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  Oracle Application Server Forms 10g
 September 2003

OVERVIEW

The Internet changes the way we do business -- it expands market opportunities, improves the efficiency of business processes, and offers new ways to retain customers. Oracle Forms Developer and Oracle AS Forms Services provide a complete application framework for optimal deployment of Forms applications on the Internet. Together they deliver a Rapid Application Development (RAD) environment and application deployment infrastructure to ensure that your Internet applications automatically scale and perform over any network.

This paper describes some of the new features for the new OracleAS Forms 10g (9.0.4) product release.

Oracle Forms Developer (a component of Oracle Developer Suite)
Oracle Forms Developer provides a set of integrated builders that allow application developers to easily and quickly construct sophisticated database forms and business logic with minimal effort. Oracle Forms Developer's powerful declarative features enable developers to create fully functional applications from database definitions with significantly reduced coding.

OracleAS Forms Services (a component of Oracle Application Server 10g )
OracleAS Forms Services is an application server and associated services that are optimized for deploying Forms applications on the Web. Forms Services delivers out-of-the-box functionality and native services to ensure that Forms applications automatically scale and perform over any network. Forms Services enables rich, extensible Java clients that are optimized for the Web.

GLOBAL DEPLOYMENT

More and more, companies are deploying applications to wider audiences and across a variety of networks and systems. The complexity in network and server configurations can be daunting. OracleAS Forms 10g, a web-only release, helps you face the challenges of deploying your applications globally.

Run On Any Network
The Forms Listener Servlet architecture allows you to deploy your Forms applications in a robust and standard manner. Using standard web communication, you can run your applications on any network: Internet, intranet, or extranet. Only standard ports in your firewall need to be opened and authenticating proxies are supported.

For secure connections, no extra SSL Certificate is required as Forms Services uses the web server's certificate. In addition, the Forms Listener Servlet architecture removes the administration overhead of managing the Forms Listener as well as allowing you to take advantage of all of the standard load balancing capabilities provided by your web server or hardware.

Log in Only Once
Increasingly, companies are moving their information infrastructure online. Often, each user must maintain a separate user name and password for each application they access. Maintaining multiple accounts and passwords for each user is expensive, insecure, and most of all, impractical.

Oracle Forms can use the authentication services provided by the Login Server (mod_osso) included with Oracle Application Server, which is integrated with the Oracle Internet Directory (OID) and is LDAP-compatible. Using Single Sign-On eliminates the need for users to remember multiple passwords because they only have to log in once. Moreover, no additional coding is required in your Forms application modules.

Oracle Database Internationalization Support
Oracle Forms supports a feature of the Oracle database that ensures the length of character variables used in your multi-language applications will accommodate the language in which the application is deployed.

For example, consider the following declaration:

my_string VARCHAR2(100);

This variable holds 100 bytes. In a standard English or Western European character set such as US7ASCII or WE8ISO8869P1, this variable would hold 100 characters. However, when using a multi-byte character set, such as JA16SJIS or UTF8, this variable may hold 50 characters or less. The new character semantics feature resolves this problem by allowing you to declare variables by the absolute number of characters required, irrespective of the underlying character set.

Deploy to Multiple Languages
TranslationHub is a subcomponent of Oracle Forms. To assist you in translating your Forms applications to other languages, TranslationHub keeps a repository of your translations and lets you preview the Forms while they are being translated. Using OracleAS Forms Services, you can deploy a Forms application in many different languages with a single installation.

Run Your Applications in any Timezone
An important, but often overlooked, consideration when deploying applications is the simple concept of time. When a user records a time value in an application, what exactly do they mean? The time where they are? The time where Forms Services is running? Or the time on the Database Server?

Imagine the scenario where a call center employee based in England is on the phone to a customer reporting the time of a credit card theft whilst on holiday in Hawaii, with the data stored in a database in New York. Then if that needs to be matched up with a fraudulent purchase made over the Internet to a website in Singapore, you can see how a universal concept of time is important.

Oracle Forms supports the ability to define the timezones at all levels of your application so that the correct time is stored in the database.

