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Mission Start

My Oracle APEX journey started in 2008 when I was still an undergraduate in college.  One day after class, the professor approached me and suggested I apply for an upcoming management information system (MIS) internship on campus.  My graduation date was two years away, and I lacked any real world experience, so I was happy it was brought to my attention.

Impossible Task

Once I accepted the position, my new boss wasted little time.  He explained that a College on campus was using a series of spreadsheets and MS Access to manage their finances.

The College had an official accounting system, but it was driven by paper and human entry.  A shadow system of spreadsheets and an Access database (DB) was introduced because of the long waiting periods before data was entered in the official accounting system.  The elapsed time between a transaction date and the entry of that transaction could take 3-6 months.

He was concerned about the use of spreadsheets and the Access DB for multiple reasons:

  • A large amount of sensitive data has accumulated over the years
  • There was little to no security on that data
  • The MS Access DB was becoming corrupted at a higher frequency

Access Denied

After the analysis, I examined the options of supported software on campus and hit a wall.  Administrators didn’t want to grant me access to larger systems like PeopleSoft, but they also didn’t like the idea of me building something custom because of maintenance/security issues.

The only path forward was to search the web for a new piece of software, convince administrators to adopt and support this new technology, and implement a solution that eluded all the developers before me.

Technology Search

I went looking for software by keying in phrases like:  “spreadsheet to db,” “spreadsheet converter,” and “migrate Access DB.”  There were only about 5 options to look into, but APEX stuck out in the list.  It was uncanny the way their website and forum described similar situations to the one I was working on.

Worries Eased

When I presented APEX as a possible solution to a panel comprised of members from the College and IT administrators, I was able to convince them to move forward with APEX using the following arguments:

  • APEX is free with an Oracle DB License
  • APEX gains the benefits of living within Oracle
    • Secure
    • Scheduled data backups
  • IT admins didn’t need to dedicate much time to get me setup on APEX
    • It was already on the DB, just not installed yet
  • They could specify what schemas I would have access to in the APEX workspace
    • No risk of me messing anything up
  • APEX uses PL/SQL, so there is already a knowledge base and campus support
  • Should I fail, the College is in no worse position
    • The data in APEX can be extracted back to a spreadsheet

To Be Continued

Part two of this blog about my Oracle APEX journey will be coming soon!


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We do not take responsibility for any unintended or unwanted consequences in your instance of Oracle, Oracle APEX, or related products as a result of reading our blogs or following our guides. Though the information is fully tested and generally safe to use, our lawyers really have a thing against admitting potential wrongdoing.  If it makes you feel any better, one time I changed their thermostat from 75 to 73.  They lead on like they weren’t freezing, but I could tell they were miserable for the whole hour before the building supervisor noticed.