Oracle APEX - A Simple Intro to a Powerful Low-Code Tool

28 September 2020
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By Tom Benham, Developer at Inoapps

If you visit the Oracle home page for their Oracle Application Express (APEX) platform, you will notice the bold headline:

"Build enterprise apps 20x faster with 100x less code."

Many years ago, Inoapps firmly embraced this philosophy and since then we have built hundreds of APEX applications much faster and with less code than would have been possible using traditional application development methods.

The ability to deliver enterprise applications using APEX so efficiently is a huge benefit to our customers and to us. But what exactly is APEX? What features does it provide? What kind of applications can be built with APEX? This article provides a beginner’s guide to the APEX platform and details some of the types of applications we have built for our customers over the years.

What is Oracle APEX?

Let’s see what Oracle say:

Oracle Application Express (APEX) is a low-code development platform that enables you to build scalable, secure enterprise apps, with world-class features, that can be deployed anywhere.

This is APEX in a nutshell. The platform provides the ability to quickly develop secure, interactive applications to solve real problems. Underpinning this is an Oracle database and all the benefits that go along with it. APEX applications can range from simple reporting facilities to more complex business systems that interact with cloud-based databases using web services. We have built custom solutions and products that span the breadth of the spectrum.

Features of Oracle APEX

What does Oracle say?

APEX helps you build better apps by taking care of (…) six facets of application development.

  • Data – Display, manipulate, chart and process data efficiently.
  • User Interface – Universal Theme for responsive, accessible, customisable, and easy to maintain applications.
  • Security – Highly secure with the option to create custom security schemes to ensure applications stay protected.
  • Accessibility – Designed with developer and user in mind, all-in-all to produce highly accessible apps.
  • Monitoring – Built-in monitoring and logging for application usage insight.
  • Globalisation – Includes support for translating applications as well as localisation.

We work with many clients, each with their own business solutions requirements, ranging from the simplistic to the highly complex. APEX is one of our go -to development tools because the features it provides (listed above) allow us to build applications simply and quickly to meet these needs. We understand that in today’s dynamic, technological world there is a need to deliver solutions within challenging timescales. APEX is a flag-bearer for this practice as its low-code nature cuts out a lot of the heavy load that would typically be involved in building enterprise ready systems.

Inoapps and APEX

At Inoapps we have built a vast collection of applications, some custom-made and some as generic industry solutions or products. The Inoapps team contains many top APEX developers with years of combined experience. We have seen and done a lot, building applications for use in different industries… and anything we haven’t yet faced is seen as a challenge willingly accepted. Here is a breakdown of some the main types applications we have built using APEX:

  • Billing Engine

    A system that provides one of our Energy customers with a vast array of features for customer billing. Most pertinent is the ability to process meter readings via auto-estimating (if no actual reading exists), validating calculating, generating and dispatching bills. This system integrates with Oracle E-Business Suite to provide data flow back and forth.

  • Commercial Management

    A product that belongs to a large suite of Engineering and Construction/Energy Cloud solutions. It provides a range of tools to allow effective management of construction industry specific business processes. A key benefit is increased profitability through more accurate forecasting of project costs.

  • Subcontractor Management Cloud Another Construction focused industry solution that integrates with Oracle Fusion to manage the procurement cycle for Subcontracted workpackages. This includes Applications & Certifications, Advanced Payment, Withholding Tax and Valuations. One of the key benefits is improved financial control through better management of the retention and retention release lifecycle.

  • Guaranteed Hours Module

    A custom-built module that integrates with Oracle Fusion to administer guaranteed hours employee contracts for one of The Russell Group Universities. It enables the customer to manage both guaranteed hours, to prevent unnecessary payments and weekly hour limits, to ensure legal and institutional compliance.

  • HESA Staff Record Feature Catalogue
    Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are required by law to submit annually to HESA, data on students, staff and finance. The data collected is used in the formulation of funding, performance indicators, and league tables. This annual return takes a considerable amount of time and effort. Recognising the challenges that institutions face, Inoapps developed a revolutionary cloud-based tool to take HR data from the institution’s HCM system(s) and derive/calculate HESA codes and values, as per the HESA specification. The system then produces HESA compliant XML files to be submitted (and committed) to HESA through their portal, enabling a faster and simpler return of accurate staff data to HESA.

  • InoHub 
    An integration tool which handles the flow of data from a wide range of client systems and sources to and from Oracle Fusion. InoHub takes care of data mapping and data validation so that data is successfully sent to Fusion. Fronting it up is an APEX application with various features and reporting facilities.

  • Operations Planning Input Request

    OPIR is a standalone application that enables Energy customers to save money by improving visibility of offshore planning processes. Users can schedule activities and flight bookings to and from offshore platforms. The application streamlines administrative tasks, eliminating duplication whilst planning core and vendor mobilisations.

  • SecurePass

    Provides a secure service that allows employees to manage their Oracle Cloud password reset process, even if they do not have a corporate email account. SecurePass uses 3-factor authentication to deliver a secure, robust and reliable password reset solution.

  • Shipview

    A Jetty Management application, custom-made for another energy customer, which allows users to view and manage jetty activity (trips and parcels). The overall activity can be viewed on a daily or weekly basis via a Jetty Schedule - a visual representation of activity using APEX charts.

These are just some of the fantastic applications that our team has created using the Oracle APEX framework and provide an insight into the wide variety of use cases that APEX can be used to deliver. I hope that reading this has inspired you to think about how APEX might meet your organisational challenges - if you have questions about this, or want to know more about our Team’s experience, please contact us today!

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