Video : APEX_MAIL : Send Emails from PL/SQL

In today’s video we’ll demonstrate how to use the APEX_MAIL package to send emails from PL/SQL.

The video is based on this article.

You may also want to check out these articles.

The star of today’s video is Paul Vallee, who knocked it out of the park with his recent post on hybrid working.



Video : APEX_ZIP : Manage Zip Files From PL/SQL

In today’s video we demonstrate the APEX_ZIP package, which allows us to manage zip files from PL/SQL.

The video is based on this article.

I must admit I hadn’t even noticed this package until Morten Braten mentioned it on Twitter.

The star of today’s video is Patrick Jolliffe, who is now a resident of Portugal.



APEX Application Development Service on Oracle Cloud

A few days ago Oracle announced the APEX Application Development Service on Oracle Cloud.

I had a sneak peak of this service last October. I’ve used APEX since it was know as Project Marvel, but despite this I’m renowned as the worst APEX developer on the planet. I think I was invited as a control subject… 🙂

The main thing I’m expecting from any platform is it must be as “administration free” as possible. APEX is a low-code development tool. Some APEX developers will have a lot of database administration skills, but some will not. I wanted to see a service that got people up and developing safely, with as little administration fuss as possible. I think that’s what Oracle have delivered, which makes me really happy.

These new APEX instances are built on Autonomous Transaction Processing (ATP) instances, with some of the functionality disabled. There is a simpler route to create them using the “APEX Application Development > APEX Instances” menu, but you can create them through the normal Autonomous Database creation screens also.

Existing ATP instances can be accessed through the simplified interface, which is a nice touch.

I did my own run through of setting up an APEX instance here. I’m not going to talk much about the service, because there are lots of great APEX bloggers that are a better source of information than me. Make sure you check them out!

Happy APEXing!



Vagrant & Docker Builds : APEX 20.2 and other updates

The recent release of APEX 20.2 has triggered a build frenzy.


All my GitHub Vagrant builds that include APEX have been updated to APEX 20.2. The builds themselves are unchanged. This was literally an update to the environment files, so it took longer to test the builds than it did to make the changes.

While I was at it, I did a couple of extra updates. I updated Tomcat to version 9.0.39 on all relevant builds, and updated the optional patch script for the single instance database 19c on OL8 build to use the October 2020 bundle patch. The GI bundle isn’t available yet, so I’ve not altered the OL8 19c RAC build. That will happen soon.

Update: I’ve got the GI bundle patch now, and the OL8 19c RAC build has been updated to use it.

There will of course be more updates to the builds once we get the new versions of AdoptOpenJDK, ORDS and SQLcl, that are probably coming soon.


I mentioned in my VirtualBox 6.1.16 post I would be updating the oraclebase/oracle-7 and oraclebase/oracle-8 vagrant boxes to include the VirtualBox 6.1.16 guest additions. Those are done now.


This is pretty much the same as the Vagrant story.

The relevant GitHub Docker builds for Oracle database and ORDS containers have been updated to include APEX 20.2.

I’ve also added Tomcat 9.0.39 to the ORDS builds, and updated the optional patch script for the database 19c on OL8 build to use the October 2020 bundle patch.

Once again, more changes will appear as the new versions of AdoptOpenJDK, ORDS and SQLcl appear.


Automation is awesome! A few minutes and we are bang up to date!



Video : APEXExport : Export APEX Applications and Workspaces From the Command Line

In today’s video we’ll give a quick demonstration of using the APEX command-line export utility.

The video is based on this article, which includes more examples, and Windows-based examples also.

The star of today’s video is my daughter Heli “Hell-Squirel” Helskyaho. Make sure you check out the cloud forming a Pikachu tail above her head! 🙂



Video : SQLCL and Liquibase : Deploying Oracle Application Express (APEX) Applications

In today’s video we’ll give a quick demonstration of deploying an APEX application using the SQLcl implementation of Liquibase.

I Know what you’re thinking. Didn’t I do this video two weeks ago? The answer is yes and no. This video is very similar to the Liquibase video I did two weeks ago, but that was using the Liquibase Pro client. This video uses the SQLcl implementation of Liquibase, and more specifically the runOracleScript tag to achieve the same thing.

The video is based on this article, which has an example of deploying an APEX workspace and an APEX application.

If you are new to Liquibase and SQLcl, you might find it easier to start with these.

The stars of today’s video are the offspring of Jeff Smith. I had been annoying Jeff on Twitter DMs while he was meant to be on holiday, so I agreed to pay him back by turning his children into international megastars. I take no responsibility for how they handle the fame! 😉



Video : Liquibase : Deploying Oracle Application Express (APEX) Applications

Today’s video is a quick demonstration of deploying an Oracle Application Express (APEX) application using Liquibase.

The video is based on a new article of the same name, which covers the deployment of both APEX workspaces and APEX applications using Liquibase.

Here’s some other content you might find useful.

The star of today’s video is Jorge Rimblas, making a welcome return to the channel, along with some serious reverb. 🙂 Last time we saw Jorge was in a boxing gym, and his daughters have also taken the spotlight for one video.



Video : APEX_DATA_PARSER : Convert simple CSV, JSON, XML and XLSX data to rows and columns

Today’s video is a quick demonstration of using the APEX_DATA_PARSER package to convert simple CSV, JSON, XML and XLSX data into rows and columns.

If you want the copy/paste examples and the test files, you can get them from this article.

Yet another reason why you should always install APEX in your databases.

The star of today’s video is Kosseila.HD, also known as BrokeDBA, complete with sun glasses, basket ball and a rattling watch. 🙂



APEX 20.1 : Vagrant and Docker Builds (and Some Comments)

About 2 days ago we saw the announcement of the release of APEX 20.1.

