23 October 2010

Welcome to PL/SQL Challenge v1.7

We have upgraded the PL/SQL Challenge to version 1.7. You will find below a list of key features and enhancements. I believe you will find the PL/SQL Challenge to be even more addictive and educational than before. I am particularly proud of this version because it marks, in essence, the debut of Eli Feuerstein as a professional programmer. My son, brand new to APEX, PL/SQL, SQL, HTML and Javascript, implemented most of the big UI changes in this release. Congratulations, Eli! And many thanks, of course, to Paul Broughton and John Scott of Sumneva for their continue support.

1.7 Key Features and Enhancements

* Home page:
view a random selection of past quizzes that you can visit for a quick PL/SQL refresher, plus recent achievements by players. The home page is, I admit, a bit crowded, but hopefully you will enjoy access to all this information.

* Past Quizzes: Search through all past quizzes by topic, difficulty or date, and then drill down to see a new, more detailed description of the quiz and your results. There is, for example, now a separate section containing the verification code so that you can more easily verify our answers and learn the features more easily. You can also ask to view the quiz without the answers, so you can practice taking the quiz (though you cannot - yet - resubmit answers). Soon you will also be able to see much of the same information in your daily emails reporting on yesterday's quiz.

* Interactive Rankings: built on top of the APEX4 Interactive Reports feature, you can now see rankings by player, country, organization and company (for a given period: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, lifetime). You can build your own custom reports. We believe that many of the requests we have received from players for better rankings information will be satisfied by this feature (for example: if you want to keep track of and rank players in the same company, simply choose one of the Rankings by Player reports and then filter by company!).

* Take the Quiz page: Each quiz now includes a "No choices are correct" option at the bottom of the page. You must check at least one of the choices before you can submit your answer.

* Player Profile: you can now tell us the year you started working with PL/SQL and also provide a short description of yourself. We will be adding even more options for describing yourself and what you've done to make yourself a better PL/SQL Developer, all of which will then be made available to other players through a public Player Profile page.

* Assumptions: we've made some minor tweaks to the assumptions, so please review them before you take your next quiz.

* Blog access: you can now visit the PL/SQL Challenge blog by clicking on the new Blog tab button.

I hope you all enjoy the new features. Please let us know what you think. As if I have to tell players of the PL/SQL Challenge that. Many of you, clearly, need no encouragement whatsoever!

While I've got your attention, I'd also like to give you a glimpse of what's coming at the PL/SQL Challenge.

Next up, I will reschedule and hold the Q3 championship playoff. This championship will also, by the way, be the last one with large cash prizes ($1000 first place, $500 second place). In response to suggestions from many players, I plan to reduce the emphasis on prizes and increase the emphasis on learning/education. This change should also reduce the desire of players to violate rules to improve their ranking.

After that, our attention shifts to version 1.8, which will for the first time feature a public player profile page. Names of players will be hyper linked to this page. You will be given the opportunity to tell lots more about yourself, such as what resources and influences helped you become the PL/SQL developer you are; your specializations in the Oracle world; your employment status (which development manager wouldn't want to seek out highly ranked players for their team?). You will, of course, have total control over what is displayed on your public page. In addition, I plan to add polls to the PL/SQL Challenge (just another kind of quiz, really) to the site, so that we can gather more and better guidance from players on how to improve the PL/SQL Challenge.

Looking ahead over several months, I plan to change the way the website works on a more fundamental level. We will move to a points system (kind of a like a "frequent player" program), in which you accumulate points for all sorts of activities on the site, and then redeem those points for prizes of your choice.

After we put that in place, we will offer a membership option for the PL/SQL Challenge, which will provide lots of other great features to those of you who find the Challenge valuable enough to warrant a very reasonable membership fee. These features tentatively include creating and playing as teams, setting up your own competitions (based on previous quizzes or your own content), access to training videos, and more. Of course, the daily quiz and many other features will remain completely free of charge!

Warm regards and best of luck in the coming quizzes,
Steven Feuerstein


  1. Nice, very nice! And the features for next version sound even more exciting!

    Steven, thanks for PL/SQL Challenge!


  2. This looks very nice. Looking forward to the next version. Keep up the good work Steven.

    Ingimundur K. Gu├░mundsson