Oracle APEX gets Web 2.0 boost

Oracle's new version of its Application Express embraces Web 2.0

Oracle has upgraded its Oracle Application Express development software so that it will allow developers to add some Web 2.0 flash to their applications.

"By far, this is the most significant release to date. It has more features and pushes the platform much farther than previous releases," said Mike Hichwa, an Oracle vice president of software development.

This new iteration, version 4, features a new tool called Dynamic Actions, which is a library of AJAX functionality that can be added to a Web application through a browser-based Wizard interface. With these features, developers can make their Web pages more interactive by using AJAX-powered bits to do things like hide or show elements or offer type-ahead suggestions.

The upgrade also features a wizard to communicate with REST (representational state transfer) data sources from within an application. "This is great for creating portals or dashboards," Hichwa said.

The package includes 20 new themes to applications a modern look and feel. Oracle designed these themes with XHTML (Extensible HTML) and CSS (cascading style sheets) standards, so they should render more uniformly across different browsers, Hichwa said.

First launched in 2006, Oracle Application Express, informally known as APEX, was designed for database administrators who want to build departmental-level, database-driven Web applications. "The target audience is all those people who feel comfortable working with SQL, but working with .NET or Java is a little bit out of their comfort zones," Hichwa said.

Oracle salespeople have touted APEX as a replacement for Microsoft Access, and it is frequently used as a replacement to Oracle's aging Oracle Forms client/server developer platform.

Oracle estimates that the application has about approximately 300,000 users.

The software is now available for download from the Oracle Technology Network, or as part of Oracle Database 11g.

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