By: Monty Latiolais On: February 07, 2017 In: Conference, Oracle APEX Comments: 0

Road to Alliance – Higher Ed Oracle APEX Success Stories: Valdosta State

As we gear up for the Alliance Conference, the largest meeting of Higher Education & Public Sector users of Oracle Applications in the world, we wanted to highlight some stellar use-cases of Oracle Application Express (APEX) within Higher Education institutions.  If you missed part one, you can read about UC Berkeley’s Oracle APEX projects here.

Here’s our second story: Valdosta State using Oracle APEX for stand-alone applications as well as enterprise-level applications with thousands of daily users.

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

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

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. When we suddenly started sending out applications that looked like commercial products, it was an instant hit.

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 alliance 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 because supporting one stack is much easier than supporting four. If a large percentage of your team is experienced with a given tool and that tool can meet your needs, you may want to stick with 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, including responsive design patterns to help you develop for screens of varying sizes; aside from that, though, 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; and it’s extremely well supported by the APEX community, its development team, and Oracle as a whole.

Where do you go when you have APEX questions?

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 will post my question to the forum and see what the community experts can tell 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.

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