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”.

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.

Mail a screenprint in Oracle APEX

We always build bug-free applications (hehe), but in the extremely rare occasion that the user encounters a bug, they always seem to use words like “it doesn’t” work and nothing more than that.

Well, I like to have more information, so on our site we wanted the user to be able to send some background info and a screen print from within the system.

Personally I like the Team Development framework but for our purpose we needed some lightweight solution. And sending a screen print should be cool, right?

Well, most of the heavy lifting of creating a screen print is done by the library HTML2Canvas

I included an “I want to report a problem” link in the navigation bar entries with an URL-target


The javascript function that is called is the following:

function getScreen() {
  if (!!document.createElement("canvas").getContext) {
    html2canvas(window.document.body, {
      onrendered: function(canvas) {
      var dataUrl = canvas.toDataURL("image/jpeg");
      var clobObj = new apex.ajax.clob(
          if (p.readyState == 4){
            var get = new htmldb_Get(null,$v('pFlowId')
            gReturn = get.get();
            alert('Mail has been send');
        clobObj._set(dataUrl );      
  } else {
    var get = new htmldb_Get(null,$v('pFlowId')
    gReturn = get.get();
    alert('Mail has been send');

Notice that I check if canvas is supported by the browser. If it isn’t supported we’re not able to create a screenshot and we just send some background information. When canvas is enabled I put the output string in the CLOB_CONTENT-collection.

On our site we are sending the mail to our customer to let them be able to give some more background information. But you could of course also navigate to a new page for that or just email the information directly to you.

The On Demand process handles the mailing part.

  cursor c_variables
    select item_name||' : '
    || apex_util.get_session_state(item_name) AS session_value
    from   apex_application_page_items
    where  application_id = :APP_ID
    and    page_id        = :G_CURRENT_PAGE
    select item_name||' : '
    || apex_util.get_session_state(item_name) 
    from   apex_application_items
    where  application_id = :APP_ID
  l_id   number;
  l_blob blob;
  l_clob clob;
  l_body clob;
  l_body := to_clob(:APP_USER||', please give some more information before sending it to us'||utl_tcp.crlf);
  l_body := l_body||utl_tcp.crlf;  
  for r_variable in c_variables
    if ( c_variables%ROWCOUNT = 1 ) 
      l_body := l_body||'Page variables in session state: '||utl_tcp.crlf;  
    end if;
    l_body:= l_body||r_variable.session_value||utl_tcp.crlf;
  end loop;
  /* Add the screen print */
  FOR r_coll IN 
    ( SELECT coll.clob001
      FROM   apex_collections coll
      WHERE  coll.collection_name = 'CLOB_CONTENT'
      ( dest_lob   => l_clob
      , src_lob    => r_coll.clob001
      , amount     => dbms_lob.getlength(r_coll.clob001)
      , src_offset => dbms_lob.instr(r_coll.clob001,',',1,1)+1
    l_blob := apex_web_service.clobbase642blob(l_clob);
  end loop;
  l_id:= apex_mail.send
      ( p_to  => :app_user||''
      , p_from => ''
      , p_subj => 'Issue for application '
                 ||:APP_ID||' Page '||:APP_PAGE_ID
      , p_body => l_body
  if dbms_lob.getlength(l_blob) > 0
     ( p_mail_id    => l_id
     , p_attachment => l_blob
     , p_filename   => 'screenprint.jpg'
     , p_mime_type  => 'image/jpeg'
  end if;

And again, that’s it!

Oracle Apex Gantt collapse all tasks

When implementing the project Gantt chart in Apex, I thought it was annoying that nested tasks default expanded.
I wanted them to be collapsed by default.

For this I added a listener to the draw event of the AnyGantt object to collapse the Gantt chart:


This snippet should be executed on load (Dynamic Action, Page JavaScript property, whatever).

In your case, chart__0 could be chart__N. You have to figure it out in your case.

Just a small blog post, but it could be handy at times.

Building a chrome extension for Oracle APEX Builder

As a developer I like to create my own tools to make my work easier. In our current Oracle APEX project we have build a custom authorization mechanism, based on page numbers. A drawback the development team faced was that we had to register every single page in our custom authorization tables. So I came to think that if I could extend the APEX builder with some custom code on the page builder page, it would make our life a lot easier. When working on a new page we could register the page with a simple click.

The technique I describe in this blog can be used to extract information from the APEX Builder and call some stored procedure in the database to do some magic with it.

I wanted to build an extension for Chrome. With some googling I stumbled upon Chrome extensions. As always, the documentation of these Google API’s is excellent.

I find that building a very, very simple extension for Chrome is relatively easy. Of course you can always be overcomplicating things, but following the KISS principle I was able to build an extension that served my purpose.

