APEX is an extremely powerful reporting and data visualisation tool to expose data disparate data. For many organisations, enterprise grade Business Intelligence products have addressed the need for complex data analytics requirements but for many more, these are technically overkill and commercially out of reach. Enter APEX…

For many years, the tool of choice for Oracle database simple reporting requirements was Oracle Discoverer. “Disco” as it was affectionately referred to was a tool-set for ad-hoc querying, reporting, data analysis, and Web-publishing for the Oracle Database environment. For larger organisations with more complex querying and analysis workloads (and bigger budgets!) the alternative was Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI). For everyone else, the answer was generally spreadsheets! Excel cannot really be classed as a data reporting tool due it being a siloed dataset with limited functionality, minimum security and it is impossible to scale!

Since the cessation of Discoverer in 2014, organisations have been turning to Oracle Application Express to plug the gaps that good ol’ Disco left behind. OBI customers have, generally, continued to run an on-premise data analytics stack and for those that have upgraded have done so by taking the leap to the Cloud and, specifically, migrated to Oracle Analytics Cloud Service (OAC).

The demands of organisations and expectation of users has also evolved over the last few years. Data is ubiquitous and our expectation is that we should be able to use it however and whenever we need to. This has given rise to the concept of “shadow IT” where departments and “super users” have demanded instant access to tools that enable users to visualise, report and manipulate data on their own terms rather than waiting for weeks for central IT to create new reports or give access to new tools.

By utilizing APEX and its extensive reporting and data visualization capabilities, organisations, departments and users can develop appropriate dashboards for various user communities far simpler and much faster.

One of the most powerful features of APEX is the interactive report, which is a well-established feature leveraged by many who use APEX. Once a report is created, an end user can easily modify it to meet their needs, within controlled boundaries and with data redaction. Users can then export the report to a multitude of file types like PDF, .csv or word.

Many different report types with different styles can be created using simple to use wizards and previewed in a web browser before they are released to the user. Reports can also be bespoke to each user’s login based on the datasets they have access to, which again makes the administration and on-going support far simpler and secure.

APEX reports can also consume Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS) to coalesce data from numerous disparate data sources.

In summary, APEX provides rich end-user content for reporting, fast query response times and a platform to develop dashboards and generate automatic outputs.  It’s robust, easy to use and is easy to administer…all from a tool that is free to use!

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