Oracle updates APEX application development kit

Version 4.1 features an array of improvements

Oracle has updated its Application Express tools for quickly building Web applications on top of its database, the company announced Thursday.

APEX, as the software is referred to, is somewhat of a successor to Oracle's Forms development software, although the latter remains in fairly wide use.

It is offered as an option for Oracle's database at no charge. However, developers don't necessarily have to shell out the money for a commercial database license, as it can also be used with the free-of-charge Express Edition.

That database version omits many specialized features found in the enterprise edition and places limitations on the amount of user data, but is likely robust enough to support the type of department-level applications commonly built with APEX.

The new edition of APEX, 4.1, comes about one year after the release of 4.0, which added an AJAX library for livening up web pages with dynamic elements, as well as a wizard for linking applications to REST (representational state transfer) data sources.

Version 4.1 adds an array of refinements and new features, including improved error handling. Now when a database error occurs, an application can be made to display a message describing the problem in plain language, versus a string of technical abbreviations and codes.

Other new features include tools to help end-users upload information from spreadsheets into an application; expanded capabilities for adding plug-ins; and improved mobile application support.

Not all the kinks may be ironed out of version 4.1, however. A user posting in an official Oracle forum on Thursday reported at least one "very ugly" bug in the release's installation documentation.

An Oracle spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the reported bug.

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