Oracle has made available a demonstration site of Apex 4.0. It’s hosted in the Amazon Elastic Compute cloud, adding further credibility to Apex as a cloud computing platform. Sign up here.

I signed up for an account and took a 15 minute test drive. Here a few quick things I noticed:

1. There are a number of screens under a new Team Development tab. These are all straightforward, but provide ready made data entry screens and reports for the information needed to track a development project. Bug lists, new feature lists, tasks, etc. It’s very handy to have these right in the product.

2. I was most curious to try out the new interactive report features. Compound expressions for filters are available. These were implemented as a separate choice from the existing filter feature. I imagine doing this means that existing 3.x interactive reports will run without any changes in 4.0. The new feature uses an interface similar to the 3.x one for doing computed columns. When creating an expression, one references existing fields in the report by using a letter instead of the column name. It allows one to put in complex AND and OR logic with lots of functions as well. I also tried the GROUP BY feature, which worked fine and was intuitive to deploy. Finally, I saw that under save report there is a “Public” checkbox, which would allow a user to make a saved report that is visible to other users. That is really needed.

3. The initial screen for editing a page now uses a tree view to navigate all the objects on a page. Once you get to an object you wish to edit, the edit pages look quite similar to the 3.x ones.

4. I made a few quick graphs and as promised a newer version of AnyChart is available. The graphs look great!

I hope to port some existing apps to the trial web site over the next few weeks. Note that Oracle will erase the whole site in order to put a phase II beta, so be prepared for your work to get erased if you try this site out!

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