Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to Avoid Bot Spammers in APEX

If you've ever developed a public web application with a form on it you may notice that you may get bot spammers trying to enter information into your application.

There's a simple trick that a friend of mine, Sean Rabey, at Pump Interactive showed me which will help you reject submissions from bots.

Sean suggested that I use an input field and then hide it with CSS. Humans entering data into the form won't see the field and therefore won't enter anything into it. Bots on the other hand may try to fill out this field and can't detect whether or not it's visible in the browser. If your "special" field has data in it you can reject the submission since you know it's not a human entering the data.

Here's an example of how you can do this in APEX. You can view an example here:

- Create a "Dummy" item
Set "HTML Form Element Attributes" to class="hideMe"

- Configure "hideMe" style
Add the following in your application somewhere (or to a CSS file)

- Add validation to catch bot entries
Type: Exists
Validation Expression 1:

WHERE :p2900_dummy IS NULL

Monday, February 1, 2010

Presenting at ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010

I'll be presenting at ODTUG Kaleidoscope in Washington DC this year. If you haven't already signed up I suggest you do so before March 24th as they have an early bird special.

I've been to the past 2 Kaleidoscope conferences where I've learned a great deal about APEX and met some great people. It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned APEX developer or new to APEX, there's always something to learn and a lot of excellent presentations for all levels.

This year I'll be giving 2 presentations on APEX (

Enhancing APEX Security: APEX has some excellent built-in configurable security features. This presentation will go over some extra functionality you can add to your APEX applications that will make it more secure both in the front-end and back-end. Primary focus will be on "enhanced session state protection" and "poor man's" VPD for Oracle XE.

How to be Creative: Using the APEX Dictionary to Create Solutions: The APEX dictionary is a very useful tool which can help enhance existing features in APEX. This presentation will cover how you can use the dictionary to resolve your problems. It will include some real-life issues and how the APEX dictionary was used to resolve them

Of course these presentations may be slightly altered based on the new features and functionality of APEX 4.0.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Washington.