AG TRANSPORT Uses Formspider

AG TRANSPORT , one of the largest transport and logistics companies in Czech Republic chose Formspider to rebuild their entire software system.

Specifically, AG TRANSPORT uses Formspider to consolidate many different applications used in its departments with one unified application to drive their business forward.

AG TRANSPORT uses Formspider to drive their business forward

Last month, I met with Tomáš Kepič, the managing director of AG TRANSPORT and we talked about the application he is building with Formspider.

Tomáš is an Oracle OCP. He’s been working with Oracle technologies for over 8 years with a focus on Oracle Database and PL/SQL. He used Forms, Apex and many other Oracle tools. In his international career he built applications for industries such as banking, education and logistics. For the last 3 years he’s been the managing director at AG TRANSPORT.

Tomáš Kepič, the managing director of AG TRANSPORT, talked about the application he is building with Formspider

I believe his story will resonate with many PL/SQL developers and IT managers.

Yalım: Tomáš, what business problem are you trying to solve?

Tomáš: While growing its business, AG TRANSPORT used different software packages in different departments in the company. Since each application used a different database, information needs to be moved between these databases for business units to complete their tasks. This makes it very difficult for different departments to have access to the current picture of the organization because every piece of information is in a different information silo.

Our goal is to simplify the workflow in the company and improve our reporting capabilities by unifying all these different applications and information silos. This will enable us make better decisions faster, manage our resources more efficiently and ultimately be more competitive in the market.

“Our goal is to simplify the workflow by unifying different applications and information silos.”

Yalım: Why did you chose Formspider to build this application?

Tomáš: We first tried to build the web application with Apex like many ex-Forms developers do when they first try to make the leap to web development. Apex worked well with the initial simple use cases. However, we quickly realized that as the application got bigger and use cases more complex, Apex was out of its depth.

I had to pick a framework which would allow us to progress quickly, without losing time with new environments and concentrate on the main project logic that we wanted to store in PL/SQL where we feel very strong.

Formspider enabled us to do just that. We were able to use our PL/SQL skills to build a high quality Web 2.0 application rapidly. Its event driven architecture was very similar to Forms and therefore very easy to learn. Designing screens was very simple and once done they looked great. To get us off the ground quickly, there were over 40 tutorials, a lively Q&A forum with an ever growing community and a framework team eager to help.

“Designing screens was very simple and once done they looked great.”

Yalım: So how is the project going?

Tomáš: In just a few months, working only a few hours a week on the project, we built hundreds of screens and are on course to deploy the first modules to production this winter. The application is multilingual, runs with 100% AJAX, DHTML and Javascript, uses every sophisticated component you can think of such as Maps, Trees and Tabs. Heck, it even has a built-in messaging system developed with Formspider. It looks beautiful and is coded 100% in PL/SQL!

“The application uses every sophisticated component you can think of such as Maps, Trees and Tabs.”

“Heck, the application even has a built-in messaging system developed with Formspider.”

Yalım: This sounds really cool. Do you have any other comments for the readers of our blog?

Tomáš: To go with Formspider was a good decision and so far it saved us a lot of time and headache. It allows us to concentrate on the application’s logic and functionality within the database. I also know the roadmap of the product and I can’t wait to use the upcoming new features in our application. I definitely recommend Formspider to every organization with investments in Oracle technologies.

Client Technology Independent Applications

A Formspider application’s source code does not contain a single line of HTML, JavaScript or any other client side technology. This enables us render your Formspider applications with current state of the art UI technology and upgrade it whenever a newer, better technology is ripe enough with zero effort required from you.

Case in point: When we first introduced charts in Formspider, we rendered them using simple JPEG images. Some time later, when HTML5 chart libraries matured, we upgraded our charts so that they are rendered with HTML5. Every Formspider application using charts benefited from our new and improved charts instantly by just replacing the old Formspider JS Library with the new one. There were no rewriting, no refactoring, no new learning involved. Copy file, paste file and your applications started taking advantage of HTML5.

Now, isn’t that cool?

Recap of Formspider Day in Netherlands

On September 13th, we hosted the Formspider Day in Netherlands at the Ciber offices. It was one of the most incredible days in my life. Presenting to a room full of first class Oracle Architects, Developers and Managers was a privilege. We were also accompanied by 700 people who could not be at the event but joined us online and watched our live broadcast.

