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APEX-O-MATIC – In a Blender with APEX and Web Services

Monday, November 1st, 2010

That’s the title of my accepted presentation at RMOUG 2011. I thought it was fun to come up with that one! Hope to see you there!

RMOUG Training Days 2011, February 15-17, in Denver, Colorado

See paper on Downloads page!

Oracle Virtualbox appliance for Database App Development

Monday, September 27th, 2010

I use a lot of software, and lately almost all of it has been from Oracle. I had written a note to Todd Trichler of Oracle after last year’s Rocky Mountain Oracle Users Group Training Days, as almost every Oracle presenter used a similar image for presenting material, and I wanted to get a copy of the image. Well, it seems that the image has arrived, and you can download it here.

Apache AXIS 2

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Two years ago (2009), a colleague of mine and I presented at RMOUG on using Oracle’s BPEL with Microsoft’s SQL Server to create Web services. Since we were using SQL Server instead of Oracle, we had to create xsd files to define our data. This took quite a bit of time, though not nearly as much time as dragging arrows to connect each of the items in the xsd file. In the end, we had a working deployment that realistically took about six months of duration and maybe 300 hours of work. Most of the problems were due to lack of available documentation at the time, and a difficult time getting Oracle’s BPEL product to play nice with SQL Server. The same service using an Oracle database could be done quite fast. Once you get the hang of it, we are talking minutes. Of course testing takes quite a bit more time.

Well, fast forward to the present. I was in a meeting and the topic of using Web services in Application Express was bantered about. After a few minutes, most of the team was looking at me. I am the one who experiments with products, and they were correct in assuming that I had the solution. Actually, there is a weather example available at Oracle. I was able to demo this example in a few minutes, and show how easy Web services are to integrate into APEX. The conversation then moved on to discussing whether the organization should use our purchased SOA suite to build a Web service library, but that is an entirely different story.

I found myself unable to stop thinking about the difficulty experienced using SQL Server and BPEL. I really couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I did something about it. Several years ago, I had written a paper on Web services using AXIS. This had been several years ago and AXIS was now using a completely rewritten code base. What’s a guy to do? After downloading the Axis2 1.5.1 Release, I extracted and deployed the included war file to the Tomcat server running on my laptop. There is a samples directory, and one of the easiest ways to get started is the pojoguide example. Basically, there are four files that make up this sample. There is the service definition, src/META-INF/services.xml. In this file, you name the web service that is defined in the service directory.
In the data directory is a bean, src/pojo/data/Weather.java, which simply defines the output. For simple Web services in AXIS2, it seams easy to just create a class, and either return this class, or an array of the defined class as output. Believe me, this method is really easy to use! Okay, the rpcclient is more complicated. In my case, I replace this with a client directory, and created a Test.java file. I use this to test my Web service. After all, it is really just a Java class. In the end, I simply use a browser to test my Web service, displaying the results in my browser. The big deal is the data in the service directory. src/pojo/service/WeatherService.java contains the actual Web service. The class is the Web service, and all methods can be services that you call. Easy cheesy! For examples, I have just copied the pojoguide directory and simply renamed it, then updated the four classes described above. Of course, you have to update the build.xml file to point to the correct files and directories, but that isn’t too bad. Use ant to build the Web service to generate deployable file and test the service itself.

So back to my original point. After downloading the jtds SQL Server driver from SourceForge, I copied the jar file to the lib directory under axis2/WEB-INF and restarted Tomcat. I also had to add this to my build path in ant to get an error free compile. Now I could connect to my database. 15 Minutes later I had created my first AXIS2 Web service in years. Another ten minutes, and I was able to integrate this into APEX. Two great products working together. Technology is awesome!

RMOUG Presentation, Part 2

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

For my presentation this year, I pre-recorded how to install Ubuntu 8.04.4 Server and Oracle XE.

The video does not have any sound, and is about 30 minutes in length. I will add the accompanying slides I used at the conference in the download section.

The presentation seemed to go well. I tend to present one-offs each year, and don’t get to hone my skills on a single presentation that I repeat at other events. I didn’t practice this year, and I think this showed, but the content was well received. It is always difficult to do a live demo, as there are always things that go wrong, and you really have to think on your feet. I will know what the audience thought when I get back the responses from the attendees of my presentation. What counted was that final display of APEX running through Apache, and boy did it work!

Hey, did you know that subversion is now at Apache? I learned that at a presentation by Kris Rice from Oracle. I was glad I got to see today’s presentation that he gave, it was incredible!

RMOUG Presentation, Part 1

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

For RMOUG (February 17 – 18, 2010) this year, I have a presentation called, “APEX – Moves from the Garage to the Basement”. I wasn’t sure if my presentation would be accepted based on the title. Who knew? The title is actually supposed to be a play on the real life story of HP starting their business in the Garage. For developer’s today, the same can be accomplished with a spare PC, Internet connection, and a few pieces of software including ApEx. To get this really going, I added information on setting up dyndns with a cable modem, which is the setup I personally have, and seems fairly common. This can be extended to most any broadband setup as well. The idea of the basement came from my own setup as well. I have a 24 port gigabit switch in my basement, so I setup a small table that has an old PC and a UPS next to the router.

I also have a domain name and use the custom dyndns service for less than 30 dollars (US) a year. An extra bonus, is Mail for Google Apps. I run the server from by basement, but have all of my mail routed through Google. That isn’t part of the presentation, but thought I would add that. Google, for me, just can’t be beat when used as a spam filter. I used to run my own mail server with postfix and spam-assassin. I just couldn’t keep up with the new ways I was getting spam, and really didn’t appreciate what was coming through and available to my kids. Using Google as a filter has solved this issue about 99.999 percent of the time.

I will add postings of how I set this up soon. Right now, the latest Ubuntu LTS server has been released, and I need to check this out with another virtual machine install. As for that, if anyone wants to know, I use both VMWare and VirtualBox. I had almost made the switch to VirtualBox completely, but am waiting to see what the fallout of this software will be with the Sun acquisition by Oracle. I have always though Oracle’s VM Software was lacking, so it will be interesting to see what develops! I wish I could be testing ApEx 4.0 as well with the new server VM. That will have to wait for another post when the software becomes available to the general public.