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Oracle History

Oracle History

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Published by: anon-36924 on Dec 08, 2008
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04/15/2013

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Oracle Forms
is a tool (somewhat like Visual Basic in appearance, but the code inside isPL/SQL
 
) which allows a developer to quickly create user-interface applications whichaccess an Oracle database in a very efficient and tightly-coupled way. It was originallydeveloped to run server-side in character mode on any Unix box, before Windowsexisted. It was then ported to Windows to function in a client-server environment. Recentversions have been ported to Java. It now runs in a J2EE container and can integrate withJava and web services.
Forms primarily focus is creating data entry systemsthat access data in anOracledatabase.Product Position
Forms is part of the
. This was at one time known as
Developer2000
or D2K and Oracle IDE
Integrated Development Environment
. Oracle marketedit as aRapid Application Development tool.
How it works
Oracle Forms accesses theOracle database and generate a default form that presents the data. The source form (*.fmb) is compiled into an "executable" (*.fmx), that is run(interpreted) by the forms runtime module. The form is used to view and edit data in business applications. Various GUI elements, such as buttons, menus, scrollbars, andgraphics can be placed on the form.The environment supplies built-in record creation, query, and update modes, each with itsown default data manipulations. This minimizes the need to program common andtedious operations, such as creating dynamic SQL, sensing changed fields, and lockingrows.As is normal withevent driven interfaces, the software implements a complex algorithm, consisting of special functions called triggers, which occur at critical steps in the processing of records, the receipt of keyboard strokes, and the receipt of mousemovements. Different triggers are called before, during, and after each critical step.Each function is initially a stub, containing a default action or nothing. ProgrammingOracle Forms therefore generally consists of modifying the contents of these triggers inorder to alter the default behavior. Some triggers, if provided by the programmer, replacethe default action, others augment it.As a result of this strategy, it is possible to create a number of default form layouts which possess complete database functionality yet contain no programmer-written code at all.
 
History
Oracle Forms is sold and released separately from the Oracle database. However, major releases of an Oracle database usually result in a new major version of Oracle Forms tosupport new features in the database.Oracle Forms had its origin in the character-cell video tool called Interactive ApplicationFacility (IAF), subdivided in two components (Interactive Application Generator (IAG)and Interactive Application Processor (IAP)) which accompanied Oracle Version 2, thefirst commercial version of Oracle. The character-cell video tool called
FastForms
wasintroduced with Oracle version 4 - an additional tool to help the programmer to generatea default form to edit with standard tool (IAG).Renamed to SQL*Forms version 2 with the Oracle 5 databaseOracle Forms
2.3
was character based, and did not use PL/SQL. The source file was an*.INP ASCII file. It was common for developers to edit the INP file directly although thatwas not supported by Oracle. This version used its own primitive and unfriendly built-inlanguage, augmented by user exits--compiled language code linked to the binary of theOracle-provided run-time code.Oracle Forms
3
was character based, and was the first real version of Forms, usingPL/SQL. All subsequent versions are a development of this version. It could run under X but did not support any X interface specific features such as checkboxes. The source filewas an *.INP ASCII file. The IDE was vastly improved from 2.3 which dramaticallydecreased the need to edit the INP file directly, although this was still a common practice.Forms 3 automatically generated triggers and code to support some database constraints.Constraints could be defined, but not enforced in the Oracle 6 database at this time, soOracle used Forms 3 to claim support for enforcing constraints.Oracle Forms version
4.0
was the first GUI based version, although a character basedruntime was still available for certain customers. The arrival of Microsoft Windows 3forced Oracle to release a GUI version for commercial reasons. But it was rumoured thatit was in fact an internal demo which was only released as a stop-gap while Forms 4.5was developed. Forms 4.0 accompanied Oracle version 6 and featured a commongraphical interface designed to operate under Windows and X. This version wasnotoriously buggy and introduced an IDE that was unpopular with developers. Thisversion was not used by Oracle Financials. The 4.0 source files were named *.FMB andwere binary.Oracle Forms version
4.5
was a major new release rather than a "point release" of 4.0. Itcontained significant functional changes and a brand new IDE (replacing the unpopular IDE introduced in 4.0). It is rumoured that it was named 4.5 in order to meet contractualobligations to support Forms 4 for a period of time for certain clients. It added GUI-basedtriggers, and looked very like Visual Basic to the inexperienced.
 
Due to conflicting operational paradigms, Oracle Forms version
5
, which accompaniedOracle version 7, featured custom graphical modes tuned especially for each of the major systems. However, its internal programmatic interface remained system-independent. Itwas quickly superseded by Forms 6.Forms
6
was released with Oracle 8.0; it was rereleased as Forms
6i
with Oracle 8i. Thiswas basically Forms 4.5 with some extra wizards and bug-fixes. But it also included thefacility to run it inside a web server. A Forms Server was supplied which solved the problem of adapting Oracle Forms to a three-tier, browser-based delivery, withoutincurring major changes in its programmatic interface. The complex, highly interactiveform interface was provided by aJava appletwhich communicated directly with theForms server. However the web version did not work very well over HTTP. A fix fromForms 9i was retrofitted to later versions of 6i to address this.The naming and numbering system applied to Oracle Forms subsequently underwentseveral changes due to marketing factors, without altering the essential nature of the product. The ability to code in Java, as well as PL/SQL, was added in this period.Forms
9i
included many bug fixes to 6i and was a stable version. But it did not includeeither client-server or character-based interfaces, and three-tier, browser-based delivery isthe only deployment choice from here on. The ability to import java classes means that itcan act as a web service client.Forms
10g
is version 9.0.4, so is merely a rebadged forms 9i.Forms
11
will include some new features, relying on Oracle AQ to allow it to interactwith JMS.
Version Summary
 
NameVersion(*1)DatabaseCharacter/GUIComments
IAF2CharacterNo IDEFastForms+IAG4Character"Death by a thousand questions"SQL*Forms25Characte

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