On May 25, 2021, the Oracle APEX community lost its greatest champion, its fearless leader, its mentor, when Joel Kallman lost his battle with COVID-19.
Joel touched the lives of so many of us at Insum, and we wanted to share a few thoughts about what he meant to us.
Our heartfelt condolences to his family, his friends and colleagues at Oracle.
In my future biography on my professional life, the place you will have will not fit on a few lines, but you will be entitled to a full chapter. The real impact of your contribution is enormous and dates back almost twenty years. I believed in your vision in 2004 and adopted a technology that would change not only my life but those of several thousand computer scientists.
I clearly remember our first meeting during one of your visits to Montreal. It was in 2006, just after the election of Barack Obama. I congratulated you on the election of your new president. I had just created a great uneasiness. Politics was not the best subject to talk about to get to know each other! You remained cordial and diplomatic, but you made it clear to me that our opinions differed on this subject. We had the opportunity to laugh together about this blunder during our many subsequent meetings because I had the chance to interact with you a few times a year at conferences all over the USA, Canada or Europe.
My experience with Oracle products dates back over 30 years and I can assure you that I have never met so much dedication and passion from an employee of this great company. Your inspiring leadership has enabled you to bring together a formidable team which today will have the great responsibility of continuing your mission. You have changed my view of Oracle very positively and I can say that this company has not changed you but rather you are the one who changed Oracle.
I know that you have always remained very humble in the face of the impact you had on all of us because the few times I thanked you for all the colossal work you were doing and especially for your listening and your availability, you were still fairly embarrassed and kept saying that you were only doing your job.
Joel, your sudden departure creates a great void and makes us realize how amazing you were. No matter where you are now, I am convinced that you will also make a difference and be a light to those around you.
Thank you for everything you have done and thank you for continuing to inspire us.
Rest in peace
There is only history of the universe. Only one history of humanity on Planet Earth. And only one history of Oracle Application Express.
Perfectly obvious, right? I point this out because an argument is sometimes made that no single individual is irreplaceable. If Einstein hadn’t thought of Special Relativity, someone else would have. If Rosa Parks hadn’t sat in the front of that bus, someone else would have (and certainly many did). And if Michael Hichwa and Joel Kallman hadn’t come up with APEX, someone else would have.
But that’s not the point. It is, in fact, totally beside the point. The point is they did the thing, and they did it in a way that changed the future of our universe.
Joel Kallman died from COVID19 on May 25, 2021. And that is a major, crushing loss to a multitude of people around the world, but most especially his wife and child.
His death is also a modern tragedy, in so many ways. For years…well…decades, Joel and Mike partnered up to lead an effort to bring APEX to the Oracle Database developer community and then beyond. They did this in the face of stiff prevailing winds from within Oracle. No support from marketing. No support from top level executives. No support from sales.
I’d like to say it didn’t matter a bit to them, but of course it did. It just didn’t deter them from acting out on a vision of a future for Oracle Database that was prescient, challenging, and ultimately totally vindicated.
“After all these years….”
In just the past few years, Oracle Corporation has finally come around to recognizing the wonder that is Oracle APEX. But it’s not just the software. That’s pretty cool stuff, and getting massively cooler with each passing year.
No, it’s not just or maybe even so much the software. It’s the people using that software to solve problems and make a better world for themselves and their families. It’s the APEX community.
The bottom line is that Mike and Joel and the entire APEX team showed the rest of Oracle Corporation how you get the job done. It wasn’t all that complicated, though it was a lot of hard work. How you get the job done is you make sure that your users are successful. Maybe even wildly, ecstatically successful. Why not aim high?
And that is where Joel Kallman shined brightest of all. Joel was a great software developer and a really great dev manager. Above all else, though, he was a compassionate and generous spirit, and that spirit infused the entire community, pushing us all to aim higher, do better, “be like Joel.”
To be swept away from your families (he really was a father to so many) at this time of personal triumph, to not live to help take APEX to the next level, and the next level after that: that’s a honest-to-goodness tragedy.
When I worked at Oracle, we indulged in a monthly “catch-up” call, otherwise known as “Hey, who’s turn is it to rant, this week?” Oddly enough, it was almost always my turn. I am a natural born whiner. Joel was a natural born “glass always overflowing with goodness” kind of guy. He was great at listening to me moan and groan, and then bringing me back to a good place. I will miss Joel greatly.
I have no doubt that there will be a ripple of shockwaves through Oracle and the APEX community at the news of Joel’s death.
I also have no doubt that APEX and its user community will survive the loss, and we will continue to thrive. How could it be otherwise? APEX long ago passed the point of needing to justify its existence. It’s now absolutely crucial to the overall success of Oracle Database.
But more than that, I am certain that members of the APEX team, when they move past their mourning, will be that much more dedicated to making their users successful. And I am certain that many of those developers will be even more committed to showing how powerful APEX is, and all the ways it can solve problems for their clients.
