Monday, 9 October 2017

About a plug-in providing native Apex functionality

This Saturday I published a plug-in on apex.world to create subheaders in a classic report. I got the idea while developing a long report and it seemed like a good idea to create a plugin for it to wrap and parameterize the JavaScript code. I searched the internet for the existence of such a plug-in and found nothing.
So I set out to create the plug-in. After finishing it I wrote a blogpost and added it to the plug-in repository on apex.world. And I proudly tweeted about it.
Pretty soon I got a reply from Peter Raganitz: "Wouldn’t a control break do just that?".

I set out to check this and.. he is absolutely right. This functionality is available in Apex in a declarative way!




The only extra needed is a small CSS definition for the visuals of the headers:


.apex_report_break {
  1. background-colorlightgrey!important;
  2. font-weightbold;
  3. font-size12px;

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Adding Subheaders to reports the easy way

After publishing this plug-in I found out that this functionality is native in Apex. Read more details here.

For an assignment I was working on a page containing a list of dates with the amount of sunlight on that day. This produces a long list of dates with numbers which I think is not very accessible. I applied my Report2columns plug-in which already improved the layout, but I still was not satisfied:


It are still a lot of numbers with little structure. Especially the repetition of the month and year adds a lot of characters, but adds little meaning.

After some experimenting with bold fonts and grey colors I came up with the solution to use subheaders for the months. And suddenly the data made much more sense to me:


This was done by adding an extra column with the subheader text to the report. In a After Refresh  dynamic action a JavaScript function scans the table and adds a subheader at each location where the content of the subheader column differs from the previous row.

In addition to the sub headers the month and year indicators are displayed in grey. This way they have less effect  on the general picture, but they are still readable: you do not have to shift your attention to the sub header to know the month and year of the date. This effect was accomplished by adding the formatting in the query:

SELECT to_char(lgr_date,'dd')
||'<span style="color: lightgrey;">'
||to_char(lgr_date,'-mm-yyyy')||'</span>' AS thedate
FROM mytable

Plug-in for subheaders

I was so enthousiastic about the effect of the subheaders that I have created a plug-in to generate subheaders in a Classic report.

The Report Subheaders plug-in is very easy to use. All you have to do is:
  • import the plug-in ( you can download it from Apex.world )
  • add a column to your query which contains you subheader content
  • create an After Refresh dynamic action on your report
  • add a true action with a call to the Report Subheaders plug-in
  • fill in the name of your subheader column in the Subheader Column attribute
  • if you want to have your table headings repeated after each subheader, set Repeat Subheaders to Yes
  • The default formatting of the subheaders can be changed by defining the class td.t-Report-cell.subheader.Note that the background-color has to be defined with !important.
You can see the plug-in in action here on my demo site:




Happy Apexing :-)





Sunday, 10 September 2017

ORA-00933 when editing a Apex report

Have you encountered this error before in working with Apex? I do regularly wen editing reports.
At first I have created a nice report. After getting the query right I make some columns invisible, change the header texts and do some formatting.
Then I run the report and it looks nice. No errors on the SQL.

Then I apply a few changes and suddenly the report will not show up anymore. Instead I get this ugly error message:

failed to parse SQL query:
ORA-00933: SQL command not properly ended

What happend? It took me some time to figure it out. In my case there was an order by in the report query. This means that none of the report columns may be sortable.
At first this was the case. But one column was changed from Hidden to Plain Text. And in this change the Sortable attribute was set to Yes:


And Apex gets confused when a report query has an order by and an item is also sortable. So the query Apex creates has an incorrect syntax, hence the error message.

Setting the sortable attribute of the item to No immediately solves the problem. The report executes again without any error message.

Happy Apexing...


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Adding a bit of Excel to tabular forms

When speaking to users they often ask me whether the editing of data can be like Excel. Using tabular forms is a long way from using Excel. It is hard to operate the tabular form just with the keyboard and copying of values needs to be done in a number of keystrokes.

With this in my mind I created a JavaScript function to perform a (single) copyDown action. The value of an item is copied to the item below and the focus is set to that item. When this can be executed using a key(combination) the user is able to do a fast copy down action.
After creating this function I realized it also can be used to move up and down in the tabular form using the arrow keys. And I decided to create a Plug-In around it.



