Wednesday, 21 November 2007

AUSOUG Perth conference - from 45k down to 350

Day 2 of the Australian Oracle User Group (AUSOUG) conference in Perth is before me, and I thought I'd pen a very quick note about how the event is going.

I can't say my trip back from OOW was as bad as Babette Turner-Underwood's, but then as an Aussie I can pretty much say I blank the 19hrs of flying out of my life. Yes the flights are horribly long, yes the customs queues are annoying, but I did score a pair of socks from Qantas, so that made it all okay.

As Babette noted in a separate post, the move from OOW with ~45k attendees down to around 350 seems funny. So much so that in the opening keynote by Martin Power we were actually told where the bathrooms are. I don't remember Larry telling the delegates at OOW where the bathrooms were; Larry was rambling something about 30 years of innovation or something..... I guess it's the little things that make a great conference.

This year's Perth conference is up 100 on last year which is great growth over the 50 additional attendees in 2006. And a point I'd like to make is that I always think that at the small conferences, attendees get as much out of it as the larger ones. Presentations are a hit and miss affair, and you can only meet so many people in a day, so basically the end result is the same, though the tickets to the local event are far cheaper. In addition at a small conference like Perth's the atmosphere is much more friendly and far less corporate, which is the way we like it down here.

I can't say I caught too many presentations day 1 as I was hanging out with the SAGE crew, and also introducing speakers. I did sit in on my boss's (Penny Cookson) APEX presentation, where she demonstrated taking APEX to the extreme, and accused me of spending most of OOW at the pub. Strictly not true let me assure you ;) They don't have "pubs" in San Fran Penny, they're called "bars" :P

I also introduced and sat in on Duncan Mill's two JDeveloper presentations. Definitely numbers were up in these sessions this year, and I can see some people looking at the new feature set, particularly the new ADF Faces RC web pages with all the cool AJAX additions, and MDS customisations, and thinking "wow!".

Anyway, onto Day 2 of the conference. Today I present my Load/Stress testing paper "Take a Load Off!" which I presented at the OOW Unconference. Hopefully I've ironed out all the bugs this time. And finally I'll be participating in the "Great Oracle development tools debate" panel session where I'll be defending JDeveloper by tooth and nail.... should be good fun.

Next week is the Melbourne leg of the conference which will be bigger, but with better coffee, so all in all an event worth going to. I hope to see you there.

Monday, 19 November 2007

New Oracle Wiki page - for bloggers

To assist new and existing Oracle bloggers on how to participate in the Oracle blogging community, I've taken the chance to create a Bloggers page on the Oracle Wiki. It's a rudimentary start at the moment, but I'm hoping the other Oracle bloggers will take time out to include any tidbits they'd like to share around. For example I've listed the Oracle RSS aggregators I'm familiar with, and some information on who to contact to get your blog added to the associated aggregation feed.

Happy blogging!

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New Oracle Mix development groups - Apex, Forms, JDev, SQL Dev

Oracle's new Oracle Mix site is enjoying an explosion of new users and shows potential for interesting times ahead in Oracle customer participation in the future of Oracle products.

I've taken the opportunity to create some new groups along the development lines, and I hope readers will join the groups to start pushing new ideas for the products:

Oracle Application Express (Apex)
Oracle Forms
Oracle JDeveloper
Oracle SQL Developer

In addition I've added the following RDBMS group:

Oracle Express Edition (XE)

Note participation requires membership of OTN.

I've also taken the chance to create a user group-group for the local Aussie chapter:

Australian Oracle User Group (AUSOUG)

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Friday, 16 November 2007

OOW - Development tool usability surveys

I've often been told by other Aussies attending Oracle events in the States that Oracle is a very customer focused organisation. Over the last few years I've been part of a few surveys and phone questionnaires, and certainly have not been shy on lodging enhancement requests on the JDeveloper OTN forums which by-and-by the Oracle PMs are good in a least humoring me (I'm hoping they don't shake their heads too much when I email them each time ;) Yet this has all been at such a distance that I've never really emphasized with the whole customer focused idea.

At my first OOW however, hanging-out in the OTN lounge, it's been very interesting to participate in a number of surveys on the usability of Oracle development tools. Today I met Kristyn Greenwood, a manager for Oracle development tool usability and interface design. Kristyn and her team have been running a number of surveys asking various questions on Oracle development tools and their usability, as well as visual surveys demonstrating potential mockups of future development interfaces, specifically a reworked Help Center for JDeveloper. It's been an interesting experience to be part of the discussion on the IDE design before the products even go beta, and more so to meet some of the team behind the scenes, or more specifically behind the more visible product PMs.