The idea behind my extension is, that when the extension is clicked, some JavaScript is fired that “gets” the application id and page id from the current tab and sends it to an API on the database to register the page. But the last API can of course do all kinds of magic with the application and page id.

This is what I did:

Create a directory to host the files for the extension. E.g.


The extension needs a manifest file with the name manifest.json.
My manifest file became

  "name": "Add a page to Auth",
  "version": "1.0",
  "manifest_version": 2,

  "description": "With this extension one can add a page from APEX builder to Auth",

   "browser_action": {
    "name": "Add a pagina to Auth",
    "default_icon": "db.png"

  "background": { "scripts": ["background.js"] },
  "permissions": [

See Formats: Manifest Files for a full description of the fields of a manifest file.

If you look at the manifest two things pop up

  • db.png This is a 128×128 png file that is shown in the browser
  • background.js This is the event page of the extension.

When the extension – a browserAction – is clicked I have to fire some JavaScript. So, the background.js would have to add a listener to the event.

chrome.browserAction.onClicked.addListener(function(tab) {
  chrome.tabs.executeScript(null, {file:"worker.js"});

When the browserAction is clicked, the worker.js is executed

var APPL_XPATH = '//*[@id="apex-breadcrumbs"]/a[3]';
var PAGE_XPATH = '//*[@id="apex-breadcrumbs"]/span[4]';


function getNumber(pXpath, pItem) {


  xpathResult = document.evaluate(pXpath, document.body, null, XPathResult.ANY_TYPE, null);
  nextResult = xpathResult.iterateNext();

  while (nextResult) {
    if (nextResult.textContent.indexOf(pItem) !== -1) {
      lReturn = parseInt(nextResult.textContent.substr(pItem.length), 10);
    nextResult = xpathResult.iterateNext();
  return lReturn;

tabQuery ='=')[1].split(':');
local = 'http://' + + '/' + location.pathname.split('/')[1] + '/';

if (tabQuery[0] === '4000') {    /* Builder   */
  if (tabQuery[1] === '4150') {  /* Edit page */
      Get the pagenumber from the body
    page = getNumber(PAGE_XPATH, 'Page');

    if (page) {
        The page is found. Now get the applicationnumber
      application = getNumber(APPL_XPATH, 'Application');
    if (application && page) {
        Both items have been found. Call the stored procedure to do some magic.
      xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();"GET", local + 'AUTH_API.ADD_PAGE?p_application_id=' + application + '&p_page_id=' + page, true);
      alert('application: ' + application + ' page: ' + page + ' is added');

When the query part of the URL is like 4000:4150 we know that we are on the page edit page.Then we use some XPATH on the body of the page to get the application id and page id. The XPATH expressions are stored in two constant vars. The XPATH expressions you see are working for the current APEX 4.2 version; to get these expressions is very easy using Chrome:

  • In APEX Builder, go to the page edit page.
  • In the breadcrumbs go to the Page xx part.
  • Inspect the element using the context menu in chrome.
  • In the elements tab use the context menu Copy Xpath

The last step to take is to send the two id’s to the database.
For this, I just use a HTTP-request to a stored packaged procedure AUTH_API.ADD_PAGE with two parameters p_application_id and p_page_id.

In our architecture (OHS with mod_plsl and a standard dads.conf) for the development database we are allowed to fire stored procedures this way. In our development
database the wwv_flow_epg_include_mod_local is non-restrictive:

create or replace function wwv_flow_epg_include_mod_local
  ( procedure_name in varchar2
  ) return boolean
  return true; 
end wwv_flow_epg_include_mod_local;

The connecting user, defined in the dads.conf, -e.g. APEX_PUBLIC_USER-, has to have proper grants on the stored procedure that is being called by the HTTP-GET.

Importing the extension.
– Go to the Extra > extentions part of the menu
– Enable developmentmodus
– Use the load button to load the directory where you put all your files.

The new browserAction should show up in the browser.

That’s it. With this you can build an extension in chrome to parse a page in APEX Builder and send the information to some API in the database.

Using Knockout.js with Oracle Apex

If you’re one of the cool kids in the JavaScript block, you might have heard of Knockout.js. With Knockout you can e.g. use declarative binding to DOM elements and use it to dynamically refresh your UI. Just go through the Tutorials on the site. They are excellent!

Sounds like Dynamic Actions in Oracle Apex, right? But if you are starting to hate the dense forest and – in my humble opinion – bugginess of Dynamic Actions and are looking around for alternatives, I would suggest a look into Knockout.

I will give a very, very simple example to dynamically show a message after inserting a value in a text item. Some of the basic Apex concepts I will not discuss.