What else can we do but that, in order to honor the memory and legacy of our dear friend, mentor and inspiration: Joel Kallman?
I believe it was in 2016, just 1 year after I started to work for Insum. Francis and I are going to the GLOC user conference in Cleveland. On our way over there, Francis tells me that he will introduce me to Joel Kallman from Oracle. Not just any Oracle guy but one of the guy who created APEX! Throughout all the years I worked on Oracle E-Business Suite, I never been even close to talk to anyone at Oracle.
At the end of the first day of that GLOC conference, we have a “date” with Joel at the bar of the hotel where the conference is held. I felt like I was going to meet royalty! We sat down in the lounge which probably hasn’t changed since 1979, and Francis introduced me to Joel. “What kind of beer do you drink?” was his first question to me after the usual politeness when you meet celebrities. This first evening with Joel was quite lively as him and Francis were brainstorming on how Oracle should promote APEX to bring it to the next level.
We did meet on a number of occasions after that at different conferences and events and I was always surprised that he remembered my name and was happy to spend time to discuss about business and life. Whenever he was delivering key notes, I was always inspired by what he had to say.
In 2019 back in Cleveland, we were at this GLOC conference again and Joel invited me, Jorge Rimblas and Christopher Jackson to share dinner at the end of the conference. I was happy to tell him that we were doing well at Insum and that EBS organizations are “finally” seeing the value of APEX. He was pleased to get the confirmation from us, that APEX was growing and doing well. And then, it seemed like he had a secret to deliver: “Guys, I cannot tell you too much at this time, but all I can tell you is that if you bet on APEX right now, you are betting on the right horse…”.
He sure was right! I believe that all these years he had been working tirelessly to make APEX better, sharing his passion with the community, and taking time to discuss with everyone he met, contributed to the success APEX has right now. I will remember the inspiring man he was and the great human I had the privilege to meet.
I was overcome with sadness when I first heard of Joel’s passing. I wanted to let everyone know that I had a special ‘thing’ with Joel. He was in my Twitter DMs, in my inbox. I hung out with him on occasion at KScope events. He knew who I was.
Over the last few days, it has become obvious to me that this was nothing unique. People from all over the world have been sharing their own memories of how he made them feel important. Special. Seen. He was in everybody’s DMs and inboxes. He made time for everyone who needed it.
My very first memory of Joel was back in 2004 or 2005. Francis was struggling with an APEX upgrade where I worked. He picked up the phone to call Joel, asking for help. Joel not only picked up, but worked through the issue with Francis for several hours. In the 17 years since, I have never heard of a time when Joel did not answer a cry for help.
Joel, your kindness and generosity will be sorely missed. We feel a bit like lost lambs at the moment, but will do our best to honour your memory and keep building amazing things with the tool you dedicated your professional life to.
Joel was a generous and kind person, always there for others. He always made sure everyone felt comfortable, sometime by saying some French words 😊
All my thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones. We will all miss him.
I met Joel about 15 years ago. The first time I spoke with him was very special. I have been using APEX (HTMLDB) for some time and have been following Joel and his team on the Oracle APEX forum. One day, I ran into a bug that caused severe issues. I posted something in the forum hoping for an answer, but nothing really. Some days later, my office phone rang, and it was Joel, calling me, letting me know that he would do a fix in APEX to workaround this bug, which btw was a database bug. I could not believe it, someone, that I did not know, from Oracle actually called me to fix a bug. That was Joel.
We have met after in person at Openworld and right away he was welcoming, and we became friends. He always was listening to comments and suggestions to improve APEX. He was available to meet with clients, employees and colleagues. He traveled the world for conferences and came to Montreal multiple times to support our events. He was available to help at any time and always respected and valued people’s work. He built a team of super bright people that made APEX what it is today. Of course, the APEX community is what it is today because of him. He was a leader.
On a personal side, every year, he raised money for cancer research by biking 200 miles (322 KM) , in a weekend, for Pelotonia. He also donated significantly for our 24H Tremblant fundraising to fight cancer event. He personally supported me in difficult times, when my father passed away and when my mother had to fight cancer.
Without Joel, I would not be where I am in my career. Because of him, I traveled the world and met people that became colleagues and friends.
Every time we would meet, text or talk, we were laughing. I remember so many great moments with him that I will never ever forget.
Joel, you will forever be an example to follow. Thank you, my friend, for your support and your presence. Rest in peace.
My deepest condolences to his family and to the Oracle APEX team.
