Oracle APEX, get your act together!

Don’t get me wrong, I have worked with Oracle APEX for many years now with satisfaction. But in my humble opinion they are moving us as developers to an unsustainable situation.
Since the beginning the focus of developing APEX applications has been on the single developer, single application, multiple users paradigm. So we build applications… first in our free time, later perhaps for a customer. Then we paired up with some colleges, formed several teams and now we are looking at a landscape of a lot of applications; some of them very large with a lot of pages.

So now we have large operations with one or many APEX applications, having to manage bug fixes and build new functionality, preferably in a continuous integration life cycle.
And here is where APEX falls short in my opinion.

The focus of APEX deployment has always been on full application export and still is. Even sqlcl has a APEX EXPORT command, but no APEX EXPORT PAGE command (as of this day, please correct me if I am wrong). Sure, you kan export a single part of an application like a theme or a page, but please do this exercise for me:

1) create in a local APEX environment an application
2) Export the application
3) Import the application in e.g.

All works well, but now:

4) export locally a single page of the application
5) try to import the page in

It won’t work (exported in another workspace-id etc.).

Now the savvy guys will tell you that you have to run som APEX installation packaged procedures and that you have to set workspace-id and the offset before importing the page export,
but when you come to think of it this is ridiculous. The APEX application import succeeds, the partial page import fails.
Try getting in your next sprint the requirements that when a user wants to use part X of your application, she first has to align with some internal keys… nonsense.

Today we are facing a development environment where alterations to the application can’t be managed when faced with more than say 5 developers. Even when you lock a page you’re still
able to export the application. Even when someone is working in it. A bugfix on page x that isn’t done yet is able to be present in an export. To capture these situations you have to rely on the test cycles afterwards, but the framework should help us preventing these situations.

Make the page lock more restrictive, make the export/import process work without the nonsense of workspace-ids and offsets.

Let’s take APEX development further and strive for a page-per-page low-code development cycle.


Changing the status of an Oracle Apex application with pl/sql

I needed this. I needed this badly. And for once the Oracle Apex forum gave me the answer for my need..

create or replace procedure set_application_status
  ( p_application in apex_applications.application_id%type
  , p_status      in varchar2
  if p_status not in ( 'AVAILABLE'        , 'AVAILABLE_W_EDIT_LINK', 'DEVELOPER_ONLY'
                     , 'RESTRICTED_ACCESS', 'UNAVAILABLE'          , 'UNAVAILABLE_PLSQL'
	             , 'UNAVAILABLE_URL')
    raise_application_error(-20000, 'Status '||p_status||' is not supported');
  end if;
  for r_i in ( select app.workspace_id
               ,      app.application_id
               from   apex_applications app
               where  app.application_id = p_application
      ( p_security_group_id => r_i.workspace_id
      ( p_flow_id     => r_i.application_id
      , p_flow_status => p_status
  end loop;

Component view in Apex 5.1

So I’m a dinosaur. I don’t care if I’m not one of the cool kids. I like component view, I started with component view, I’m comfortable in component view and I get the “flow” of component view.
Of course I’m using page designer, but when things get “buggy”, I switch in dinosaur-modus.

And than there is Apex 5.1….
Where is my component view?

First, there is Two pane mode
For me that is a big step in the right direction. I’m not always in the position to ask for a 24″ monitor for development. So, less is more in this case.
And look
Component view!

But it’s not the same. This Component View imposter doesn’t give me the original page for e.g. a region. It jumps to the right section of the page-designer.
Not fair! That’s cheating! …. given that it is also very handy and perhaps my new MO.

But look in the upper right corner.
Here you can set some developer specific preferences, like


This will change the original panel to

Legacy, deprecated, whatever. It’s still there.

Like I said, I will be using Two Pane Mode as default with component view as my prefered way of developing (it could be nice if I could set this somewhere in my preferences),
but it’s comforting to know I can still switch “back”.

ORA-00600: with arguments: [12811], [154970]

We encountered this bug on Windows Enterprise Edition.

When dropping a table and you get a ORA-00 600 with arguments: [12811] and [154970], you will have to check your application for the following sequence of events:

– You created the table with an identity column GENERATED BY DEFAULT ON NULL AS IDENTITY
– you have code that tries to alter the value the sequence by an alter table statement in dynamic sql.

When the alter table results in an error, the sequence is dropped and you are stuck with a corrupted database.

