Adventures in APEX 22.1 – Part One

16 May 2022
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APEX 22.1 – First thoughts

By Dermot Murray, VP of Technology & Abhinav Anand, Products Development Manager at Inoapps

Early May saw the APEX Connect conference in Phantasialand, Germany, where the full release of APEX 22.1 was formally announced. 

The APEX team here at Inoapps has of course already been evaluating the latest release to identify the best new features and functions to deliver capabilities to our industry solutions and bespoke applications. Once again, the Oracle APEX team has delivered a release crammed with significant new improvements, and credit must be given to Mike Hichwa and his team for all their hard work.

The Twittersphere has featured lots of debate in recent months about the optimal cadence for release cycles of development tools like APEX. Is it better to have smaller, but more frequent releases delivering incremental improvements, or less frequent ‘big bang’ releases that deliver a broader range of capabilities? There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but the simple reality is that even though we live in a Cloud enabled world, where everything is supposed to be quicker, more agile and more dynamic, there’s still a need for diligence, testing and controlled deployments. So on balance, the team here would prefer larger, more comprehensive releases. But there’s merit in both arguments.

What’s new—and what’s important

There are many blogs and posts (including those from Oracle themselves) that call out the minutiae of the new features. However, as always, there are some headline new features that jump out as being of real relevance and value to our teams moving forward. 

The list of improvements broadly cover three areas:

  • General user experience
  • Mobile user experience
  • Developer experience

This two part blog looks at these new features in detail.

 

General user experience

This release delivers a few simple but very useful features that will improve the user experience drastically when using APEX apps.

  • Approvals and Unified Task List
  • Improved row search
  • Region sorting made easy
  • Faceted search enhancements
  • Markdown and Rich Text Editor
  • Universal theme updates

Approvals and Unified Task List

Approvals are an integral part of all enterprise applications. Oracle has realized that APEX is being used to develop large scale enterprise solutions and have come up with a slick but powerful Approval tool.

This might still not be able to fulfill the more complex requirements in big enterprises, but it’s a step in the right direction and saves a lot effort that would normally be needed to implement basic approvals.

Improved row search

Users are going to love this new and improved intelligent search feature, which now allows search based on multiple keywords simultaneously. You can now search for two keywords across different rows/tiles and it will bring back both sets of data. It also allows for exact keyword based search (similar to the capabilities of the Google search engine), which is very powerful for data intensive applications when you’re looking for highly specific information.

Region sorting made easy

Region sorting has been around since the very earliest APEX releases and you can easily sort data, for example, in Interactive Reports and Interactive Grids. Oracle has now taken this concept and implemented it across the range for widgets like cards and tiles. And there’s now a separate selector you can choose to change the sorting, similar to the experience on various e-commerce portals.

 

Mobile user experience and Progressive Web Applications

As mentioned in our Rise of PWAs posts, Oracle is heavily invested in mobile experience. This release of APEX offers some power packed features that allow developers to show their creative side when delivering a powerful Progressive Web Application (PWA). As discussed in a recent post, the Inoapps team are huge fans of the PWA capability that’s been available in APEX for the last few releases, and the new features will make them even more compelling.

Persistent authentication

This allows PWA apps users to remain logged in for longer without the need to log in every time they open the app or unlock the device. This will enable a far more effective experience for the end user, and the relevant  security features can be easily set up by the developer from the instance level config.

PWA Service Worker customization

Ever since the launch of PWA in APEX 21.2, the developer community has been requesting that Oracle open up the Service Worker framework to allow developers to create/customize the app’s user experience. Oracle has delivered and the update includes things like:

  • Sending push notifications
  • Syncing when the device is online
  • Making payments

This truly places control in the hands of the developers to customize the service works and give the end user an experience that’s on par with the Native apps, while still making it easier and quicker to build using core APEX capabilities.

Other UI improvements

A wide range of other improvements has been delivered for Faceted Search and the Rich Text Editor, to allow for an improved user experience.

In addition, there are improvements to the Universal Theme to allow branding on the login page, using background images and themes.

There’s a long list of new features and capabilities that add value across the software development and deployment lifecycle. Part Two discusses what we consider as the best of the new development capabilities.

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