Oracle Releases Application Express 5 with All-New User Interface

Oracle has released Application Express  5, a new version of the popular tool for development and deployment of professional web-based applications for desktops and mobile devices using only a web browser.

Application Express is a 100% web-based application development framework and has been since it was first introduced in 2004, said Michael Hichwa, vice president of software development at Oracle. It is a no-cost feature of the Oracle Database, and its architecture is database-centric in that the application development framework is actually installed within the database which makes the interaction with the database efficient, he noted.

With the new release, the first since October 2012, not only did Oracle affect what can be produced but the development environment itself has been improved as well.

All-New User Interface

A key enhancement for Application Express 5 is Universal Theme, an all-new user interface for applications that has been built from the ground up for Application Express 5, said Hichwa. The goal with Universal Theme is to empower developers to build modern, responsive, sophisticated applications without requiring expert knowledge of HTML, CSS, or JavaScript.

One of the hallmark features of Oracle Application Express 5, said Joel Kallman, director, software development at Oracle, is that “it enables an ordinary person to be able to create what we classify as a beautiful, responsive, accessible user interface out of the box. And with APEX, like most every framework, at the end of the day you are delivering an HTML web application to your end users - and without much knowledge of HTML, JavaScript, or CSS, and driving only a browser, you can produce beautiful, customizable applications out of the box.” By “responsive,” Kallman noted, the meaning is that web applications that are produced will present information in a way suitable for the device dimensions, and will adjust itself accordingly whether the user is using a desktop or iPad or iPhone.

Greater Productivity

“Another area we focused on is developer productivity,” said Kallman. “With Application Express you don’t write code and it doesn’t necessarily generate code; you drive your browser to build an application.”  

Dubbed “Page Designer,” APEX introduces a modern and intuitive browser-based IDE that is designed to greatly improve a developers’ productivity so they can quickly develop and maintain Application Express applications.  Page Designer provides better visual representation and provides an entirely new way to develop pages on the fly, via intuitive drag and drop. The enhanced code editor provides SQL and PL/SQL validation with inline errors, auto completion, syntax highlighting, search, and replace with regex support, complete with undo and redo support. “It is a full-on browser-based IDE out-of-the-box in APEX,” said Kallman.

All New Application Builder Design

Application Express 5 also introduces a completely new user interface that is focused on improving user experience through simplicity and removal of clutter. The new design uses a new color palette, icons, improved menus and navigation, better accessibility and keyboard support, and more intuitive page layouts, according to Oracle.

“We believe that Application Express 5 is an enabler for both the Oracle Database and the Database Cloud. I like to classify Application Express as a thin veneer over the Oracle Database because there is a wealth of rich functionality for application developers in the Oracle Database, and Application Express can exploit essentially every feature available in the Oracle Database,” said Kallman. “If you can express something in SQL or PL/SQL, then you can immediately exploit it in Application Express, and APEX runs inside the database and it runs wherever Oracle runs so you can build an APEX application on your laptop, you can use some cloud service and with nothing but your browser deploy it to another Application express instance and that could also be the Oracle Database Cloud.”

The Oracle Database cloud schema service now runs the most recent production version of Application Express, and there is already a roadmap for its upgrade that to Application Express 5 within the next month or two.

“We think for the Oracle Database Cloud, it will be an absolute winner simply because ordinary people will be able to create absolutely gorgeous applications on top of the  Oracle Database - able to capitalize on this rich, fast, scalable, and powerful SQL language and do this with nothing but their browser on the Database Cloud,” said Kallman.

Improved Mobile Reporting

Mobile reporting is also improved with the Oracle Application Express 5 release. “We based a lot of our mobile functionality on jQuery Mobile, which has improved, as has our ability to exploit the capabilities of mobile,” said Hichwa. As a result, Oracle has taken its mobile capabilities up to the next level based on its own development,  but also based on the open source platform that Application Express is built on, which is jQuery.

“With the responsive UI in Application Express 5,” said Kallman,  users can build an application that looks suitable on devices such as the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices, and “it is a function of just the dimensions of the device.”

APEX 5 also offers modal and non-modal dialogs to enable developers to rapidly define dialogs using standard Application Express pages; a new calendar component  (based on FullCalendar library) that comes with built-in support for Month, Week, Day, and Agenda views and is easier to customize; and a broad collection of packaged applications that can be used out-of-the-box and are supported by Oracle.

To learn more about Oracle Application Express, visit  

To learn more about Oracle Database Cloud, visit

To read a blog by Joel Kallman about APEX 5, go here.