valdosta state alliance18
By: Monty Latiolais On: February 7, 2017 In: Insum Life Comments: 0

The Alliance18 Conference, occurring in Salt Lake City this month is the largest meeting of Higher Education & Public Sector users of Oracle Applications in the world.  Many conference attendees also manage systems with literally thousands of end-users. One such attendee is Arthur Rinberger, formerly a programmer Analyst Coordinator at Valdosta State University, in Georgia, and he’ll be joining me at Alliance18. By a happy set of circumstances, Arthur is now a senior Programmer-Analyst and colleague of mine here at Insum. Arthur’s discovery of Oracle APEX at Valdosta State led to a remarkable Oracle APEX success story.

Oracle Application Express (APEX for short), is a Rapid Application Development platform that’s native to Oracle databases, and well-suited to the Higher Ed environment.

Valdosta State continues to use Oracle APEX for stand-alone applications as well as enterprise-level applications with thousands of daily users.

Road to Alliance18 Interview

Name: Arthur Rinberger
Title: Programmer Analyst Coordinator
Art Rinberger Alliance18

Briefly describe how you are using Oracle APEX

We have developed countless stand-alone applications, some very small and easy that only a handful of people use, but also others that are large enterprise-level applications with literal thousands of daily users depending on the functionality that APEX provides. It has become the preferred development tool on this campus and we have received numerous awards and international recognition for some of the applications we developed with it.

How did Oracle APEX come to be used at Valdosta State University?

One of our developers heard about HTML-DB (now renamed APEX) and suggested we give it a try. We stood up a couple of old servers and used it to develop an application we had been asked for. The developers that worked on the project raved about how easy the tool was to work with; the users were very happy with their application and how quickly they were able to get it; and, best of all, nothing had to be installed on the client machines! After that, all the developers wanted to try APEX and thus a revolution was born.

Valdosta State Oracle APEX Alliance18

What problems did it solve for Valdosta State University?

APEX brought modern-looking application development to our campus with extremely easy deployment to the users. It shortened development time, improved the functionality of our applications, and allowed us to take on projects that would have otherwise been either prohibitively complicated or “too small to bother with”.

What technology did it replace?

It was a mixed bag of PL/SQL (without APEX), .NET, and C.

Was there an “Aha!” moment at some point with the staff and user base?

Basically, the first time they saw and used it. Before that first APEX application, most of our in-house developed applications looked very basic because we were “too busy” to learn some of the skills we would need to polish them up. You can, of course, enhance your APEX applications with CSS and Javascript, but APEX took away the necessity of doing so to enable the development of attractive applications that would be easy to use. It became an instant hit when we started sending out applications that looked like commercial products.

If you could add a feature to the next Oracle APEX release, what would that be?

We can already use Oracle Text in APEX, but perhaps some wizard-driven support of it could help more developers take advantage of this powerful tool, possibly as an enhancement to the Interactive Grid region.

What role do you see Oracle APEX playing in the future at Valdosta State University?

The role of APEX will be, as it has been, to enable data collection; to enhance users’ ability to interact with all of the data available to us where it applies to them, whether collected via an APEX application or not; and to better enable the faculty, staff, and administration to educate and support the students’ journey to success.
valdosta state alliance18 oracle apex

For a college or university considering Oracle APEX, what single piece of advice would you give?

There are many technology stacks available to you, any one of which will work for your projects. The key, however, is to pick one of them and stick to it. This is because supporting one stack is much easier than supporting four. If most of your team is experienced with a tool that meets their needs, they’ll want to keep it. On the other hand, especially if there isn’t one specific tool you are already using for everything or your current team is relatively inexperienced with that current tool or it cannot easily meet the needs of some of your projects, you should give serious consideration to APEX.

It’s easy for Oracle DBAs/Developers to learn because the basic language of it is PL/SQL; the default styling and actions give APEX applications a very modern look and feel. This includes responsive design patterns to help you develop for screens of varying size. Aside from that, it’s also easy for knowledgeable web developers to override/enhance those defaults because it provides many points where additional CSS or Javascript can be included. It’s easy to deploy a finished application to users because all they need is a current browser and the address to their application; the pages generated in an APEX application automatically include tags needed for support of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. APEX has great support. You have the APEX community, its development team, and Oracle as a whole, supporting it.

Where do you go when you have APEX questions (apart from Alliance18)?

I generally start with Google and wherever it’s results may lead me. If I can’t find an answer that way, I’ll try searching the Oracle Application Express Oracle Technology Network (APEX OTN) forum, in particular, to narrow down and improve my results. Then, if all of that fails to give me the answer I need, I’ll post my question on the forum. This way, community experts can guide me. This covers 99.9% of all questions I have ever had concerning APEX. On very rare occasion, I have tried to generate additional responses to my question by advertising it on apex.world or Twitter, but I always post the question and look for responses to it at the forum.

Insum at Alliance18

If you’re going to be at Alliance18, don’t miss out on my March 26th  presentation about Reporting as a Service (RaaS), (session number 5327) also made possible with Oracle APEX.

And if I don’t have the pleasure of meeting you at Alliance18, I can at least offer you another APEX success story involving UC Berkeley.

Hope to see you there!

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