Thinking Anew

Post-KScope Blues

I traditionally write a summary of what I learned and experienced at each technical conference I attend. I do this in order to help both my sponsors and I to take stock of how much value was created by attending a training event. I find this a good practice and give credit to my previous employer Nanyang Polytechnic for instilling this culture in me. This year, I decided to do this as a blog post as well and hopefully, provide others an opportunity to decide if KScope15 should be on your training calendar next year.

Sessions

Space Needle

KScope typically begins with a community-based symposium during which representatives from Oracle provide a day-long marathon of sessions that usually gives quite a good insight into what’s on the horizon. This year, for Oracle APEX developers, our eyes are on what to expect with the upcoming - game changing - features of APEX 5.0. Not surprisingly, Joel Kallman (@joelkallman) and his talented team of developers did not disappoint and provided us hours of woos and wows. The chant “Everything is Awesome“ was soon on everyone’s slides, minds and lips.

Well, I didn’t attend all the APEX symposium sessions. Steven Feuerstein (@sfonplsql) spoke about the “Best PL/SQL Features You Never Heard Of” and I was glad I attended.

There were quite a few other APEX sessions that caught my attention this year. John Scott (@aejes) and Dan McGhan (@dmcghan) presented very interesting use cases for Javascript frameworks Node.js and AngularJS. Peter Raganitsch (@PeterRaganitsch) and Christian Rokitta (@crokitta) focused on important issues and lessons to learn from Oracle Packaged Applications when making APEX applications public. Kris Rice (@krisrice) talked about the best practices and considerations when deploying Oracle RESTful Data Services (ORDS, a.k.a. APEX listener) for production, as well as some interesting tricks and extensibility features. And I attended a hands-on session that provided examples on how you can setup Continuous Integration for your APEX development environment. Lessons/tips that I could definitely apply back at work.

At heart, I am still very much a Java developer. So this year, I decided forgo a couple of novice-level APEX sessions to learn some basics about ADF. I attend two sessions. Luc Bors (@lucb_) presented on ADF Essentials and Frédéric Desbiens (@BlueberryCoder) provided a lively one-hour ADF quick start session. These were fruitful and I found ADF to be Java’s equivalent to APEX in developing web applications more productive.

I attended a few sessions on data modelling using Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler that turned out to be a good decision. Learned a few tips and tricks from Kent Graziano (@KentGraziano) on how to use SDDM a little better. There’s really a lot of features in SDDM that can help improve the process and working with clients better.

There were many others I would have liked to attend, including freshly minted Oracle ACE Jorge Rimblas’ (@rimblas) session on “Creating a Business-Oriented UI in APEX”, but he was competing against Tom Kyte’s (@OracleAskTom) “Five Best Things to Happen to SQL”. Woes of a conference attendee!

If I had to pick sessions that made the biggest impact, they would be:

  1. “Application Express: Fast = True” by Joel Kallman. What did I learn? Knowing APEX isn’t quite enough to build good scalable applications. We need to have and invest in Oracle Database skills.
  2. “The Database and Developer’s Toolkit: How to Find and Fix Your (APEX, Java, .NET, OBIEE, etc.) Application Performance Problem” by Cary Millsap (@CaryMillsap). That’s a very long title for a talk, and so was the session - two hours! Amazingly though, Cary was able to take us through the entire session with ease. He captured my attention throughout. I liked how his slides were concise, well laid out and used pleasant pastel colours. I definitely have lots to learn, besides measuring application metrics and troubleshooting performance issues, how to present well!

Competition Finale

Late last year, I was approached by Roel Hartman (@RoelH) and Martin D’Souza (@martindsouza) to help organize the APEX Theming Competition 2014 as a prelude to KScope. It wasn’t too hard to persuade me to take up this challenge and I’m glad I did. Learned a little bit more about APEX theming myself. The competition ended with the results announced at the annual APEX Open Mic Night. I was definitely nervous (as Joel picked out)… who wouldn’t be. I was speaking to well-attended community event with some of the best APEX brains in the world! So please excuse my jitters if you were there that night.

My heartiest congratulations to Robert Schaefer (@SchaeferRob) who won the competition with this entry. It’s a pity though that I wasn’t able to meet him in person and present him with the grand prize.

Should You Attend KScope15?

ODTUG Rocks at the Experience Music Project

In a nutshell… YES!!!

ODTUG always puts up a great show. Check out my previous blog post on my KScope12 experience. They didn’t disappoint again this year with a great selection of topics, swag, venue, hotel and FOOD! You can also almost always expect a unique experience at their special events night. I rarely attend such events when I’m at conferences, but this year, I made an exception and was glad I did.

Because ODTUG is home to several technology-specific communities, it is easy to pick up a breadth of new skills and knowledge at one conference. For me, I certainly benefited from attending topics from the DBA, Development, ADF and APEX tracks. This is useful for me as I undertake several complimentary roles in my current job.

Last but not least, ODTUG is the COMMUNITY, where members know each other by name. Every time this community meets, it’s like a family reunion. While there might be sibling (but constructive) rivalry at times, there remains a strong bond between members that allows everyone to share each other’s successes and pains. My job situation is far from ideal at the moment, but I certainly hope to stay working with Oracle technologies and continue growing with this community in the years to come. And maybe, I’ll get to meet you in Hollywood, Florida for KScope15 next year!