Saturday, 1 December 2012

Dietmar Aust - Oracle ACE

It is now official - my friend Dietmar Aust is an Oracle ACE. Congratulations. Well deserved.

APEX - Statement of Direction

The new Statement of Direction is touching a couple of interesting things. Here are the three most important:

  • New Multi-Row Edit Region Type – Define a new region type with a modern UI for updating multiple rows of data and allow multiple regions on one page
  • Master / Detail / Detail – Provide a wizard interface to define declarative master/detail/detail regions.
  • Multiple Interactive Reports – Allow any number of Interactive Reports to be defined on a single page.

I think this is quite exciting and I can hardly wait to see it working. Theses are of course only the most important details. We will probably see a lot of other smaller things changing and improving. 

I would like to add a couple of wishes to the list if not too late:
  1. a wizard for creating tabular forms based on collections
  2. a wizard for creating single record forms managed by a procedure (package)
  3. an additional page element feature - update session state on change
  4. a new page element - simple checkbox
My list doesn't end here but I need to be realistic. The APEX team is a small group of people working hard and producing already great results. And of course, the APEX story will not end with the version 5.0 :).

Monday, 5 November 2012

Package for Creating Custom Code

Sometimes you will need to create your own processes for fetching values, validating and updating tables in a form. In some situations the wizard generated form will not be good enough to cover all you need. In that case you need to write your own code. Some programs like TOAD have a routine which generates update or delete procedures for you. However, you need to extend that and it is quite a bit of work. In my Demo Application I made the code available, which does almost all the work for you. This package has a couple of functions able to generate the code which requires only some minor changes. If you ever need to go away from the standard APEX form, you can do that this way:

1. Create the package "create_pkg_from_table" in your schema by running the code from the page I mentioned,

2. Create a form using wizard,

3. Remove the automatic processes and change the standard settings in the page items and use the following setting:

a) Set the "Source Used" to "Only when current..."
b) Set the "Source Type" to "Static Assignment..."

4. Create the custom package related to the table you reference in your form, for fetching, validating, updating and deleting records by running this SQL and executing the output:
SELECT create_pkg_from_table.create_package ('EMP', 'EMPNO', 1)
5. Finally, run the following SQL to create the calls to the package functions and procedures you will need in your page processes and validations:
SELECT create_pkg_from_table.create_plsql_block ('EMP', 'EMPNO', 1)
The only thing you need to do now is to format that code and paste it in the appropriate process.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Goodbye was a place I visited daily. A couple of days ago this domain was moved to I am not sure I understand why but it doesn't matter. The only thing is that from the usability perspective this is now at least two steps back.

The current layout of the page is displaying a couple of logos, advertisements and some general information and the content is not in the focus - 75% of the page is not showing that, what you would actually expect. You need to scroll down to find the content and you need to scroll a lot. There are all together three scrollable regions including the page and if you don't watch you will easily loose the orientation.

Now, the question to ODTUG people would be if this is going to change in the near future. Hopefully there are plans to improve the usability of this popular resource. Otherwise the whole action doesn't make a lot of sense.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

APEX Reporting on Comment Columns

This function may help you if you need to report on columns with a lot of text. It will get rid of the carriage return and will help not to break your reports imported into Excel:

   v_string   VARCHAR2 (4000);
   v_string :=
      REPLACE (TRANSLATE (p_string, 'x' || CHR (10) || CHR (13), 'x'),
   RETURN v_string;
END x_rep;

Monday, 1 October 2012

My Demo Application

The link to My Demo Application on has been changed from


While trying to open the old link you will receive a funny message:

Sunday, 2 September 2012

APEX 4.2

Today, was updated to 4.2. My first impression was good - I haven't seen the early adopter this time. If you have an account at you can have a look at the new layout of the apex builder. There are a lot of new features to explore in this version. The focus of this version is mobile development. Enjoy.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Highlight Search Term

APEX can highlight the search string in a report if you enter the substitution string in the column property of your report - Highlight Words. Unfortunatelly it will higlight the first occurence only. If you want to highlight more then only one occurence then you can use this function. The only limitation is the number of characters you can return per column (4000):
   FUNCTION get_string_highlight (p_string IN VARCHAR2, p_highlight IN VARCHAR2)
      v_string           VARCHAR2 (4000);
      v_substring        VARCHAR2 (4000);
      v_trailingstring   VARCHAR2 (4000);
      v_newstring        VARCHAR2 (32000);
      v_position         NUMBER           := 0;
      v_length           NUMBER           := LENGTH (p_highlight);
      v_span_start       VARCHAR2 (400)
                               := '<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold">';
      v_span_end         VARCHAR2 (400)   := '</span>';
      IF p_highlight IS NOT NULL
         v_string := p_string;