Presenting to a room full of first class Oracle Architects, Developers and Managers was a privilege

The New Home of PL/SQL Developers

We kicked the day off with an introduction of Formspider and its story.

After Forms, PL/SQL developers lost their home. They did not have a world class framework to build applications anymore. With Formspider, we are building the new home for PL/SQL developers. Instead of building a bridge that leads to another tool or keeping Forms barely alive with life support, we took the matter to our hands, swallowed the bitter pill. We are building the framework the PL/SQL community deserves.

We are building the new home for PL/SQL developers

We take what was great in Forms, we leave what’s bad in it. We look at other frameworks and take from them what we believe to be a step forward in application development. The result is Formspider; a framework that is designed for the future but learned the lessons of the past.

Seeing is Believing

Words can only take you so far. The room is full of engineers after all. In the second presentation we showed the applications built with Formspider that are currently in production. We answered every “Can Formspider do this?”, “Can Formspider do that?” question with a working example.

We answered every “Can Formspider do this?”, “Can Formspider do that?” question with a working example

Using is Even Better

One of the major claims we make is that Formspider is very intuitive to use for a PL/SQL developer. We put that claim to test with an hour long hands-on session. No matter how many times I’ve witnessed it, I still get the same joy when I see PL/SQL developers build their first Formspider app. You can read their thoughts on their faces: “God, finally. This actually makes sense.”

“God, finally. This actually makes sense.”

User Testimonial

We can shout out for days that Formspider is great, perfect, amazing, best thing ever since sliced bread. After all, you might say, you built it, it is your baby, of course you’ll love it.

After the lunch break, the stage belonged to Michiel Arentsen, Manager of Application Development in Rhenus Netherlands. He shared his experiences with Formspider. He talked about how he is planning to move his 1000 Forms ERP to Web and why he thinks Formspider is the best option. In the end, he demoed the parts of the system he converted to Formspider. The application is simply amazing. A framework rises on the shoulders of its developer community. Michiel took Formspider to another level.

Michiel Arentsen, Manager of Application Development in Rhenus Netherlands, shared his experiences with Formspider

Under the Hood

So it all looks great from the surface. But what if it’s all just a nice paint job? What if all the garbage is brushed under the rug? Ronald Rood (OCM/Ace) was next on stage. He looked at Formspider with a DBA’s eyes. Security, upgrades, installation, deployment, support etc… He talked about many things we developers take for granted but actually become the decisive factor to make a system great. Formspider passed his tests with flying colors.

Ronald Rood (OCM/Ace) looked at Formspider with a DBA’s eyes

A Sneak Peak into the Future

In the last session of the day, we shared the road map of Formspider with the audience and showed a little bit of what we have in store.

You’ll see Formspider continue bringing innovations to PL/SQL community on three fronts:

  1. Increase individual and team productivity
  2. Increase quality of applications built by PL/SQL developers
  3. Enable PL/SQL developers to build for every software platform

Formspider increases individual and team productivity

Formspider increases quality of applications built by PL/SQL developers

During the day, we received excellent questions and invaluable comments. The event lasted two hours longer than originally planned, which is always a good thing. The feedback after the event was excellent. Several attendees who admitted coming with skepticism, had a complete U Turn at the end of the day.

We’d like to thank everyone who participated at the event from the bottom of our hearts. Our very special thanks go to Michel Arentsen, Ronald Rood and Marcel Hoefs. Without their support this event would not be possible.

PL/SQL is Back with a Vengeance

PL/SQL developers finally have a new framework that they can call their home. After 2000+ downloads, 1500+ Formspider Cloud signups, we know that our message is heard. We are not alone. PL/SQL is very much alive and is reclaiming its place in enterprise application development.

After 2000+ downloads, 1500+ Formspider Cloud signups, we know that our message is heard

It is time to buckle up for the PL/SQL community. The next two years is going to be an incredible ride.

Stay tuned.

Yalim K. Gerger
Founder&CEO
Gerger

Keys to a Fast Web App from Steve Souders

Steve Souders, the famous Web performance expert, has a great article about building fast web applications.

Formspider has built-in solutions for every point he raises in the article.