I normally set myself quite an aggressive timetable to get new APEX releases to production. So much of what we do lags behind the curve, to the point where I just want to see it burn, so when I get the opportunity to force the issue, like I do with APEX, I do.

In my typical fashion I move all my builds to the latest release and kind-of forget any prior release ever existed. As result, you will see all my Vagrant and Docker builds have been updated to use APEX 20.1, along with updates of OpenJDK and Tomcat.

The basic installation is the same as always (here), so there is no drama there.

Next week I’ll start upgrading a few of our development environments, and check everything looks OK. Assuming I hit no problems, it will be full steam ahead. Fingers crossed.

The new features are always a big draw for most people, but I tend to start by looking at the deprecated features and desupported features.

  • When I saw APEX_UTIL.STRING_TO_TABLE and APEX_UTIL.TABLE_TO_STRING had been deprecated I was about to lose my shit, then I saw they have just been relocated to the APEX_STRING package. Composure regained. 🙂
  • The desupport of some of the productivity apps is a good thing. Some of them were not so good and having a long list of Meh, is not as good as a smaller list that offer something better. Just my opinion.

As far as the new features in the announcement, here are my initial (and uneducated) thoughts.

  • Redwood. I feel a little “Meh” about this. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. I guess it makes sense to bring it in line with the current Oracle thang! 🙂 I would have had a little more contrast on the icons. They look quite washed out, but I am not renowned for my design aesthetic. 🙂
  • Faceted Search Enhancements. Love this! When I saw Mike Hichwa demonstrate the first iteration of this I had a When Harry Met Sally – Restaurant Scene moment in my head. All additional functionality is welcome. I think Faceted Search is a great and some might say killer feature.
  • Friendly URLs. My first reaction was, “Oh thank God!”. This was quickly followed by, “Oh my God!”. The thought of what some people will name their page aliases fills me with dread, but it is a welcome addition.
  • Native PDF Printing. Nice.
  • Mega Menus. Love it. The traditional side-bar menu is fine for little apps, but it’s a bit dated, takes up a lot of room and is nowhere near as flexible as this looks. I think I would have made it the default choice, but I can see why sticking with the old style is probably the safer option. 🙂

There are a bunch of other things in the release notes that sound interesting, including remote application deployments using REST Enabled SQL, but I’ll leave you to discover those for yourself.

It’s early days, but this looks like a really nice release… Again…



Shadow IT : Low-code solutions can help!

I recently had a bit of a rant on email about the current state of Shadow IT at work. Typically, we don’t know it is happening until something goes wrong, then we’re called in to help and can’t, mostly because we don’t have the resources to do it. My rant went something like this…

“This is shadow IT.

Shadow IT is happening because we are not able to cope with the requirements from the business, so they do it themselves.

We need to stop being so precious about tool-sets and use low-code solutions to give the business the solutions to their problems. This allows us to develop them quicker, and in some cases, let them develop their own safely.”

We are not a software house. We are not the sort of company that can take our existing staff and reasonably launch into microservices this, or functions that. In addition to all the big projects and 3rd party apps we deal with, we also need to provide solutions to small issues, and do it fast.

Like many other companies we have massive amounts of shadow IT, where people have business processes relying on spreadsheets or Access databases, that most of us in IT don’t know exist. As I mentioned in the quote above, this is happening because we are failing! We are not able to respond to their demands. Why?

For the most part we make the wrong decisions about technology stacks for this type of work. We just need simple solutions to simple problems, that are quick and easy to produce, and more importantly easy to maintain.

What tool are you suggesting? The *only* thing we have in our company that is truly up to date at this time, and has remained so since it was introduced into the company, is APEX. It also happens to be a low-code declarative development solution, that most of our staff could pick up in a few days. The *only* tool we have that allows us to quickly deliver solutions is APEX. So why are we not using it, or some other tool like it? IMHO because of bad decisions!

You’re an Oracle guy, and you are just trying to push the Oracle stack aren’t you? No. Give me something else that does a similar job of low-code declarative development and I will gladly suggest that goes in the list too. I’ve heard good things about Power Apps for this type of stuff. If that serves the purpose better, I’ll quite happily suggest we go in that direction. Whatever the tool is, it must be something very productive, which doesn’t require a massive learning curve, that also gives us the possibility of allowing the business to development for themselves, in a citizen developer type of way.

It should be noted, we are wedded to Oracle for the foreseeable future because of other reasons, so the “Oracle lock-in” argument isn’t a valid for us anyway.

So you’re saying all the other development stuff is a waste of time? No. In addition to the big and “sexy” stuff, there are loads of simple requirements that need simple solutions. We need to be able to get these out of the door quickly, and stop the business doing stuff that will cause problems down the line. If they are going to do something for themselves, I would rather it was done with a tool like APEX, that we can look after centrally. I don’t want to be worrying if Beryl and Bert are taking regular backups of their desktops…

Are you saying APEX is only good for this little stuff? No! I’m saying it does this stuff really well, so why are we using languages, frameworks and infrastructure that makes our life harder and slower for these quick-fire requirements? Like I said, it’s not about the specific tool. It’s what the tool allows us to achieve that’s important.

What would you do it you could call the shots? I would take a couple of people and task them with working through the backlog of these little requirements using a low-code tool. It might be APEX. It might be something else. The important thing is we could quickly make a positive impact on the way the company does things, and maybe reduce the need for some of the shadow IT. It would be really nice to feel like we are helping to win the war on this, but we won’t until we change our attitude in relation to this type of request.

So you think you can solve the problem of shadow IT? No. This will always happen. What I’m talking about is trying to minimise it, rather than being the major cause of it.