At the end of September we joined the DOAG Reporting Day in Kassel, Germany to get it touch with some great people from the Oracle community.
This was a bit different from the developer conferences and meetups we usually attend. Most attendees had an Oracle Forms & Reports background and joined this event with the main goal of understanding how to replace this good old technology, especially the reporting part.
Naturally, we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to talk about APEX and how, when used in combination with the FOEX Plugin Framework, it can become an effective alternative development tool to Forms. In addition, as the APEX Office Print was recently integrated with the FOEX Plugin Framework, the combination of APEX and FOEX would also provide Forms developers with a great alternative to Reports.
So, as one may think, our talk revolved around the APEX Office Print, a great reporting solution developed by APEX R&D, a company founded by Dimitri Gielis.
Now, getting back to the DOAG Reporting Day. It was, as always, a very well organised event by DOAG. Thanks DOAG!
It was all about reporting solutions and what might be the best way to actually replace Oracle Reports. With Oracle announcing the end of the Premier Support in October 2020 and the end of Extended Support in October 2023 for Oracle Reports the race is on and these are the candidates:
- PL/PDF (presented by Kai Hübner)
- Jasper Reports (presented by Wolf Beckmann)
- Oracle BI Publisher (presented by Christian Piasecki)
- Eclipse BIRT (presented by Jochen Kutscheruk)
- APEX Office Print (presented by Daniel Hochleitner)
All solutions presented have their pros and cons, but DOAG had a very good idea to build a matrix in order to compare the different reporting solutions:
|PL/PDF||Jasper Reports||Oracle BI Publisher||Eclipse BIRT||APEX Office Print|
|License||Depends on Output Format
570 € per Format per Server
OEM / Reseller license possible
|Open Source + Commercial license||Oracle license||Open Source||Commercial license – Cloud or On Premise|
|Report Designer||Word, Excel||JasperSoft Studio (Eclipse)||Online Builder, Word||Standalone Designer (Eclipse)||Word, Excel, Powerpoint, HTML or Markdown Editor|
|Charts||supported||supported via JFreeCharts (Open Source) and HTML5 (Commercial)||supported||supported via Designer||supported via native Office Charts, APEX charts as image|
|PL/SQL Call||supported||supported via Scriptlets (Java Class)||supported||supported||supported|
|Migration Tool||n/a||TEAM Migration Assistant (TEAM GmbH)||Oracle Migration Assistant (“Bugy”)||n/a||n/a|
|Special Features||Completely in PL/SQL||very close to Oracle Reports, Integration via JasperServer or as Library, Modularity via Sub-Reports, different data source at once||Separation of layout and
data, Bursting, Online
|Flexible, expandable||Strong APEX integration via plug-ins,
REST API, automatic template
Creation on the basis of data
|Strength||Runs in Database, completely PL/SQL||various data sources, many different
output formats, large community,
very easy to learn, very
powerful, as a replacement for Oracle
Reports provides free edition
|Concept, Sub Templates,
Integration in Oracle products
|Many data sources
Many output formats
|Easy to use, APEX integration in focus, flexible (REST API), many file formats, many output formats, simple templates creation with Office tools|
|Weakness||Limited output formats (PDF, DOCS, XLSX)||direct printing only via additional library||License, XSL-FO||page numbering, subtotals||Pixel-perfect report generation
more difficult, License
I think this matrix gives a nice overview to companies and developers who currently use Oracle Reports and are in search of alternative solutions.
To sum it up, I think the DOAG Reporting Day was a success with good food, very interesting talks and attendees who were pleased with the quality of the presentations.
This is probably the most important thing. In my opinion 2 solutions have stood out besides BI Publisher which, truth be told, most people don’t like due to the high license costs (if you already have a license you already know that it’s a good solution as it provides great integration to other Oracle tools):
- Jasper Reports – because it is very similar to Oracle Reports and offers feature rich functionality.
- APEX Office Print – because a lot of attendees will go pick APEX as an alternative for Oracle Forms & Reports, and the integration between AOP and APEX is solved very well with the APEX Plug-in Architecture.
We also had the opportunity to run through a short demo of the FOEX integration with our Reporting Add-on (based on APEX Office Print).
It’s always a plus when we get a positive response from attendees who saw things like Grid and TreeGrid components that can simply be exported using APEX Office Print. This brings APEX printing to the next level!