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.
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
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.
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.
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
- 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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