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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Need to extend Oracle APEX? Welcome Plug-ins Pro!

Plug-ins Pro

After APEX Office Print (AOP), APEX Media Extension (AME), and APEX Project Eye (APE), we launched our newest product and service, Plug-ins Pro, in June.

 
 
Since 2004 I've used Oracle Application Express (APEX) and I just love it. With every new release of APEX things become easier and new features get added going from new item types like switches to rich components like charts. But the web is moving fast, and customers want more and more which means you need to go outside of what APEX provides. The main building blocks of APEX are the Oracle database, SQL, PL/SQL, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You can use any of those technologies to extend Oracle APEX with custom components. This is a real benefit of APEX, you can go from Low Code to High Code in no time. Really, there's no limit... only your imagination and skills.
 
Over time I've created many extensions for APEX, going from building reusable PL/SQL packages to integrating some JavaScript library. The issue with building those one-off customizations is that you have to maintain them. Where plain Oracle APEX applications stand the test of time very well, for example, an app built in 2006 still runs today, even after upgrading to the latest Oracle APEX version. Whenever I used custom code, especially JavaScript, it was less obvious to keep that current, and it would be one of the first things that break. Next to that, you make the code work specifically for a project, and in the next project you need something similar, so you copy the solution and make changes specific for that project. It's always in the context of a project that things are built, never looking at the bigger picture.
 
As the Oracle APEX team identified the need to extend APEX and wanted to provide a way that makes it more reusable and easier to maintain between APEX applications, they introduced plug-ins in APEX 4.0, this is now 10 years ago!
 
The result was that the awesome APEX community started to create and share plug-ins. Most people offer those plug-ins as open-source. Initially, there was an APEX plug-ins website maintained by Itium that had a catalog of all APEX plug-ins, but today you find the plug-ins catalog on apex.world.
 
 
There are many great plug-ins from people like Bartosz Ostrowski, Daniel Hochleitner, and Ronny Weiß to name a few, but there are also many plug-ins now that are built for a specific purpose but not maintained any longer. If you included one of those plug-ins in your app, you are on your own. But even if it's still maintained, you can't expect the author to add new features to the plug-in when you need them or when you upgrade the APEX version and it breaks. 
 
Creating plug-ins and maintaining plug-ins takes a lot of time, especially when you want to think about the bigger picture and make them so good that they can be used in many different projects, they are fully documented and you have some sample code, so it's easy to include in any project, even when it's been a while since you last looked at it.
 
And this is how Plug-ins Pro was born... we want to take away the pain of having to build and maintain APEX plug-ins. These are not just plug-ins, those are rock-solid, state-of-the-art, professionally built plug-ins that behave just like native Oracle APEX components. They are accessible, translatable, universal theme ready, and most importantly fully documented, with many samples on how to use them AND supported! If you have an issue or you want an extension, you know who to go to.
 
With AOP we made printing and exporting of data easy in the Oracle database and APEX. With Plug-ins Pro we want to make extending the Oracle database and APEX easy!
 
 
 
Once I knew we wanted to bring high-quality, supported plug-ins to the APEX community, I knew we would need the best people to bring them to life.  Bartosz Ostrowski joined the team in January of this year and began creating our awesome plug-ins.  When we launched Plug-ins Pro we started with 3 highly demanded extensions for Oracle APEX:
And we didn't go light on those plug-ins... the client-side validation plugin for example took over 400h to build!
 
We started from a requirements document:
 
 
We built the plug-in, tested it in on the different APEX versions (starting with 18.1), and finished off by creating extensive documentation and a full-fledged sample application
 

 

The goal of Plug-ins Pro is to make you successful, so you can turn your ideas into reality with Oracle APEX and the Database.
 
Our goal is not to have all the possible plug-ins, instead, we want to create plug-ins that make a difference, and that would take a lot of time to build yourself. We have some plug-ins in the pipeline, some I'm super excited about and can't wait to share with you :) but just like with APEX Office Print (AOP), we especially want to listen to you, what are you searching for, and what would make a difference for you.
 
This is why on our website, you can submit ideas for new plug-ins and vote on already submitted ideas!
 

 

I will write some more blog posts on the plug-ins we offer, but if you already want to try them, head over to the Plug-ins Pro website and try them 1 month for free!

 

 

Last but not least... through September 30th, 2020, we are running an Early Adopter Special Offer. Show your support for Plug-ins Pro and help us get off the ground running!  Get all the details at plug-ins-pro.com.

 

 

 


Author: Dimitri Gielis
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