Oracle APEX: A Powerful Choice for Rapid, Secure, and Scalable Development

Oracle Application Express (APEX) is making headlines, and for all the right reasons. This dynamic low-code platform offers developers a transformative approach to application development. Recently, Larry Ellison, the CTO of Oracle, announced the revolutionary impact of generative AI and how it’s changing how Oracle develops new products. A core element of this shift is Oracle APEX, which is poised to reshape the software development landscape. This blog will delve into the compelling reasons to choose Oracle APEX for your next development project, highlighting its strengths.

Larry Ellison’s announcement at Oracle Cloud World 2023 is a defining moment in the software development industry. He emphasized Oracle’s commitment to supporting older applications written in Java while simultaneously pioneering a groundbreaking approach to developing new applications. The secret ingredient? Generative AI tools combined with Oracle APEX. These tools automatically generate code based on developer prompts, fundamentally transforming how applications are built and run. With this innovative approach, development becomes faster, more efficient, and remarkably secure. As Ellison rightly said, “This is a very big deal.”

Now, let’s dive deep into understanding Oracle Application Express (APEX). This low-code application development platform empowers a diverse range of developers, from beginners to seasoned professionals, to create robust, secure enterprise applications without the need for in-depth knowledge of complex web technologies. APEX allows users to craft compelling data visualizations, deploy ready-made productivity applications to address specific business challenges, and design modern, data-driven applications that perform seamlessly on desktop and mobile devices.

In response to the surging interest in low-code application development and the growing Oracle APEX community worldwide, Oracle has introduced Oracle APEX Application Development, also known as “APEX Service.” Oracle APEX Application Development (APEX Service) is a low cost, Oracle Cloud service offering convenient access to the Oracle APEX platform for rapidly building and deploying low-code applications. This innovative cloud service integrates APEX’s low-code development capabilities with Oracle’s cutting-edge Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and Oracle Autonomous Database – Shared Infrastructure (ADB).

Oracle APEX was conceived to empower developers from its inception. The mission is clear: to enable developers to create compelling applications with superior functionality, performance, and user experience. This mission hinges on eliminating the complexities often accompanying the development and deployment of enterprise-level applications. In this section, we’ll explore why Oracle APEX stands out and why it should be your preferred choice for your next development project.

1. Eliminating Complexity:

At its core, Oracle APEX simplifies the development and deployment of applications across all layers. It’s not just another low-code platform; it’s a game-changer. By reducing complexities, APEX emerges as a simpler, faster, lighter-weight, and lower-cost solution compared to its counterparts.

2. Simple Development:

One of APEX’s standout features is its ease of use. The Application Builder provides an intuitive, browser-based interface that guides developers through the application creation process. This approach minimizes the need for extensive coding. Surprisingly, many users are highly productive within a week or even less.

3. Powerful and Proven:

Oracle APEX boasts a wide range of applications across various industries. From basic apps that convert spreadsheets into web-based tools to mission-critical applications serving thousands of users daily, APEX proves its versatility. Its elegant architecture has powered countless applications worldwide for years.

4. Security:

Security is a top priority in today’s ever-changing web standards and evolving security landscape. Oracle APEX is designed to create highly secure web applications right out of the box. As the threat landscape evolves, APEX remains committed to keeping your applications protected and state-of-the-art.

5. Portability:

Oracle APEX provides unparalleled flexibility. Whether you choose Oracle Cloud, on-premises solutions, or any environment with an Oracle Database, you can seamlessly deploy your APEX applications. The ease of portability simplifies your development journey.

6. Simpler and Faster Development:

Oracle APEX is data-driven, and development often starts with a spreadsheet or data model. Applications are built in a low-code, browser-based environment, eliminating 98% of manual coding. In contrast, middle-tier applications require intricate data structure definitions to manage data flow between the application and the database. This complexity is virtually nonexistent with Oracle APEX.

7. Lower Cost:

While running applications in the database might sound resource-intensive, Oracle APEX defies expectations. In a comparative analysis, applications built on APEX consume significantly fewer resources than their middle-tier counterparts. Typically, middle-tier applications necessitate three containers per microservice to ensure high availability. Each container demands substantial memory and computing power. These applications also generate dozens to hundreds of calls to access database data for rendering a single screen, which is generally 10 times slower than direct database queries. APEX, on the other hand, is both stateless and serverless. Runtime application state is stored in tables, which facilitates connection reuse across users. Moreover, Autoscale on Autonomous Database eliminates the need for complex middle-tier scaling. The result is that Oracle APEX applications require fewer database resources and approximately 100 times fewer mid-tier hardware resources than middle-tier applications.