The Plug-In can be called from a Page Load dynamic action. No settings are needed.
The actions will execute on any text, date, and select item in a tabular form. Checkboxes are not yet supported.
The available function keys are:

  • [Up] move up to previous row
  • [Down] move down to next row
  • [Ctrl] + [Down] copy content of current cell to cell below and set focus to this cell
  • [Ctrl] + [Up] copy content of current cell to cell above and set focus to this cell
  • [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [C] copy content of current cell to cell below and set focus to this cell ( needed for Select items because they have another function for [Down] )
I could have included the [Right] and [Left] arrow keys but then the editing of the cell content would be affected. These keys cannot be used anymore to navigate within the content. So the keys [Tab] and [Shift][Tab] can be used to go to the next and previous item in the row.

I think many of you can make your users even happier with their Apex application when implementing this Plug-In in your application.

You can see and experience the Plug-In at this demo page: http://www.speech2form.com/ords/f?p=141:copydown

As always this plugin can be downloaded from apex.world.

One last question: does anyone know how to access the state of checkboxes in an Universal Theme tabular form?

Happy Apexing



Friday, 1 September 2017

Copy hidden items to clipboard plugin

At the beginning of 2017 I published a plugin to copy the content of Apex items to the clipboard. I use it on a regular basis in my applications but always for visible elements.
Yesterday I got a comment that the plugin does not handle hidden Apex items correctly. So I set out to create a new version of the plug-in.

In the new version of the plug-in the hidden Apex items are handled correctly and also added support for JQuery selectors.

The new version 1.1 now supports Apex items of type Hidden. This means you can build a string in  hidden item and provide the user with a button to copy the content to the clipboard. Just create a button, add a Click dynamic action to it and supply as action Copy to clipboard [Plug-In]:


In this example the hidden item is called P800_HIDDEN_1.

For the developers that feel at home with JQuery there is the option to reference to DOM elements using JQuery selectors. On the example page you will see a button Introduction to clipboard (JQuery selector) in the header of the Introduction. This button fires the following dynamic action:


The Introduction region has got a static ID INTRO and if you open the inspector you will see that the introduction text is contained in a div element with class t-Region-body. So if you click on the button the text will be copied to the clipboard.
NB Only the first element from the JQuery selection will be used

You can download the new version on http://apex.world

Happy Apexing

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Restricting shuttle choices even faster

Some months ago I published an Oracle Apex plugin to restrict the left side shuttle choices. You can read the original post here.
On the demo page the On Change event was used to refresh the left side list. My friend Alex Nuijten made the remark this was not very intuitive. The user needs to navigate out of the selection item to see the change.
So I changed the demo page to provide instant feedback. The selection is now refreshed after each keystroke. As this process is completely executed on the client the response is very fast. Only for very long list the user might notice a slight delay.
No changes to the plugin were needed. It can still be downloaded at apex.world


Here is how is was done:

Selection item
Name : P400_SELECTION
Type: Text Field

Dynamic Action
Name: Select on keystroke
Event: Key Release
Selection Type : Item
Item(s): P400_SELECTION

True Action
Name: Perform Selection
Action: Restrict Shuttle Values [plug-in]
Search Item: P400_SELECTION
Selection Type: Item(s)
Item(s): P400_SHUTTLE
Fire on initialization: No

Update 22-07-2017: A new version 1.2 has been released with a bug fix.This bug prevented the plug-in form functioning. 

Happy Apexing


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Avoiding multiple logins from external Apex links Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote a post how to avoid multiple logins when using a link in an email. This solution however does not work in a batch process for two reasons:
  • the URL needs to be fully specified, so protocol, server, port and directory are also needed. These data are not available outside the Apex context
  • the function apex_util.prepare_url can only be called from within an Apex session
My first idea was to prepare the URL for every possible mail while being in an Apex session and store it in the database. The stored URL can be used when generating the email.
This would be technically  complex, because a new column would have to be created and the content of this column would have to be kept up to date all the time.

Another possibility would be to create a fake Apex session within the batch process. Then the rest of the code need not be changed. Martin Giffy d'Souza provides a way to create an Apex session in this blogpost. Although this is an 5 year old post I was able to create an Apex session and generate a valid link.

The last solution was chosen because of the simplicity and the absence of need for code change.

Happy Apexing!