Oracle Fusion Middleware introduced us to one of its components known as Oracle Forms, which has been a superstar in data application building. However, modernization of Oracle Forms-based apps has started, and developers are looking to transition to more flexible web apps. For this transition, Oracle APEX should be your first choice because there are striking similarities between APEX and Forms.
Both these platforms are database-centric and use Oracle Database features. However, APEX runs through a web browser, which makes it easier for clients because they won’t require any plugins or applications, thereby, saving a lot of metadata repository. In this article, we will talk about modernizing Oracle Forms applications using Oracle APEX.
Let’s look at some of the reasons to modernize Oracle Forms applications to make them similar to web apps:
- Usability: Applications developed on Oracle Forms are difficult to use and end-users have to be trained. On the contrary, applications developed on Oracle APEX are like any other web app, and the end-users can use it proficiently without training.
- Responsive: Form-factor is a major requirement today. Apps developed on Oracle APEX run seamlessly on any device irrespective of the OS and screen size.
- External Facing Apps: Oracle Forms applications have been deemed unsuitable for customer-facing apps.
- Extended Deployment: Organizational activities have changed drastically over the years. Applications developed on Oracle Forms had a restricted audience. However, today, the same functionalities may be required by the entire organization. For example, to take a leave, employees had to e-mail their HR back in the day. Today, they have to punch in the details in the application.
- New Initiatives: If you are in the need of a new modern-day application, you may have to look into some modern tools such as Oracle APEX, especially when your organization’s development platform has been Oracle Forms.
- Development Resources: Oracle Forms has become obsolete now. Therefore, it is difficult to find developers who are efficient with this platform.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages you will get with Oracle APEX:
- Cost: You don’t require an additional licensing cost to access Oracle APEX. If you have access to Oracle Database, you have access to Oracle APEX.
- Skills required: Transition from Oracle Forms to Oracle Apex will be seamless because these frameworks are database-centric and use SQL. Additionally, declarative development is common in both frameworks. It has been observed that developers using Forms can be trained in APEX in weeks. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about employee replacement.
- Reuse: Reusability makes Oracle APEX the best framework for transitioning. For example, all the packages and procedures can be called directly from Oracle APEX. There is no need to rewrite the business logic used for the same database programs in Oracle Forms.
- Coexistence: Forms and APEX can run simultaneously in the same database. Moreover, they may also use the same database objects. However, the business requirements must be different. Therefore, you can allow your users to work on Forms while they are getting accustomed to APEX.
- Flexibility: You can use Apex to develop from anywhere you want, which is crucial for businesses that have adopted the WFH model. APEX can be used on desktops, on-premises, and laptops.
- Proven Path: A lot of Forms applications have already successfully migrated to APEX, so what are you waiting for!
- Better user experience: APEX applications can be fine-tuned to run smoothly on mobile devices.
- Partner Community: The exclusive partner community that has successfully transitioned from Forms to APEX can be of great help. They can save you time and money by guiding your development team.
Getting started with a new framework is the tough part. However, it can be easy if you follow some structured approaches. Here are three approaches that may work perfectly for your organization:
- Develop a proof-of-concept where a functional area of an Oracle Forms application is migrated to Oracle APEX. This will help you train your development team and lay out a blueprint for the future. Additionally, your team can use this opportunity to understand the efforts and risks required in the migration. Moreover, you can use the first-hand transition to take note of the end-user experience.
- Another efficient approach could be to work with users can get a hold of their habits. This will help you create a more intuitive user experience. For example, for an e-commerce business, you can allow the user to click on the customer, which will then lead to the customer’s interaction history with the business. This will help create more sales and a better customer experience.
- Instead of transitioning all the Forms applications, you can decide to develop new applications based on Oracle APEX.
Modernizing Forms applications is a herculean task and shouldn’t be taken casually. Therefore, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Identify Scope: Before getting started on transition, you will have to determine whether you want new apps, replace just a functional area, or replace an application suite completely.
- Define the look and feel: Get together with the key stakeholders in the applications and explain to them the new interface and manner in which the app will be designed. It is crucial that you keep the user experience plain and simple. You must remember to refrain from replicating the Oracle Forms UI or UX.
- Improve Process Flows: Applications designed using Oracle Forms has a restricted process flow because they were developed many years ago in tandem with the existing technology. Therefore, you should work with the businesses to understand how multi-processes can be streamlined.
- Business Rules Review: Before starting on the migration, you will have to identify the existing Forms database programs that can be reused by APEX. You must also ensure that existing rules are not scrapped and can be used in the new applications.
- Training the developers: Transition can only begin once your developers are trained in the key differences between Forms and APEX. Explain to your developers the importance of improving the usability of the applications. You may also hire an APEX specialist for your organization to carry out the training process for your developers.
- Win over the end-users: The most anticipated hurdle with the transition will be that the power users will resist the change because they have become highly productive with the existing system. Therefore, you should coach them so they could see the advantages of the new system.