Are You Ready? Upcoming Conference in Perth

Just a quick note to draw attention to the lineup for AUSOUG National Conference – 3-4 November at the luxurious Burswood Resort here in Perth. The usual suspects will be there, for example:

  • Chris Muir on Angels
  • Tim Hall on a potential Killer extension
  • Scott Wesley with Deeper Discussions (on Apex Security)
  • Penny Cookson helping Oracle devs and Java devs work happily together
  • Connor McDonald on A Year In Purgatory
  • and myself 🙂

Signs of the coming Apocalypse? Who knows….

Plan your trip (and arrange your accommodation early, if you need it) and your conference schedule today!

Oracle OpenAustralia

The draft programme is out for the AUSOUG National Conference 2010.

If you’ll be in Perth in November I recommend you register and attend – a number of excellent papers will be presented, some of which I had the privilege of hearing when I was in Melbourne – you’ll learn new things, relearn old things you’d forgotten, and meet some giants in the Oracle world who will have travelled great distances to get here.

Some highlights, in no particular order:

  • Steven Feuerstein“Golden Rules for Developers”
  • Penny Cookson – “Meet the CBO in Version 11g”
  • Guy Harrison“Optimizing Oracle databases on VMware”
  • Mogens Nørgaard – “Licensing – Tales from the Trenches and other thoughts on Oracle”
  • Tom Kyte“The Best Way”
  • Frank Bommarito – “Outlines, Profiles and SQL Plan Baselines”
  • Connor McDonald“A Better Way of Managing Optimizer Statistics”
  • Mark Lancaster“Building Advanced APEX 4.0 UIs with ExtJS”

I’ll be presenting my “Apex Themes and Templates” paper, which I presented in Melbourne last month – however it will be updated with a few additional bits and pieces that I’ve learned since then.

I’m off to InSync10

Perhaps you were introduced to APEX in a similar way to me.

When I started using APEX, I was pleased to see a good selection of simple themes and templates I could use straight away. There was no need to worry about creating a consistent look-and-feel across my applications, I could dive right into building the features and quickly produce good-looking prototypes and finished products very quickly.

As I became familiar with the product, I soon started exploring those sections in Shared Components entitled “Themes” and “Templates”. They looked intimidating at first, but as I fiddled with them I soon learned their usefulness and power – and soon was able to customise the look and feel of my web sites, so that they no longer looked so generic and “APEX-ey”.

I’ll be speaking on APEX Themes and Templates at the InSync 2010 conference in Melbourne, 16-17 August. This will be my first time speaking away from my home base in Perth.

The draft program has been published, and it looks like it will be huge. Over 130 presentations are already scheduled, my primary interest being the “Developer” and “Database and Technology” streams, which include the following:

  • Meet the CBO in Version 11g (Penny Cookson)
  • DEV Super Session: PL/SQL Developer Quiz Thyself (Steven Feuerstein)
  • Indexing New Features in Oracle 11g Release 1 and Release 2 (Richard Foote)
  • Oracle SQL High Performance Tuning (Guy Harrison)
  • (Obscure) Tools of the Trade for Tuning Oracle SQLs (Tony Jambu)
  • DBA Super Session: Reorganising Objects – when and how, and DEV Super Session: Things You Know (Tom Kyte)
  • 11g Features for Developers, and Partitioning (Connor McDonald)
  • DEV Super Session: Real Application Testing – I Love It (Mogens Norgaard)

…and that’s just some of the sessions I’m particularly interested in. Unfortunately I’m going to miss a number of them because they run concurrently – I’ll have some choices to make closer to the day.

Back on the topic of APEX, I’ve been playing with 4.0 in a VM, and comparing it with the previous version (3.2.1). Nothing really startling, but it’s interesting nonetheless to see how the themes and templates have been improved. Overall the new version looks quite good – I just need to find time to upgrade my “real” instances.

I hope to see you in Melbourne!

Demise of the Perth AUSOUG Conference?

Got an email this morning from the Australian Oracle User Group that this year the AUSOUG/OAUG “Oracle with 20:20 Foresight” conference will be co-located with the InSync conference, which is held in Melbourne on 16-17 August.

Initially I thought, “what, no conference for Perth?” Thankfully, though, they will also hold Oracle with 20:20 Foresight in Perth as well, 22-23 November. Phew!


Finally the AUSOUG 2009 conference program is out!

Looks good – I’m looking forward to a number of sessions (10-11 Nov in Perth), including the new “ODTUG Oracle ACE” stream:

  • Howard OngOracle Designer RIP? – A First Look at Oracle Data Modeler
  • Penny Cookson & Ray Tindall – Developing a Really Cute Application Using Ajax
  • Scott WesleyTrials & Tribulations of an Oracle Forms -> Apex Conversion
  • Connor McDonald SQL-ectric!
  • Tim HallPL/SQL: It’s all in the Presentation

I’ll be speaking again, this time doing an “Intro to Python” for Oracle’rs. If you’ve never played with this wonderful language before I hope you’ll come along. Alternatively, if you’re keen to hear Penny talk about “Best Practices in Apex Development”, or Scott Hollows give his “History of Oracle – the early years”, I hope you’ll tell me all about it afterwards, because my talk is scheduled at the same time.

If you’re attending the Perth conference, say hooroo.

Not just a free lunch

When I first learned to drive, all our cars were automatics – and so that’s all I learned to drive. This never posed an issue to me until I married Rosalie who owns a manual. She tried to teach me, and I managed – kind of. It wasn’t until I had a chat with my uncle-in-law, who’s a mechanic, that it “clicked” with me. This is because he explained to me basically how the gear-change system works, which meant I now had a picture in my head of what was going on “under the hood” when I pushed the clutch in – it didn’t take long before I was smoothly changing gears and not making my passengers lurch forward and back like someone on a bucking bull.

