All posts by vesterli

Should I work with ADF or PLSQL?

I was asked on Quora “I have been given a choice to work either in ADF or PLSQL. What should I choose?

My answer is ADF, for many reasons:

  1. The programming language in ADF applications is Java, which is the most popular programming language. That means whatever you learn is applicable for the rest of your career.
  2. PL/SQL is only used in Oracle databases, meaning you will be building skills that will only be valuable in the subset of companies using the Oracle database seriously
  3. ADF development is a sought-after specialty. Just google “Oracle ADF Developer” to see a list of open jobs.
  4. There are many PL/SQL developers with 10+ years of experience, and the amount of PL/SQL work out there is declining. You’ll be competing with very capable and experienced PL/SQL programmers for this work.

 

 

Which Oracle tools are popular?

I’m soon heading to Nürnberg for the Deutsche Oracle-Anwender Gruppe (DOAG) annual conference. I’m on the agenda with two presentations, both on Tuesday, Nov 21:

  • “APEX, ADF, or ABCS? A real-life application built in 3 tools” in room Oslo at 8.30am
  • “The Seven Ways of Building Oracle Applications” in room Hongkong at 2.00pm

I know from the conferences I am part of arranging how hard it is to put together a good program. A lot of thought goes into the selection, making conference programs good indicators of which tools are popular with real-life developers. The 2017 DOAG agenda looks like this:

DOAG 2017 development tool presentations

We all know that APEX is a popular conference topic, and the DOAG conference is no exception. More surprising is the fact that Oracle Forms takes second place. There are a lot of Forms applications still running, and a lot of Forms developers. These people have nowhere to go at Oracle’s conferences, but fortunately, user groups are providing the Oracle Forms content developers are looking for.

It also seems the conference committee is not convinced about the Oracle mobile solutions – both Mobile Application Framework (MAF) and Mobile Application Accelerator (MAX) occur just once. And that is only because I have included them with one-seventh part of my presentation about the seven ways of building Oracle applications.

Please join your local Oracle user group and attend their events. That is another place to get the same straight talk on Oracle tools as you get from my emails. I hope to see you at DOAG 2017 in Nürnberg or at another conference somewhere.

 

This post originally appeared in the Oracle Tool Watch newsletter. Sign up to receive a free copy of my whitepaper “What Oracle is Doing Wrong (and Right) in the Cloud”. 

The Future of the Oracle Developer

I’m often asked, “what does the future look like for an Oracle developer?” The answer is that the future for IT developers, in general, is bright, but the future for Oracle developers is more murky.

Most people who consider themselves Oracle developers are using a very specific part of the Oracle product line – typically SQL and PL/SQL  in the database, possibly supplemented with Forms, APEX, or ADF. Unfortunately, that’s not where the future lies.

PL/SQL is typically languishing somewhere around place 20 on the TIOBE programming language list, with a rating of around 1.4% of developers. That’s ahead of COBOL, but behind Visual Basic. The long-term trend is also not on your side, as Google Trends shows. Google Trend for PL/SQL

Don’t consider yourself an Oracle developer. Consider yourself someone who uses IT to solve problems. And be open to learning something new.

 

This post originally appeared in the Oracle Tool Watch newsletter. Sign up to receive a free copy of my whitepaper “What Oracle is Doing Wrong (and Right) in the Cloud” (and more interesting tips to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the Oracle community).

Scary Oracle security issues – patch now!

Larry Ellison announced the self-patching database at OpenWorld this year. Until we get to that point, professional DBAs and system administrators need to keep their Oracle environments secure.

Right now, that means at least installing the patches Oracle provides quarterly in the Critical Patch Updates (CPUs). The latest from October 2017 is one of the scariest I have seen for a while. Out of a total of 251 issues, 156 can be remotely exploited without authentication. Everyone who is or can get behind your firewall can use them against you.

If you are running any of the following, you urgently need to install the October CPU:

  • Oracle Database
  • WebLogic Server
  • SOA Suite
  • WebCenter Content
  • Oracle Access Manager
  • GlassFish
  • BI Publisher
  • Oracle BPM
  • MySQL
  • VirtualBox

To nobody’s surprise, there are also newly discovered bugs in Java SE – 22 this time, of which 20 can be remotely exploited without authentication.

Most of the Oracle applications also have serious issues, including Oracle E-Business Suite, Hyperion, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and Siebel.

Stay safe. Patch your systems.

 

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Oracle Forms won’t run on Java 9 – now what?

Many of my customers are still running venerable Oracle Forms applications that they have no intention of retiring or replacing. So when Oracle announced in support note 2310266.1 that “Oracle has no current plans to certify or support Java 9 with any version of Oracle Forms,” they were understandably worried.

From Oracle’s standpoint, it makes sense not to spend resources certifying an end-of-life product like Oracle Forms with every Java version. Especially since Java 9 will run under the new release model with a new version every six months.

This should not be a problem for Forms customers. Oracle does promise to continue to make Java 8 updates available to customers with support contracts for Forms or products depending on Forms (like E-Business Suite). Our Forms applications will anyway have to be updated to Forms 12c now that browser support for Java applets is running out, and that allows us to run the Forms applet through Java Web Start. We should then be able to use the <j2se version=“XX”/> tag in our JNLP file to point to the right Java, even if the workstation also has Java 9.

Long term, I expect either that  Forms will be supported on the first Java 9 Long Term Support release in September 2018, or that the Forms applet will become a complete executable using the Java 9 jlink feature.

So don’t worry, you can still run Oracle Forms even if the rest of the world moves to Java 9.

 

This post originally appeared in the Oracle Tool Watch newsletter. If you sign up this week, you will receive a free copy of my whitepaper “What Oracle is Doing Wrong (and Right) in the Cloud” as well as more interesting tips to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the Oracle community.