Don’t do this in a production database, as we have ūüė¶

CREATE TABLE edwin_test2
      MINVALUE 1 MAXVALUE 9999999999999999999999999999 
      CREATION_DATE date, 
      CONSTRAINT edwin_test_pk2 PRIMARY KEY (ID)

  l_max_id number:= 10;
   insert into edwin_test2 
     ( creation_date
     ( sysdate
   l_max_id := -1;  -- force the error
   -- Let's blow things up...
   execute immediate 
   'alter table edwin_test2  modify id number '
   ||'generated by default on null as identity '
   ||'( start with ' ||l_max_id || ' )';

drop table edwin_test2;

You can check if you’re have this corruption by the following script:

  cursor c_seq
    ( cp_name in varchar2
    select 'exists' bla
    from   dba_sequences seq
    where  seq.sequence_name = cp_name
  r_seq c_seq%rowtype;
  for r_i in 
    ( select col.table_name
      ,      col.data_default as seq
      from   dba_tab_columns col
      where  col.identity_column = 'YES'
      and    not exists ( select 1
                          from   dba_views vw
                          where  vw.view_name = col.table_name
    r_i.seq := substr( r_i.seq, instr(r_i.seq,'.')+2);
    r_i.seq := substr( r_i.seq, 1, instr(r_i.seq,'"')-1);   
    r_seq:= null;
    open c_seq(r_i.seq);
    fetch c_seq into r_seq;
    close c_seq;
      ( rpad(r_i.table_name,40,' ')
      ||' '
      ||nvl(r_seq.bla, ' ------ohoh!')
  end loop;

To handle this corruption, just open a SR with Oracle. They should be able to help you.

No, recreating the sequence by hand doesn’t work. I tried. The sys.seq.FLAGS column has¬†a value of 8 for a hand-created sequence and 40 for an identity column; I see no problem in selecting from the datadictionairy, but updating it is even for me a big NO.


APEX 5 – The title of a modal dialog

Is it bug or is it a feature? You tell me.

When you create a modal page in Apex 5, the title of the dialog is created before any change to session state. Dynamic titles, based on session state will therefore be funky.

Take this example.

1. Create a new page
2. Select as page type Form > Form on a Table with Report
3. next, next … until the Form page and set the property of the page mode to “Modal Dialog”
4. etc ect, finish

This creates a multirecord report with edit links.
When you click an¬†edit link a dialog appears with the default title “Form on DEPT” (let’s say we had chosen DEPT as table).

But now I want to include the DEPTNO¬†of the record in title. Set the property Title e.g. to “DEPT &P2_DEPTNO.”

Go to the report, click a record…. the deptno¬†in the title is empty…
Go to the report, click another record… the title is not the deptno¬†of the record you clicked, it is the former deptno.

Like I’ve said, is it a bug or a feature?

What happens:

The Apex team implemented the dialog page as an iframe within a jQuery dialog.
The links that are generated in the report look something like:

,{title:'DEPT ',height:'500',width:'720',maxWidth:'960',modal:true,dialog:null}

And that is the problem in a nutshell. When the links in the report is generated, a JavaScript object is also generated for the dialog with e.g. the title as a property. This title is based on the current session state. However, the first argument, the link for the iframe, will alter session state to a new value. But that value is not propagated to the title of the dialog.

How to alter (solve?) this behaviour?

On the global page 0 I have created a Dynamic action, on Page load, executing the following JavaScript:

   if ( $("body").hasClass("t-Dialog-page")) {
     $(".ui-dialog-title", parent.document).html($("title").html());

When in a dialog page, take the title of the page and replace the title of the parenting dialog.

The only issue I have with this solution is that sometimes you can see the title change. But still, it is better that nothing.

Be careful with dual and functions

Because I wanted an UUID I played around with sys_guid() and stumbled upon something that was new for me.

select substr(l,1,8)   ||'-'||substr(l,9,4)||'-'
     ||substr(l, 13, 4)||'-'||substr(l,17, 4)||'-'
     ||substr(l,21, 12) as final
,     l
( select sys_guid() as l
  from dual
) sub

The statement gave two different results!
So sub.l is not equal to minus the minus signs.

But when I do this:

select substr(l,1,8)   ||'-'||substr(l,9,4)||'-'
     ||substr(l, 13, 4)||'-'||substr(l,17, 4)||'-'
     ||substr(l,21, 12) as final
,     l
( select sys_guid() as l
  from other_table_with_1_row
) sub

The results are equal.

