UKOUG Development Engineering SIG
I think the agenda was quite balanced: we had two items on new technology (HTMLDB and JDeveloper, two items on old technology (Forms) and I filled Guy's clowning role by delivering a short skit called "The worst week of my professional career".
The core audience for the DE SIG remains Forms developers; there's some people using Java but no-one using PHP or .NET and no interest in .NET. As an organiser I find the problem ith Forms is finding something new to say. Pretty much the only topics that are in the slightest bit fresh are highly technical investigations into the plumbing of Oracle application server. Kavitha Prakash from Oracle Support confirmed this to me afterwards; she said that pretty much all of the calls Support get are about app server configuration, deployment and debugging; there are almost no calls on coding problems. Gavin Leith of Sopra Newell and Budge gave an interesting talk on JDAPI, a Java tool for programatically tweaking Forms programs. This would have been useful to know about two years back when I was migrating a Forms client/server project to 9i web Forms, but to be frank I hope never to touch Forms again.
The talk that seemed to generate the most interest was given by David Richard of on HTMLDB. This was actually part 2 of a presentation that he started to give at the previous SIG in June. This time he actually managed to demonstrate his case study application and show some of the wiring under the hood. The application was a tactical solution for the NHS. This both proved the complexity of apps that we can build with HTMLDB and (I think) hinted at the limitations of the tool: A4C was a fantastic project to knock up in five weeks but it would be a nightmare to maintain. The problems of configuration management and code visibility in a metadata repository would get too pressing. Still, it inspired me. Last Friday my project manager showed me his latest spreadsheet for estimating and I told him we should be doing it soem other way; as I type this I am installing HTMLDB so that I can do it better.
Lastly Duncan Mills demonstrated his favourite new features in the new JDeveloper 10.3. I have to say the Java Server Faces implementation looks very good. My sole reservation is that it is so huge. Even Duncan had to look at his crib sheets to wrangle some piece of syntax. He's been living with this for most of the year: if he doesn't know it all, what hope is there for the rest of us? This is a serious point. Just to build a pop-up LOV required choosing a widget from a list of many dozens of options. Can there possibly be enough time to master these tools before the Java caravan moves on and there's a whole new set of APIs to learn?