11Oct
By: Steven Feuerstein On: October 11, 2021 In: APEX Developer Solutions Comments: 0

So…on October 11, today, we as a community celebrate #JoelKallmanDay and we as an informal consortium of APEX companies (FOEX, Insum Solutions, MT-AG and United Codes) announce a new resource for the APEX community: APEXd2d.

Usually, I like people to read all of my blog posts and not tap a link to head elsewhere, but I declare to you right now:

I would be very pleased if you stopped reading this right now and headed over to apexd2d.net to find out what this new resource is all about.

In case you have disobeyed me, I’ll give you the most important details right now, and then I want to talk about where the idea for APEXd2d came from and where I hope it goes.

APEXd2d is an online, real-time clinic for APEX developers to help them solve problems or improve their code. Developers sign up to help on specific topics at their choice of time slots. Developers visit apexd2d.net with an issue and grab an open session with a developer who can help. Brain cells fire up and solutions are identified. Both helper and developer learn, increase their confidence and knowledge, and become even more successful with the amazing tech stack provided by Oracle: Oracle APEX, ORDS, PL/SQL, SQL, Oracle Database.

For APEXd2d to work, we need a bunch of Oracle techies to volunteer some of their time to help others (it could literally just be 30 minutes!). So starting right now, please go to apexd2d.net and sign up! Then starting on November 23rd, developers who need help can grab an available session on November 30th, the first day of problem-solving.

Hopefully the idea catches fire, people love it, lots of developers are helped – and we then move forward with APEXd2d as an ongoing, 24×7 operation.

The inspiration for APEXd2d

I am sure it will not come as any surprise that the inspiration came from the APEX team, generally, and Joel Kallman more specifically. You might be a little bit surprised at two more sources of inspiration: my own manic need to constantly try new things and my belief that our vast user community was very much under-utilized.

APEX team volunteering to helpInspiration #1: several years ago at an ODTUG Kscope conference, the team drew some lines on a big flipboard, added some names and times, and invited developers to grab time with members of the team to get their questions answered. What a great idea, and what a wonderful reminder of how committed the APEX team is to the success of their community and product.

Inspiration #2: Joel Kallman, one of the person who absolutely personified the spirit and potential of Oracle APEX. His mantra was “service unto others” and it has permeated the thinking and acting of so many in the Oracle APEX community.

Inspiration #3: Even before the pandemic changed how we think about gathering physically together, even before the onset of the climate change crisis that calls into question the idea of traveling willy-nilly all around the planet, I’d been thinking about coming up with different ways for members of our community to interact and learn from each other.

The best way to sum it up is I felt we were in something of a conference “trap.” Physical conferences are fantastic, because they give humans a chance to be together “in person” – which is how we evolved over millions of years to best communicate and thrive. But they are also incredibly limiting. For example, Kscopes have been the primary conference for APEX developers in the United States, but at most 300 APEX developers would be at the conference. That is a tiny fraction of the community, and it was never going to get much bigger.

And if it did get much bigger, it would probably change the whole dynamic and reduce the usefulness of the gatherings.

Could there be a better way to engage more people, without losing that sense of connection, communication, and direct knowledge transfer?

Inspiration #4: The Oracle APEX and Oracle Database “bench.” That’s a term from baseball, referring to the players sitting on the bench, waiting to enter the game, fresh and energized to help bring home the victory. Back when I was with Oracle (the second time) and we were trying to figure out how to make Oracle “cool” again, I suggested that we had a strategic advantage: tens of thousands of deeply experienced developers and DBAs who loved Oracle Database (and APEX), because among other things it had made a good life for them and their families. They were and are as a group eager to help others be successful with these technologies.

I left Oracle and joined Insum Solutions in February 2021. It didn’t take me long, in the face of cancelled conferences, virtual conferences, Zoom webinar burnout and tragically the death of Joel Kallman, to propose to Insum management that we do a virtual version of the APEX team’s Kscope whiteboard, and do it around Joel’s birthday in honor and commemoration.

Building APEXd2d

With their approval, I then invited a few other APEX companies to join us. Hey, why should we do all the work? But seriously we wanted to be no doubt about this being a broad community effort, not the work of just one company.

Fortunately, our friends at FOEX, MT-AG and United Codes all loved the idea. Which meant it was time (September!) to start developing a new website that would be up and running in just a few months. Fortunately, we were using APEX, so we were confident we could do it.

My Vision for APEXd2d

I envision, hope for, and will work for, a very near future in which….

  • APEXd2d has hundreds of registered helpers, making themselves available at times scattered across days of the week and times of day;
  • APEX and Oracle Database developers come to apexd2d.net before they write up a question in StackOverflow or the community forums. After all, it’ll take very little time to see if a helper is available now or very soon;
  • A steady stream of quick recordings of their APEXd2d solution sessions complement training videos on YouTube and other platforms;
  • APEX developers who were previously not well known in the community become stars in their own right for their contributions on APEXd2d;
  • A much larger % of code we write for APEX applications is reviewed and thereby improved as a result.

Do you like my vision? Then help turn it into a reality! Sign up to be an APEXd2d helper!

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