8. Easy Deployment:

Oracle APEX simplifies application and data deployment to an extraordinary extent compared to middle-tier applications. The following aspects showcase this simplification:

Reduces Complexity of Middle-Tiers: Oracle APEX concentrates everything in the database, removing the need for complex middle-tier design, development, and management.

Eliminates Complexity of Database Management: With Oracle Autonomous Database, the need for a dedicated Database Administrator (DBA) or DevOps to manage your database is essentially eliminated.

Oracle APEX doesn’t just offer simplicity; it provides the foundation for developers to tackle complex problems without requiring expertise in extensive web technologies. With an array of tools and capabilities, APEX ensures developers have the support they need for various facets of application development.

Oracle APEX is equipped with a comprehensive set of tools to enhance productivity, meet deadlines, and deliver exceptional results for your business. Let’s delve into the features:

Data and Reporting

One of APEX’s primary objectives is to make data management and reporting as efficient as possible. Whether your data resides in a local database, a remote database, or a web service, Oracle APEX offers state-of-the-art functionality to transform data into valuable insights.

Mobile

Oracle APEX simplifies the creation of modern, mobile-ready applications. Your APEX applications are fully responsive and can be easily transformed into Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). This enables deep integration with mobile operating systems, providing a native app-like experience.

Mobile Device Integration

Oracle APEX PWAs unlock powerful features typically associated with platform-specific applications. By deploying Oracle APEX PWAs, end-users can enjoy seamless integration with device operating systems, resulting in a more native and user-friendly experience.

Accessibility

Inclusivity is a top priority for Oracle APEX. It’s designed to make it easy for developers to create highly accessible web applications that cater to users with diverse abilities and requirements. With each release, Oracle APEX continues to enhance accessibility features, fix known issues, and improve testing strategies, ensuring a fantastic experience for every user.

Monitoring

Monitoring and logging provide insights into user interactions with your applications. This information is invaluable for identifying hacking attempts, performance issues, and application errors. With Oracle APEX, you have built-in monitoring and logging capabilities, simplifying the process of keeping your applications secure and efficient.

Globalization

Globalization is a key aspect of any development framework. It ensures that applications perform correctly in multiple languages and locales. Oracle APEX is designed with globalization in mind, offering support for translating applications and localization to adapt applications to specific languages and locales.

Oracle APEX employs a streamlined architecture where pages are dynamically generated using metadata stored within the Oracle database.

The APEX architecture comprises three primary components: a web browser, Oracle REST Data Services (the web server), and an Oracle database housing APEX. Its core strength lies in the segregation of the mid-tier and the database tier.

The web server, Oracle REST Data Services, acts as an intermediary, facilitating communication between the web browser and APEX objects in the Oracle database by translating browser requests into calls to stored procedures within the database.

Upon installation, specific Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) are defined for both developers and end users to access APEX. Users only need a web browser and the designated URL, eliminating the need for additional client software.

Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS), formerly known as Oracle Application Express Listener, is a J2EE application that interacts with the Oracle database. It accomplishes this by mapping browser requests to the APEX engine within the database through a SQL*Net connection.

Oracle REST Data Services offers robust support, whether deployed in standalone mode or within Oracle WebLogic Server or Apache Tomcat application servers.

 APEX also stands out due to its seamless adaptability across various scenarios. Whether you need to replace a simple spreadsheet or develop a complex, mission-critical system, APEX has got you covered. It offers numerous use cases that can address a variety of business needs:

1. Accelerated App Development for Changing Business Needs

Many organizations face a substantial backlog of applications that must be created or updated rapidly to meet evolving business requirements and maintain competitiveness. These apps are often not enterprise-scale and may have a limited lifespan. Consequently, they must be fast to develop and easy to adapt to changing demands. Oracle APEX provides a solution by streamlining the development process, allowing quick application creation and efficient updates.

2. Oracle Forms Modernization

Legacy Oracle Forms applications may become outdated and inefficient, often resulting in usability and accessibility issues, poor compatibility with modern browsers, and mobile unfriendliness. These applications may require upgrades or modernization to align with contemporary business needs. Oracle APEX simplifies this transition, as it shares similarities with Oracle Forms regarding SQL and PL/SQL compatibility, enabling an easier shift for developers.

