Monday, 3 February 2014

Apex 5.0 Early Adopter

This weekend Oracle launched the long awaited Apex 5.0 Early Adopter release. I just signed up for a workspace on apexea.oracle.com to check out some of the new features. I must say that my first impression is very positive. If you haven't already, you can sign up here for a free workspace

The first thing that struck me was that the look and feel of the application builder has changed slightly: they've used a flat design. As a test I've exported my demo application from apex.oracle.com, and imported it in apex 5.0. In general, this worked smooth and my application worked straight away. A few things were left for adjustment: the css and JavaScript files and the images that were stored in the database were not copied along. So I started uploading of my JavaScript file. That's when I noticed the first new features: instead of uploading files to an image, css or static files folder, you can create your own folder structure. Also you can bulk upload zipped files and -something I really missed in previous Apex versions- you can download files.

Since I made my own folder structure I also needed to change some of the file references. I navigated to the first page I wanted to edit and that's when I noticed the complete new layout of the page editor. The bulk of the editor is now made up of a grid layout, which displays your page and all its regions. You can drag and drop buttons and new regions into the grid and have your page setup in no time. Once you click on a page component, all the properties of that component are displayed on the right side of the screen. You can edit them straight away. Code fields have a modal pop up box with syntax highlighting, which is a major step forward from the small text area's that I was used to.
Unfortunately the modal editor doesn't seem to be available for dynamic action code fields.

After restoring my demo application, I decided to create a new app to check some of the announced features. First thing I wanted to check was if I could get more than one interactive report on a page. You can easily create more than one IR on a page, but only one can be active at a time. I'm not sure if there is an out of the box method to switch between active IR's, or that developers will have to create their own solutions.
Another feature I found was the pivot option of Interactive Reports, which lets you create pivot tables in just a few button clicks.

All in all my first steps in Apex 5.0 are very positive. It is really a big step forward from Apex 4.2. So I guess I'll be spending the next few weeks doodling in the new Apex environment and learn all of the new features. I'll update this post with new findings occasionally, so make sure to check back regular.

UPDATE:
I've taken a look at the new theme (Theme 31) and the templates. They look really nice. Again here the template editor has syntax highlighting, which aids readability. Even better: the editors come with code completion! Next to that the edit screen is enhanced and now includes separate fields for notifications and for sub templates. Also you have separate sections for JavaScript and CSS, for which you can include your own file paths rather than the Apex files.