Book review: Oracle APEX Best Practices

Book review: Oracle APEX Best Practices 4002EN Oracle%20APEX%20Best%20PracticesOracle APEX Best Practices explains how to build robust and secure APEX applications. The authors have a proven track record in the Oracle APEX world.

  • Iloon Ellen Wolff working in Oracle Support and is closely involved with the Oracle Database Cloud Service . A few years ago, I attended an Oracle Seminar presented by Iloon. The title was Application Express : Best Practices (rings a bell?).
  • Alex Nuijten, a collegue, is well known about his presentations about database features like analytic functions (features as in functionality, not the Oracle definition: unexpected behavior not classified as a bug :-)).
  • Learco Brizzi which was one of the builders of the Dance-Tunes application, one of the first web shops build in HTMLDB, the old name of APEX. A nice example which convinced me that you can use APEX to build enterprise applications in APEX and make money with it.

With the authors backgrounds and the nature of APEX it isn’t a surprise that this book is a mix of APEX and database subjects. In my opinion there are four main subjects in the book (they do not correspond one-on-one with the chapters):

  • APEX. That is, APEX seen from an administrators point of view Answering questions like: How do I setup APEX? Which web server should I use? How can I simplify or speed up development? What about deployment? What about debugging, logging and tracing?
  • Database. That is, leverage the database. Several step by step examples: lookup table storage, analytic functions, instrumentation, pipeline functions, and virtual private database.
  • APEX Eco system. That is, everything except database and APEX. There are several subsystems:
    • Extending the functionality of APEX i.e. printing and APEX plug-ins.
    • Making development easy i.e. tools like SQL Developer, Subversion and browser plug-ins.
  • Security. Hardening the database and APEX. A quote from the book: “Oracle Application Express is secure, but developers can make it insecure“. Answering questions like: How do you prevent browser attacks, SQL injection and URL tampering.

There are some subjects which you will not find in the book. Subjects like “How to build your first APEX application from scratch” or “How to migrate your spreadsheet into APEX”. Also eye candy like AJAX, jQuery or CSS is not in the book, either.

The intended audience of this book is a developer with some APEX experience. Understanding of the Oracle database is an advantage as well. The best practices for each subject are explained with step for step instructions or screenshots in case of APEX subjects. The SQL and PL/SQL best practices are illustrated with code listings.

One of the nightmares of authors writing books about software, is the upcoming release. Oracle APEX Best practices was released in October 2012. In the same month Oracle released a new version of APEX (4.2). The authors added an appendix dedicated to APEX 4.2 with a short explanation of building rest services in APEX and the Oracle Database Cloud service which contains APEX.

Oracle APEX Best Practices is not the beginners guide into APEX. After you have made your first steps in APEX development, you should definitely take a look at this book.