Monday, November 26, 2007

A New Addition

Introducing Owen Price Spendolini!  Owen made his debut on Tuesday, November 20th at 10:37AM - just in time for Thanksgiving.  Mom was induced around 8:30AM, and Owen wasted no time in getting out!  He weighed in at 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 1/2", and already looks like a mini-linebacker!

Isabella has adjusted quite well to him, giving him a hug and kiss before trying to poke out his eye.  Here's a picture of the happy big sister with Owen:

I've already realized that changing the diaper of a boy is much more complex than that of a girl! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Overweight Ajax

I came across an interesting article this morning on Ajaxian:  Ajax, Browsers, Running Out of Time.  The crux of the article is that the author's PC consistently gets bogged down if he leaves Ajax-heavy applications - such as Google Mail, Zimbra & Yahoo Mail - up for most of the day.   I can understand his pain, as i have noticed similar behavior with the new Yahoo Mail.  Sure, it's much "cooler" and easier to use than the "classic" version, but it comes with a cost.

This is why I am still very cautious and conservative when using Ajax components in APEX applications.  It's still too easy to create code that just doesn't play nice with browsers.  It's also 100% impossible to discern what else a browser is running when your Ajax component is fired up, which makes it all the more difficult to ensure that your code doesn't step on someone else's.

For better or worse, perception is reality.  If large-scale Ajax applications that the masses use degrade overall confidence in the technology, it will be even harder in the future to convince clients that even the smallest Ajax component in an APEX application is scalable, secure, and a good investment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Announcing APEX Public Training

In the midst of all of the OOW blogs, I hope this one makes it through!  I didn't make it to OOW as we're expecting our second child any day, hour or minute now, and being clear across the country would not have been the best idea that I've come up with...

In any case, I'm pleased to announce that Sumner Technologies, LLC has scheduled its first public training session.  It will be held from January 28th through January 30th, 2008 in Ashburn, Virginia.  The course will be Introduction to APEX 3.0, which is designed to provide an extensive overview of APEX using mostly hands-on exercises.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Second Best Leopard Feature

As I was about to call it a night, I noticed that Leopard had automatically created an icon for "oracle's remote desktop" in the Finder.  Double-clicking on it yielded nothing, so I almost just gave up and went to bed.  I figured that I'd check the console of my Windows box just in case it was asking for something.  

Turns out that the icon is a link to start a VNC session with the Linux VM running on that Windows box.  Tweaking the VNC server settings just a spot to allow access without a prompt was all I needed to do.  Next time I double-clicked on it, a new window containing the desktop of my Oracle Enterprise Linux VM appeared:

Sure, you can go and configure all of this manually, but it's nice to see this type of "techie" tool seamlessly bundled into a product that is also aimed at complete tech novices.

Best Leopard Feature

I received my copy of Leopard today, and promptly installed it.  Aside from having to dig up some serial numbers, it went off without much hassle.

While most of the media is focusing on features such as Time Machine, Spaces and the new UI, I found one lesser-known one that is sure to put a smile on any Mac user's face.

Not only did Leopard seek out and find potential Windows shares, it has a very, shall I say, "appropriate icon" to represent them:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Alpha Version of checkpwd cracks APEX passwords

At least it's supposed to. As Pete Finnegan points out, the Alpha release of Red Database Security's checkpwd has a new feature which attempts to crack APEX passwords.

I downloaded and installed it, and got the same ORA-12154 error that Pete did. Bypassing the TNSNAMES.ora file seemed to do the trick, and checkpwd was able to run against a local APEX 3.0 instance of Oracle XE.

However, based on these results:

I get the feeling that the APEX portion is not quite working... I will cut them some slack, as this is after all an Alpha release.

As far as I know, this is the first tool of its kind for APEX passwords. It's definitely a good thing, as the only way weak passwords can be fixed is if they can be identified. I look forward to seeing more stable and complete releases of this useful tool.

- Scott -

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oracle CPU for October 2007

Oracle's Critical Patch Update for October was just released, and it looks like APEX has no known vulnerabilities! Oracle HTTP server also made the list of unaffected products.

Of course this doesn't mean that any APEX application developed will be 100% secure, but it is nice to know that at least the overall framework of APEX is quite secure, making an excellent platform to develop on... :)

- Scott -

Friday, October 12, 2007

Eat your own dog food

When I was at Oracle, there was a big push to use Oracle software for everything and anything we did. It was commonly referred to as "eating your own dog food", which is just gross. As nasty as that may sound, the concept did make a lot of sense: if Oracle built software products that were supposed to be so good, then why were they not being used internally? And even better - if the products didn't live up to their promises, then we had no one to blame but ourselves, and we could actually fix the issues.

