APEX DBA OOW Oracle Performance SQL

OOW 2010 Develop Keynote

Yes, this post is a little out of order as it clearly didn’t take place after the Thursday afternoon sessions. I missed it during the conference so I had to catch up on it later on the on demand site. I thought it was interesting enough to write up a few notes.

It was held by Tom Kyte and the subject was “What’s new in database development”. It’d be more correct to say Oracle development than database development as he covered just about any area that Oracle focuses on.

He started with APEX and spent a lot of time on it. The coverage APEX gets in general sessions and the number of really good APEX sessions speaks volumes about how strong APEX is becoming within the Oracle development technologies.

Tom shared a little background of how APEX was built by Mike Hitchwa when Mike set next to Tom and wrote the initial code for APEX. Anyone that has been impressed with the way bind variables are handled in APEX got their explanation for why. Tom has relentlessly been preaching about how to to it and the issues caused when not done well. So it all makes sense when you hear that it was Tom who wrote the initial code for bind variable handling in APEX.

Tom went on to say that they are seeing a lot of momentum behind APEX right now. The catch phrase he used to explain why it grows fast in popularity was “Easy architecture, easy to deploy, and easy to run”.

Tom then spent some time talking about performance of APEX as a lot of people still thinks it is not able to handle enterprise level system demands.

The site apex.oracle.com that is used to run all the applications people create on Oracles hosted apex “test and demo” site has a surprisingly small computer running it. The specifications for it is:

  • Poweredge 1950
  • 2 Dual core Xeon 2.33 Ghz
  • 32 GB Ram
  • Cost : $4,300 (in 2007)
  • Runs 11G database

Not a very big computer to serve a site that provides support to anone who wants to try APEX.

Tom shared som of the numbers for what apex.oracle.com is used for.

  • They had 3.5 million views (pages loaded and processed) last week.
  • Distinct users accessing during the week: 3028
  • Total workspaces :9062
  • Applications: 32776

I’d think most “enterprise” systems would have less demand than that.

Some of the biggest things on apex.oracle.com are:

  • SQL Developer updates 800K hits /week
  • Pro MED (Prodution system) 770K hits / week
  • Asktom 250K-1000K hits / week
  • APEX Appbuilder 238K hits / week
  • JDeveloper updates 175K hits / week

Impressive to serve all of that from a small(ish) computer.

Tom then shared some key features from the 4.0 release.


Designed for the end user and designed for web based content sharing. A solution that allows end users to stop mailing excel documents around would be a good thing…

Dynamic Actions

Declarative client-side behavior. It is integrated in the framework. Uses JQuery.

This allows using common javascript function for handling advanced user interface improvements. From validations to drag and drop and more.

Team Development

Allows you to manage the application development process within APEX. This makes APEX able to be used by large development projects. It has built in end-user feedback. When a user has a problem they can tell you directly in the application and it feeds into the team development features.

Oracle APEX Listener

Built in Java.

It is a good alternative to mod_plsql and it is certified against WLS and Glassfish.

After that long piece on APEX, Tom went through som improvements for other technologies.

SQL Developer

The data modeler is now free. It will now come with the product and will be supported with the database (just like SQL Developer itself).

It has real-time SQL monitoring. It will allow you to see what part of the execution plan Oracle is currently spending time in for a SQL. This exists in Enterprise Manager, but this gives the insight to many more as EM often is just used by the DBAs.

It can now find the SQL trace file and display the contents graphically in SQL Developer. This ought to make trace files much more accessible to developers.

It has support for AWR and ASH reports and has added developer specefic things that are not available in the other AWR/ASH aware tools.

A hierarchical profiler is now also included to allow you to see what functions calls which in a run of PL*SQL code.

SQL Developer now used PL/SCOPE data to show information about where variables are defined and used, This is something that has been added to the database and can always be accessed with SQL, but it is more convenient to have it hooked into the development tool.

They have also added a DBA Navigator that allows DBAs to access most things they deal with in the database. Most objects (such as extents and tablespaces) can be seen and modified.

