Hi Yalim,

You know i am enthousiast about Formspider. And i am proud about my first "real" application, that just took a few hours to build, which is, compared with other developer tools, very quickly.

Yesterday i demonstrated this application to one of my technical advisors. He was also very impressed about the way the application worked and the limited code needed.

However, he asked a few difficult questions.

1) On your Formspider site there is a page comparing Formspider to APEX. That is based on old APEX versions. APEX version 5 has been totally rebuild - Oracle says. We looked at some examples and it seems that many advantages are gone. Master-detail should be no problem anymore. So he says it should be easy to build my first application also in APEX, which was really impossible in APEX 4. Version 5 is fully responsive. With templates you get beautiful layouts out of the box. So, for the eye indeed many shortcomings of APEX seem to have been solved. Question: can you compare Formspider with APEX 5 ?

2) Gerger has a small group of developers. Oracle has much more developers. For years Formspider was a mile ahead of APEX, technically spoken. But with APEX 5 the roles may be changed. This race is not fair. What will happen when Formspider customers see that APEX offers the same or even better functionality? Will they turn to APEX? How long will they stick to your enthousiastic, innovative team? Question: does Gerger have a future when APEX is as good as Formspider (or even better at some points)?

3) I told about the lack of documentation. The API's offer thousands of options, but i have to figure them all out and that takes a lot of time. For APEX there are numerous books and many examples. Question: What are you going to do about this really big problem?

4) It is very time consuming to type in the XML codes. Question: What is the planning for the form designer?

As you might conclude, i am confused now. I never expected something like APEX 5 because until APEX 4, that really was a terrible product. Also, it is for free and in the Oracle world, nothing stays free for long.

I hope you have very good answers.

Kind regards,

Jan Willem Vermeer

asked 29 Oct '14, 02:49

Jan%20Willem%20Vermeer's gravatar image

Jan Willem V...
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Hi Jan,

I'll try to answer your questions. But nothing I will say will be better than an actual experience. I encourage you to try APEX 5 to build the application you built with Formspider and compare the experiences. While you are at it, please evaluate APEX 5 according to the same criteria you evaluated Formspider. If in the end, you prefer APEX 5, I'd be more than happy to issue a refund. Paypal has a refund button for a certain number of days (I think its 30 but I am not sure), so if you chose APEX during this refund period, we will refund your money.

1) Formspider APEX comparison is old.

No it's not. APEX 5 is not out yet. I just checked their web page I think the official version is early adapter 2. When APEX 5 is in production we will update the comparison page accordingly. In that page we compare Formspider's latest production version to APEX's latest production version.

2) Master Detail should be no problem anymore.

Really? Have you tried to build one? Or two master detail screens on the same screen? Here is a slide share link about Master-Detail in APEX 5. Here is a video about Master-Detail in APEX 5. Here is one of our Master Detail demo's with source code. If you see no difference in elegance of the implementation, quality of the architecture, maintainability of the code base, usability of the development environment and the final output, I give up. APEX is a glorified 2000 screen wizard.

You have to cut me into pieces before I design a developer UI like this for master detail screen development. Speaking of master detail. This is our demo and source code for master-detail-detail. And this is the link how APEX does it...Upps there is no link. They can't do it. :-) Postponed to APEX 5.1.

3) Number of developers

Oracle has a lot of resources. APEX does not have many resources. It is built and maintained by a small team as well. Also large development teams and big money to spend doesn't always guarantee success. Look at Oracle ADF. They spent billions on it. If you want big money and many developers working on your tool, choose ADF not APEX. :-)

By the way, we have customers who chose Formspider over ADF. Telling isn't it?

4) What happens when APEX offers more and better functionality?

That's NOT the point. It is not about the number of features. It is about how these features are used and made available to you. I close my presentations saying: It is not about technology, it is about how you use technology. A framework is the implementation of how you use technology (i.e. features). A framework is about architecture. Formspider has a far superior architecture. That will never change. That ship has sailed. Specifically, we use the ECA paradigm which enables you to build an application, APEX uses page paradigm which makes you cram an application into web pages. Given that Formspider is 2 years old and APEX is 10+ years old and we stack up very well feature wise, shows how strong our architecture is.

5) Documentation Problem.

I am starting a set of free webinars to teach Formspider. I am starting to write more. We can't out-spend Oracle but we are going to out-teach them in 2015.

