Oracle Forms and JVx - simply great

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Oracle Forms is a great technology/platform to write database applications (for Oracle DBs) - There is no doubt!

But nobody knows how long it will exist! Oracle tries to replace Forms with ADF and or APEX, since years. APEX has limited functionality, ADF is too complex and is very "special"!

Have you ever tried to migrate an Oracle Forms Application to Java or .NET? Good luck :)
There are several tools that allows "automatic migration". But this is not more than an attempt!
Simple and small Forms Applications are surely migrated to another technology, but what is with the more important - large - applications?

We are not magicians, but have a modern technolgogy which enables a gradual migration.

Why is Oracle Forms so successful?
It is simple and does its job. You create User Interfaces for your Oracle Database very fast and ready for production. With JVx we offer a framework that solves the same problems but it is UI and database independent, is 100% Java and is Open Source.

And more...
Use JVx in your Forms applications.

Every developer knows that it is not so easy to replace a full-blown application with another one. Would it be cool to use existing features and Oracle Forms User Interfaces and integrate/implement new features and User Interfaces with JVx. Of course it would be very cool, but you need exactly one application that is consistent and still "simply works"!

And after all your Forms features are migrated, simply use a JVx application without Forms. You have no effort to switch, because it does not matter whether JVx runs with or without Forms!

Are you curious?

I assure you that no other framework is better suited than JVx.

Why?

  • Re-use your existing database logic (triggers, packages, views, functions, procedures) without changes.

    It is possible but not necessary to move your business logic to the server tier (middleware). Of course, it is recommended, if you plan to replace your Oracle database with antother database system. To be honest... Oracle has a damn good RDBMS.

  • Why sould you create tons of source code and use ORMs if your data model is clean.

    I'm sure you want maintainable applications - as usual?

  • Money, money, money

    Use your preferred Open Source application server and don't pay expensive license fees.

  • And one of the most important things: You don't need a new development team.

    What happens if you decide to replace your Forms Application with ADF? Have your developers the needed skils?

Do you need an example?

Oracle Forms with JVx

Oracle Forms with JVx

The example uses JVx UI (layout, panel, table, button), the generic model, a remote connection and life-cycle objecs as usual. Not bad ;-)

And if you want to develop faster than ever before, use VisionX on top. You have never used a better Application development tool!

Application development without restarts

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Some months ago, I read an interesting article about Javeleon. I thought it would be very useful for JVx developers because it is possible to start an application, modify screens and lifecycle objects and use the new instances live in the application without restarting it. It could save a lot of development time. Use the JRebel ROI calculator to see what you can save - It is amazing.

The integration of Javeleon in the JVx development process is very simple. Go to the Javeleon Download Page and download the standalone version 1.5 or 2.0 beta. It is not necessary to add javeleon.jar to the classpath of your application. If you use Eclipse, open the Run configuration dialog and add the following VM arguments:

-Djava.io.tmpdir=D:\temp\java
-Xbootclasspath/p:"D:\temp\java\JaveleonBoot\default"
-javaagent:D:\libs\javeleon\javeleon.jar=nbjdk=default;profile=java

If you use version 1.5 and version 2.0 for your tests, be sure that you delete the D:\temp\java\JaveleonBoot directory. Otherwise you get JVM startup Exceptions.

After the first start, watch the Java Console view because Javeleon is disabled until you request and download a license. Don't be affraid because the license is used to keep track of how many users Javeleon has. Details about the license are available here. With a valid license, it is possible to start development.

If everything is setup correctly, start your application and open a work-screen. Go back to Eclipse and modify the source-code of your work-screen, e.g. change the Layout, change the text of a Label or change some properties of a DBStorage. Be sure that your source is compiled (should be the default Eclipse setting) before you go back to your application. To see the changes in your application, simply close and open the modified work-screen.
You save the time to restart your application and perform a login. The MetaData cache also saves some seconds.

One negative point is that you need JVx as project dependency instead of the jar version.

Update

It is possible to use Javeleon without JVx project dependency. Simply unzip jvx.jar and add the created folder (class folder) to your classpath. It is not possible to compile JVx!

Update [2]

With the current Javeleon beta release of today (Jan. 17) - version 2.0.3 - it is possible to use jar files too. Now the integration of Javeleon works perfect.

Thanks to Allan Gregersen and the Javeleon Team for the support.

Quick edit in tables

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Since JVx 1.0 we introduced the new quick edit feature for link cell and date cell editors in tables. We wrote about the new link cell editor representation some weeks ago.

It is great to see an arrow in the cell, because you know that the cell has an advanced editor. But if you seen an arrow, you try to click on it and expect that something happens! Before we introduced quick edit in tables, you had to perform a double-click to start editing. It is still possible to double-click a cell and start editing, but if you click on the litte arrow, the editor is automatically shown for you! Your users will love this new feature!

Quick edit

Quick edit

Swing RETRO application

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During christmas break, I checked my (very) old personal Java applications. One of the first comments was from 2001. A long time ago. I had no UI framework, no testing framework and no automatic build process. All was hand-made :) I was amazed that I could read and edit the source code without problems.

One of my biggest and first applications, that I wrote for my personal use, was "MP3Tool". It is a tool to manage (very) large MP3 inventories, it has cool automations, supports offline edit/merge via XML, supports database loading and has command line support. It has support for ID3v1 and ID3v2. I have implemented my own library to read and write ID3 TAG infos (not complete, but works still great).