I've decided to adopt that concept of eating my own, er, well, showcasing the product which we specialize in. Starting today, I'm happy to announce that is now running on APEX!

Why did it take so long? Two years ago, when I started Sumner Technologies, I didn't have a lot of time or resources to set up my own instance of APEX to host my web site on. Thus, I took the path of least resistance: static HTML. Also, time was (and still is) scarce. Client work had to come first, and with a new baby, that left little time for extra-curricular projects.

It's still very much a version 1.0 site, as there are a number of new features that we will be adding over time, such as the ability to sign up for public classes (coming in early 2008!), a tips & tricks section, and an entire view into our internal system for clients.

Please let me know what you think and if you have any ideas that you'd like to see.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

APEX 3.0 Podcast on OTN

Recently, I spoke with Jeff Erickson, senior editor of Oracle Magazine, about the benefits of APEX 3.0. The interview highlights some of the key benefits of APEX for all sizes of businesses, with a focus on SMBs.

I'm sure to get some flack about my comment on who spoke English first; us of those from the UK. :)

You can listen to the Podcast - which is about 10 minutes - here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Cool JavaScript Ideas

I came across this link this morning, which looks like it holds a wealth of hints for using and optimizing JavaScript.

Some of the things it mentions, such as compressing JavaScript, may make it a bit more difficult to debug your code. Other things, such as putting your JavaScript libraries at the end of the page, are no-brainers and can easily be implemented in APEX with little risk of breaking anything.

Finally, the article mentions using GZIP to compress all HTTP traffic, which will in turn make your site load faster. has been using this trick for as long as I can remember. It only takes a few minutes to configure and will increase the performance of almost any site - static or dynamic.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

iPhone 1.1.1 Update - Best New Feature

Apple updated the iPhone to 1.1.1 today. While most of the buzz is around the new iTunes Store, there is a small new feature that makes all the sense in the world: double-tapping the space bar will insert a "." followed by a space. So simple, yet so brilliant.

This is a classic example of taking a use case - a user wants to compose a message - watching users actually do that - and then improving upon it. Previous to this release, they would have to type a sentence, and then tap the ".?123" key to then have to type a period, then switch back. Three taps plus one more for the trailing space just for a period.

With the 1.1.1 update, all a user needs to do is hit space two times, an a period followed by a trailing space instantly appear.

How does this relate to APEX? Simple - once you design an application, you're not done. There are several improvements still to be made, none of which you will be able to identify. Watch your users use your application. You built it for them, after all!

See if they are clicking where you expect them to, and if not, you may need to re-think your design. Look for inefficiencies, such as switching between the mouse & keyboard, and try to improve upon them. Correcting small annoyances in an application will go a long way to build your credibility, if nothing else.

Good design is never correct the first time. Apple is well aware of this, and their decision to make the iPhone so bloody simple to update proves they get it.


Next week, I will be presenting at the Virginia Oracle Users Group conference in Charlottesville, VA. It's a much smaller conference than the ODTUGs & IOUGs of the world, but that makes it better in some sense, as you get a better chance to meet and talk to people.

I'm going to present an Intro to APEX (The ABCs of APEX) presentation, in favor or something more advanced, as there are no other APEX presentations on the agenda.

If you plan on attending, look for me on Thurday afternoon and possibly at the reception.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Clicking in a Row

First of off, consider my recent absence a summer vacation of sorts, without the vacation part. It's been hectic since my last post, which was about, wow - ODTUG. We had over 100 people in our training sessions there, and most of the feedback was great! We hope to do it again next year, if not sooner.

The reason for my absence was largely due to the fact that we recently moved, and pretty much everything that you can think of and then some, went horribly awry.

In any case, I was recently asked how to make an entire row in a report "clickable", so that when anywhere in a row is clicked, the user will be taken to a form to edit that record.

In order to achieve this, you need to create a new Named Column Report Template. This means that you will have to define each column that you want to have manually in the template itself. Hardly a scalable solution, but it's not too difficult to implement and expand on.

