I am currently learning APEX the new (or not-new)development tool from Oracle.
By now I know how to create basic forms and simple reports etc. To make the learning better I started developing a software for school management.
With Oracle XE and APEX together you can develop a software that will be completely free of cost. There is a cache, however the reports that you can develop are limited to banded data only. If you want complex reports or if you want to generate PDF or DOC you need to look elsewhere. After searching on web I found following options are available.
1. Use Oracle BI Publisher. - NOT Free.
2. Use OC4J for PDF generation - not very clear on the license of this. I suppose this is not free.
Currently I am checking BIRT.
Thanks to Vis Naidu for his detailed write up here
I will share my experiences with BIRT in my next posting.