         FOR i IN 1 .. 20
            v_position := INSTR (UPPER (v_string), UPPER (p_highlight));

            IF v_position > 0
               v_substring := SUBSTR (v_string, 1, v_position + v_length);
               v_substring :=
                     SUBSTR (v_string, 1, v_position - 1)
                  || v_span_start
                  || SUBSTR (v_string, v_position, v_length)
                  || v_span_end;
               v_string := SUBSTR (v_string, v_position + v_length);
               v_newstring := v_newstring || v_substring;
            END IF;

            EXIT WHEN v_position = 0;
         END LOOP;

         v_newstring := v_newstring || v_string;
         v_newstring := p_string;
      END IF;

      RETURN v_newstring;
   END get_string_highlight;

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Count Checked Rows in a Tabular Form

This is a quite simple but still frequently asked question. Here is an example on how to count checked rows in a tabular form. You may need this functionality prior to processing. For example, if you want to inform your user that they didn't select any rows after pressing the "Delete" button.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Text Area with Character Counter in a Tabular Form

This small example shows how to create a textarea in a tabular form with a character counter, similar to the one for the page item of type "Textarea":

APEX Tabular Form and ORA-01403: no data found

If you get the "ORA-01403: no data found" error after running your code while updating or validating a tabular form, you will need to find out which array is causing it. This error occurs if the referenced array does not exist - apex_application.g_f01..g_f50. For example, if you use a PL/SQL block similar to this:
   FOR i IN 1 .. apex_application.g_f01.COUNT
      vrow := apex_application.g_f01 (i);

      UPDATE dept
         SET dname = apex_application.g_f04 (vrow),
             loc = apex_application.g_f05 (vrow)
       WHERE empno = apex_application.g_f02 (vrow);
The easiest way to debug is to use:

1. Firefox
2. Firebug

Activate the firebug and use the HTML option to go over the elements (columns) in your tabular form. Firebug will show the associated array number and you can use that information to correct you code.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Comparing Strings

I just received an interesting question regarding report filtering. The problem was the following:

1. There was a checkbox with multiple choices in the form.
2. The data would be saved as a concatenated string of values
3. The problem was in filtering that column since the filter would also be the same checkbox containing multiple values.

The solution for that is quite simple. All you need to do is to create a function which will compare the two strings and return something if it finds a match.
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION compare_checkbox_strings (
   p_checkbox   IN   VARCHAR2,
   p_column     IN   VARCHAR2
   l_vc_arr2   apex_application_global.vc_arr2;
   v_count     NUMBER;
   l_vc_arr2 := apex_util.string_to_table (p_checkbox);

   FOR i IN 1 .. l_vc_arr2.COUNT
      EXIT WHEN v_count > 0;
      v_count := INSTR (':' || p_column || ':', ':' || l_vc_arr2 (i) || ':');

   IF v_count > 0
      RETURN 1;
      RETURN 0;
   END IF;
END compare_checkbox_strings;
Now, you can use it in your SQL Query like this:
  FROM your_table
 WHERE compare_checkbox_strings (:p1_your_checkbox, your_column) = 1;
You can find a working example here:

Monday, 18 June 2012

BLOB over DB Link

Using a DB Link to query BLOB's from a remote database could be a problem. Recently, I had to show images comming from a remote server in an APEX application. Selecting from a remote table would result in an error. Creating a copy of the remote table by issuing the following statement worked without any problems:
INSERT INTO dbt_images
     FROM dbt_images@remote_db
    WHERE ID = p_id;

After searching for a solution I found an interesting way to get it working:

Jiri's Microblog

Basically, all you need to do is to:

1. create a local copy of the table you get the data from as
CREATE TABLE dbt_images AS
     FROM dbt_images@remote_db
     WHERE 1 = 2;

2. create two types for storing the information
   ID        NUMBER,
   NAME      VARCHAR2 (256),
   image     BLOB,
   creator   NUMBER,
   created   DATE
CREATE OR REPLACE TYPE object_table_type AS TABLE OF object_row_type;

3. create a pipelined function to get the required row
   RETURN object_table_type PIPELINED
   INSERT INTO dbt_images
      SELECT *
        FROM dbt_images@remote_db
       WHERE ID = p_id;


   FOR cur IN (SELECT ID, NAME, image, creator, created
                 FROM dbt_images)
      PIPE ROW (object_row_type (cur.ID,

   DELETE FROM dbt_images
         WHERE ID = p_id;

END get_remote_blob;

Now, selecting from the function using the following SQL:
SELECT ID, image, NAME, DBMS_LOB.getlength (image)
  FROM TABLE (getblob (p_id));

will get that BLOB for you.