I am only going to use one Row Template to keep things simple. For Row Template #1, I entered the following HTML:
<tr style="cursor: hand; cursor: pointer;" onmouseover="row_mouse_over(this, 1)" onmouseout="row_mouse_out(this, 1)" #HIGHLIGHT_ROW# onClick=window.location="f?p=&APP_ID.:2:&SESSION.::::P2_EMPNO:#EMPNO#">
<td class="t15data" #ALIGNMENT#>#EMPNO#</td>
<td class="t15data" #ALIGNMENT#>#ENAME#</td>
<td class="t15data" #ALIGNMENT#>#SAL#</td>
In my example, I am only using three columns from EMP: EMPNO, ENAME & SAL; to add more columns, you would simply add more <td>'s to your template.

To explain what each line does:
style="cursor: hand; cursor: pointer;"
This will cause the cursor to change to the pointer finger. Two directives are needed since MSIE & Firefox work slightly differently when changing cursors.

onmouseover="row_mouse_over(this, 1)" onmouseout="row_mouse_out(this, 1)" #HIGHLIGHT_ROW#
The onMouseOver and onMouseOut will highlight the row that the cursor is hovering over. This functionality is built in to Row Templates, but since we are using a Named or Column template, we have to hard-wire it manually.

onClick=window.location="f?p=&APP_ID.:2:&SESSION.::::P2_EMPNO:#EMPNO#" Here's what makes it work; we set an onClick event in the <tr> tag that when clicked, we re-direct to page 2, passing in the current value of EMPNO to the APEX item P2_EMPNO. This is where you would alter the target URL, should you find yourself building an application that does not use the EMP table...
Next, you will need to add a few more components to the Report Template. I kept the Column Headings simple and just copied over what was in the Standard Report Template:
<th class="t15header" #ALIGNMENT#>#COLUMN_HEADER#</th>
You will need to add both some HTML and JavaScript to the Before Rows section:
<script type="text/javascript">
var rowStyle = new Array(15);

var rowActive = new Array(15);
var rowStyleHover = new Array(15);

for (var n = 0; n < 15; n++)
function row_mouse_over(rowNode,currentRowNum)
rowActive = 'Y';
for( var i = 0; i < rowNode.childNodes.length; i++ )
if (rowNode.childNodes[i].tagName=='TD')
rowStyleHover[currentRowNum] = rowNode.childNodes[i].style.backgroundColor;
rowNode.childNodes[i].style.backgroundColor = '#cfe0f1';

function row_mouse_out(rowNode,currentRowNum)
rowActive = 'N';
for( var i = 0; i < rowNode.childNodes.length; i++ )
if (rowNode.childNodes[i].tagName=='TD')
rowNode.childNodes[i].style.backgroundColor = rowStyleHover[currentRowNum];

</script> <table class="t15standard" summary="Report">
The JavaScript was lifted from an APEX application that used a Generic Columns Report Template; as I mentioned before, this is hard-wired into that type of report template, but not into the Named Column Report Template; thus, we have to do it ourselves. The last line simple opens the table and assigns it a class, so that it matches the rest of the reports in our theme.

Finally, simply enter the following for After Headers to close the HTML table:
That should do it for the template. All that remains is to create your APEX application that contains a report on page 1 based on the ENAME, EMPNO & SAL columns of EMP and a form on page 2 based on the EMP table.

The resulting report should look something like this:

Clicking anywhere on the row would be the equivalent of clicking on an edit icon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

See you at ODTUG!

Well, we're all off to ODTUG this weekend in Daytona.

We're put together what I think is a solid Advanced Track of APEX training, as well as our standard, proven Beginner material.  From what the folks at ODTUG are telling me, we're going to be playing host to a sold out crowd!

I look forward to putting some names with faces at the APEX Meetup, as well as the various other events scheduled for next week.

Safe travels everyone!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


No, this is not some post about how we should all just get along...

I've been a Parallels user since day 1 of owning a Mac, more or less. I've tried the nw VMWare Fusion Beta, and although it seemed to work OK, I had no real reason to switch. Until perhaps now.

Unity is VMWare's answer to Coherence - the technology which Parallels employs to display a PC window as if it were a Mac window. However, Unity takes it up a notch or two. It also works with odd-shaped windows, such as Windows Media Player. You can use Expose and have all of your PC windows behave just like Mac ones. There is direct access to the Start bar from the Mac OS X menu. And my favorite - you can permanently dock a PC application in the Mac toolbar!

