12. January 2024

Forms to APEX - the most frequent request of our clients

One of the most frequent requests of our clients is modernisation of their outdated application software, which are often two decades old. These are usually applications written in Oracle Forms, which is still the backbone of many companies IT infrastructure.

Oracle Forms is a Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool that enables you to create data entry systems that use database objects from the Oracle database. Using popular PL/SQL language. While Oracle Forms was originally a standalone product, it is now part of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

The first version of Oracle Forms was known by a different name - Interactive Application Facility (IAF) - and saw “the light of day” in 1981 (alongside with the second iteration of the Oracle database). IAF was later renamed FastForms and then SQL*Forms, which is where the current name comes from (it came with version 4.0). The very first version of this technology consisted of only a compiler and a runtime interpreter, but it grew and evolved rapidly.

The main reason Forms became popular is its relative simplicity and the fact that it is easy of use. Creating Oracle Forms applications is a very natural process-anyone with basic SQL and PL/SQL knowledge can do it. The work of Oracle Forms developers usually consists of modifying so-called triggers, which are event-handling functions used to generate specific effects (i.e., opening a form when a button is pressed, etc.). For this reason, many things can be done with little or no coding. You can also change the layout of a form using object libraries.

The latest "big" version of Oracle Forms was developed with Fusion Middleware 12c and was released in October 2015. It is commonly known as Oracle Forms 12c. However, it is worth noting that it has received several updates since its release - the current version is (September 2023)

Oracle has announced that Fusion Middleware (and with it Forms) will lose its Premier Support status at the end of 2026. Extended Support will last just one year longer - until December 2027.

For these reasons, it is quite certain that Oracle Forms is not a technology for the future and its time is slowly coming to an end. It already does not provide the functionality typical of today's high-end web applications.

If you want your software to remain stable, efficient, and secure, you should consider moving to another, more current technology such as its successor, Oracle APEX.