Pre-start Forms Runtime Processes
If you have many users who start their Forms applications in a very small period of time, make the startup more efficient by pre-starting the Forms Runtime Processes.  This creates the Forms Runtime Processes and allocate memory ahead of time so users don't have to go through those operations when they launch their Forms applications.

DEVELOPMENT PRODUCTIVITY ENHANCEMENTS

Companies today need to build applications quickly.  Changes in requirements and environments, can occur suddenly. Oracle Forms is a RAD tool that allows you to respond quickly to these demands.

Automatically Run Your Application
In Oracle Forms you can test your application on the web from your development environment before you deploy it, running your application directly in a browser. You can even test applications that include components such as JavaBeans and Pluggable Java Components so that you see your fully functional application as is it will look when it is deployed.

Debug your Applications Remotely
The usability and functionality of the Forms debugger has been significantly enhanced. For example, remote, three-tier debugging lets you debug a Forms application while it is running on the Web. In addition, a Forms developer can attach the debugger to another user's Forms session and debug on the screen while the user interacts with the application.

Use Java to Access your Forms Files
The Oracle Forms Java Design-Time Application Programming Interface (JDAPI) lets Java programmers create, load, edit, save, and compile Forms module files (.fmb, .mmb, .olb, and .pll files) from self-written Java programs. Forms module files are normally created and edited using Forms Developer. JDAPI gives you access to almost all of the Forms Developer functionality. Because it is a programmatic interface and not an interactive development environment, JDAPI is an ideal tool for writing scripts that perform repetitive tasks on large numbers of Forms module files.

For example, using JDAPI, you can make global changes to many Forms modules -- build utilities such as batch compilers or difference analyzers, create custom documentation, or perform impact analysis.

Use XML to Access your Forms Files
In Oracle Forms, you can save your Forms module files (.fmb, .mmb, and .olb files) to XML, which provides a "human-readable" version of your Forms application, and lets you manipulate the application in XML. XML representation combined with the use of JDAPI lets you manipulate your Forms applications in any almost any way to suit your needs and skills.

Control your Development Environment
Oracle Forms is integrated with Oracle Software Configuration Manager (SCM) directly in Forms Developer. Oracle SCM provides source control options, such as checkin and checkout capability, versioning, diff and merge utilities, and impact analysis. With Oracle SCM, you can effectively manage your development environment.

Access for Users with Disabilities
Oracle Forms Developer makes building and running Forms Applications easier for users with disabilities. This applies in the Oracle Forms development environment itself, as well as in the Forms applications you build and deploy.

Improved Runtime Functionality
Various runtime improvements are:

APPLICATION INTEGRATION

Rather than deploying a series of separate and independent applications, companies are seeking an integrated solution -- applications that can work together. Through its openness and integration with Oracle Application Server, Forms provides an extensible framework to access other technologies, like Java and XML, to help you meet your needs to build applications that can be deployed in today's complex network and Web environments.

Incorporate Java into your Forms Applications
On the middle tier, the Java Importer provides a mechanism for a Forms application to call Java code contained within compiled Java classes. For example, you can generate PL/SQL packages for Java classes within a Forms module, and then instantiate, use, and destroy the Java object instances at runtime. This lets your Forms applications gain access to any other resources that use Java, or lets you use Java as a bridge to other resources and systems, whether hardware or software.

On the client tier, you can incorporate Java using JavaBeans or Pluggable Java Components. The new Dynamic JavaBean Manager integrates JavaBeans and applets into your Forms applications eliminating the need to write custom Java wrappers. Furthermore, heavyweight components are managed automatically for you.

In Oracle Forms 10g, you may use the JDK 1.4.x or 1.3.x.

Manage all of your environments centrally
Oracle Enterprise Manager is a single, unified architecture for managing the complete OracleAS environment. For example, you can stop Forms runtime processes, receive notification of critical issues, automate repetitive tasks, modify Forms configuration files, and perform realtime monitoring of resources such as CPU usage and memory consumption.

CONCLUSION

With Oracle AS Forms you can:

 

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