APEX 18.1 Docker Builds Updated

You’ve probably seen that APEX 18.1 was released recently. This is just a quick note to say I’ve updated my Docker builds to include the latest versions of all the software including APEX. You can find the builds here.

https://github.com/oraclebase/dockerfiles

I always install APEX into every database, so the database builds include APEX and the ORDS build includes the APEX images.

Remember, I’m not saying you should use these, but if you like to play around with Docker you might find them useful, along with my Docker articles here.

Regardless of how you like to use APEX, get on board with APEX 18.1… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Hey DBA, install/update APEX!

I recently got a question about APEX, which in itself is kind-of funny as it’s a case of the blind leading the blind, but as a result of that question it became apparent the poster was running a very old version of APEX. My first reaction was “Dude, you really need to upgrade!”. It was at that point I was hit with a line I’ve heard a lot over the years.

“Our DBA(s) won’t install/upgrade APEX!”

This gets on my nerves for a few reasons.

  • APEX is a free (no cost option?) tool. Why would you not take advantage of it if it fits your purpose?
  • Even if you don’t want to use APEX directly, it comes with some useful code. I use the APEX_JSON, APEX_WEB_SERVICE, APEX_DATA_PARSER, APEX_ZIP and APEX_MAIL packages all the time from PL/SQL. Why would you hinder your PL/SQL developers by not giving them access to useful stuff?
  • If you already have APEX installed, why would you possibly think it is good to run an old version? Like any other piece of software the upgrades include bug fixes, not just new functionality. Are you really happy about running with un-patched functionality?
  • Of course the newer versions have improved functionality, which is just nice to have. 🙂

I guess I can kind-of understand companies/people who don’t want to install an extra product into the database as it’s another thing to manage, but I really don’t understand people running old versions. I see nothing but disadvantages in that…

So back to the title of this post, “Hey DBA, install/upgrade APEX!”

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Application Express (APEX) 5.1.1 : Live on Production Systems

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about our roll-out of APEX 5.1.1 to our Dev and Test systems. In that post I said we would probably go live pretty quickly. I intended to write a quick post to say when it happened, then promptly forgot… 🙂

Just a quick note to say there were no issues found in our Dev and Test systems, so we quickly moved it out to production. I think it was less than a week from start to finish.

As always I feel the need to point out that our usage of APEX is quite basic. We don’t have loads of applications and the ones we have aren’t super complex, so it’s pretty easy for us to quickly get some confidence in a new release. I’m not suggesting heavy APEX users should be quite as rapid as us. That said, I think it’s nice to let people know that this stuff does do what it’s meant to. 🙂

We now have 5.1.1 in all our production systems. Happy days!

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Application Express (APEX) 5.1.1

I read Joel Kallman’s post this morning announcing the release of APEX 5.1.1. We’ve got APEX 5.1 across the board, so I downloaded patch 25341386 from MOS, as instructed, and went to work patching stuff.

The patching was just like every other patch I’ve done for APEX (see here), super easy. 🙂

I thought there was a problem with the APEX images, but it turned out I was a donkey and I’d copied the images to the wrong directory on one of the app servers. 🙂

We now have APEX 5.1.1 on all Dev and Test systems. It went so well I’ll probably push it to production really soon. Happy days. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Database 12c Release 2 (12.2) : Default APEX Installation Gone!

I’m a fan of APEX, but I am not a fan of the shared installation used in Oracle Database 12.1. I’m sure it is great for some people, but not for me. I prefer to have APEX installed locally in the PDB, which prompted this article.

Fast forward to Oracle Database 12c Release 2 (12.2) and APEX is no longer installed by default. It’s still shipped with the software, see $ORACLE_HOME/apex (see update), but not installed. I am conflicted about this…

  • On the one hand this is great because I don’t have to worry about removing the shared APEX installation before installing it into the PDB.
  • On the other hand this means people have to make an active choice to install APEX, which not everyone will do. That’s a pity. In addition to the tool itself, there is some useful APIs that come with it, like APEX_WEB_SERVICE and APEX_JSON. You don’t really need the later in 12.2 as you have lots of new JSON support, but it’s good to have for backwards compatibility.

So just remember you have an extra job to do after you’ve installed your database, which to install the latest version of APEX. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Update: As per comment from Joel Kallman, always download the latest version and install in the PDB locally, not in the root!

APEX 5.1 in Production

Just before Christmas I wrote a post about upgrading our development and test APEX installations to the new 5.1 release. We’ve now got it in all our production environments too. 🙂

As far as I’m aware we only had a single issue, which was not directly related to APEX and was actually my fault. I forgot to add the APEX_050100 user to an ACL, so some non-APEX code that was doing web service callouts using the APEX_WEB_SERVICE package stopped working. Once that was added to the ACL all was good.