Best stated in his own words,”I view every person as having infinite value–those among us, those we don’t know–infinite value.” Joel made me feel as though he was my biggest fan and supporter. That’s nothing unusual, though. Joel was a fan and supporter of everyone–everyone’s greatest fan. Joel seemed to be able to stop time. He exhibited an infinite capacity to provide access, advise and counsel, and focused individual attention to the entire APEX community and beyond. Having Joel as a fan, knowing that he was in the audience of a presentation or had some request, did not exert pressure, but instead inspired a desire to excel…or even just to try, knowing that I might fail. His encouragement, though, was always accompanied by a willingness, an eagerness, to support and contribute to the endeavor.
In turn, I was Joel’s biggest fan. No doubt others will claim the same–and we will all be right, because that is the way infinity works. While Joel believed in the infinite value of each of us, our belief in him is equally boundless, and equally enduring. When Joel presented a tip with Hayden and me, I referred to Joel as a “verifiable super hero.” A cursory review of Joel’s contributions easily verifies this status. His foundational work on APEX, his enthusiastic commitment to the APEX community, and his recent contributions to the fight against the pandemic epitomize the acts of a real life hero. I, along with Joel’s other biggest fans, could add endlessly to this list.
As important as APEX and this community were, Joel and I had shared that our families were even more so. Infinity is funny that way–some infinities are greater than others. I was honored when Joel introduced me to his wife and son. Most conversations included some family reference or anecdote. He shared his son’s jokes on APEX Instant Tips. I was equally honored to introduce Joel to my family. Joel, if possible, was even more attentive to my family than to me. He sought out my son to inquire about how APEX could be more attractive to him–a surrogate for young potential beneficiaries of APEX. It was never about making APEX, or Joel himself, more successful, but about how to make others more successful…or just happier. But he also sought my son out at KScope just to “hang out,” so that the youngest attendee by far wouldn’t be left out.
While I am sad today, and will miss Joel long into the future, over time this will ebb, the tide will turn, the memories will flow bittersweet but pleasant, and I will join the entire community in continuing to celebrate Joel’s life.
I had the pleasure of meeting Joel for the first time at Oracle Open World in 2008.
I remember talking to him for the first time and coming away from that conversation feeling as if I’d made a new friend. Turns out I had in fact made a new friend.
When talking to Joel, you could see that look in his eyes as if he was analyzing each word you were saying. He had a way of making you feel special when in truth he was the special one.
Every time we would meet again, it felt like we’d seen each other just the week before even though it was a year ago.
I do think that was the case with all other people he knew.
Joel loved coming to Montreal, and I had the privilege of going out with him multiple times.
Both of us liked to discuss football together. But Joel had a good opinion on all subjects we would tackle.
These outings were really special, I will never forget them. I often say to people that Joel is one of the brightest people I know.
I will truly miss him.
I didn’t know Joel personally, but I did meet him a few times. From those encounters, I realized that he was a person that really listens and cares about people. Most of the times that I’ve met him, it was at the Insum offices in Montreal. That’s because he would take time out of his busy schedule to come talk to us about APEX and to gather our feedback, not only to improve the product, but to actually improve our day-to-day using the product.
I remember this behavior with Interactive Reports that was causing my client and I to waste a lot of time. I told him about it and his response was to send him an email describing what I thought was wrong with the behavior. Sometimes, when someone tells you to send them an email, it can feel dismissive, and you might not expect anything to come out of it. But I sent him the email describing the issue and he responded a day later that he had passed it along to the team and they confirmed it was a bug and it would be fixed in the next release. Fast forward to the next release and it was indeed fixed.
As I mentioned above, I didn’t know Joel personally, but this little story showed me what kind of man he was. Truly a man of the people. Today, I have 13 years plus career with a company that he helped to grow in a way. For that, I will forever be thankful.
Although I didn’t know Joel in person, I ‘knew’ him of course. And if I had the opportunity to tell him only one thing – that would be a big “Thank you!”.
“Thank you for giving the world this fantastic tool, thank you for never despairing, thank you for believing, thank you for this fantastic community, thank you for your compassion, thank you for helping everyone, even people you’ve never seen. I am so sorry that you were taken, so soon, so early, by this evil you helped us fight. We will all miss you! You’ll never be forgotten!”
Thank you Joel, for everything you did for this world.
You helped people in need, helped people that were lost and looking for direction in their careers and personally.
Thank you for that, but; above all, I want to thank you because your faith in God led you to help people far beyond their technical needs, you helped people know God, you helped people feel like they mattered, you helped people be reached by the gospel of Christ.
When I found out about your passing, I was shocked, but immediately after, I knew you were safely in the arms of our God.
The bible says that “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants”
I pray for your wife and son, may God sustain them and may they continue to grow in their faith in God, even when our minds don’t understand what was ultimately God’s will.
I will see you soon enough.
David Lopez Abugattas
Anton Nielsen and Hayden Hudson also shared their memories of Joel in their episode of Instant Tips last Friday, and were even joined by a few members of the community who also paid tribute.
To share your tribute, please visit apex.oracle.com/joel
Joel, Insum will miss you very much. Rest in peace.