In the past two years, many web browsers such as Firefox and Chrome have de-supported the NPAPI plugin (see https://pitss.com/us/2017/03/08/oracle-forms-in-firefox and https://pitss.com/us/2015/04/16/oracle-forms-google-chrome for more information). The NPAPI plugin is used by the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) which the JRE is required to run Oracle Forms. As of July 2017, only Internet Explorer is able to run the NPAPI plugin as it no longer functions in Firefox and Chrome. It is also not available with Microsoft Edge, Microsoft’s replacement for Internet Explorer. As of right now, there are no plans for Microsoft to remove plugin support such as NPAPI from its Internet Explorer browser. However, Internet Explorer has reached its end of life, and it will only remain supported for as long as Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 remain under support. Therefore, end users should be able to continue running Oracle Forms using Internet Explorer for another few years. However, it is recommend to start planning a course of action to ensure your end users will be able to continue accessing your applications with little to no interruption.
Regardless of Internet Explorer support for the NPAPI plugin, Oracle will be depreciating the Java browser plugin when Java 9 is released. This will mean that in a future update to Java 9 (once it is released), the Java plugin will be removed from the JDK and JRE. However, you should still be able to use JRE 6, 7, and 8 if you need to use the Java browser plugin. Keep in mind that older versions of Java will not contain as many security fixes as the newest version. Therefore, it is recommended to only continue using JRE 8 and older (once Java 9 is released and certified for Forms 12c) until you are able to use a certified alternative to the Java plugin. This article will explain what you can do to gracefully move away from the Java browser plugin.
Depending on which version of Oracle Forms you are running, you may be able to try out some of the alternatives right now:
Using Oracle Forms 12c
If you are already using Oracle Forms 12c (12.2.1.x), you may already begin moving off the Java browser plugin. Starting with Oracle Forms 12c, other methods of running Forms such as Java Web Start are now supported. Java Web Start replaces the Java plugin, and it allows you to launch Forms from any web browser such as Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, and Chrome. Java Web Start is a more secure way of running Oracle Forms compared to the Java browser plugin. Please keep in mind that although Java Web Start does not use a Java browser plugin, a JRE is still required. Some quick configurations changes to formsweb.cfg will be required to enable your Forms application to use Java Web Start:
NOTE: When using Java Web Start, please keep in mind of the following:
- The Single Sign-Off functionality (Single Sign-On will still work) introduced in Oracle Forms 12c will no longer work.
- As the JRE is still used with Java Web Start, you will continue to see Java security prompts. Any jar files you use with your application should continue to be signed with trusted code signing certificates.
- Each jar file you use (excluding the jar files starting with “frm”) should be specified in the JNLP extension file, extensions.jnlp.
Using Oracle Forms 11gR2 or Older
If you are using an older version of Oracle Forms (e.g. 6i, 9i, 10g, 11g, 11gR2), the only supported way of running a Forms application is with the Java browser plugin which uses the NPAPI plugin. For example, Oracle states in Oracle Support Document ID 2081779.1 that using Java Web Start or JNLP is not supported in Oracle Forms 11gR2. Therefore, it is not possible to use Java Web Start with older versions of Oracle Forms. As all versions of Oracle Forms prior to 12c are no longer supported, it is recommended to either upgrade your Oracle Forms application to 12c or to modernize it to a different technology:
Solution 1: Upgrade to Forms 12c
As the article mentions earlier, Oracle Forms 12c is supported to use Java Web Start or JNLP. Similar to Forms 11g, Forms 12c uses Oracle WebLogic Server as the application server for running Oracle Forms. Oracle Forms 12c requires installing a new Oracle home as it is not possible to patch an older release on top of an existing Forms Oracle home. If you are upgrading from Oracle Forms 11g, the upgrade should only require an installation of the Forms 12c runtime environment and a recompile of your forms. However, PITSS offers a service where we analyze your Forms application using PITSS.CON to see how much effort it will be to upgrade your application from 11g (or even 6i or older) to 12c. Contact PITSS today to learn more how PITSS.CON can be an asset with your Oracle Forms upgrade.
Solution 2: Application Modernization for your Legacy System
If you would like to move away from using the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) altogether, you may also elect to move away from Oracle Forms to another technology. There are many different technologies available which Oracle Forms can be migrated to. Oracle has different platforms such as Oracle Application Express (APEX) and Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) which can give your Oracle Forms application a more modern look-and-feel. PITSS has the expertise to help you migrate your application to one of these platforms as well as to many other platforms. Click here for more information regarding how PITSS can help you modernize your application today.
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