The Next JDeveloper Patch Set

So, if I’ve timed this right, the next JDeveloper Patch Set will have been announcedby the timeĀ  this blog post goes up, so I should be able to talk about it.

There’s a new minor release of JDeveloper that’s targeted for some time in the next few months. Here’s a partial preview of its features:

Technical Preview of “ADF Mobile Native Client”

This is a cool feature, and has the potential to be a lot cooler. Basically, it consists of two parts:

  • A front end that, rather than needing to render in a browser, uses a mobile device’s native rendering capabilities–it will look and feel just like an app for the device.
  • An offline mode that allows you to use a local back end when disconnected from the network and then replay your transaction against the real back end when you’re next connected.

In the tech preview, this will only be available for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. There are plans to extend it to many other mobile devices. This does not, alas, include the iPhone, since it requires Java on the client machine (which iPhone doesn’t support).

Fusion Skin

So, apparently Oracle has decided that BLAF+ (the standard default skin for ADF applications, up until now) looks a bit dated. It also has some rendering problems for deeply nested layout containers; they can make the UI seem a bit muddy. So the patch set will come with a new default skin–“Fusion.” I’ve actually seen this, and it looks pretty. It’s also supposed to provide a much cleaner UI for applications that need to nest layout containers deeply. I wouldn’t say this is a huge highlight of the release, but it’s nice.

Additional ADF Faces RC Components

The new patch set also provides a number of new components for ADF Faces RC. A smattering:

  • The Carousel This is a layout container that arranges its children in a “carousel” of panels that can be scrolled through, kind of like album selection in iTunes. We’ve been told we’ll see it in a number of demos this week. It’s flashy, but–I dunno. Can you ever imagine using it in a context other than iTunes? And is it really all that helpful (as opposed to cool-looking) there? It’s a totally annoying way to browse for things. Not my favorite part of the patch set.
  • Auto-Suggest Like the Google Toolbar feature. Unlike the Carousel, this is way cool. And apparently they’ve done it in a way which scales well, which I’ve got to say is very impressive. It also strikes me as much more like a true combobox than the current combobox component, which, while it lets you type or select from a dropdown, doesn’t actually let you type something that isn’t in the dropdown (at least, not when it’s LOV-driven).
  • Sparkchart A very compact graph that can be used in tables. Not something I’ve ever had a use for, but it’s probably useful for things like stock performance summaries.
  • GoImageLink This sounds dumb at first: It’s just an image, with a label underneath it, surrounded in a go link. But after using just this pattern (and the related pattern involving a command link) about 1,000 times in the hands-on practices for the handbook, I’ve got to say that it will be welcome. I didn’t catch if there was going to be a CommandImageLink too; I hope so. That would be even more useful.
  • Emailable Page This is kind of like the “printable page” feature of ADF Faces that’s already available, but it’s carefully tailored to use a limited subset of CSS, so that it will show up nicely even in email clients with poor CSS support, which is to say, all of them. A nice feature.

IDE Improvements

There are a number of little convenience features that should be pretty helpful coming around the bend, too. These include:

  • The ability to see dummy data, as opposed to EL expressions, inside fields and other UI components in the Design editor for JSF pages and fragments, bringing that editor a step closer to true WYSIWYG
  • Popup “page previews” when you hover over properly bound view activities in a task flow
  • Better integration with logging configuration in the embedded WebLogic server, allowing you to configure log properties and analyze logs directly from JDeveloper
  • Some improvements to the ADF debugger, including an ability to see exactly what SQL statements are executed when and to scroll through view object row sets

Miscellaneous Features

The new patch set will contain a variety of other features and improvements, including the following:

  • Technical preview of Maven support
  • UML 2.0 support
  • An improved data control for POJOs, including query and sorting (for Collection fields and return values, I assume)
  • A sample “UI Shell” for use in one-page applications (all activity taking place in regions)…I’m not quite sure I understand what the “sample shell” is for; it’s pretty trivial to implement this on your own
  • Integration with the Oracle Team Productivity Center–I had the privilege of being a usability guinea pig with some of this functionality at ODTUG Kaleidoscope, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in production