An interface for DBMS_SCHEDULER has been added. It is supposedly a much nicer way to configure jobs than to do it by have, which can be both tedious and complicated.

Another neat feature is that auto tracing has been improved to not only allow tracing of a statement, you can now trace two statements and see a comparison report of the tracing so you can compare them. Since this usually has been done with Toms “Runstats” package, I’d assume this feature has Toms fingers all over it.


It is free and provides native access to the database. It has statement caching (on the client side) and will support TimesTen in

I’m not a .Net person at all , but it sounds as if this provides a lot of benefits both in use and in performance. If you work with .Net, then you will want to take a look at all the things Oracle provides in this area.


There is a Universal Connection Pool for all technologies using connection pools to use. This is supposed to reduce the overhead caused by having several connection pools.

For Secure Files there has apparently been a performance issue dealing with very large files, my understanding from Toms presentation is that it resulted in double buffering. Now there is Zero Copy which sounded as if it would remove all buffering and thereby improve the speed significantly.

Database Improvements

Tom focused on the optimizer and on developer related topics as this was a Develop keynote.

Tom showed how the optimizer could detect a three-way join that was not needed. It was a fairly complicated situation, but the optimizer can apparently completely skip accessing tables now if they are not needed for the end result.


Edition based redefinition is available in a editions of 11G. Tom thinks this is the killer feature of 11G, and says that it may be the first time the killer feature is available in all editions and with no additional licensing requirements.

It allows live changing of code (PL and views). Live changing of data can already be done with online redefinition and online actions on indexes.

The process now is:

  • Create new edition
  • Test new edition of the code while users still use the old.
  • Two options for rolling out
    • Let new sessions use the new one and allow old to keep using the old edition.
    • Switch everyone over to the new when the system is “idle”. Takes just seconds.

That was the end of Toms presentation. He covered a lot of technologies, even some that are not mentioned above (like Ruby). WHat I think is interesting is what wasn’t mentioned at all.

The fist one that comes to mind is JDeveloper. It has not become very popular with Java purists and it is not mentioned at all. There are some rumors of it being de-emphasized by Oracle as how you work with it seems to be very far from how most Java projects want to organize their builds and deployments.

Next interesting omission is the technology mostly integrated with JDeveloper. No mention at all on the Oracle Develop for their key Java development framework. ADF did not get any love at all and that is not true just for this presentations, there were very few mentions of it in any of the presentations I attended. True, I did not seek out ADF sessions, but virtually every single presentation on non APEX technologies found a way to talk about APEX, the opposite was true for ADF. Even when you felt that someone was building up to a plug for ADF, they never went there.

The lack of love for ADF and JDeveloper may mean that they are not considered critical to Oracles success anymore. I assume ADF was used to build the fusion applications which would mean that the tool and product is probably not going away, but could it mean that they are primarily being focused for large product development and not something that is good for custom development projects?

Personally it feels as if ADF is now essentially becoming a tool used when integrating with Oracle (fusion) Apps or Oracle SOA Suite. I’m not sure a custom development project would end up using ADF. Of course there will be exceptions to that, but they will probably be fewer and fewer.

It could also be that JDeveloper and ADF starts becoming less and less of something for the customers and more and more of an internal tool at Oracle. I’m sure they have very specialized versions and techniques used in development to help the development of the fusion applications.

On the other hand, it could just be that this wasn’t the time for releasing improvements to JDeveloper or ADF. I have trouble convincing myself of that though. The reason is that Oracle now owns Java and if there ever would have need a reason to show JDeveloper and ADF in its full glory, now would have been the time. By not releasing improvements to what is considered problems with JDeveloper and ADF, they have probably given more momentum to the competing tools. They of course ha another tool in this space now, maybe NetBeans will be the future migration path of JDeveloper and when ADF finds a new home.


