Adventures in APEX 22.1 – Part Two

23 May 2022
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APEX 22.1 – Developer features

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

Oracle recently announced the release of the APEX 22.1 list of features and they have delivered a suite of improvements across the board. In Part One, we looked at some of the highlights for general and mobile user experience. Here in Part Two, we’ll discuss the updates that excite the developer community the most - this will be of particular interest to the developer “nerds” who have been waiting a long time for some of these useful features.

Data generator

APEX is undoubtedly a very powerful Rapid application development framework, but the thing that has bugged many developers for ages has been the ability to easily enable sample data for a prototype. How do you generate dummy but meaningful data, and load it into the application in an efficient manner? In the past, the team here at Inoapps have used tools like Mockaroo to generate representational data in CSV format and have used the file to load data in the tables. But that has had its own challenges.

Oracle has made life much easier for developers now by providing this capability directly within APEX. Developers can very easily create a blueprint from scratch, or based on an existing table, and use that to generate random but realistic sample data. This also allows data generation in a relational format, enabling a child table column to refer to columns in its parent table in order to maintain referential integrity.

One of the use cases can be to stress test your code by adding over 100,000+ rows across the tables. This will help developers to proactively preempt any performance issues in the future through more realistic performance testing.

Session overrides

We all use the runtime APEX tools to watch the session values, debug and/or use the Theme-Roller time and again.  Oracle has now empowered developers with an enhanced toolbar that allows us to play with session values on the fly.

Developers can now quickly reference files (such as “JS” or “CSS” files) from an external source and it will only affect their session without impacting other developers using the same application.

REST catalogs/ sources / SQL queries

REST support has grown massively over the last few releases and we are already seeing the benefits of this across many of our projects. It has allowed us to develop loosely coupled applications where data can reside in multiple locations while the users are completely agnostic to it.

The new list of features around REST data sources and catalogs takes it to the next level, where the developers themselves can remain agnostic to the underlying data-structures on a remote database  and build the applications from a REST catalog/data source based on third-party REST APIs.

The pain of knowing the tables and views is slowly going away, and we can now build APEX applications on data sources that are not actually sitting within an Oracle tech stack. The abstraction of data from its implementation is a really powerful tool.

Application export in JSON or YAML formats

This is another subtle but extremely useful improvement that will allow developers to read through the code and “DIFF” two versions in a code versioning system to identify the changes more easily.

Since the SQL-CL & APEX-Export utilities also support these formats, we can move away from the significant burden of very large SQL files for application export.

Subscription support for lists

Code reusability is essential and earlier versions of APEX were lacking certain widgets – this meant developers were having to duplicate a lot of code across multiple applications.

With this release, APEX offers the capability to copy and subscribe the List of Values (LOV) between applications, which saves a lot of coding and maintenance effort when building interconnected applications that share the same LOV.

Conclusion

There are many more improvements for developers that aren’t covered in this blog but still worth exploring. The Integrated Development Environment (IDE) improvements are slowly making APEX builder a fun tool on par with other IDEs with predictive text/help and code formatters. Overall, this APEX 22.1 version has delivered capabilities that should help developers across the world build better business applications.

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