Oracle APEX vs. Oracle VBCS: Comparison of the two front-end technologies / Part 1

Oracle APEX vs. Oracle VBCS: Comparison of the two front-end technologies / Part 1

Yves Chassein PROMATIS

 

Senior Vice President – Head of Application Development

Oracle Application Express (APEX) and Oracle Visual Builder Cloud Service (VBCS) are two low-code platforms by Oracle that can both be used for creating web applications. But what are the differences and similarities between the two front-end technologies? In this two-part blog series, we want to get to the bottom of this question. First, Oracle APEX and Oracle VBCS will be introduced. In the second part, we will compare the two technologies according to different categories.

What is Oracle APEX?

Oracle APEX is a low code platform by Oracle that helps create web applications on the Oracle Database using SQL, PL/SQL, JavaScript and HTML. APEX itself is part of any Oracle Database and can be used without any additional license costs. APEX has been around for a very long time: its success story began in 2004 with the first release, then called HTML-DB. Over the years, new features were added, such as the Interactive Report (2008), Dynamic Actions (2010) or the Interactive Grid (2017). With the help of Interactive Reports, the data that is read from the database via query in the front end can – as is similarly possible in Excel – be filtered, sorted, and even colored based on rules. Dynamic Actions enable the developer to program JavaScript actions declaratively and execute Ajax calls to the database. The Interactive Grid is a further development of the Interactive Report, and is capable of displaying as well as manipulating data. At present, APEX is available in version 20.2. Since version 5.1, APEX has increasingly been relying on Oracle JET, an open source toolkit for JavaScript development.

 

 Timeline Oracle APEX

APEX is based on a three-tier architecture. HTTP requests are sent from the client, in this case the browser, to the database via the Oracle Rest Data Service. The responses are sent back to the browser vice versa. Here, data queries and manipulations are executed directly in the database.

With Oracle APEX, it is therefore easy to create database-related web applications. It is also possible to create Excel-like evaluations on data of the database. Furthermore, extensions of standard applications – like the Oracle E-Business Suite – can be created easily.

What is Oracle VBCS?

Oracle VBCS is a relatively new low code platform from Oracle. Oracle VBCS is based on REST services, JavaScript and HTML5. For JavaScript, as is the case for APEX, the framework JET is used, which is 100% integrated into VBCS. Development and runtime are located in the cloud. Oracle VBCS must be licensed via Universal Credits.

Oracle JET comes with a number of ready-made components such as tables, lists, toolbars and the like. These can be used in VBCS to implement responsive web applications. The data that is to be displayed needs to be provided in the form of REST services. Databases or files cannot be accessed directly. Oracle VBCS is usually operated together with an autonomous database and an ORDS. In order to access data from other data sources, these need to be made available via REST services.

 

Oracle VBCS

Architecture Oracle VBCS

With the help of Oracle VBCS, web applications can be quickly created, debugged and tested. In addition, it is possible to almost seamlessly extend Oracle Software as a Service (SaaS) products such as Oracle Fusion HCM Cloud. Displaying and manipulating data is quickly implemented as well. With the help of Oracle VBCS, responsive web apps as well as Progress Web Apps (PWA) can be easily implemented.

To gain a better understanding of what an application looks like with APEX or VBCS, a simple application was each created in both technologies. This application displays the data of a table with 3 columns (ID, talk and date), and new records can be added. In APEX, this was solved with an Interactive Grid, in VBCS it was realized with a table containing a form.

 

Example in VBCS:

Oracle VBCS

Display of records in VBCS

 

Oracle VBCS

Creating a new record in VBCS

 

Example in APEX:

Oracle APEX

Display and editing screen in APEX

 

In the second part of this blog series, Oracle APEX and Oracle VBCS are contrasted and compared in seven different categories.

Oracle APEX vs. Oracle VBCS: Comparison of the two front-end technologies / Part 1

ORACLE APEX Cloud Service – inexpensively available in the Oracle Cloud

Johannes Michler PROMATIS Horus Oracle


Senior Vice President – Head of Platforms & Development

Oracle Application Express (APEX) is a popular low code platform for developing database-driven web applications. When previously wanting to operate such applications in the Oracle Cloud, there were two real alternatives. On the one hand Autonomous Database Service or Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) with a manually installed and maintained database, and on the other hand APEX. Oracle has also been offering an Oracle APEX Cloud Service since the beginning of the year. In the following, I want to examine who it is suited for and what advantages and disadvantages it involves.

Oracle APEX Cloud Service, what’s included?

Oracle APEX Cloud Service consists of a database instance, similar to the Autonomous Database, which is completely managed by Oracle, as well as an APEX installation with a preconfigured Oracle Rest Data Service (ORDS). Billing – as is customary for databases in the cloud – takes place according to OCPUs and terabyte of data, not according to users, developer or the like. The database is accessed via SQL Developer Web, APEX or – after its implementation – REST service. With the SQL Developer Web, you can run SQL queries and scripts, create and modify database objects controlled by wizards, and generate database models. Thanks to the preconfigured ORDS, it is possible to provide REST services and read and manipulate data from the database.

What’s the difference to Autonomous Database Service?

Compared to the Autonomous Database Service, the Oracle APEX Service does not allow a connection to the database via JDBC, which means clients such as Oracle’s SQL Developer cannot be used. This means that interfaces that do not communicate with the database via REST cannot be created with APEX Cloud Service. If they are needed, the Oracle APEX Cloud Service can be upgraded to a ‘full’ Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing Database with one click (of course, this also increases costs). Moreover, the two cloud services are very similar. Both cloud services are completely maintained by Oracle and updates are carried out automatically.

What’s the difference to Oracle Infrastructure Cloud Service

Here the difference is more significant. In addition to the missing pre-configuration of Oracle APEX and ORDS, all patches must also be installed manually for the OCI variant. This therefore always requires a database administrator. In comparison, the Autonomous Database as well as the Oracle APEX service are maintained by Oracle itself and updated when updates are pending. With the OCI variant, it is possible – in contrast to the APEX service – to connect to the database itself via JDBC as well as to the database host via SSH. However, SQL Developer Web support is not available out of the box and needs to be installed subsequently.

Conclusion

If you are looking for an easy and cost-effective way to enter the Oracle Cloud with APEX, the Oracle APEX Service is exactly the right choice. After all, you can get started quickly and without further ado. Likewise, this cloud service makes it possible to run applications with more than 500 users. And if the REST interface and Oracle SQL Developer Web are no longer sufficient, you can easily upgrade to a ‘full’ Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing Database.