Oracle’s next version of its Application Express tool is adding several features to entice users of Microsoft Access to consider migrating. They include a new ability to output to PDF, to make it easier to print and distribute reports; a revamped charting engine that takes advantage of the Adobe Flash run time to make cleaner tables and graphs; and a new Microsoft Access migration tool.
The tool is designed to make it easy to develop fairly rudimentary, data-driven web applications where you need to grab data from an Oracle database. It’s aimed especially at Microsoft developers to consider Oracle as the next step up from Access, when concerns such as auditability cause you to reconsider whether to continue using Microsoft’s entry level database.
Available as a free web download, Oracle says that Applications Express is one of its most popular tools, with over 350,000 downloads since it was introduced three years ago. Additionally, it is available as part of the Oracle XE free introductory database, which has seen well over 750,000 downloads.
Oracle Application is supposed to be easy to use, in that it provides wizards to ease development of apps, such as event registration or report generation. But you still need to know a bit of SQL to put these queries together, even if the wizard helps you perform basic select, delete, insert, where, and update commands.
The most interesting part of the 3.0 release is the Microsoft Access application migration tool. We positioned this for those who want to migrate because Access is not a very well controlled database, and they may be concerned over SOX compliance, said Mike Hichwa, vice president of software development.
The Access migration tool gets you part of the way there. It brings over the reports, the formatting, and the labels. But it does not convert the Visual Basic logic that sits behind the GUI widgets that are used for interacting with SQL Server.
You would have to rewrite that in Applications Express, but at least our tool is declarative, Hichwa explained, referring to the fact that Oracle’s tool relies on commands that are more intuitive than cryptic coding.