Already for a long time, Oracle’s strategy of next generation business applications is based on the Java platform, SOA and Web 2.0. What if your application landscape is based on Oracle Forms; technology that has been serving you well for many years. Do you have to migrate to ADF or Apex, or will Oracle Developer still be supported for many years? Or better, will there be a place for Oracle Developer within the Oracle Fusion strategy?
Grant Ronald, group product manager in Oracle’s application development tools, is clear: “The strategy of Oracle is NOT de-supporting Oracle Forms, on the contrary, they’re working on new features for 11g R2.”. Oracle will support and improve upon Forms technology for many years to come. Oracle Forms has become a member of the Oracle Fusion Middleware family of products.
Considering a migration, establish the scope of work involved and the result of a migration. The look-and-feel of an Oracle Form application for example looks very similar to an Oracle Fusion (ADF) application. The architecture of the applications is however is completely different. Oracle Forms has its roots in transactional C/S applications that are tightly aligned with the database. Fusion applications on the other hand, are based on stateless web technology and modeled around a service based architecture where services are associated to business processes. It’s like making a comparison between a dishwasher and a washing machine. The technologies look similar. Both have the same measurements and do similar things, wash something and dry it. But who puts his clothing in a dishwasher? Or cups and glasses in a washing machine?
Any migration has to take into account the big differences in architecture. A migration leads to restructuring an application to better align it to new architecture and infrastructure. Because of these architectural differences, Oracle made the decision not to provide tools for complete migrations of Forms applications. The applications resulting from automated migration shall never have the structure of an architecturally sound J2EE application.
As said earlier, development in Oracle Forms goes on. At Oracle Open World 2010 there was a session with title “Oracle Forms in the Middle of Middleware with Oracle Product Management”. Possible scenario’s to modernize existing forms applications where discussed. One of the scenarios is upgrading to 11g, extent the use of an event-driven architecture and integrate Forms (in the near future) with web technologies such as Apex, .net, Google maps, etc. Oracle made it possible that if you are using fusion technologies such as BPEL, OSB and ADF (now or in the future) you can easily integrate these technologies with your existing forms applications using the new features provided in 11g. Your investments in Forms will be preserved. Not only can your applications be deployed to the Web, but they can also be part of a Service-Oriented Architectural (SOA) environment built from Web services.
Conclusion: Oracle Forms will no longer be an island within the organization but will definitely stay an important player within the Oracle Fusion strategy!
Arend Vermeulen, Oracle Architect