The UI development team has a website that you can visit if you're interested in participating:, or alternatively you can participate in the same surveys that have been at OOW here (note that if you're at OOW, there appears to be a problem with the wifi and getting to these sites.... however after OOW if you're still having trouble accessing these links, let me know and I'll verify the URLs again). Otherwise you can even contact the team directly at

Disclaimer: I'm at OOW under the invitation of Oracle and the Oracle ACE Director program.

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Another OOW Unconference session worth checking out

My Unconference session at OOW yesterday went well, with only one minor database disaster during the presentation. It's not a live demo without at least one hiccup I guess. Anyway, I had fun and a few laughs, so here's to aceing the same presentation at the AUSOUG conference over the next few weeks. The Unconference sessions in my opinion have been a great idea and I hope we see the same program again next year.

In addition Marcel Kratochvil, Oracle PL/SQL Developer of 2004 from Oracle Mag, will be running an Unconference session today (Thursday) that will be worth checking out for its out-of-the-box nature: "A proposal for an open-source spam filter inside the Oracle database". Marcel has promised to demo his ideas..... I've the sneaking suspicion Marcel wants to use the Oracle database to take GMail on. Marcel is on at 3pm. If your feet are heavy and you're tiring of the normal OOW schedule, Marcel is always full of good challenging opinions so give his presentation a go. Otherwise check out some of his podcasts on PL/SQL at The Eternal Donut of the Soul.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

My OOW Unconference Session Wednesday - Take a load off

For those readers interested and are attending OOW, I'll be presenting my session "Take a load off! Load and stress testing Oracle Apex and JDeveloper web applications" at the OOW Unconference on Wednesday 4pm. Check out my Oracle Wiki page for more information. I look forward to seeing you there.

OOW Report 2 - Highlights

Day 3 at OOW, and the last day of Oracle Develop. Today I checked out the following sessions, mostly JDeveloper, with a smattering of left field topics:

Tom Kyte's "How do you know what you know?" - Tom's definitely the feel-good speaker of the conference. His presentations are like the stories you have at the end of the news where "Fireman saves dog from tree", or "Record sized pizza made downtown". Attendees came out of his session smiling, laughing, but more importantly looking like they'd learned something that wasn't necessarily all about Oracle.

Tom's best point for myself, effectively system requirements are mutable. I've been saying this for years of course to justify that what the customer really wants is not a boring asset management system, but instead for me to work on my blog ;)

Peter Henty's "Hands on Lab: A Practical Introduction to Oracle WebCenter" - this was my first play with WebCenter besides some failed attempts at home. I must admit the demos look good, but the performance at the moment is horrible. So much so that I have my doubts about the future of WebCenter if out of the ranks its performance is this bad. The JDev team has announced that performance is the key issue they're looking at for the Tech Previews, and I hope they can prove my doubts wrong.

I'm also very curious about the future of Oracle Portal when Oracle's focus appears to be on WebCenter. The cynical would say that Oracle has a large history of killing off multiple competing products regardless of what Oracle staff say, but I guess time will tell.

Frank Nimphius's "Mind the gap: Building Secure Ajax Web Applications with Oracle ADF Faces Rich Client and Oracle ADF Security" - Frank's knowledge on web security shows no bounds and Frank took time out to explain many of the security issues in the Ajax sphere. These sort of sessions really show the complexities of issues that Oracle has to solve when building products like ADF Faces, and again gave me new found respect for the Oracle products and the teams that work on them. Frank also looked at the new security JPS mechanisms within JDev 11g, and how the binding layer acts as a choke point for all security within our app.

Umm..... then I intended to attend Duncan Mill's "Oracle ADF Binding Internals: Understand what you are building" ..... but unfortunately my jet lag got the better of me, and I went and had an hour nap after a horrible night's sleep. Following my little nap, with a new spring in my step......

Shay Shmeltzer's "Hands on Lab: Developing Ajax-based UIs with JSF" - while I've played with the new ADF Faces RC components, I've not yet had a chance to create a drag and drop web page. The lab had a huge amount of steps to get through, but the drag and drop functionality was achieved in only a very few. I did hear somebody behind me say "I'm a Netbeans expert, and this stuff is impressive - I think we'll seriously need to investigate JDev further".

