Saturday, October 02, 2010

Archive Group II : More things that might go with one another

Decisions Decisions

2/28/2008 10:12:46 AM

  Ok, So i've decided what I want to be when this site grows up.  Now the question is where to start.  I have a number of projects in various phases of disrepair and I think I should choose one and put it out on the and sites.  While I decide that I may be discussing the trials and tribulations of introducing a 'new' technology, such as APEX, to a company that is not knowledgeable in practices that either make sense or produce functional results that leverage existing and available technology.  Yes this will be a somewhat less techy blog than most but the points are still valid.

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Building a Survey Instrument

3/3/2008 1:18:40 PM

Continued from 02/28/2008 : Decisions Decisions

  Ok, I think I have a good candidate for development.  I have wanted to do this one for a while but haven't had enough focus to try it.  A Survey Instrument. 

  All you have to do today is look up Survey Software on google and you'll get a wide range of services that offer the ability to create and process surveys for anywhere between $15 and $1000 a month with various bandwidth, tools and services to be had.  Many of these services only offer the product through their secure servers, while some might charge as low as $8000 to license a server install of the product inside your firewall.  This is an area where I think ApEx may well show most of its abilities as an application environment that can be developed relatively fast and the raw mathematical processing of Oracle in the same sentance.  

  I am going to put up the sourceforge spot here in the next day or two. Then maybe we might look at the initial requirements.

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The Price and Value of Information

3/7/2008 4:58:48 PM

Continued from 03/03/2008: Building a Survey Instrument

  I am somewhat amazed at the level of complexity of many of these survey sites.  They all look really pretty and expensive but it looks like, when you get into the meat of their service, that the data model used for online surveys isn't all that complex.  I have reviewed about five of the major sites and they all seem fairly simple on how a person can build, deploy and analyze a set of survey questions.  All things considered I think that the data model of any one of these services might match 90% of my initial SWAG at the database model.  I just wonder why some of these site cost as much as $1200.00/month to use.  Sure they use asp, php and java pages like no tomorrow but I am sure they must have met their return on investment many times over for the product that they are providing. So it seems to me that they are in the "Fun and Profit" phase.  I am probibly wrong about the fun and profit but it's my rant. :")~

  So from my initial observations I may be on the right track to begin development.  I have asked Carl if I can do this project on the APEX SourceForge site and am currently awaiting a response.  So, I don't have any updates on the locale of the files other than on my RAID at home.

Til the next time..................

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APEX Performance Tuning

5/28/2008 1:05:42 PM

Today I got the opportunity to attend a free web seminar hosted by Doug Gault of HOTSOS.  The topic is all about Performance Tuning of Application Express. 

Doug opened up with a topic that is near to my heart of knowledge and understanding of your environment and, especially, your target users.  Which leads into the idea that an understanding of the way APEX is installed and how it works from the perspective of how it processes the application and its elements. 

Just about all of the major best practices that I have seen in different documents and presentations plus a few items that are new to me. 

Some of the good skils and activities involved for me are 

  1. re-inforcement of a proactive monitoring of your applications and the APEX System/Applications

  2. the use of tools that are already a part of the APEX system

  3. using more stored procedures

  4. a good process of identifying and eliminating potential causes of a performance hit using a variety of tools that are readily available to anyone in the community.

In all things this time was well worth the time to participate.  The slide deck and presentation is available at go to events and then webinars.

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If at first you don't succeed. Change the rules!

9/15/2008 10:43:01 AM

I was sifting through my inbox this week and as I began the surgical removal of all of the SPAM that promotes "Natural Male Enhancement" and ads for dating service that help you to use your new found powers :P, I happend across an email from the IOUG.  Along with the usual listings of tech articles and general announcements I found a golden nugget, of sorts, for the APEX community at large.  The Oracle Application Testing Suite as referenced HERE.  Now naturally, me being the new toys kind of person, I downloaded it and began playing with it like my sons with Legos and XBOX games.  I struggled a bit with the install and eventually go some of the components working enough to build and run a basic test of one of my APEX applications. 

I found the e-tester a very quick tool to get to a functional state and testing the steps I gave it to work on and soon I had a full test of the typical 'end-user' experience on my app complete with baseline times for page rendering and such.  When I used this tool in conjunction with the HOTSOS ILO, I could see all of the 'fun' areas of the application where I was bound to need to do some more extensive work with performance tuning of the app before I release it into the wild.

Personally I like the tools and hope to get the rest of them working soon to make a more fully informed oppinion on this subject but the is a must see for the APEX developers out there.

More on this topic as my play time progresses.

Edit:  Unfortunately it only seems to be available to Windows to install but hopefully Oracle can start rectifying that.

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New Category (for the BLOG not really new for me)

9/16/2008 3:40:13 PM

There are some times when you really have to be comfortable enough with your mistakes that you are willing to not only share them but to allow others to come to terms with them as well.  At the Getty Trust, my good friend Jeremy and I would hand out, usually to eachother, the "I'm with Stupid Award", for all actions that went above and beyond the normal call of stupidity.  I know you've seen it in my avatar pic if you've visited my actual blog page.  In the Navy it was the reference to the DD Form ID10-T which if you were unlucky enough to have filled that one out you were pretty much certified for the whole of you tour, if not your career.  So now I am bringing back these similar traditions into my blog to air the finer points of my own stupidity in the hopes that many may soon know why it is that I learn more from breaking things than taking a class on them.  This is mostly due to the fact that even if I take a class I will, in all likelyhood, break it anyway just for spite.  It is a founding principle of Precision Guesswork and who am I to break with that kind of tradition.