Examples:

AJAX: AJAX is built into the Formspider Framework. Everything is AJAX by default. You don’t even worry about it. It just works.

JavaScript: Formspider has only one JS file, loaded only once and cached for good. It is tuned for speed, debugged for cross browser compatibility. You keep reusing it in every application you build. And since there is only one library and it is the same in every application, if there is a faster new library, all your apps become faster instantly.

Caching: The users download the Formspider JS library once when they access the application the very first time and then it is cached until there is a newer version of the library. Every screen a user accesses while she is using the application is cached for the life time of her session.

Formspider is visiting Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia

Formspider Founder&CEO Yalim K. Gerger will be in Vienna, Czech Republic and Slovakia between September 17-22 for business meetings. If your organization is interested in hearing more about Formspider from its Founder, simply send us an email. We’d be happy to arrange a meeting.

Mark Your Calendar for the Formspider Event in Netherlands

On September 13th, join us in our free full day event in Netherlands where we will show the latest version of Formspider. The event will take place at Ciber offices at Archimedesbaan 16 3439 ME Nieuwegein.

We would like to sincerely thank Ciber for its hospitality.

In the event, there will be sessions for managers&executives as well as technical people. You will also have a chance to participate in a hands-on session. At the end of the day, you should have a pretty good idea about Formspider and its benefits.

Click here to see the program of the day and register for the event.

OK International Uses Formspider

OK International, the leading global supplier of soldering tools and equipment for production assembly, chose Formspider to extend its ERP solution.

Specifically, OK International uses a Formspider application to extract sales information from vendor files and integrate them with their sales details in the ERP system. Previously, this process required manual handling of Excel files. This process was inefficient in many ways, as it required manual computations and validations of the data. Now the information is loaded to a Formspider application, allowing the operator to view and edit the data before saving it to the database. The application also validates the data automatically for any inconsistencies. The Formspider application is also seamlessly integrated to the ERP system.

OK International chose Formspider over APEX. Being able to develop the application 100% in PL/SQL without compromising its quality, the rich library of examples and tutorials for the developer to get started quickly and the excellent support by Gerger during development were the primary reasons for this decision.

We thank OK International sincerely for choosing Formspider and look forward to working with them in the future.

Next time you use a computer, a tablet, a smart phone or any electronic device, just remember, it may have been built by a soldering tool which was processed by a Formspider application. :-)

Formspider vs. Apex

Every product is built to solve a problem. Before its implementation, its creators ask a question and come up with an answer which is the product. How should we stick nails to a wall was the question the creator of the hammer asked.

This question can be asked pragmatically by looking back in time. For example, for centuries humans asked how can we travel faster and decided to breed faster horses. Then Henry Ford came along. He asked the same question, looking into the future and came up with the automobile.

Back to our case, Apex is first built in early 00’s looking back in time and asking the question: “How do people write web pages?”.

Formspider is first built in 2008, looking into the future and asking the question: ”How should we build applications?”.

These two are fundamentally different questions and as a result you get fundamentally different products.

The question it answers is engraved in the essence of the product. No matter what you do, you cannot escape it. You can change directions, play catch up to industry trends, add features, plugins, make up new concepts as you go along, yet the fundamental weaknesses in the architecture will always come back to haunt you. Case in point; this is why it is painful to build a three level master detail screen with Apex. This is why it is very hard to do version control, especially if more than one developer is working in the project. This is why it lacks a transaction management layer. This is why an Apex application is up to its gills with HTML/JavaScript; the assembly language of the Web. Working at that level of abstraction, or lack of it, is no less crazy than developing applications with Assembly code in the 90’s instead of Forms. However, if you look back in time and ask the wrong question, Apex is the only answer you are going to get.

Formspider has a fundamentally better architecture. For example, in Formspider, you don’t write web pages. The notion of a web page does not even exist in Formspider because the page paradigm is an archaic concept of the early Web. Formspider works in the application paradigm not in the web page paradigm. There are no page submits, no regions refreshes, no HTML, no JavaScript, no DOM manipulations. Formspider uses the browser as a canvas to draw applications UI. Formspider developers write code to respond to user events and inputs coming from the UI. This is why building a three (or more) level deep master detail screen is a matter of course in Formspider. For a long time, it did not even occur to us to put a demo to our web site to show off this capability because we did not think it would be an interesting one.

