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Oracle Web Applications: PL/SQL Developer's Intro by Andrew Odewahn

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Although the philosopher who gave us the phrase “May you be cursed to live in interesting times” probably didn’t have Oracle application development in mind, there’s no doubt that the saying is as applicable to us today as it was to the ancients.

Since the World Wide Web exploded on the corporate landscape, it’s been an exciting time for information technology professionals of all stripes: our skills are in demand, there are lots of exciting new things to learn, and people at dinner parties are actually interested in what we do and no longer recoil in horror at the mere mention of the word “computer.”

For most of us, though, the advent of the Web has been a mixed blessing. While there are many ways it can make life better, the steep learning curve has made it hard to take advantage of this potential. Even worse, we’re expected to deal with all these issues while keeping existing systems running smoothly. What most of us need is an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, approach to the Web: one that allows us to use our existing skills to solve immediate problems, yet gives us the breathing room to adapt to new concepts and tools.

Oracle Corporation’s latest database, Oracle8i (the i stands for Internet), provides just such a framework. Oracle8i allows you to use all your hard-won Oracle skills—data analysis and design, performance tuning, and SQL—to manage web content, develop web applications, and integrate those applications with your existing production systems. In an Oracle8i application, Internet skills are almost as important as SQL, normalization, data design, and the host of other database skills. This book will help you start learning these Internet skills and give you a foundation for entry into the new world of Internet computing.

Goal of This Book

The goal of Oracle Web Applications is to help Oracle SQL and PL/SQL developers who have little or no web programming experience to learn to develop useful web applications, using technologies most IS developers can grasp fairly quickly: WebDB, Oracle Application Server (OAS), PL/SQL, HTML, and XML.

In addition, the book introduces several other Oracle8i technologies—Advanced Queuing (AQ), the Internet File System (iFS), interMedia, InternetLite, and Java™—and shows how they form a cohesive development framework that addresses the pressing issues of web content management, application development, and application integration. While there have been many changes in Oracle8i, it’s still just a database, and there’s no need to panic: data is data, whether it comes from the accounts payable system or from the Internet.

This book acknowledges that you’re a busy person. Since most of us simply don’t have time to read and digest an 800-page book on each individual technology, I’ve tried to present fundamental elements of the topics you’ll use most often in your daily development efforts. This book will get you started and solidly on your way, but it’s not, obviously, the ultimate reference. Rather, it is a “Cliff Notes” of Oracle web development—enough to help you pass the test, but not enough to help you appreciate the finer points. Once you’ve read the book, however, you’ll be ready to delve into the various areas (WebDB, PL/SQL, Java, etc.) more deeply. Your first step on that journey should be to consult the appendix for information on further resources.

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