Monday, August 09, 2010

Fame at last for my biggest Apex project to date

I'm very pleased to see that the Apex project I started and worked on for several years is now the subject of an entry under Customer Quotes on the OTN Apex page.
"At Northgate Revenues & Benefits, we have used APEX to replace our legacy Oracle Forms system comprising around 1500 Forms. Our user interface has 10,000 end users daily, across 172 clients, who this year sent out over 12 million Council Tax annual bills worth £15billion and will pay out benefits of over £13billion. Our clients now experience, on average, sub second response times across a working day. We are continuing to leverage our investment in Oracle Application Express by delivering citizen facing solutions as well as launching the conversion of our Social Housing application which will replace 3,500 Oracle Forms running at 100 clients worldwide, with a total of 15,000 end users managing circa 3,000,000 properties. Oracle Application Express has helped us to make the move away from Oracle Forms whilst delivering benefits to our clients and our business.."

-- Alan Powell, Director of Products and Services, Northgate Public Services

This started life as a demo I built (using HTMLDB 1.6) for an alternative, simplified interface for "power users" to work alongside the Forms application, but was so well received by customers that it quickly became the interface, with the Forms interface eventually retired.

Building a seriously large business application with Apex is a very different ball game from the typical Apex "use case", and required a different approach. We had to invent for ourselves some of the features that were built in to later versions of Apex (and some that still haven't been), such as:
  • Nested regions
  • A Forms to Apex migration tool
  • Dynamic Actions - i.e. a declarative way for developers to implement Javascript and AJAX functionality, without all of them having to become Javascript experts.
  • Declarative tabular forms based on Apex collections, with validation and dynamic actions
Why did we go for Apex and not ADF? I blogged about this a few years ago and stand by what I said then (though I haven't had the chance or need to go back and look at ADF 4 years later).

This must be one of the biggest Apex projects ever undertaken, and I'm proud to have played a major part in it.