I'll be interested to see how this all plays out, as I suspect some sort of announcement will be coming at WWDC next week.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Smarter than I thought...

In keeping with their promise, Apple has finally announced the availability date of the iPhone - June 29th. Yes, there are a full 28 other days which are both also in June and earlier than June 29th, but at least it's not June 30th...

I watched the new ads this morning to catch a glimpse of what will hopefully soon be mine. Unfortunately for me, my Q was nearby, and saw the glean in my eye as I was watching them. Out of a combination of jealously and fear, it promptly froze - which I'll admit it had not done in a good solid week. Upon trying to revive it the traditional way, it quietly refused. Three or four attempts later, it finally relented and re-booted itself with one small difference - every last bit of my data was gone.

Fortunately, I keep everything synced on my Mac, so nothing except for the list of recent calls was truly lost.

Your time is limited, Q...

New APEX Podcast

Lewis Cunningham @ IT Toolbox has posted a new podcast, where he interviews Oracle APEX Product Manager David Peake and Peter Martin from RL Polk & Co.

The overall focus of the podcast is how APEX has provided a variety of customers with a tool which is not only fast & easy to use, but also scales up to meet enterprise-class requirements. APEX is also compared to other RAD development environments, such as PHP & Ruby on Rails.

Peter also did a perfect job in pronouncing my last name - a feat which most telemarketers struggle with.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

UPDATE 2: Free APEX Hosting

Seems like AppsHosting is just getting started, as they contacted me to state that some of the information on their site was inaccurate.

Some corrections as to the information in my previous post:

- You DO get a private workspace with 250MB of space - a significant increase from the 5 or so that Oracle gives out and secure and isolated from any other developers.

- You DO NOT need an Oracle CSI with their paid plan. The $199/month price does include the license fees to use Oracle.

In speaking with them, they also said that SQL*Plus access is a very real possibility, even with the free accounts.

Something to keep an eye on, to say the least!

UDPATE: Free APEX Hosing

Well, you get what you pay for. It seems as if there is a single public workspace that you're account will be tied to when you create a free account with AppsHosting. Hardly secure! Any other user is free to wreak havoc on what you build, unless you meticulously lock each and every page. Unfortunately, that won't stop anyone from seeing (and altering) your database objects, as those are all shared among all users as well.

Guess I'll keep the account to use in a bind, but won't ever put anything in there that I don't want anyone else to see or that I may want to see again...

FREE APEX Hosting (Sort of...)

Looks like AppsHosting is getting into the business of hosting APEX applications. And they will do it for free, too - provided its for development only.

If you want your own dedicated APEX environment, that will run you $199/month. And you'll also need an Oracle CSI# for production applications, which is interesting, as it would seem that you would have to license Oracle for their servers, which could be way more or less than you need...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

APEX 3.0 Public Training

There's been some discussion on the OTN Forums about APEX 3.0 training. Well, Sumner Technologies, LLC is pleased to announce that it will begin offering APEX Training to the general public this July in the Washington, DC area.

We're going to start with a 3-day APEX 3.0 Intro class, and then add a 2-day Advanced Concepts class shortly after. Classes will be held just north of Dulles International Airport, about 20 miles outside of DC, in a brand new state-of-the-art training facility.

We're shooting for the week of July 9th for the first session, and based on how many people we get, will be looking to do this on a somewhat regular basis.

I'll post more concrete details once they are available.

Also, if you have any thoughts of ideas on what you would like to see in an Advanced Class, I'd be interested in hearing about them.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Great Post on Posting

Shay Shmeltzer has a must-read blog entry on the 10 Commandments of Posting on OTN. This should be required reading for anyone posting to any forum anywhere!

APEX 3.0 in the News

Following the release of APEX 3.0, a few media sites have picked up the story:

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Y2K Part 2

In less than a day, the 3-week early DST change in the US will occur. Airplanes will fall from the sky, your bank account will be reduced to nothing, ATMs will run out of cash, nuclear missiles will launch and your Tivo will be hurled into a wolrd of recording the show after the one you wanted it to.

Actually, you'll probably just lose an hour of sleep tomorrow morning. Unless you have kids. Then you will lose two.

The media has really hyped this problem up, in a style reminiscient to the Y2K bug. Sure, there may be a few missed appointments on Monday, people may have some issues with Outlook (I got 6 invites from a client for the same meeting last week.) But by and large, the impact of this change will be less than that of realizing it's 8:00, not 7:00 and still light out.

