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Welcome to the forum!
I'm developing a Java web application that will be backed by an Oracle database. Users would like a simple web interface that allows them to accomplish what they could with SQL queries without knowing SQL. The basic operations would be:
* displaying a database table in a table format
* downloading the table as a text or Excel file
* customizing the columns in a table display
* displaying a query result set in a table format
* constructing a query using drop-down menus
I'd probably want to program in a simplified UI for a few common queries.
This really looks like functionality someone should have invented before me. Question: what is the right tool for me to be using? I'm surprised I haven't found something by searching.
It looks like I could just directly write JSP, but I think something else might be simpler. I think related functionality exists in Spring, but I didn't find exactly what I'm looking for, and Spring brings a lot of other stuff also. Nothing in my application is more complicated than this, so I'd be happy to keep things simple.
How would you write this?
I wouldn't write it. I would just use Oracle's FREE Apex application which does all of that and more and is fully supported even on Oracle's FREE Express edition data database.
About Application Express
Oracle Application Express (Oracle APEX), formerly called HTML DB, is a fully supported "no-cost" option of the Oracle Database. Oracle Application Express is certified against all editions of the Oracle Database 10.2.0.3 and above, including Oracle Database 10g Express Edition (Oracle XE).
Oracle Application Express installs as part of the seed database installation with Oracle Database 11g.
The feature page (http://apex.oracle.com/pls/otn/f?p=4600:6:0) describes some of the major features of Apex
Using only a Web browser and limited programming experience you can develop data centric applications in minutes. Browser-based development enables you to develop applications on most computers using only a modern Web browser.
Rapid Application Development (RAD)
Use simple wizards and declarative programming to create powerful reporting and data entry applications. You can create applications from spreadsheet uploads, or on existing database tables and views. Oracle Application Express includes SQL Workshop to create and manage the database objects that support your application.
Application Express Components
Application Builder - Database Applications
Application developers use wizards to declaratively assemble applications organized in pages. Page content is organized into regions. Regions can contain text, custom PL/SQL, reports, charts, maps, calendars, web service references or forms. Forms are made up of fields (called items) which can be selected from the multitude of built-in types (such as text fields, text areas, radio groups, select lists, check boxes, date pickers, and popup list of values) or a developer can create their own types using plug-in support. Table update functionality is built-in and PL/SQL can be used to process data. Session state (or application context) is transparently managed and the user interface presentation is separated from the application logic so that the look and feel of an application can be changed simply by selected a different theme.
Application Builder - Websheets
Using Websheet Applications, end users can manage structured and unstructured data without developer assistance. Page sections contain unstructured data and are edited using a WYSIWYG editor. Reports provide access to database data by writing SQL. Data Grids can manage structured data without writing SQL. Adding columns, renaming column, and validations are defined using runtime dialogs. Each page and row of data grid data can be annotated with files, tags, notes, and links. Pages can contain sections as well as reports and data grids and all can be linked together providing navigation. All information is searchable and completely controlled by the end-user.
The SQL Workshop provides tools that enable you to view and manage database objects. Object Browser enables you to use a tree control to view object properties and create new objects. The SQL Command tool enables you to enter ad-hoc SQL. Query Builder enables you to create join queries using drag and drop. SQL Scripts enables you to store and run scripts. The Data Workshop enables you to load and unload text, DML, and spreadsheet data.
RESTful Services allow for the declarative specification of RESTful services mapped to SQL and PL/SQL.
Team Development helps manage the life-cycle of an application's development. It provides tracking and management of application features, to do entries, bugs, and end user feedback. Team Development is tightly integrated with the Oracle Application Express Application Builder. For example, edit page lists open feedback, bugs, and to do's.
Each Oracle Application Express workspace is a separate application development environment that is fully insulated from other workspaces. The administration component provides workspace management, including services (available schemas, space requests, and preferences), users (both developers and end-users), and workspace activity (page views, login attempts, and developer activity). Access is limited to Oracle Application Express developers who have workspace administration privileges.