Oracle a Top-Three Cloud Provider

In cloud vendor rankings, Oracle is often found somewhere in the pack of “other cloud providers,” way behind Amazon, Microsoft and Google. But on their home turf, the database, Oracle is moving towards its natural leadership position. In the latest Forrester Wave™ for Database-As-A-Service, Oracle is right behind AWS and Microsoft in the Leaders section.

Forrester WaveTM Database-as-a-Service 2Q17

Source: The Forrester Wave™Database-As-A-Service Q2 ’17

Looking at Forrester’s evaluation criteria, it is possible to argue that the position should have been even higher. It is not obvious why Oracle should get a lowly 1.6 score for Architecture, nor why they should only be rated 4.2 again AWS’ perfect 5.0 for security.

Licensing is always part of the decision when discussing Oracle software, and there is a big difference between running Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

  • With PaaS, the database license is included. This means you don’t buy an expensive database license up front, and can simply terminate your PaaS contract if you don’t need the database anymore.
  • With IaaS,  whether from Oracle or one of the other two approved vendors  (Amazon and Microsoft), you will have to bring your own Oracle license.

For new development using an Oracle database, the flexible licensing means you should use Oracle PaaS if at all possible.

For existing Oracle installations, it might make sense to move from your existing on-premise hardware into the cloud if you are faced with buying new hardware. Note that some features are only available on Oracle’s IaaS cloud – for example, you can’t run Oracle RAC on Amazon or Microsoft.

 

 

Why working at night doesn’t work

Lots of programmers insist on working late. That’s a bad idea. For every one time a programmer reaches “flow” state and effortlessly produce reams of brilliant code late at night, there are a hundred inefficient programming sessions with low productivity and high error rates.

In most organizations, it is a near certainty that you will be spending most of your day doing something other than what you had planned. Most solutions involve company culture, managers, scrum masters, and colleagues. But there is one solution that is completely within your control: Show up early and complete one important task.

If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
Mark Twain

If you are a night owl like me, that might be a significant change to your life. But it pays off handsomely in more happiness and less stress. Stress is caused by a feeling that you are not in control of your situation; starting early and actually getting a task of your own choosing done each day defeats this feeling.

Try starting work two hours earlier than everybody else for two weeks and see how much more you get done.

Why Outsourcing Doesn’t Work

40 years ago, Fred Brooks told us in his book The Mythical Man-Month why full outsourcing couldn’t work. Since outsourcing was rare and difficult back then, nobody took note. Today, advances in communications and technology make outsourcing much easier. That doesn’t mean it will work.

The reason is that IT work is not uniform. There are some easy tasks (rapidly getting automated) and some hard tasks that take expertise and judgment. And most organizations are outsourcing their work to regions where IT professionals haven’t had the time yet to develop expertise and judgment.

Cost vs CompetencyIn a mature IT market, a wide range of skills exists, from basic to very advanced. As you need more advanced skills, the cost goes up, because there are fewer IT professionals with the requisite number of years of learning and experience.

In a new IT market, you can get basic competency cheaper. But because most IT professionals in these markets are relatively inexperienced, advanced skills are very rare, very expensive, and might not even exist.

The outsourcing fallacy is to think that you can move an entire, complex IT operation offshore. You can save money on moving simple tasks to regions with lots of competent but inexperienced IT people. But advanced skills won’t be available. So unless you can very cleanly separate simple tasks from advanced tasks, the communication overhead necessary to ensure that the right people get the right task will eat up any saving.

Think you can save money by outsourcing? Maybe you can. But many IT organizations have found they couldn’t. Get in touch if you need help figuring out the right level of outsourcing for your tasks and your organization.

Oracle Cloud Strategy Fail

Oracle rose to database dominance by making their software freely available. Anybody can download a $100K+ enterprise edition database and use it for personal learning as long as he likes.

The Oracle Cloud offerings, on the other hand, are strictly limited. You need to provide both a mobile phone number and a credit card number in order to get a miserly 30-day trial. Once you’ve spent your 30 days, you’ve used the one chance you get in this lifetime to learn Oracle’s 50+ cloud offerings.

Reality Distortion Field - Steve Jobs had it...

Contrast this with the approach taken by Amazon: A free tier without time limitation, and a generous 12-month trial for many of the other services. They took a page from Oracle’s playbook, offered free access and became dominant in the cloud space.

Oracle defends their stinginess by saying that it’s too expensive for them to offer free trials. And apparently, they believe they don’t need to offer good trials because their cloud is faster and cheaper.

Unfortunately, the ability of Larry Ellison to distort reality is limited. Oracle has a negligible market share in IaaS and PaaS and since they won’t invest a smidgen of their $60 billion cash hoard in better trials, they are unfortunately likely to remain a bit player in this space.

I’ve used my own phone number and credit card, and my wife’s phone number and credit card, so I’m now out of options for learning more about the Oracle cloud. But I’m learning AWS.

 

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Cash is King

Medicins Sans Frontieres have an annual collection here in Denmark, and I was one of the volunteers going house-to-house to collect donations.

IMG_5599

I experienced quite a few people who didn’t have cash but still wanted to contribute. This is in alignment with recent surveys who show 21 percent of Europeans rarely use cash.

However, the belief that the cashless society will be a boon is utter techno-arrogance. It takes the average user approx 5 seconds to drop a few coins into my collection jar, and 10 seconds to fold a bank note and insert it. But nobody managed to complete an SMS transfer or mobile payment in less than 30 seconds.

It might be in the interest of shops, banks, and the tax collector to get rid of cash. But does it justify wasting 4,000 years of time globally every day? Consider the total cost to everyone in money, time and effort before you add technology to a process.