Verizon Wirelss is doing all they can to get their customers ready. They sent a text message to my phone the other day, which conveniently had a link embedded in it to its DST Resource Page. What they failed to think through is that the link led to a regular-sized web page, complete with HTML that doesn't render well on the device which they sent it to. Not only did the page take forever to load, but once it did, it was impossible to navigate the Javascript-driven menus once it did. Thanks for that!

All was not lost. Just this morning, I received an e-mail informing me of the same imminent demise that the early DST change will bring. My favorite quote from that e-mail:
"The Verizon Wireless network will seamlessly support the change to DST. While most customers’ devices will experience no impact, customers with BlackBerry devices and most PDAs/smartphones running Palm OS or Windows Mobile will be required to update or patch their devices."

Really? So the so-called "Smartphones" - which are all considerably more expensive, have more features, and overall are much harder to use then their "dumber" counterparts - are not smart enough to realize the the network time has changed? Wow.

What Verizon Wireless recommends is to install the latest DST Patches from Microsoft. Sure, that makes, sense, let me pop on over and read about the potential impact of such a patch:
"All Windows Mobile powered device users affected by the time change should give extra attention to meetings and appointments scheduled between March 11 and April 1, 2007, and between October 28 and November 4, 2007. View any appointments that fall into these date ranges as suspect until you communicate with all meeting invitees to make sure that the item shows up correctly on everyone's calendar."

So not only do we have to worry about this problem this week, but once again in the fall? And the best they can do is recommend that I treat any appointment that I have in the next month as "suspect"? Should I call the authorities? Will the terrorism alert level change if I don't? Hmmm...

And my personal favorite piece of advise throws us all the way back to 1992, the last time that I bought filler paper for my Franklin Planner:
"Prior to applying the DST files, print out your weekly calendars for the affected time periods so that you can keep track of which meetings were scheduled before and after you run the tool."

Time to head out to Staples!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

2007 APEX Conference Details Announced

We've posted the session titles & abstracts for the 2007 APEX Conference to the ODTUG Kaleidoscope site.

There will be two tracks - one for beginners and one for experienced users. The Beginners Track will be more hands-on sessions and will assume no or little knowledge of APEX, whereas the Experienced Track will be more lecture and assume working knowledge of APEX.

Also, the Early Bird registration deadline has been extended until March 20th.

Hope to see you in Daytona this June!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Right Justify Input Text

Recently, I was asked how to right-justify text in user-editable fields. It seemed like a simple enough requirement, as most number-based fields are right-justified so that you can perform quick calculations in your head, or just have them look pretty if you're not so good at math.

In any case, there are two different ways to accomplish this in Apex, depending on what type of object you are trying to modify.

For a Page Item, you may be tempted to change the Horizontal/Vertical alignment option under the Elements section. Close, but that won't quite do the trick, as that parameter controls ALL of the HTML for a specific item, not the Form component.

In the same Element, section, you will need to enter the following for the HTML Form Element Attributes: style="text-align:right;"

If you are working with a Tabular Form, there aren't any page items which to change. Thus, you have to modify the Column Attributes for the text item that you want to be right-justified.

Edit your Tabular Form, click on Report Attributes, and then click on the corresponding Edit Column link. Scroll down to the Tabular Form Element section, and for the Element Attributes, enter: style="text-align:right;"

When you run your page, the results should look something like this:

You can also substitute "center" for "right" in order to center your input text.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Apex 3.0 Public Beta

Looks like Oracle has released the Apex 3.0 public beta. You can sign up here.

I created a quick report and then set it to export to PDF & Word - all of it worked as advertised! I was also able to quickly create a new Flash-based chart with little effort. Very impressive!

Monday, January 08, 2007

100% Mac

On the eve of the MacWorld keynote, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the single application which enabled me to complete my "switch" from a PC to a Mac: Parallels.

For those who may not know, Parallels is a virtualization environment for the Intel Macs. It enables you to run an operating system - from Windows to Linux to DOS - within Mac OS X. The entire guest operating system is stored in a single file, which can easily be backed up and/or moved around easily.

I first saw Parallels at a client, where Ben Rudolph from the Parallels team was getting ready to demo it. He turned on his MacBook Pro, fired up Parallels, and then stared up a pre-release version of Vista. He looked at me and said, "Pretty cool, eh?" My only reply was "Why?"