The tool is a "developer" tool that is not very user-friendly, but it is 11 years old and has tons of features. It was developed from a developer for a developer :) If someone needs a Java tool for mass editing of MP3 Files - here it is. It is not Open Source because it was not relevant in 2001. It is Free for everyone and if someone needs the source code it should not be a problem to upload it somewhere. :)

The tool has a German and English language file. I don't know if the auto detection works but you can change the language file in the settings, via Toolbar. I have not tried it on MacOS, but used it very often with Linux. If you search documentation - I have never used one!

I use the tool from time to time and still love it because it just works. After 11 years, I think it is ok to share it with you.

To be sure - The tool is not a SIB Visions Tool - It is a retro style swing application developed long time ago ;-)

mp3uebersicht_eingelesen

File overview

mp3optimierung_ergebnis_mehrfach

File optimization

mp3konvertierung_konvert

TAG conversion

JavaFx 2.0 - TableView connected to a Database

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We made some tests with TableView and missed productivity features like Load-on-demand and database support. So we tried to use our DataBooks with a TableView. We need a TableView that is re-usable and shows data from remote storages like databases or csv files. It should support multi-column sorting and of course, load records on demand. A nice feature would be support for edit data without boilerplate code.

Our first simple use-case: Show records from a database table

The result:

TableView with IDataBook

TableView with IDataBook

The implementation is not finished and is more a PoC, but it works great! The source code is available here.
It is also possible to edit data, but the different datatypes are not yet supported!

Simply use the table view to show dynamic content. Allow editing without additional source code. Don't re-invent the wheel again!

The source code of the test application is available here.

JavaFx 2.0 and Business Applications

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JavaFx 2.x has some nice UI components. It has new APIs and it is completely different to Swing. Of course, you can mix JavaFx components with Swing components, but the LaF is not the same! The new styling mechanism of JavaFx are really great.

But for me, its not a big step forward in the evolution. It is another UI library, of course a visually appealing. I miss an application framework or components with built-in support for modern applications. From my point of view, there is not enough focus on business applications. A business application is not a simple table or chart with some nice looking bars. A business app should handle millions of records, should allow keyboard navigation in all variants, should be fast, should save costs and time.

What should be different?

A standard JavaFx 2 application looks very nice because the standard style is modern. Also styling options are better than ever.

For me, the whole API is too much focused on Lists, POJOs, Generics and Object Bindings. Of course, it is cool for small apps, but you waste time with boilerplate code. If you have a database application with 5 simple tables that contains master data, and you need edit screens, you duplicate your source code 5 times because you have no support for dynamic usage. If you work without Generics, it is not really funny because JavaFx uses it everywhere.

Load-on-demand of records is possible if you do it manually, but it is not included in the controls. "Touch-scrolling" would be great. Compared to other UI libraries (swing, swt, qt), you can't change the default operation of UI controls because you don't have access to internal listeners, scrollbars, Behaviour, ... Some parts are customizable but these are more the exception.

The whole event handling is sometimes very complex, because you don't know what event type you have to use, where the type is declared and which event is the correct one. And inner classes are not the best solution for clarity. Because of Generics you have a lot of configuration work and you are not sure if everything works as expected. Without powerful IDEs you have no chance. Sometimes you have events but nothing happened....
That parts are not the real problem because it requires a certain amount of time to understand new classes. But must things always be complex rather than simple?

But it is great to write source code instead of crazy scripts.

What else?

The version number 2 is too high, because it is still not mature. JavaFx shows what is possible (scene graph, effects, web and video content) but it is not simple to use. But maybe it is perfect to combine only some parts with other mature toolkits like Swing or Swt?

It is not the library that bothers me, but it brings little relief for a developer. Why not just use Pivot? Yes... the web view is powerful ;-)

What should be done?

Focus on Business applications. Integrate an application framework that saves development time. Controls should not be so restrictive!

Migration from Eclipse Galileo to Indigo

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We use Eclipse Galileo for all our projects. It has some problems with CPU load if you use Subclipse with large Java projects. But if you disable SVN decorators, it is ok (not perfect, but still better than the rest)...

We don't use every new Eclipse version for development because it needs a lot of time to check and change our projects. Don't believe that everything works out-of-the-box.

In the last days, we tried to update our Android plugin and... the new version does not support our "old" Eclipse version. We need at least Eclipse Helios... sh*t. We opted for the update, hoping that it does not take too much time.

Installation of Indigo and all our plugins was straight forward. But the "new" JDT have some side effects. It was not possible to compile JVx because KeyValueList and IdentityKeyValueList have a "Name clash". The problem details are described here. Not an Eclipse problem, a generics problem. But even that is not great.

After we set the compliance level for JVx from 1.5 to 1.6, it was possible to compile the project. Now we have Name clash warnings instead of errors. Not great but we can live with it. After we "solved" the first problem we had the next with our Web projects, because the Project Facets use Java 1.5 compliance level. But we learned that it is enough to set the level to 1.6 :) . To set the level from 1.5. to 1.6, we had to change the JRE for our Server environment(s) from 1.5 to 1.6. It is not a problem to use 1.6 but JVx is 1.5 compatible and it is not great to test without 1.5, but it is what it is.

Most of our projects are now migrated and again it was not funny to search "no" problems. We look forward to the next waste of time.

If you need details about our migration steps, write a comment ;-)