas’ presentation were BI tools such as Discover and XML Publisher and even more poignantly: classic development tools like Oracle Designer and Forms.

SOA Suite

One term that kept reoccurring in this part of the presentation was SCA. And having heard it in other sessions as well, it seems about time to learn more about SCA. Kurian had a story on SOA and the SOA Suite that was very well organized, brought in a sequence of layers such as Service Mediation Routing/Transformation (ESB), Workflow & Business Rule integrating process flows (BPEL), Security,… He introduced the concept of Service Fabric – SCA meta-data for wiring services together. (and no, I do not know exactly what that means).

The demonstration by Dave Shaffer was impressive, tying together ESB, BPEL, Adapters (with Oracle E-Business Suite), Business Rules engine, BPEL Workflow and BAM. It was also carried out at light’s speed. I wonder how many people in the audience grasped more than barest details from this part of the presentation.

ODD and Developer challenge

The session concluded with some references to other sessions – I found myself looking at my own picture as there was a slide with a list of presentations by the Regional Directors for Oracle Fusion Middleware; apparently in a hurry, this slide was shown for less than 0,3 seconds. Next, Mike Lehmann was brought on stage for introducing ODD and finally the Oracle Development Challenge was presented (apparently only for people living in US or Canada, are they not up to the challenge from us Europeans?)