This article will explore the integration and extensions that Oracle Application Express (APEX) gives you when using Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS).
There are two main ways in which APEX and EBS are integrated and these are:
The other main goal is that this integration is seamless to the end user, it should be the case of one homogenous offering and not disparate systems which users have to login to. APEX has this covered because you can use the same authentication (who can login) and authorisation (who can see what) within your Oracle Application Express applications that are used within your Oracle EBS installation. Although this seems like a small thing it actually shows how integrated the two are and makes the system far more palatable for an end user and easy to administer.
It is even possible to register fully integrated applications within the Oracle E-Business Suite so they are available from within the Oracle E-Business Suite menus.
The installation of the system is also simple as can be seen from the Oracle recommended deployment architecture below.
To look at option one and the EBS data it is fairly straight forward and really only requires a small bit of work to get things connected so that APEX can start to fully integrate with the EBS data. The best way to do this is to use views which almost any EBS system will already utilise and are simple to maintain and to support.
From this point APEX can be used to either report on the information available and allow you to edit the reports how you want to see them as well as choosing the data displayed or you can directly update/insert/delete records either directly or through the fully supported route of API’s which are freely available. This means you can have a simple to use permission based front end to your database which would normally cost a great deal in money and time to develop.
A good example of this is outlined using the HR API which is called to create an employee; this is a programmatic feature which would require a good understanding of PL/SQL to invoke as well as a specific tool such as SQL Developer or cumbersome old fashioned forms. Using APEX a simple form can be created which will call the API in the background and allow you to edit or add records using this simple web form.
This can be made available as your business chooses and can be as simple as an update form to more complex update and delete functions, all called from an easy to use APEX form.
From here a task which either used a direct database connection or called the Oracle Forms can be done using a browser and web page which can be edited and changed to suit your business.
To address point two some of what is mentioned above comes into play in that a big use for APEX and EBS is a modernisation of old fashioned Oracle forms which become increasingly hard to use as a modern work force has never experienced this kind of interface. Oracle themselves suggest that with the ability to integrate the security and use of the applications this is a major plus. Secondly the ways that APEX forms run is also lighter touch for most businesses as Oracle APEX runs Native HTML Web Applications <> Forms uses Java Applets to run on the Web
Complex EBS workflows can also be customised and simplified using APEX which can call parts of functionality inside EBS making it both much easier to use and also often crucially easier to support and error trap.
Another key reason that APEX is a tool of choice for extending or modifying EBS behaviour is that it is supported. For example if you needed to produce extensions or changes to EBS they would have to be signed off by Oracle or taken as non-standard custom code. Using APEX this is not the case as you are creating APEX applications to call standard functionality working in the way that you want. This can be anything from different business logic for different countries to bespoke data presentations that use data from the EBS system.
An increasing and major need for businesses is that of mobile applications and this is an area where APEX excels like no other. Mobile applications supporting almost all major handhelds can be rapidly developed. Then leveraging the ability to integrate with EBS and the API’s business processes, tasks can be carried out remotely using these applications and the inherent security that exists for the web applications.
This is an area which will just continue to grow and is currently only seeing the embryonic stage of where it can go. EBS can be updated, workflows kicked off and completed all via mobile applications which can easily be created and managed.
This shows some of the ways in which EBS can be both integrated and extended using APEX, there are constantly new ideas and ways to use this technology being developed which allows any business to keep a modern looking system which is easy to use, easy to administer and provides a rapid and cost effective way to deliver.
Author: Craig Sykes
Job Title: Senior Oracle Development Consultant
Bio: Craig is a Senior Development Consultant at DSP-Explorer. Craig has an MSc in Computing Science and is an experienced software engineer, utilising development tools such as PL/SQL and APEX to provide bespoke ERP software to both UK and international businesses. Craig has experience developing solutions to connect Oracle systems to a wide range of existing external applications within business environments.