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Beginning Oracle Application Express 4

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  • Posted April 17, 2011

    It's how a "beginning" book should be written

    This books is written for someone who is new to Oracle's Application Express (ApEx) RAD development tool. To follow along with the book you will either need to have Oracle and ApEx installed (easy to follow instructions on setting ApEx up are included in the ApEx download from Oracle), or sign up for an account online (see book for web site). I had installed ApEx on my machine prior to getting the book but I also used the online service to test it out. Signing up for a workspace online took just a few minutes and my account was created within a few minutes. The book starts out giving an introduction to ApEx, what it is and where it got it's beginnings. The second chapter walks you through the UI and helps to get you acquainted with things. From there you begin your journey into building a help desk/ticketing system from the ground up. Each chapter walks you through the different aspects of building your application. The authors walk you through using the wizards to build up most of what you need, and then show you how to make changes to the wizard's code so you can tweak whatever you might need to fit your standards. First you learn how to use ApEx to create your database objects and how to import and run scripts that were created outside the platform. From there you are shown how to build your application, navigation and import data from spreadsheets. After that you are walked through two chapters on building reports and forms. Once you've learned that you learn about the programmatic abilities in ApEx such as conditionally showing pages, computing and validating values and setting up processes and actions. Security is next on the list and how to set it up on your application. Finally you are shown how to deploy your finished application. The next two chapters explain how to build a websheet application which the authors liken to a blog or wiki site. From there you move onto a chapter dealing with advanced developers tools such as locking pages (all ApEx work is done in a browser interface and there is no source control), monitoring your application, setting up your build options, etc. The last two chapters deal with managing workspaces inside of ApEx and how Team Development can help keep things straight. I really like the book and it's step by step setting up of an application. The authors did a good job at showing a beginner what they need to know to get a basic application set up and deployed. I feel they gave enough "hand holding" in the earlier chapters and in the later chapters just referred you back to where you could find the instructions if you forgot how to do something. They obviously didn't touch on everything that ApEx can do and left that for other books to explain, which is how it should be for a book like this. There are more typos in this book than I have seen in other Apress titles. Most of these are nothing more than mere annoyances in the text, but there are a couple coding errors that I noticed and a couple places that refer you to later chapters but still had the '??' place holders since the layout had not been completed yet. Even with these issues, the book is definitely worth reading for those who want to learn about using ApEx for driving their web site.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    A Great Place To Start With APEX4 - Highly Recommend

    Oracle Application Express 4(APEX4) is the latest version of Oracle's web application development platform. This book covers all aspects of this product as it relates to developing web applications. For example, it discusses the application, navigation in the tool, security, team development and more. APEX4 installs as a schema in an Oracle database so the book also discusses the schema, dictionary views and integration with other Oracle products. Beginning Oracle Application Express 4 does a really good job of introducing this product. APEX4 is extremely robust and full-featured. Beginning Oracle Application Express 4 does a very good job of introducing the reader to these features. It walks the reader through a step-by-step approach to creating a typical web application. It explains every step in detail, using not only step-by-step instructions but also a lot of pictures and screenshots. This is a tremendous help for a beginner. In addition to the step-by-step instructions, the author does several things that I liked very much and definitely added to my understanding and ability to work independently and creatively as I move past the book. The author talked about related issues, things you didn't really need to know to follow the instructions but were great to have for a really good understanding. For example, when talking about the APEX4 Search functions, he talked about understanding Session State so that I would understand how APEX keeps track of values. Another feature that I really liked was his "Look behind the scenes" pieces. After each major task, he used this to explain what, and how, APEX is doing. He also pointed out here, the kinds of things you should be looking for to insure that APEX is doing what you want and expect it to do. One of the really great things is that all you need to get started is the book, a basic knowledge of sql and a basic knowledge of relational databases (not necessarily Oracle). The author provides all the rest. You can download all the scripts, data, etc. that you need from the publishers website. If you do not have access to APEX4 or an Oracle database, the author shows you where you can get free access to Oracle's APEX4 and database to use on the web. This is a wonderful site that makes it seem like you are the only user. If I had to make one constructive comment, it would be that there are "typos" in the book. This can be confusing but with all the other descriptions, pictures and screenshots to guide you, it should not cause a serious problem. By using this book, in only a few hours, I developed a sample web application that had created database tables, created lookup tables(fairly hard to do without a tool like this), created interactive web pages that updated the database, dynamic reports that could be searched and sorted by any column, a help system and other really impressive stuff. Almost all of this was done, automatically, by pointing and clicking on the tool. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in developing web applications using an Oracle database.

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