I think that’s the way I learn things – I need to have a mental model of how a device is working internally before I can really use it effectively. To be useful the model doesn’t have to be greatly detailed or even perfectly accurate – it just has to be good enough that I can predict or guess what effect different actions will have on the equipment.

Today I enjoyed Richard Foote’s talk debunking a raft of common index-related myths today, followed by Penny Cookson sharing about bind peeking, and Connor McDonald giving some creative demos of RAC.

There was some material covered in part from recent articles on Richard’s blog but he explained clearly the mechanics of Oracle’s B-Tree and bitmap indexes, including how index statistics affect query plans. One highlight for me was the clear explanation of how the clustering factor (CF) is calculated, what it means and how to use it to diagnose why an index is not being used. I think I understand the CF much better than I did before because Richard explained it in a way similar to the way my uncle-in-law explained the clutch in a car – i.e. he explained how Oracle calculates it and uses it internally. He could have just said “a good CF is one that is close to the number of blocks, and a bad CF is one that is close to the number of rows”, but instead he explained how it works, which means this rule-of-thumb becomes more self-evident, and a whole lot more meaningful and useful.

Other highlights:

    • the mere existence of an index can change query plans dramatically, even if the index is not actually used by the query;


    • adding a ' ' (a string containing just a space) as the second column in an index on a nullable column means that all the nulls will be stored in the index; and


Penny gave a quick overview of the problems of bind variable peeking, including a good explanation of why many 8i-to-9i upgrade projects experienced initial performance problems. There were some excellent tips for those of us not yet blessed with 11g on how to resolve (or at least work around) the problem of sql plans lurking in the shared pool, intermittently messing with query performance.

When we returned from afternoon tea for Connor’s talk, confronted with a table ominously equipped with ropes, children’s toys, toilet paper and lollies, we were treated to a talk which, by Connor’s standards, was a raving endorsement of RAC – by which I mean he did allow that it could very well be of benefit at some Oracle shops. Certainly the FUD surrounding RAC seems to have been cleared a bit.

APEX, More APEX, a bit of PL/SQL, ACEs and Babbage

One of the worst times to get an ear infection, I learnt, is the night before you present at a conference. I hardly got any sleep and I’m deaf in one ear, making my voice echo in my head.

I survived relatively unscathed and there seemed to be a good level of interest in the room so that was encouraging. I knew that I had a lot more material than I had time to present, so I went pretty quickly, and in the end managed to get through about 80% of the slides and the bulk of what I felt was important.

If you would like a copy of the presentation you can download it from here [JeffKemp_Apex_Social_Networking.pdf]. You can also download an export of the sample application “Zample” [] if you want to play with it yourself.

After that I stayed to hear Scott Wesley talk about some creative uses for conditional compilation, and heard David Peake talk about the imminent Forms Conversion process in APEX 3.2. Personally I don’t see much potential for actual forms conversion projects, but that’s because every Forms application I’ve worked on has a lot of business logic in the triggers, and “creative” uses for all the features of Forms which will never translate into APEX. I can, however, see a use for this tool to take all the forms from a legacy app and expose all that logic in APEX for analysis. It could be used to document an existing system which may save some time when designing a replacement system in APEX/JDev/whatever.

It wasn’t just David who spoke on APEX, I enjoyed Penny Cookson/Eddie Harris’s talk “How Ugly is that APEX Report?” in which she gave a few options for making reports out of APEX page regions, and more options for those who are lucky enough to have BI Publisher. They also demonstrated what you can do with Cocoon. I haven’t dabbled in APEX reports at all (most of the time I’ve made APEX applications to avoid the need for printed reports) and hadn’t heard of Cocoon.

Tim Hall spoke on PL/SQL best practices for performance, which was pitched more at a mid-level PL/SQL programmer but good none-the-less. After that, another David Peake presentation revealed the roadmap for the future of APEX. I like what I’m hearing – version 4 will enable a number of Ajax-powered features declaratively, something I’ve been looking forward to. The standout, of course, is the enhancements to the Interactive Reports which allow users to edit the data in-place. His final presentation on UI presentation techniques focused primarily on the new Interactive Reports feature that is available now in 3.1.

I decided to end the day at Scott Hollow’s talk “Babbage vs Oracle” in which he compared/contrasted the lives and times of Charles Babbage (arguably the father of computers) and Larry Ellison. Scott has a passion for computer history and it showed.

There was a session mysteriously entitled “ACEbook” which wasn’t well attended, probably because it wasn’t clear what it was about. Turns out they got together a panel of Oracle ACEs and ACE Directors and discussed being an ACE, what the difference was between ACEs and ACE Directors, and advice on contributing to the Oracle community. I had a few questions but they ran out of time so I’ll ask them here:

  1. What killer new feature would you like to see in Oracle 12g? and
  2. What super power did you gain when you became an ACE/ACE Director?

I’m talking about APEX…

at the AUSOUG conference this year. First time for me, so please be gentle 🙂
The draft programme [] (update: link no longer working) is out now.

Looks like a great line up again this year, with a mix of local and international speakers. Some highlights that jumped out at me include:
Timothy Hall – 11g New Features for PL/SQL developers
Chris Muir – Simple database web services without an application server
Penny Cookson – How Ugly is that APEX Report?
… and that’s just the first day.

There’s also a mysterious session on the second day entitled “What do you want from your local User Group?” on the second day. Well, it looks mysterious because of the green tinge.