Converting Forms using APEX-By David Peake

Modernize Oracle Forms applications with Oracle Application Express.

Oracle Forms has been around since before the days of client/server computing, and numerous Oracle Forms applications have been faithfully meeting business requirements for many years.

Converting Oracle Forms applications to use another development tool is a labor-intensive, time-consuming process, and recent rumors that Oracle will soon drop support for Oracle Forms are unfounded. With these things in mind, why would anyone want to convert their Oracle Forms applications to use another development tool?

Typically, Oracle Forms modernization projects convert legacy applications to use the latest Oracle Database version and enable developers to satisfy user demands for greater user interactivity and Web 2.0 capabilities. A modernization option for Oracle Forms applications that will deliver on both of these objectives is Oracle Application Express.

Oracle Application Express renders applications using HTML, and it has built-in Web 2.0 functionality such as interactive reports, Flash charts, and the ability to extend user interactivity by use of JavaScript and Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax). In addition, the rapid application development environment offered by Oracle Application Express is similar to that found in Oracle Forms, utilizing a declarative framework together with SQL and PL/SQL to define processes and enter business logic.

Understanding the Conversion Process

The capabilities for converting from Oracle Forms to Oracle Application Express in Oracle Application Express 3.2 generate an initial application design that you then enhance and expand to fully replicate the original application. The conversion maps blocks to pages and various item types, but it does not convert business logic stored in Oracle Forms triggers, program units, or libraries. After you generate the initial design, you can take full advantage of the rapid application development capabilities in Oracle Application Express to enhance the generated pages. Figure 1 describes the process flow of an application migration from Oracle Forms to Oracle Application Express.



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Oracle Forms conversion in Oracle Application Express is not designed to fully replicate an Oracle Forms application. The conversion process does, however, offer significant benefit by generating user interface components and providing project management tracking capabilities.

The effort and resources required for each Oracle Forms conversion project are largely dependent on the size, complexity, and business logic implementation within the Oracle Forms application. I strongly recommend that you undertake a prototype or a proof of concept to properly plan each Oracle Forms conversion project before you begin.

David Peake is a principal product manager in Oracle's Server Technologies division. He has been with Oracle since 1993.