First of all, you will have to download the latest version of knockout.js and link it to your page c.q. application. You could also link to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like

The Item where you have to enter the text in has to be bound to the viewmodel. You can use the attributes part of the HTML element.

In my example I have a P60_ELI text field which I bind to the observable ELI.

The text that automagically will appear will be shown in another Text Field P60_ELI_VERBRUIK, bound to the knockout id ELI_VERBRUIK.

To put it all together you have to apply the bindings with some small JavaScript in the page:

function getVerbruik(p_x, p_y) {
  var get = new htmldb_Get(null,&APP_ID.,'APPLICATION_PROCESS=SomeOnDemandProcedure',0); 
  //get.add('X',p_x); you could pass the input to the process
  gReturn = get.get();    
  return gReturn; 

function viewModel() {
  var self = this;  
  self.ELI = ko.observable();
  self.ELI_VERBRUIK = ko.computed( function() { 
                                     return getVerbruik('ELI', self.ELI() ); /* passing through the value that is entered in the observable ELI field, i.e. the P60_ELI item */
  Bind the right viewModel (you could have created several) to the elements on the page. 
  ko.applyBindings(new viewModel());

The function getVerbruik will give some text back from the database using an ON-DEMAND process. You can of course just give back text, but I would suggest to return some JSON. Just because you can.

Building a printserver in PL/SQL for APEX with PLPDF

When our customer purchased a licence for PLPDF I started to think about building a simple printserver for APEX in pure PL/SQL.

That should be simple, right? Well, let’s see.

The first step I took was to investigate the full HTTP request APEX makes to its printerengine.

For this I used node.js. Yes, I could have used any sniffer available and APEX also gives you the XML, but building it myself in node.js was more fun. The catcher writes the request to a textfile named body.txt.

File: index.js

var server = require("./server");
var router = require("./router");


File: server.js
var http = require("http"),
  url = require("url");

var constants = {"Port": "80"};

function start(route) {
  http.createServer(function (request, response) {
    route(url.parse(request.url).pathname, request, response);
  }).listen(constants.Port, function () {
    console.log("Listening on " + constants.Port);

exports.start = start;

File: router.js
var fs = require('fs');

function route(pathname, request, response) {
  console.log('In de router: ');
  console.log('Path: ' + pathname);
  console.log('Method:' + request.method);
  var body = '';

  request.on('data', function (chunck) {
    body += chunck;

  request.on('end', function () {
    fs.writeFile('body.txt', body, function (err) {
      if (err) {
        return console.log(err);
      response.writeHead(200, {"Content-Type": "text/plain"});

exports.route = route;

I started the catcher via

  node index.js

and ajusted the Apex Instance settings as admin to the following:
Print Server : Oracle BI Publisher  –> Apache FOP will also work
Print Server protocol : HTTP
Print Server Host Adress: The hostname of my machine
Print Server Port : 80 The Port where the catcher is listening
Print Server Script : /<dad>/converttopdf

After that I created an application with a Report Query and a simple page with a button to print. How to do that is out of the scope of this blog.

After pressing the print-button the catcher wrote the follwing information:

Path: /<dad>/converttopdf
Method: POST
xml=<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
   <REGION ID="some number">
&template=<?xml version ....

So, APEX used a POST method to /<dad>/converttopdf using a body with the following four parameters
xml, template, _xtype, _xf

So, I should be able to create a procedure converttopdf using these named parameters…. not. _xtype and _xf are not allowed as parameternames in PL/SQL. Of course you could do something like

create or replace procedure converttopdf
  ( "xml" in varchar2
  , "template" varchar2
  , "_xtype" in varchar2
  , "_xf" in varchar2

but I tried it and it didn’t work eventually.

So I tried some old school flexible naming:

create or replace procedure converttopdf
  (   name_array  IN  owa.vc_arr
  ,   value_array IN  owa.vc_arr

and altered the Print Server Script setting to:
/<dad>/!converttopdf –> notice the exclamation

Now make sure that APEX_PUBLIC_USER can “see” the procedure (grants, synonyms) and that APEX allows you to call the new procedure in the URL by altering the

apex_xxxx.wwv_flow_epg_include_mod_local function

Now, the only thing we shoud do is altering Print Server Host Adress to the hostname of the webserver.

