The third and final early access release of Oracle Application Express (APEX) 5.0 is now released on http://apexea.oracle.com. Our packaged applications now install much faster; I was able to install p-track (all 166 pages) in 22 seconds. Our packaged apps now all use our new "universal theme", which is also available when creating custom apps. The developer interface has been modernized and streamlined. APEX 5.0 supports model dialogs, theme-rollable theme styles, a slick new page designer, and improved interactive reports.
To me the coolest feature of APEX 5.0 is "template options" which allows for a small number of templates to be styled declaratively. For example in the past we had way-to-many region templates; now we have many fewer; and you can choose template options to show the header, or not, scroll the body, include padding etc. Components including regions, buttons, items, and pages all support theme styles; so you don't need to annotate your components within inline styles. The declarative style support (via template options) is only available when using "universal theme" based apps. Universal theme styles can be added to a theme allowing an application style to be developed independently from applications.
Getting started is easy; navigate to http://apexea.oracle.com, and request a workspace. You will receive an email, click the email and this will provision your workspace. Your workspace provides you access to an Oracle schema. Authentication is Oracle single-sign-on so its the same credentials you use on the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) forums. Once you have your account you will want to click the "administrative icon" in the upper right and choose "Manage Users and Groups"; then create an Oracle APEX user. You can then navigate to the home page and create various packaged apps. Once a packed app is installed you can login using your APEX user credentials. You can unlock your packaged app and see how it was created, and see how common design patterns are implemented using our responsive universal theme.
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