He chuckled, but went on to claim that even a pre-release version of Vista worked with their software. From a tecnical point of view, it was quite impressive, as having Vista gives you access to all of its new innovations, such as the new search, gadgets, and the 3-d Chess game.

So it was not a surprise to me that Parallels was one of the 1st applications I bought for my new MacBook. It has paid for itself many times over already. First of all, it just works. Installing it is a breeze, but what's more impressive is installing a guest OS is even simpler. In fact, its easier to install Windows XP in Parallels than it is to install it on an Intel machine. Seriously. Have a look at the one screen which you'll need to fill out:

The next screen simply asks for a name for the VM you are about to create. That's it. Sit back and enjoy your install!

Once I installed my copy of XP in Parallels, I was quick to download Oracle 10gR2, Oracle HTTP Server & Oracle Application Express. All three of these products installed flawlessly in Parallels. And with bridged networking, I can use my Mac browsers and OS X version of SQL Developer & SQL*Plus to access the Oracle instance in Windows XP.

As soon as I verified that my configuration was working, I immediately backed it up. Why? If I ever need to start with a clean install of Oracle 10gR2 & Apex, I could restore this clean configuration and be up in running in minutes with nothing to re-install. Anyone who has worked with Oracle more than a few days knows how valuable being able to revert to a clean install can be.

And that's exactly what one of the first true tests of Parallels was. We hit an obscure error with an Apex application that I was building for a client. Initially, signs led to something with the character set of the database. The size of the HTTP packets we were getting were inconsistent with what we expected. We didn't have the resources to create a new database from scratch in a different character set in order to further troubleshoot the issue. Or did we.

Enter Parallels. I simply made a copy of my "clean" configuration, fired up the DBCA, created a new database with a different character set, changed the DAD configuration, and we were able to rule out the character set in about an hour. No additional hardware was required, save for a few GB of disk space, which was quickly reclaimed once we knew the character set was not the issue.

Parallels has also proved itself a demonstration environment. A couple of months later, I was teaching an Apex class just outside of Providence, RI. Someone asked me if Apex & Oracle XML Publisher could be integrated. I've always thought so, and have even been told so by some who claim to have done it. But I've never done it myself, which tends to make me a bit skeptical.

So after dinner, I copied my clean configuration once more, found a nice install guide for XML Publisher on OTN, and started installing. After downloading & configuring Tomcat, installing XML Publisher Workstation & Server, and about 2 hours later, I had it up and running on my Mac. Since Apex was already installed in my configuration, the next task was to figure out how to get the two to work together. (more details on this in an upcoming paper which I am putting the finishing touches on)

The next day, I started the class with a demo of Oracle XML Publisher integrated with Oracle Apex. It was hard to tell what was more amazing to the students - that I was able to get these two products working together, or that I had a Start button on a laptop with a big Apple logo on the back. The demo somehow concluded with a quick tour of iLife. I may have actually sold a couple of Macs that day.

In addition to using Parallels for server based applications, it has proven extremely valuable for client applications as well. Most people hesitate to switch to a Mac because there are always "a couple" of Windows applications which they cannot live without. They don't necessarily use these applications every day, but when they do need them, they cannot be with out them.

Two of those must-have applications for me are MS Access & GotoMeeting.

As much as I hate Access, I need to have it, as I get quite a few Access databases that people want to convert to Oracle Apex. Without the ability to read those databases, I was dead in the water. With Parallels, its a breeze to open MS Access databases. In fact, I have all of MS Office installed, just in case I need it.

Since most of my clients are not local, I need to share screens with them for demos, prototypes, etc. From what I could tell, there just isn't any way to do this on a Mac. Running GotoMeeting on Parallels was a breeze. I don't notice any performance issues at all, and have hosted meetings for multiple clients, all of them blissfully unaware that I am running Mac OS X.

What's really impressive is that the Parallels team is not resting on their laurels. They have churned out 3 betas in about as many months. Perhaps the coolest of the new features is something called Coherence.

Coherence lets you run a single Windows window as if it were a Mac window. Sure, it still looks and feels like a Windows window, but it is free of the bounds of the Mac window which typically confines all things Windows. Below, you can see Apple's home page displayed in both MSIE 6.0 and Firefox for OS X.

Parallels was and is the missing link for me and many IT professionals who were wanting to make the switch to Apple, but just couldn't do it. It finally gives us the ability to run a platform on a platform - be it for server or client applications, Linux or Windows. And most of all, in true Mac fashion, it just works.