And it works! When hitting the print button you will get the XML that’s generated by APEX in your procedere. With PLPDF its relatively easy to generate the pdf
in a blob and send it back with the respons:

create or replace procedure converttopdf
(   name_array  IN  owa.vc_arr
,   value_array IN  owa.vc_arr
  /* Proof of concept */
  l_blob          blob;
  l_font          plpdf_type.t_row_font;
  l_heading_font  plpdf_type.t_row_font;
  l_row_aligns    plpdf_type.t_row_aligns;
  l_row_borders   plpdf_type.t_row_borders;
  l_row_datas     plpdf_type.t_row_datas;
  l_row_fonts     plpdf_type.t_row_fonts;
  l_row_maxlines  plpdf_type.t_row_maxlines;
  l_row_widths    plpdf_type.t_row_widths;
  l_header_widths plpdf_type.t_row_widths;
  l_titel         varchar2(2000);
  l_xml           xmltype;
  l_xml_chr       varchar2(32767);
  procedure reset_row
  procedure add_column
    ( p_naam in varchar2
    , p_id   in number
    if p_naam is not null
      l_row_datas(p_id)    := p_naam;
      if NOT l_header_widths.exists(p_id)
        l_row_widths(p_id)   := length(p_naam)*5;
        l_header_widths(p_id) := l_row_widths(p_id);
        l_row_widths(p_id)   := l_header_widths(p_id);
      end if;
      l_row_borders(p_id)  := 1;
      l_row_aligns(p_id)   := 'L';     
      l_row_fonts(p_id)    := l_font;    
      l_row_maxlines(p_id) := 10;     
    end if;  
  end ;
  l_xml_chr := value_array(1);
  l_xml := xmltype(l_xml_chr);
  -- := 'Arial';  := '';
  l_heading_font.fsize  := 10;
    ( p_family =>
    , p_style  => 'B'
    , p_size   => l_heading_font.fsize
  select extractvalue(l_xml,'/DOCUMENT/TITLE') into l_titel from dual;  
  l_titel := coalesce(l_titel,'No title supplied');
    ( p_txt => 'Rapport '||l_titel||' of '
    ||to_char(sysdate,'dd-mm-yyyy hh24:mi:ss') 
  FOR r_rows IN
    ( SELECT rownum as id
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[1]').getRootElement()  as column_name_1
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[1]')              as column_value_1
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[2]').getRootElement()  as column_name_2
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[2]')              as column_value_2
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[3]').getRootElement()  as column_name_3
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[3]')              as column_value_3
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[4]').getRootElement()  as column_name_4
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[4]')              as column_value_4
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[5]').getRootElement()  as column_name_5
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[5]')              as column_value_5
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[6]').getRootElement()  as column_name_6
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[6]')              as column_value_6
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[7]').getRootElement()  as column_name_7
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[7]')              as column_value_7
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[8]').getRootElement()  as column_name_8
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[8]')              as column_value_8
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[9]').getRootElement()  as column_name_9
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[9]')              as column_value_9
      ,      extract(column_value,'/ROW/*[10]').getRootElement()  as column_name_10
      ,      extractvalue(column_value,'/ROW/*[10]')              as column_value_10
      FROM   TABLE(xmlsequence(l_xml.extract('//DOCUMENT/REGION/ROWSET/ROW'))) t
    if = 1
        ( p_family =>
        , p_style  => 'B'
        , p_size   => l_heading_font.fsize
      add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_1),1); add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_6),6);
      add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_2),2); add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_7),7);
      add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_3),3); add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_8),8);
      add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_4),4); add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_9),9);
      add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_5),5); add_column(initcap(r_rows.column_name_10),10);
        ( p_data    => l_row_datas
        , p_border  => l_row_borders
        , p_width   => l_row_widths
        , p_align   => l_row_aligns
        , p_font    => l_row_fonts
        , p_maxline => l_row_maxlines
        ( p_family =>
        , p_style  => null
        , p_size   => l_heading_font.fsize
    end if;
    add_column(r_rows.column_value_1,1); add_column(r_rows.column_value_6,6);
    add_column(r_rows.column_value_2,2); add_column(r_rows.column_value_7,7);
    add_column(r_rows.column_value_3,3); add_column(r_rows.column_value_8,8);
    add_column(r_rows.column_value_4,4); add_column(r_rows.column_value_9,9);
    add_column(r_rows.column_value_5,5); add_column(r_rows.column_value_10,10);                        
    ( p_data    => l_row_datas
    , p_border  => l_row_borders
    , p_width   => l_row_widths
    , p_align   => l_row_aligns
    , p_font    => l_row_fonts
    , p_maxline => l_row_maxlines
  owa_util.mime_header('application/pdf', false);
  htp.p('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="'||l_titel||'.pdf"');
  htp.p('Content-Length: ' || dbms_lob.getlength(l_blob));
  when others

What are the drawbacks?

Just look at the definition of the parameters of converttopdf. The array can just hold up to 32K values.
If you try to print something that’s more than 32K in size it won’t work. But for some simple reports for which the input data
doesn’t become larger that 32K, this concept does work.