Brian Haugabrook, Chief Information Officer, Valdosta State University
As the web development space continues to grow and evolve, so do the related needs. In order to keep pace with demand, Valdosta State University heavily leverages Oracle Application Express, more commonly known as Apex to speed up development cycles while simultaneously ensuring secure connections between our applications and data. This environment offers the agility needed to make rapid changes while also providing a homogenous look and feel for our applications.
Oracle Apex lives entirely in your database, which makes data connections easy to develop. The learning curve for Apex is likewise low to moderate, as there are many canned features in the product, such as UI elements. This allows you to provide a feature- rich browser-based intuitive interface to your users, while also offering your developers a straightforward interface and bath from application creation design to deployment.
Apex’s direct database tie-ins also allow you to build, enterprise- level spreadsheets within minutes that offer user control. One of the key examples of how this is leveraged at our university is our student portal where students can view consolidated information on their academic progress, engagement in student activities, and information about their instructors without the need to contact one of the related campus offices.
This puts the tools in our students’ hands to guide their own academic and career success.
In addition, Apex has saved our development team countless hours, as on a regular basis, they receive requests for data. For example, our tutoring center may need reports across different date ranges, majors, etc. of students who are at risk. Rather than generating and sending them these reports, in under 30 minutes, we were able to generate a report that they could access online, set parameters based on the information they need, and view or download their customized report.
This worry-free nature of Apex also extends into the security and portability of your applications. Arguably, the two best features of Apex are the built-in security and portability of the environment. Apex is designed from the ground up with security in mind, featuring all of the security features expected from modern web applications. Just as the need for applications continues to expand, so does the list of security requirements. Allowing the environment to maintain the security of the applications frees your developers to focus more on the results of your application. In terms of portability, since your applications exist within the database, you have the freedom to decide between free or enterprise level workspaces, cloud or on-premise, etc. to best meet your organization’s needs.
Based on our experience with Apex, two particular use cases stand out. The first would be in an environment where there is a high volume of both simple and complex application needs. The second would be in an environment where frequent changes are needed for applications. In both of these scenarios, organizations would likely have a need to continue to support legacy applications, but with Apex’s clear upgrade path and backward compatibility, you would never lose functionality nor be forced to re-write these applications. By natively incorporating features such as interactive reports for your business users, session state management, concurrency, data persistence, and responsive design, Apex can offer a significant cost and time savings while also allowing you to aggregate your applications and their assets into a unified ecosystem.