So, to the point of this post. (Finally)  In my previous posting I was noting that Oracle has announced the Oracle Application Testing Suite (OATS as I have recently seen it shortened to).   I did have some difficulty installing the tools not because it was ambiguious or truly difficult, but because I neglected to follow the first bit of technical advice I recieved from my father, now a retired mainframe programmer from IBM.  That lesson was to Read The #!*&ing Manual aka RTFM, or in this case the install instructions.  To be fair I did read them I just didn't seem to pay attention.  Once I got past that little tidbit of knowledge it all came together relatively quick.  Now that I have all of the components running I did notice a few really quirky items about the OAT Suite. 

(Tangent: BTW it is really hard to write this with all of the OATS jokes I have running through my head right now)

The first thing that really jumped out at me is that in order to be effective as a tool set you have to have either Microsoft Access :"|~ or Microsoft SQL Server installed.  Once I finished cringing I started giggleing a bit at the thought that I just downloaded an Oracle product that cannot actually run on an Oracle database, yet.  The OATS forum and their archived forums do have some light at the end of that tunnel that suggests that this bug will be corrected.   Since this product was essentially part of a company aquisition then I guess we are at that critical adjustment phase where not all of the transitions have happened.  Anyway OATS still seems like a winner for diagnosing the Application Express items out there so long as you can build the currently supported databases (which it seems to build the mdb file even without having Access on your machine and SQL Server XE is still available :P.  Hopefully they will announce a Product Manager here soon and they can begin the process. 

Play time continues in earnest, so truthfully, go try it for yourself, and sew your wild OATS! 

(I know it is a corny joke but I think I might feel less of a troublemaker if I didn't get at least one out)

For now, I am with stupid once again.

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Just when things were calming down. (APEX 4.0 EA)

1/5/2010 3:22:11 PM

  When my previous posting happened in April; I was making some professional changes.  Little did I know that during the turmoil of that change another would be on its heels.  As some of my friends and associates in the APEX community found out in October, I changed jobs again but moved out of the Pharma industry altogether.  Now working in the 'Green Energy' forum.  Now just as the new apsect of my professional career and personal life, moved to Arizona, have calmed down I get this announcement from Oracle that Application Express 4.0 has been released in Early Adopter 1.  Given the timing of the release I actually had to ignore it until after the holiday season.  This was mostly due to the fact that I needed the break after 2009 and was intent on taking one, the other reson has something to do with my wife and the hell that might have ensued if I didn't take the aforementioned break.  Now the new year is upon me, the job is still relatively new to me, my oldest son is soon turning eighteen and now I think I am sufficently stressed to start the adventure through the newly refined APEX as well. 

  I have yet to attempt anything trully detailed, like translate one of my existing applications into the new platform.  Likely won't happen until EA 2.  But what I have seen is really cool.  Much of it could be game changing in many ways.  I'll mostly leave things like reporting and charting to Dimitry, since I am really a novice by comparision but the first area that I gravitated to is the Team Development (TD) Features.  Anyone reading this blog for any amount of time should understand why these features attract me.  They represent the back-end work that is and should be involved with the developement of a business application.

  Currently this tool set is limited to feedback, to-do (tasks), milestones, bugs, and features.  From the get go I assumed that requirements, design and testing might also be included, I guess I have to request an enhancement.


  Features are pretty much like you might assume.  They are the documentation on what it is that you application does in the first place.  Although I can see that the majority of this won't actually be used by many of the APEX developers out there until the first release of their apps and only contain the items that are requested after that point; I have hopes that this become their first stop when designing their apps.

   One of the really good points here is the ability to associate items wit a parent, although I can already see that there are some instances where I might want to have multiple parents involved.  I also like seeing the activity log feature present here and in other areas of the TD applcation.  It allows the ability to assign

  The only true issue I have with it is the value lists in play do not allow you to adjust them for your particular team's status's, priorities and such.  Already submitted as an enhancement.

  Some items have bugs as of yet and others I have asked for clairification on their usage but for the most part features is usable.

In looking at this posting it is already getting long, so, next in the series:  to-do and milestones

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AE4-EA1 : Team Development - Features follow-up

1/7/2010 2:58:29 PM

  In looking at my last posting I realize that there was a few items missing or wrong about the Features aspect of APEX 4.0 Team Development.

  First off the features component does include some data fields on testing, documentation and Security assignments and status.  It is good to see that there is some kind of accounting for these aspects in the Team Development tools.

  In the other tabs there is a nice dashboard feature for an overview of all features in the system.  The Dev team has done a nice job of presenting some good metrics in this space, as well as the dashboards used for To-dos, Bugs and Milestones.  The thing that stands out in my mind is the missing context to the other components in the individual dashboards.  The reference only limited topics so it seems to take a bit of hunting to get the full picture. 

  The calendar view is another component that most of the TD application seems to have as a common theme.  Each one shows a basic calendar picture of their respective records.  In this sense it is a good addition to the tool but lacks the continuity of the other records involved.  One of my enhancement requests for the Dev team is to provide a Gantt option and consolidate the calendar records into one master calendar/Gantt that give a full picture of the tasking at hand. 

  Other aspects of this component include a progress log report, a focus areas chart and report, and a report of all owners and their progress toward completion. 

  Like I had mentioned before and despite any enhancement requests this is a very good first run on this type of aspect in APEX and I have hope to see it improve over time the way the rest of the platform has.

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