3. External Data Sharing

Sharing data with external users, such as partners and customers, can be challenging. It’s essential to provide a secure and user-friendly interface for external parties to interact with your organization. Oracle APEX can facilitate the creation of public-facing applications, enhancing customer satisfaction and fostering repeat business. By deploying these apps on Oracle Database Cloud Services or an isolated Oracle Database in your DMZ, you can ensure security and availability.

4. Datamart Reporting

Obtaining comprehensive and accurate insights from disparate data sources is often a complex task. APEX offers a solution by enabling the creation of interactive reporting applications that consolidate data and provide detailed insights. Its powerful reporting and data visualization capabilities simplify the development of informative dashboards for various user communities.

5. SaaS and EBS Extensions

Several organizations rely on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems like Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) for their day-to-day operations. While these systems offer extensive functionality, they may need more specific reports or features your organization requires. Oracle APEX can bridge these gaps by allowing you to build extensions that provide the necessary information and enhance productivity, resulting in improved user satisfaction.

Incorporating Oracle APEX into your development strategy can be a game-changer, whether you’re modernizing legacy systems, accelerating application development, sharing data with external stakeholders, creating interactive reports, or extending the capabilities of your ERP systems. APEX’s low-code capabilities, robust security, and seamless adaptability make it an ideal choice for various application development needs.

Furthermore, Oracle Apex offers cloud deployment options, ensuring your applications are easily accessible and scalable. Leveraging cloud computing with APEX allows organizations to harness the benefits of rapid development, low-code design, and efficient resource utilization. This modern approach aligns perfectly with the ever-evolving landscape of cloud-based solutions.

Oracle Application Express simplifies application development and deployment, making it an attractive choice for organizations seeking efficient solutions. Whether you need to create applications for rapidly changing business needs, modernize legacy systems, share data with external users, generate insightful reports, or extend your ERP’s functionality, APEX provides the tools to get the job done.

As the world of technology continues to evolve, the low-code capabilities of Oracle APEX empower developers and organizations to remain agile and responsive to shifting business demands. It’s a versatile platform that simplifies complexity and delivers impressive results.

As an Oracle partner, Nsight can provide valuable guidance to help leverage the full potential of this powerful tool. Our expertise and experience can assist you in harnessing Oracle APEX to meet your specific business needs and stay ahead in a constantly changing technological landscape. By offering guidance, customization, efficiency, and security, Nsight contributes to the success of APEX projects, helping organizations build applications that meet their specific needs and excel in the ever-changing business landscape. Under the guidance of Oracle experts, you can build applications that are not only functional but also scalable to accommodate future growth.

Embark on a Journey of Efficient, Customized, and Secure Application Development with Nsight

Oracle APEX operates within your Oracle database, processing requests and rendering pages. Each user request is handled via a separate database session, minimizing CPU usage. Application state is managed within database tables. The APEX engine ensures session state, authentication, authorization, page flow, and validation functions.

Oracle APEX employs a straightforward architecture, generating pages dynamically using metadata stored in the Oracle database.

The APEX architecture encompasses a web browser, Oracle REST Data Services (the web server), and an Oracle database housing APEX. Its key advantage lies in the clear division between the mid-tier and the database tier.

Oracle APEX Service is often referred to as a low-code application development framework because it empowers both professional developers and citizen developers to create sophisticated applications that can run on any device with a modern web browser. It achieves this without requiring users to become experts in traditional coding or an extensive array of web technologies. The declarative, metadata-driven architecture of APEX, combined with powerful pre-packaged UI components, greatly simplifies the application development process. Studies have shown that developers can build enterprise applications up to 38 times faster with Oracle APEX Service.

Oracle APEX Service is designed to empower a diverse range of users, including business analysts, departmental developers, citizen application developers, and professional developers. It simplifies creating applications with advanced features, excellent performance, and robust security. With APEX Service, users can concentrate on addressing business challenges rather than grappling with intricate coding techniques.

About the Author

Aditya

Aditya Mokkapati is a seasoned professional with more than two decades of experience in leading Oracle projects. Aditya has successfully managed multiple implementation, upgrade, and production support projects in Oracle Fusion and E-Business Suite across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, hi-tech, and healthcare. He has worked closely with CXOs and business leaders, forging partnerships to offer the best solutions.