My hypothesis was that the fast dual rewrite replaces every occurrence of sub.l with sys_guid(). So, sys_guid is handled six times as a constant, but of course it isn’t.

drop sequence edwin_seq;

create sequence edwin_seq start with 1 increment by 1 nocache;

drop function edwin_f;

create function edwin_f
return number
  return edwin_seq.nextval;

select l + l as sum
,      l
(  select edwin_f as l
   from   other_table_with_1_row
) sub

The resultset is that the sub.sum equals 2 and sub.l equals to 1.
But now do the same thing with dual:

drop sequence edwin_seq;

create sequence edwin_seq start with 1 increment by 1 nocache;

drop function edwin_f;

create function edwin_f
return number
  return edwin_seq.nextval;

select l + l as sum
,      l
(  select edwin_f as l
   from   dual
) sub

Now sub.sum equals 3 and sub.l also equals to 3.
This is because the internal algorithm handles the function as a constant and the resultset is calculated as

first-column  = edwin_f + edwin_f = 1 + 2 = 3
second-column = edwin_f = 3

Every time the function is called the next value of the sequence is returned.

So, be careful with the use of dual in combination with functions that do not return constant values.

Oracle PL/SQL integration with Slack

Ever heard from Slack is the (not “a” but “the”) platform for team communication. It’s a sort of mixture of email, messaging and a lot more. Well, just go to their website. They are a lot better in explaining their own product of course.

For me it got interesting when I saw their API.
I came up with the idea of setting up a channel within our team and let our database post messages on this channel when some triggering event happen.

Now I get whatsapp-like messages on my mobile phone, tablets and desktops from our database. These are the things that makes me very happy!

This is how I did it:

Step 1 – Set up your company
Just go to and follow the wizard. It is very self-explaining.

Step 2 – Set up a channel
You will get two channels: #random and #general.
For this demo I created a third channel #notifications by just clicking the “Create a channel” link. slack1

Step 3 – Configure the integration
Click on the name of your company and select “Configure integrations”

Just look at the wealth of services they offer. Scroll down to the “DIY Integrations & Customizations” and add a Slack API.
You will be directed to Just read it.
For now go to the section “Authentication” and add a token.

This token is what you need to authenticate the database as a client. (Yes, it will authenticate itself as you).

Step 4 – Get the certificate(s)
The API I use is a https-call that will be implemented in PL/SQL. For this we will need to store some certificates in an Oracle Wallet.

I use chrome as a browser. Other browsers have comparable functionality.

  • Go to
  • Right-click the green lock and go to the certificates. This one is in Dutch but you will get the picture.
  • Export the GeoTrust Global CA and the GeoTrust SSL CA-G2 certificates to file as Base64 encoded x.509 (*.cer)
    You don’t need the leaf certificate *

Step 5 – Create a wallet
Using the Oracle Wallet Manager open your wallet or create a new wallet. You don’t need a certificate request.
slack4Under “Operations” choose Import Trusted certificate and import both *.cer files we created before.
Save the wallet to e.g. E:\oracle\Wallet, open the Wallet menu again and enable Auto login. If you don’t do this you will have to embed the password of the wallet in your PL/SQL.
slack6But what if you are using Oracle XE and you don’t have Wallet manager?
Than it’s good to know that the wallet is “just” an PKCS#12 file. Take a look at this excellent post that explains how to use Openssl for creating the

So execute

  openssl pkcs12 -export -in slack.cer -out ewallet.p12 - nokeys 

and place this wallet in a directory. E.g. C:\Oracle\Wallet ( remember your password in this case. You will need it when you set your wallet in PL/SQL

Step 6 – Create a procedure in the database
The following PL/SQL implements the chat.postmessage API from slack to send a message to the #notifications channel. It uses the wallet in E:\oracle\Wallet with autologin enabled:

  p_url            varchar2(2000):= '';
  l_http_request   utl_http.req;
  l_http_response  utl_http.resp;
  l_text           varchar2(32767);
  l_token          varchar2(1000)  := 'thetokenfromtheslackapisite';
  l_param          varchar2(32676) := 'channel=#notifications'||chr(38)
                                    ||'text=Hello world from the database';
  utl_http.set_detailed_excp_support ( true );  
  l_http_request  := utl_http.begin_request
                       ( url=>p_url||'?token='||token
                       , method => 'POST'
    ( r      =>  l_http_request
    , name   =>  'Content-Type'
    , value  =>  'application/x-www-form-urlencoded'
    ( r      =>   l_http_request
    , name   =>   'Content-Length'
    , value  =>   length(l_param)
    ( r      =>   l_http_request
    , data   =>   l_param
  l_http_response := UTL_HTTP.get_response(l_http_request);
      UTL_HTTP.read_text(l_http_response, l_text, 32766);
      DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line (l_text);
    WHEN utl_http.end_of_body 

Happy testing!