In Formspider, the entire application is defined without using client side technology. Therefore, Formspider architecture supports streaming applications to any device and platform that exists now or will exist in the future such as a browser, a Windows PC, a Mac, a mobile device that runs iOS, Windows Phone, Android or even Google Glasses as far as I am concerned.

Formspider has a world class transaction layer, that is fully controlled by the developer. A framework to build enterprise applications that has no transaction layer, but issues mandatory commits at certain times, is unimaginable to us. It’s ludicrous. It’s just bad design.

For a long time, PL/SQL developers could procrastinate making a decision or just go with Apex because there simply was no other choice. This is not true anymore. The ball is on your court now. As PL/SQL developers working at IT departments, ISV’s and system integrators, it is now your turn to ask the question:

Do you want a faster horse or do you want a car?

Yalim K. Gerger

A Three Levels Deep Story

When I was in Netherlands, attending the Future of Forms event at the Amis office, the number one thing everyone asked me was whether Formspider supports building three levels deep master detail screens (an MDD screen). Apparently, it is very annoying to build an MDD screen with Apex. In one of the sessions, the presenter praised ADF because it allowed developers build such screens. She said seeing an MDD screen work was the defining moment for her in becoming an ADF convert.

The whole ordeal was shocking to me. With Formspider, we took building an MDD screen as such a matter of course, we did not even bother putting up a demo on our web site.

After the Future of Forms event, we thought it would be a good idea to actually save the five minutes and build an MDD demo application. So without further ado, here is a three level deep master-detail-detail application built with PL/SQL and Formspider. Click here to see it.

I hope this will be enough to convert the presenter back to PL/SQL.

Yalim

ING Uses Formspider

ING Emeklilik, the ING company in Turkey that operates in the insurance & personal retirement sector uses an application built with Formspider to plan the weekly schedules of their agents. Using the web application, the ING agents can plan their visit ahead of time, create todo lists and access information about the organization they are visiting. The application also provides the management a variety of reports on these activities. This enables ING management to have a better view of its interactions with customers and make informed decisions.

ING uses Formspider

The application consists of several key sections;

Easy Schedule Building

In this part of the application, agents can create their daily schedules using the drag and drop Formspider Calendar widget. The Calendar component provides a daily, weekly and monthly view of their schedule to every user. The Calendar component is part of the Formspider UI Library and is fully data driven. It can be configured with a few clicks in the IDE. Every aspect of the calendar is managed by a PL/SQL program.

Agents can create their daily schedules using the drag and drop functionality of the Formspider Calendar

The Calendar component provides weekly view of the schedule

The Calendar component provides also daily view of the schedule

Visually Stunning Charts

Providing detailed reports to the management team for better decision making was one of the key goals of the project. The application uses Formspider Chart Library and displays stunning graphical reports. Unlike many other frameworks, Formspider charts are created using pure JavaScript. No Adobe Flash technology is used. This way, charts look beautiful even in mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones that do not support Flash technology.

The application displays stunning graphical reports using Formspider Chart Library

Customizable Reports

The reporting needs of the management team can be quite dynamic in nature. Using the Formspider Grid’s powerful features, users can hide, show, resize columns, change the way they are ordered and sort the rows in the reports arbitrarily. The report can also be downloaded as an excel file. It takes a Formspider developer to write a single line of PL/SQL to produce the excel output.

Users can easily change the order of report columns

All report columns are resizable

Reports can also be downloaded as an excel file with a single line of PL/SQL

Other Key Factors

Security

In an organization like ING, information security is non-negotiable. Previous applications built for the same purpose but with different (and well known) technologies  had failed the security audits done by ING. The application built with Formspider passed the security audit with flying colors.

Multi Browser Support

Previously burnt by cross browser compatibility issues, the IT department was quite pleased with the out of the box cross browser support Formspider brings to the table. The application runs in every browser, all the time and no developer in the project wasted one second on this issue.

100% PL/SQL

All the programming in the application is done in PL/SQL. No developer on the team knows Java or JavaScript. This aligns with the skill set and investments of the ING IT Department which very heavily relies on the Oracle Database and PL/SQL.