Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Flows for APEX 21.1: what's new

Flows for APEX is an extension for Oracle Application Express (APEX) that lets you model and run processes based on the BPMN 2.0 standard. This blog article will address some of the key features introduced with version 21.1.

Setting process variables before and/or after each step


With the help of process variables, information can be stored persistently in the database over the entire duration of a process instance. You can set a process variable through the PL/SQL API or, with 21.1, do this declarative for each step in the BPMN model. The variables are meant to be set at special trigger points in the model (e.g., after a task has been executed or before the process is split up at a gateway) and read out again at a later point in time without the need of an APEX session.

Restart failed tasks


Sometimes the execution of a step in a process fails, so that the process cannot continue. In this case, the transaction of the current step is rolled back, and the instance is set to an error state. With the help of the previously mentioned auditing capabilities, the error can be located and fixed. To restart the step, either execute the PL/SQL procedure flow_api_pkg.flow_restart_step or press the corresponding button on the Flow Monitor page.


More engine app enhancements


The Flows for APEX engine app is used to manage the BPMN models and process instances. With version 21.1, several enhancements have been made:

- Use of keyboard shortcuts in the modeler (copy, paste, save)

- Support for dark mode

- Layout adjustments to support different screen sizes

- Bulk export/import of models

- Export of a model or an instance as SVG


Process plug-ins for a true low-code experience

Next to the existing region plug-in “Flows for APEX viewer” for displaying BPMN models, 3 process plug-ins were introduced that can be used in your own APEX application to manage a flow instance without the need of custom coding: 

1. Management of the entire flow instance (start, stop, terminate, reset, delete)

2. Management of a single step within the flow instance (start, reserve, release, complete)

3. Management of process variables of a flow instance (setting / reading out the variables in conjunction with APEX page items)

The plugins are included in the distribution of the Flows for APEX application and can be easily exported and imported to be used in own applications.


Auditing

During the execution of a process flow, information is written to a logging table at various points in Flows for APEX. This includes events occurring at instance level as well as task-level together with a timestamp and the calling user. These can be called upon in the engine app via the detail page of a process instance for management and debugging purposes. Furthermore, logging information for a specific step in the instance can be displayed by simply clicking on it in the Flows for APEX Viewer.


Sample app “Expense Claims”

To demonstrate the integration of Flows for APEX in an APEX application, a new demo application comes with the distribution of Flows for APEX 21.1. This application covers a simple expense claim process and helps APEX developers to understand how to develop process-driven applications.

For those that want to learn the integration step-by-step, I can recommend our Flows for APEX tutorial, freely available at https://flowsforapex.mt-ag.com


Download your copy of Flows for APEX at https://flowsforapex.mt-ag.com

Project on Github: https://github.com/mt-ag/apex-flowsforapex

Friday, September 24, 2021

Announcing Flows for APEX 21.1


After months of hard work, we are proud to announce the general availability of the APEX extension Flows for APEX 21.1. If you are looking to model and run business processes all within the Oracle Database, make sure to check out Flows for APEX. You can download a free copy of this open source software at https://flowsforapex.mt-ag.com.

Major new features of 21.1 are:

  - Model-driven approach to set process variables before and after each step

  - 3 process plugins to declaratively integrate a process model in your own APEX app

  - Auditing

  - Major upgrade of the Flows for APEX application with numerous functional, productivity and UI enhancements, like:

    - Restarting a step

    - Side-by-side view

    - Dark mode support

Have a look at the readme file in the software distribution to see a complete list of all enhancements.

Existing Flows for APEX customers can migrate to 21.1 by script, but should be aware of the fact that the transaction model has changed with 21.1, so your application might behave differently after the upgrade. The reason for this is a change in the transaction scope. Where in previous releases multiple steps were treated as a single database transaction, starting with 21.1, each step is now explicitly committed.

To give you an overview of Flows for APEX 21.1 and to get all questions answered, we invite everybody to join one of the following online sessions:

27-OCT 2021 15:00-16:30 SGT  (Asia Pacific area) / 09:00-10:30 CEST

27-OCT 2021 16:00-17:30 CEST (EMEA area)

28-OCT 2021 11:00-12:30 EDT  (America area)      / 17:00-18:30 CEST

You can register for these free sessions here: https://www.meetup.com/orclapex-dus/events


Yours truly,

The Flows for APEX team

E-Mail: flowsforapex@mt-ag.com

GitHub: https://github.com/mt-ag/apex-flowsforapex

Friday, March 26, 2021

About APEX Connect Online 2021

I'm happy to announce that the conference schedule for APEX Connect 2021 is now online, see: 


Due to the COVID-19 situation, we are committed to deliver top content and great networking possibilities straight to your home office!

Here are some highlights of what we have planned, all delivered by top speakers from all over the world:

33 regular sessions covering all topics that should interest APEX developers
+ 2 keynotes
+ 6 training sessions with good practices for APEX beginners at day 1
+ 6 training sessions with good practices for experienced APEX developers at day 2

So why bother this conference as there is already so much content online for free? Well, I see multiple reasons why you should join APEX Connect Online. First, we offer you great networking possibilities between the sessions in our virtual APEX town, where people literally bump into each other and can start a discussion. You can check out APEX town for free before the conference starts by clicking on the link: https://gather.town/i/uvlLThRU


Another reason are the training sessions. There is definitely no better (nor cheaper) way to get you educated. In the past, we always had a packed room for these popular sessions, but with this event being online now everybody is able to find a seat. :)

Finally, all sessions will be recorded and made available to all attendees shortly after the conference. With that, you are not going to miss a single presentation.

Get your tickets now at https://apex.doag.org.

By the way, students can get FREE access to the conference. DM me for more information on how to get your free ticket as a student.

Looking forward seeing you all at APEX Connect Online 2021!