Moreover, Formspider is an order of magnitude easier to learn. There are developers who built big applications (Michiel, Raymond, TEAM, Tomas to name a few..Sorry if I left anyone out) with no training and much less documentation than currently available. Yes, we need more documentation but no, we don't need as much documentation as other tools. We are trying to make Formspider work like a glove. Do you need instructions to use a glove? :-)

6) It is time consuming to write screens in XML. I want a drag and drop GUI designer.

We are building one. But I disagree strongly that XML designer is time consuming. The more senior Formspider developers actually are kind of upset that we are spending resources on a GUI designer. The GUI designer helps to bring new users onboard. It is not for senior Formspider developers. You must learn the XML syntax in Formspider. It is imperative that you learn the XML syntax in Formspider to become a competitive app developer in today's world. Why? It is because of version control and collaboration. I cannot overemphasize this point enough. In Formspider, your source code is available to you as text, it is out there. which means it can be put in a version control system and managed. This does not exist in APEX. Have you ever seen source code examples for APEX screens? No. Why? Because there isn't one. You cannot do version control in APEX the way you should be doing. Branching, merging, having a single developer work on different branches of the same app or having multiple developers work on different branches of the same code base are virtually impossible. Formspider gives you the ability to work like any other modern app developer.

7) Formspider has a model layer.

You are in full control of your transactions. You can move around screens without committing and then commit (or roll back your datasources) whenever you like. APEX doesn't have this. This is huge. No one else builds applications without a model layer anymore. NO ONE.

8) Single page. 100% AJAX.

For your Apex app to be nearly as good as Formspider, it should be a single page app. Good luck with that. You will need to write a lot of JavaScript or buy expensive libraries and write JavaScript.

9) Security

Please also compare the way we implemented security to the way APEX did.

Pretty much every week I meet with developers who started building something small with APEX and then hit an invisible wall. I keep hearing the same thing:

"It was great until now. I could quickly build a few screens. But now that I want to fully commit and build a serious app for my customers I have to move out of the core functionality of APEX. I realize that this is going to be very difficult and orthogonal to the architecture of APEX. It doesn't feel right. I feel like I am fighting with the tool. If I am committing to build this application and I don't want to do in APEX. I started searching and that's how I found about Formspider."

Our biggest search traffic comes from the Google search "Oracle APEX Alternatives".

There are many Formspider developers who came from APEX. There isn't a single Formspider developer who went to APEX.

I can go on forever...I'll stop here. I've been meaning to write this stuff for a while. Thank you Jan, for giving me the opportunity. I truly appreciate it. I love the way you challenge everything. :-)

Kind Regards,
Yalim

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answered 29 Oct '14, 06:45

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Yalim Gerger ♦♦
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edited 22 Feb '16, 09:34

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Yalim ♦♦
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Thanks Yalim. When i read this, i get the feeling that people might think that i asked the questions on purpose :)

I have decided to continu my first big project with Formspider. That will take until the end of this year (not fulltime as you know). To me that seems a reasonable period to really get to know Formspider from a to z. That will be the moment to definitely say YES to Formspider. Or not, if it had been two horrible months.

Kind regards, Jan Willem

(29 Oct '14, 17:11) Jan Willem V...

My two cents to this very interesting discussion...

Formspider would gain quite a few points as well as sales if it had some nice colored stylish templates packaged with the app. I'm a programmer, and I value the functionality as much as you do, but when it comes to showing a quickly developed proof-of-concept app to a potential customer, they look at the colors and styles (this is just a psychological thing), and then at the functionality. I know that CSS is there for me to create something the customer wants. But it takes time to figure it out without any documentation, and I end up presenting the standard template, which looks rather sad. Therefore, being a programmer and liking the functionality of your product, I'd appreciate if this great RAD tool had some nice looking templates that would help me "sell" it.

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answered 08 Nov '14, 22:35

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Ilia Sazonov
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Hi Ilia,

Your point is well taken. We are aware of the issue and we are working on a new look and feel for Formspider 1.9. We may even add more than one new look and feel options. Stay tuned.

Kind Regards,
Yalim

(10 Nov '14, 04:46) Yalim Gerger ♦♦
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Asked: 29 Oct '14, 02:49

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Last updated: 22 Feb '16, 09:34


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