Monday, August 14, 2017

Set up domain and launch page

This post is part of a series of posts: From idea to app or how I do an Oracle APEX project anno 2017

Domain name

When you launch an app or service, you probably want a domain name. I register all my domain names with Godaddy. I'm a long time customer with them and I find them really reliable, not that expensive and they have good support. But I find it hard to come up with "the right" domain name. For example for our project I wrote on a piece of paper all different domain names:,,,, etc.

What domain would be perfect for our application? At one side you have to think about Google, a descriptive domain helps in your ranking, but on the other hand you want it to be easy to type and remember. Finally I decided to register as my first choice was taken. If you know a better domain that is still available, feel free to add in the comments field :)

Link domain name to Oracle APEX app

Once you have the domain name you want to link it to your Oracle APEX application.

In a future post I will cover Reverse Proxy and SSL, but for now, as I want you to see what is happening, I just configured in Godaddy to redirect to my Oracle Exadata Express url.

I don't want to let the world wait to know about our project, so I want to setup a landing or launch page. This page serves as a home while we are building our application. People can already register, so once we are live, we can let them know about it.

How do you build a landing or launch page

Either you have an idea about how you want the page to look like, or what I do as well, is look at other sites or templates created by others. For example for the APEX Office Print website we bought a template as starting point and integrated it in our APEX app.

I get often inspiration from following sites:
If you know some graphic design people, they can obviously help too :) It's easy(ier) to recognize good design, but it's hard(er) to create it yourself.

I like minimalist design or "less is more". If you look at the multiplication table project launch page, only the bare minimum is on the page: a title, a graphic, a text item to leave your email and a button (and a text to let everybody know it was built with Oracle APEX.

You find some more examples of minimalism here or just Google for it and you find plenty. Typically you will see a background picture and a text. If you find a template you like, you can look at the HTML and CSS and copy this in your own APEX page.

The font you use is really important and can make a huge difference. Google Fonts are a good starting place to pick a font. In our project I used the Raleway font.

In the last month (that I know) two other people showed how to build a landing page in APEX: Stefanie used a background picture and Richard used a video as background.

How long to build a landing page

When I look again at our launch page, I would probably tell you it would take me less than 30 minutes to build it in Oracle APEX. If you know what you will build, yes, but if I told you it took me well over 6 hours to build this landing page, would you believe me? It's the truth!

So where did I spend all my time then?

I first started to search for a design. I didn't really want to copy something from a previous project, but rather wanted to get a fresh new design, so I started to search, and search and search more. Finally I gave up on the idea and followed my own thoughts to do it very minimal and as close as possible to universal theme that comes with APEX.

So I added the regions, items and a button on the page:

This goes fast (if you know a bit of APEX). As I wanted the image on the left of the items and the items going down a bit, I used two regions next to each other.

I looked at the result and didn't like it, so I added some CSS and searched for another font. This was a lot of trial and error till I was happy with the result.

Once that was done, I looked how responsive it was. On a smaller screen, I didn't find it looked good enough, so I added a media query and custom CSS, so it would look better.

Oh, before I forget, whenever you build an app in Oracle APEX, include the plugin built with love using Oracle APEX.

Next up, I had to include a validation (to check if the email already exists), a process and a branch. Now here's a story too... I first started with adding a dynamic action on the Subscription button that would insert a record, but during testing I found I lost the value required and is email validation that you get for free when you submit your page, so I changed it to be a normal process.

Finally I changed on the page that duplicate submissions are not allowed.

So the end result is we have one very simple page in APEX, using standard components (regions, items, button), 1 plugin (built with APEX), Universal Theme and a bit of custom CSS.

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