  1. Just a little comment about your take on JDeveloper and ADF.
    The reason that JDeveloper wasn’t covered in Tom’s keynote was probably because it was covered in the second Oracle Develop keynote the day after it – in fact that whole keynote was one big JDev/ADF demo.
    Read more here: http://technology.amis.nl/blog/8600/oracle-develop-keynote-ted-farrell-showing-off-adf-in-a-big-big-way
    See a replay:
    And in terms of coverage at the rest of Oracle Develop/OOW – I counted over 40 sessions that related to ADF development this year – more than any previous year. See the list here:
    As you mentioned the Oracle Fusion Applications that were announced in the conference are all built with Oracle ADF – but there were lots of customer sessions showing their own ADF flavored applications. For example: http://andrejusb.blogspot.com/2010/09/oow10-video-recording-developing-large.html

  2. Shay,
    Thank you for the comment. I need toi take a look at the presentation you refer to. It sounds promising, even if I think it is still strange that Tom neither mentioned it nor plugged that session.
    Even if Oracle showed it more, do the Java purists start to warm up to ADF? I think it is key that it becomes accepted by the general Java community, otherwise it will become a niche product used as glue for apps and Oracle SOA implementations. Seeing how big those areas are, it may mean that it is more than big enough.
    Do you think it is common to use ADF in a new project (at a place where it has not been adopted) where neither SOA nor Apps is being used? I think it is a nice technology, but it felt like it has stalled a little and that most Java purists dislikes both ADF and JDeveloper.

  3. The problem I see with Java purist is that they won’t look at anything that has a cost associated with it, which ADF is right now. They only look at open source solutions.
    When we show ADF to Java purist they like what they see, up until the point when they ask “is it free”.
    That being said – for enterprise IT shops there are some other factors in play, and productivity and completeness are two key things here. We do see more and more ADF customers out there. Some do it with SOA, some with WebCenter, and some just for “regular” OLTP applications.
    No matter how you look at it the demand for ADF is growing now faster then befor, see:
    and with Fusion Apps coming out, one key advantage for companies is going to be the fact that they can use the same tool/framework for both their off the shelf applications and custom in house development.

  4. I agree with you on Java and open source people looking for free without evaluating the real cost of using the technology. I also agree that large IT-shops are looking for productivity.
    Still when they want to automate things on maven or some such tool, there seems to be problems. I’m not sure if it matters if your approach is better or not, it is a question of what the larger market adopts. It is a little like the Beta Max vs. VHS debate. Unless a technology appeals to the masses, it will eventually be a niche product.
    Your graph is interesting, but playing with the technologies we look for at that site shows interesting stats. Java is referenced in over 3% of all job postings, while ADF is at 0.02%. ADF also had a spike in the beginning of 2009 which it is just now is exceeding. a search on JDeveloper shows a clear decline over the last year, possibly with some comeback lately. I’m not sure it shows much more than just that Java is a very large community and ADF is a subset of it.
    I agree that we are likely to see more use of ADF as a result of the Fusion apps (when they are released). The companies that use SOA and Apps as their standard would probably be wise to use ADF to glue that and their extensions together. The question is what normal custom development projects will do. I think the Java purists opinion will be key there. I think the build and deployment model as well as cost is likely to play a role there.
    What you and I think about the model that many feel that all frameworks should be free does not matter, the question is if that opinion can be changed enough to let ADF become a mainstream technology for pure Java projects or not. Don’t get me wrong, I like ADF as a technology, but I’m afraid that the Java and Eclipse camp is not ready to convert to the ADF/JDeveloper way of doing things. I’m not sure they will ever be.
    To be honest I think the reliance on JDeveloper to build (which I think is still there in the latest version) and deploy is a problem. I think the expectation for Java frameworks is that they can be scripted and not require installation of the IDE.
    Note that this is just a guess on a trend that I thought could be noticed and I know a few more draw the same conclusions, but it is guessing from the outside based on very little evidence (and to some extent based on the lack of evidence proving the oposite) as there is not much evidence available on this. Thus, it is a very early guess at how the future may look and where I thought Oracle might place its focus.

  5. Sounds very much like orlace, soon we will have something very exciting, just wait another year, and by then will postponed it some more But if you need innovation now, better look elsewhere

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