Frank Nimphius's "Integration ADF & SOA" (title paraphrased) - the last session for the day, and admittedly I'm typing this post up during the presentation, but an interesting demo of combining the 2 technologies for the uninitiated.

I'm off to the annual Blogger's dinner tonight organised by Mark Rittman. Very much looking forward to it; all the bloggers have very interesting opinions and personalities - it's great to talk about Oracle with people who are so passionate.... though we're not allowed to mention the "O" word tonight of course ;)

Disclaimer: I'm at OOW under the invitation of Oracle and the Oracle ACE Director program.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

OOW Report 1 - JDeveloper highlights + others

Day 2 at OOW, and the start of Oracle Develop Day 1 I had the chance to check out the following JDeveloper presentations, where frequent readers know my interests lie:

Ric Smith's "Oracle ADF Faces Rich Client: Building a next generation rich-client framework with AJAX, JSF and a side of Flash" - Definitely the "Wow-feature" in the JDev 11g ADF Faces RC components demonstrated.... besides Drag n Drop.... are "Active Data" components. An Active Data Component is one that automatically refreshes itself on data changes on the server without the user having to hit refresh.

You can check out a demonstration on the ADF Faces Rich Client Components Hosted Demo page hosted from the Oracle ADF Faces Components OTN site. To check out an Active Data demo, click on the Visual Designs tab then the activeData link.

Steve Muench's "Oracle ADF: New Declarative Features for Oracle Fusion Application Development" - JDeveloper 11g has so many new features and improvements on existing technologies it's hard to know where to start. Obviously Steve was very excited about the number of opportunities the JDev team have had to listen to customers and improve the product significantly, from removing the need for much Java programming with the introduction of Groovy expressions, page templating as missing from the JSF spec, through to the inclusion of declarative LOVs, even declarative cascading LOVs, providing a LOV function set way in advance of vanilla Oracle Forms with near zero programminng. Steve stole the thunder from Duncan's next presentation, another significant feature....

Duncan Mill's "Task and Page Flow in Oracle Fusion" - in my honest opinion this is the revolutionary feature in JDev 11g ADF. Other features are natural evolutions, extensions if you will of existing features, or features that should have been there in 10.1.3. But task flows takes web programming and JDeveloper to another level. The ability to define page flows, sequences of pages with logic, and turn them into reusable components, and embed into other page flows, is a very significant advancement. I can already see the JDev 12g feature set.... the ability to do mash-ups between separate page flows installed on different servers..... very cool.

All the feature's presented by Ric, Steve and Duncan are available from the current JDev 11g Technical Preview 2 release, available from the OTN web page.

Paul Dorsey's "Stateful versus Stateless for Web Development" - not exactly a JDev session but heavily related to the whole web development game, Paul's presentation highlighted for architects the many issues and differences between the two architectures.... and many lessons that we've either forgotten since we left the client-server world, or even issues they we haven't even bothered to think of in the stateless web world. Paul definitely has a lot of strong opinions and swims against the Oracle stream, but it's always good to have people who challenge the common conventions *and* have the ability to give many detailed examples to support their view, rather than boring generalisations.

All in all a very interesting day, and I'm looking forward to OOW Oracle Developer Day 2.

Disclaimer: I'm at OOW under the invitation of Oracle and the Oracle ACE Director program. However I did buy my own breakfast.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Oracle shows a little touch of Green

If you're concerned about the environment in general, you may be interested to note that Oracle is starting to show some touches of Green on their all mighty corporate Red colour scheme.

Firstly if you've downloaded the OOW Online Agenda and Show Guide, on page 10 you'll see a commitment to making the conference greener.

In addition, Oracle has published their We're good corporate citizens - so please buy another RDBMS license media release that among other things states:

1) (Oracle has) More than 20 energy conservation and "green" programs (which) have been adopted corporation-wide.

2) Oracle's Austin Data Center is a certified U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Power partner for its commitment to use a portion of power for renewable sources.

3) Oracle's energy management programs have reduced energy use at its headquarters by 25 percent per employee compared to 2000.

Nice to see Oracle is making steps in the right "green" direction and I hope they will increase their efforts. I'd love to hear directly from Oracle employees on any environmental initiative that Oracle is currently undertaking with real results.