What's New in Oracle Application Express 20.1?

18 June 2020
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By Dermot Murray, VP of Ideation at Inoapps

At Inoapps, we have long been advocates of Oracle Application Express (APEX). We built our first application in the first version of APEX over 13 years ago and have delivered hundreds of applications to customers since then.  One of the key reasons why we continue to utilize the platform is the ongoing delivery of new features and functions provided by Joel Kallman, Senior Director, Software Development at Oracle Inc., and his fantastic team.

Last week the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG) delivered its Scotland OUG Conference as a virtual event for the first time.   As a bit of an APEX geek, one of the highlights of the day for me was Anthony Rayner’s presentation on the new features in APEX 20.1 As always, the scope of the new release is very wide, with some fantastic new functionality on the way.

There is plenty of excellent content available on apex.oracle.com that provides more details of the release specifics but some of the key features that really caught my eye were:

  • Friendly URLs – It’s always interesting spotting the “f?p” notation in a URL, especially when the theme of the app has been tweaked beyond the traditional APEX look and feel. However, the ability to add user and SEO friendly URLs has been a feature that we have been looking forward to for some time. 

  • Software control – Oracle has introduced a raft of features to make multi-user development and continuous deployment easier than ever before. Our DEVOPS team will welcome export as ZIP, remote deployment, and enhanced backups.  At Inoapps we will often have large teams of developers working in parallel on some of our most complex projects, so anything that can assist in the granular control of versioning and release will always be welcomed.

  • PDF Printing – Enhancing the native PDF printing for Interactive Grids is a big step forward for APEX. In my opinion, this has long been one of the biggest drawbacks of using the platform for enterprise level development.  We have used a variety of third-party applications to deliver “Pixel Perfect” report outputs, but they have all increased complexity and cost.   A native solution is going to be well received by our customers.

  • Mega Menus – The navigation menus in Universal Theme now have a new template, to support the new mega menu appearance. This means we can display multiple entries as a top navigation menu, providing an alternative UI to the traditional format.  Will need to see this in action to fully understand the use cases, but it does seem to provide an interesting alternative.

  • Faceted Search – The first iteration of this came out last year and looks really promising. It’s good to see that new capabilities and controls have been added in this release, making this a really rich feature.  The classic “filter” options that have been available in APEX reports have always been functional but look a little dated.  This will be a key feature that we will be adopting in future Inoapps solutions.

  • Redwood User Interface (UI) – We deploy many of our industry solutions as applications embedded within Oracle Cloud ERP. As such, we cascade the style sheets from the native Oracle ERP User Interface into our applications for a seamless look and feel.  As the Redwood UI is deployed across our customers’ Oracle Cloud ERP instances, we will look to mimic that through our APEX applications, so it will be hugely beneficial to have that UI supported natively in our applications.

Oracle APEX screenshot

A screen shot from Anthony’s excellent presentation – usual Oracle “Safe Harbor” statement applies to everything above.

This is just a list of my highlights from the session, but there seem to be many new toys to play with! You can visit apex.oracle.com to learn more about all these new features, or simply play around in one of the available free workspaces. If you’d like to discuss anything with the Inoapps team in more detail, please do get in touch.

Thank you to Anthony for a great presentation, and all the team at UKOUG for organizing a great virtual event.  Let the APEX steamroller continue…

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