License Plate Recognition Mobile App using Oracle Cloud Stack

Here is a quick cheat sheet if you ever wanted to build a mobile app that can take advantage of the camera built into the device, capture the vehicle or vehicles nameplate(s) in a frame and process that image and send it on API that can analyze the image and relay back the information it just scanned. This app can be extended to fulfil requirements like checking if the vehicle registration is up to date or insurance renewal is overdue etc. provided if there are APIs already available that can deliver this information.

So what is the tech involved in building this app?

  1. To build a mobile app that can be deployed on iOS or Android, I used the Visual Builder service from the Oracle Cloud stack. This service provides the capability to build Web as well as Mobile applications through a declarative approach with the ability to introduce code for any complex requirements.
  2. To store the captured image and use the image for downstream application purposes I used the Oracle Content & Experience service that comes with a rich set of APIs for content ingestion, public document link generation etc. From an enterprise architecture viewpoint, it makes sense to store the images with metadata in a content store, so I decided to archive the image using this service as part of the mobile app build process.
  3. The most significant bit is to use a library / API that can process the image or OCR and send back the information we are interested n. For these purposes, I used the open source ALPR library. There are API’s available already if you want to fast track your app.
  4. This one is optional. If you want to validate the information captured, we can set up a few API’s using the Oracle Autonomous Database with some data to complete the validation flow in the app.

This is what the Architecture would look like :

License Plate Recognition App Architecture.

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Integrating with Developer Cloud Service – Importing Issues from Excel via APIs

Last week, I had a question about a customer wanting to migrate their issue management to Oracle Developer Cloud (https://cloud.oracle.com/en_US/developer_service). They had hundreds of issues to migrate and saw that it was a big task to re-enter all of the detail. Also, it was all in Excel. This article is about the experiences and steps that we took to import the issues from Excel. And as the title of the article eludes to, we used the APIs available.

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Teaching How to use Oracle PaaS Service Manager (PSM) CLI to Provision Oracle PaaS environments

In this blog, I am going to get you started with Oracle PaaS Service Manager (PSM) CLI – A great tool to manage anything API-enabled on any Oracle PaaS Service or Stack. For example, provisioning, scaling, patching, backup, restore, start, stop, etc.

It has the concept of Stack (multiple PaaS services), what means that you can very easily provision and manage full Stacks, such as Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC), that combines multiple PaaS solutions underneath, e.g. ICS, PCS, VBCS, DBCS, etc.

For this, we are going to use a pre-cooked Vagrant Box/VM that I prepared for you, so that you don’t have to worry about installing software, but moving as quickly as possible to the meat and potatoes.

This is a graphical view of what we are going to do:

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Teaching How to push your code into multiple Remote Git repositories

Very quickly Git has become one of the most common ways to maintain and manage source code. It is easy to use, fast, reliable and most modern CI/CD tooling support it. GitHub also makes it easy to anyone who wants to share code, to do it in a free or very inexpensive way. Many companies however, also look for ways in which they can maintain their own private repositories as an enterprise-grade solution, like Developer Cloud Service (DevCS), the one Oracle gives for free with any IaaS or PaaS service.

In this blog I am going to show you how to push your code into any number of remote Git repositories. For example, you can have your private repository in DevCS and choose to also publish them into another GitHub remote repository (public or private) in GitHub.

This is the high-level idea:

  1. Let’s create a new Git repo in DevCS
  2. Let’s create a repo in GitHub
  3. Let’s clone DevCS repo locally on my laptop
  4. Let’s push the code to DevCS Git repo
  5. Let’s push the code to GitHub repo.

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Teaching How to use Terraform to Manage Oracle Cloud Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as Code is becoming very popular. It allows you to describe a complete blueprint of a datacentre using a high-level configuration syntax, that can be versioned and script-automated. This brings huge improvements in the efficiency and reliability of provisioning and retiring environments.

Terraform is a tool that helps automate such environment provisioning. It lets you define in a descriptor file, all the characteristics of a target environment. Then, it lets you fully manage its life-cycle, including provisioning, configuration, state compliance, scalability, auditability, retirement, etc.

Terraform can seamlessly work with major cloud vendors, including Oracle, AWS, MS Azure, Google, etc. In this blog, I am going to show you how simple it is to use it to automate the provisioning of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure from your own laptop/PC. For this, we are going to use Vagrant on top of VirtualBox to virtualise a Linux environment to then run Terraform on top, so that it doesn’t matter what OS you use, you can quickly get started.

This is the high-level idea:

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Teaching how to use Vagrant to simplify building local Dev and Test environments

The adoption of Cloud and modern software automation, provisioning and delivery techniques, are also requiring a much faster way to simplify the creation and disposal of Dev and Test environments. A typical lifespan of a Dev environment can go from minutes to just a few days and that’s it, we don’t need it anymore.

Regardless of whether you use a Windows, Apple or Linux based PC/laptop, virtualisation of environments via Virtual Machines, help with this problem, besides it leaves your host OS clean. Vagrant takes VMs to the next level, by offering a very simple, lightweight and elegant solution to simplify such Virtual Machine life-cycle management, easy way to bootstrap your software/libraries requirements and sharing files across your host and guest machines.

In this blog I am going to show you how to get started with Vagrant. You will find it a very useful to quickly create and destroy virtual environments that help you develop and test your applications, demystify a particular topic, connecting to cloud providers, run scripts, etc.

For example, typical scenarios I use Vagrant for include: Dev and Test my NodeJS Applications, deploy and test my Applications on Kubernetes, run shell scripts, SDKs, use CLIs to interact with Cloud providers e.g. Oracle, AWS, Azure, Google, etc. All of this from my personal laptop, without worrying about side effects, i.e. if I break it, I can simply dispose the VM and start fresh.

I can assure you that once you give it a go, you will find it hard to live without it. So, let’s wait no more…

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Teaching How to Design and Secure an API with Oracle API Platform

This blog is the second part of an end-to-end exercise that starts explaining the steps to clone a GitHub repository that contains an agnostic Medical Records application, built by us in NodeJS and which exposes REST API endpoints via a Swagger API-descriptor running locally on Swagger UI (all included as part of the repository). The previous part of this 2-blogs series also explains the steps required to run the MedRec NodeJS application on Docker containers either locally or in the Oracle Public Cloud. For more information about this first part, go here.

Moving to this second part, we are going to cover the following steps:

  1. Create an Apiary account used to Design APIs (API First approach) and create a new API Project using the existing MedRec Swagger API-definition.
  2. We are going to spend a little bit of time playing with Apiary to feel comfortable in areas such as:
    1. Validating API definitions
    2. Testing API endpoints
    3. Switching across out-of-the-box Mock Servers and real Production MedRec service end-points.
  3. Login to Oracle API Platform and configure an API, this includes:
    1. Enforcing Security and other policies.
    2. Deploy API and securing access level to on-premise and Cloud-based API Gateways.
    3. Publishing APIs into the API Developers Portal.
    4. Linking API to Apiary Swagger API-definition living document.
  4. Login to API Developers Portal (API Catalog)
    1. Register a New Application
    2. Understanding the role of API Keys
    3. Reviewing MedRec API Documentation
    4. Registering to consume MedRec APIs
    5. Testing APIs.
  5. Understand API Analytics, consumption, metrics and monitoring dashboards.

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