As always I must stress our company is not a massive user of APEX and most of our applications are fairly vanilla APEX against 11.2.0.4 and 12.1.0.2 databases, so I’m not suggesting your experience will be the same as ours. That said, the move from APEX 5.0.4 to APEX 5.1 was really painless for us.

Cheers

Tim…

APEX 5.1 Installations and Upgrades

APEX 5.1 was released for download a few days ago. I tried doing an upgrade against an installation on a VM at home and it worked fine, which was hardly surprising. 🙂

Officially I’m on holiday, but I figured I would upgrade all our Dev/Test installations while everything is quiet. Major version upgrades, changes in either of the first two numbers, require a full installation. There was no major difference between this and what I was doing for the 5.0 installations, so I just edited the existing article and altered the title.

Since all the apps at work use AD authentication, I tested that out against 5.1 too and it worked fine.

So it was really smooth sailing.

As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re a small scale user of APEX, so it’s relatively easy for me to upgrade and test our systems.

We’ll kick the tyres some more in the new year, then upgrade the live systems pretty soon.

Cheers

Tim…

The Eternal Newbie

It’s been over a decade since I first heard Tom Kyte talking about Project Marvel, which eventually became Application Express (APEX). Since then I’ve “used” just about every version of APEX. I use the term “used” very loosely, because I typically use APEX for a few days to get a job done, then never touch it again for months. By the time I come back, I pretty much have to start the learning process from the beginning again.

This is a perfect example of the “Eternal Newbie”. I could quite legitimately put 10+ years experience of APEX (including previous names) on my CV and it wouldn’t be a lie, but in reality I’m only about as good as any PL/SQL developer that’s been playing with APEX for a week.

It’s not that APEX is difficult, quite the contrary, but the process of getting good at anything takes time and repetition. You’ve probably heard the variations on “10,000 hours to become an expert” saying. It doesn’t matter that it’s not true or accurate. What matters is it highlights the need for time, repetition and constantly striving to improve. A little plodding once in a while does not count for experience in my book.

As an example of this, on Friday I was trying to get something to work with a Shuttle control in APEX 5.0.2. I found a couple of great examples on Dmitri‘s and Denes blogs, which (I thought) got me 90% of the way to what I wanted to achieve, but the last 10% took me half of Friday, then the whole of Saturday evening. If I was actually any good at this stuff it would have probably taken me 2 mins. What’s more, if I was good, I would have probably realised Dmitri and Denes’ examples actually got me to 99.9% of what I was trying to achieve, but my inexperience meant I kept shooting myself in the foot. After all that time playing and reading, I felt like a master of Shuttle controls in APEX, but if I don’t look at APEX for a week I’m going to be totally screwed. I have some knowledge now, but it will take repetition to make it stick, and based on past experience, that’s not going to happen. 🙂

I did a video a few months ago about the term “Senior” in relation to IT jobs. My recent fumblings with APEX made me think about this subject again.

With my 10+ years of APEX experience, I’m obviously a “Senior APEX Developer”. Just remind me, how do I alter a breadcrumb? 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

APEX 5.0.2 : Let’s get patching!


APEX 5.0.2 was released just before OOW15. Today is my first day back to work, so I’ve started to patch some stuff. We were already on APEX 5.0.1 across the board, so we didn’t need to do any full installations, just patches.

SO far, so good. No problems in any Dev or Test databases. I expect a pretty quick roll-out across the board.

Cheers

Tim…

APEX 5.0.1 : We’re all patched up!

apexAPEX 5.0.1 was released about a week ago. I started to patch some stuff straight away. We were already on APEX 5.0 across the board, so we didn’t need to do any full installations, just patches.

During the patching I noticed we were getting some issues with supposed misconfiguration of static files. After clearing my browser cache, the message went away, so I tweeted this.

“Regarding APEX 5.0.1 patch. Clear your browser cache, or you may get that static files message, even though config is correct. 🙂 #orclapex”

Practically before I hit return, Patrick Wolf came back with this.

“@oraclebase Thanks for letting us know. I have filed bug# 21463521 and fixed it for 5.0.2”

We’re a week on now and all our APEX installations are happily running 5.0.1. We had no issues with the upgrades and no problems with the apps.

We are small fry where APEX is concerned, so don’t take this as the green light to upgrade everything yourself. I’m just saying we had no problems with it, which is pretty cool. If APEX is a strategic environment for you, you will probably need to do a lot more testing than us. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…