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integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

January 2019

The end of Oracle Reports

January 22nd, 2019

For many years, Oracle Reports has been a go-to option for reporting data, particularly out of applications built with Oracle Forms. But since Oracle announced it will discontinue support for both resources, it’s time to start thinking about alternate options.

When Oracle Reports first came out, it was incredibly complex and pretty exciting. You could tell it was built by Oracle based on its structure and the complexity. And you could do so much with it! It was really amazing what you could do, but it was also challenging for a lot of people to learn because of the complexity.

One feature it offered was the ability to show or hide data on reports, and it was really the first tool to offer that based on user levels. With most reporting tools, you couldn’t hide anything based on the user. If someone had access to a report, they could view the entire report. It was pretty complex and sophisticated when Oracle Reports launched the user-level controls to show or hide report data.

Of course, over time the complexity frustrated many users, and they found easier systems to use. There were a lot of layers to things in Oracle Reports, and if you messed one thing up, it could mess up a lot of other things. The error messages weren’t exactly friendly or all that helpful either. So, over time, the software ran its course.

In contrast to the ongoing support currently available for Oracle Forms, Oracle dropped support for Reports pretty quickly unless you’re using a specific version alongside Forms. They’ve had some other reporting tools available through the years, but they’ve primarily left reporting to other vendors in the market.

If you’re still using Oracle Reports, it’s time to look at some of those other options and decide which one best fits your reporting needs and will best interface with your other systems.

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Transitioning away from Oracle Forms

January 8th, 2019

Oracle Forms is a legacy product that’s nearly as old as Oracle itself. For decades, it was what you used to build software for data entry or data retrieval. In fact, it dates all the way back to the late ’80s and software applications that were character-based on green screen terminals. That approach was still used by an automative parts store up until pretty recently, in fact. And it’s still in use by many companies but in its more modern form as a web-based application.

In the late ’90s, Oracle started using their own Oracle Forms to develop off-the-shelf applications that they sold to the public, such as Oracle Financials and other business tools. They were the first ERP software vendor to provide a web-enabled version of their system, and Wall Street loved it. It took off like crazy, but then in recent years they began slowly migrating their own offerings away from Oracle Forms.

Back in 2017, they announced that Oracle Forms was coming to an end. They’re no longer going to provide new updates and will only release patches when necessary. Premier support is available through the end of 2020, and then an extended support cycle will be available for an additional fee through 2023.

When Oracle first announced this in 2017, it seemed like it was a long way off. But here we are in 2019, and 2020 is not that far away. That means companies need to start thinking about what they have in place and how they will make a transition in the future.

Many applications that are running on Oracle Forms will continue to function just fine for a few years. But if you upgrade to a new version of Windows or Linux, there’s no guarantee your application will be compatible. And if something stops working in your application, there may not be support to help fix it in the future.

We’ve already been talking with many of our clients about next steps for their applications. There are lots of options out there, including Oracle Application Express, as well as applications based in .net, php, and java. But the first step in the process is to truly understand what you have currently.

For one client, we started to explore their existing application and map out the various pieces involved, and it was much larger than anyone at the company realized. It’s going to be a lengthy process to migrate it over to another system, but they also know it’s something they need to start sooner rather than later. The older a system gets and the less it’s supported, the more risk there is when you think about it suddenly not working.

If you have applications running on Oracle Forms, there’s no need to panic, but it is time to start talking about a transition plan.

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