Monday, 9 September 2013

Develop Rapid Cloud Applications

The phenomenal growth of information technology especially the advent of cloud computing is changing the landscape of information technology, business and personal computing. If applied correctly, it can increase the productivity of enterprises that focus on increasing profits and lowering costs. Cloud computing in its simplest terms mean accessing and storing data and applications over the internet, instead of a native computer’s hard drive. The purpose of this book is to give you a taste of cloud computing by developing a functional sales application that can be accessed from a wide variety of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, and latest smartphones.

Running a business gets a whole lot easier when it can be access anywhere and any time. Cloud Computing is the platform that keeps people in touch with their businesses at all times. The intensely competitive market in today’s economy requires that managers continuously improve the way they work and make decisions. Today’s successful managers demand instantaneous information that is both swift and accurate. A traditional desktop application simply cannot cope with such high demands. Only by taking advantage of the power provided by the cloud computing platform, can these demands be met.

There are many platforms on the market today that offer application development for the cloud. Once such platform introduced by Oracle Corporation is Oracle Application Express. Oracle Application Express (APEX) is a browser-based rapid application development (RAD) tool that helps you create rich interactive Oracle-based desktop and mobile web applications very quickly and with relatively little programming effort. A web application is an application that is accessed by users over a network such as the Internet or an intranet. It is an application software that is coded in a browser-supported programming language (such as JavaScript, combined with a browser-rendered markup language like HTML) and dependent on a common web browser to render the application. The popularity of cloud applications is due to the ubiquity of web browsers, which is the only requirement to access such  applications. Another major reason behind the popularity of cloud applications is the ability to update and maintain these applications without distributing and installing software on potentially thousands of client devices.

Developing cloud applications can be a real challenge as it's a multidisciplinary process. You have to be proficient in all the core technologies involved such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript on the client side; PHP or any other scripting language to interact with the database on the server side.

Oracle Application Express is a hosted declarative development environment for developing and deploying database-centric cloud applications. Oracle Application Express accelerates the application development process. Thanks to its built-in features such as user interface themes, navigational controls, form handlers, and flexible reports that off-loads the extra burden of proficiency acquisition in the core technologies.

The format of this book is to introduce you to the art of building cloud applications by developing a sales application from scratch. This application has been chosen as an example because you can learn most of the techniques from it for your own future work. The primary purpose of this book is to teach you how to use Oracle Application Express to realize your own development goals. Each chapter in this book explores a basic area of functionality and delivers the development techniques to achieve that functionality. By the time you reach the end of the examples in this book, you will have a clear understanding of Oracle Application Express and will be able to extend the application in almost any direction. There are a number of features that provide APEX a clear edge over other available RAD development tools. First of all APEX uses SQL and PL/SQL as core languages for development. Due to this ability, people who have been working with Oracle database can easily tread the path. Following are some of the major benefits of developing web applications in Oracle APEX:

 Declarative Development 

Declarative development is the most significant feature which makes Oracle APEX a good choice for rapid cloud application development. Most of the tasks are performed with the help of built-in wizards that help you create different application pages. Each wizard walks you through the process of defining what you are expecting to achieve. After getting the input, the wizard data is stored as metadata in Oracle database tables. Later on, you can call page definition to modify or enhance the metadata to give your page the desired look. You can even add more functionalities by putting your own custom SQL and PL/SQL code. Once you’re comfortable with Oracle APEX, you can ignore the wizards and generate your application directly. The Application Express engine renders applications in real time using the metadata. When you create or extend an application, Oracle Application Express creates or modifies metadata stored in database tables. When the application is run, the Application Express engine reads the metadata and then displays the application.

 Mobile Application Development 

Another hefty feature provided in the current version is the ability to create applications for mobile devices. Content to these devices are delivered through jQuery Mobile that is incorporated in APEX. To create mobile-based interface, a new specific theme is added to the collection that support mobile page transitions such as swipe, tap, and so on.

 Responsive Design Support 

A new theme (Theme 25) is provided with responsive design capability. With this design content is adjusted according to different screen dimensions and provides same user interface for desktop, tablet, and smartphones.

Being the future, cloud application development is the need of the hour. This platform will definitely aid the over burdened business professionals, facing increasing time constraints, to increase their productivity by enabling them to work from anywhere at any time. These applications will make the busy community more effective as the features they carry allow people of high cadre to stay informed and take correct in-time decisions even sitting away from their desks.

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