Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Accessible Apex

I am often asked whether Apex can be used to build applications that comply with web content accessibility guidelines. It can, as this demo Apex application aims to prove.

It is a very simple application consisting of 3 pages:
  • Login
  • Report
  • Form
The report page shows some records from a table, and has a link on each row to open the form page for editing, and a Create link in the report header to open the form page to create a new record.

The form page has a Submit button to save the changes and a Cancel link to return without saving changes.

I have tested all 3 pages with the Total Validator tool and they all reach Conformance Level "Triple-A", i.e. all Priority 1, 2 and 3 checkpoints are satisfied (according to the tool).  

Perhaps the most important point is that the application works even when Javascript is disabled in the browser.   It is often thought that Apex applications cannot work without Javascript enabled, but this isn't so; however, many Apex components such as tabs do require Javascript, so they can't be used.  That doesn't mean an accessible application can't have tabs, it just means you have to build your own tab functionality (which I haven't done in this demo application).

I don't have access to a screen reader like Jaws so I have not tested the application with one yet.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I was lucky enough to be able to attend the UK Oracle User Group's Application Express SIG on Friday - my first experience of any UKOUG event. The event was a "sell out", with all available places taken up well in advance. This in itself is great news, because it shows that APEX really is taking off, which means I can be fairly confident I haven't backed the wrong horse career-wise.

David Peake, the APEX Product Manager, gave the first two presentations:

  • The Latest and Greatest from Development

  • APEX @ Oracle

The first of these was a tantalising glimpse at what will be in 3.2 (coming soon) and 4.0 (coming later this year hopefully). These are described in the APEX Statement of Direction, but we were able to see some of them in a live demo. I am particularly looking forward to 4.0 for its improved tabular forms, and for Dynamic Actions - i.e. a "rich client" experience without having to write any Javascript.

Dimitri Gielis and John Scott from Apex Evangelists both gave interesting presentations, on Charting in Apex and Dispelling Myths about APEX respectively. Dimitri's piqued my interest to go back and look at charts again, and John's provided a lot of useful ammo for fighting against the usual "Apex is just a power user toy" kind of myths.

There was also a presentation from Matt Nolan and Vincent Migue from e-DBA called "Using Apex to Expose your Business to the Web" - and their website is a fine example of that.

After a short Q&A forum, we all went to the local pub, which was a great opportunity to get to know some of these people a little better.

All in all, a great day out (good grief, how sad do I sound?!) and I'd definitely like to attend the next one, should there be one.