HEUG Alliance 2017

I’ll be at HEUG Alliance 2017 in Las Vegas next week. I’ll be giving a presentation on APEX with fellow Insum colleagues Christian Larocque and Sylvain Martel called From student systems to admin systems, one tool : Oracle APEX. The goal of this presentation is to highlight the advantages of using Oracle APEX for higher education institutions.

This will be my first time attending Alliance and I found it difficult to plan my schedule using the existing site. I wasn’t able to easily search all the presentation information at once and on a per time slot basis. APEX to the rescue! We created a simple APEX scheduling application which allows attendees to easily see all the different session slots and search on all the presentations for each slot. For those that have never seen or used APEX before this application shows how easy and quick it is to get a very useful application up and running in a short period of time.

For those attending Alliance 2017 and want to learn more about APEX we’re offering free “Ask the Expert” sessions. To book a time with one of our experts register here.

Custom Calendar CSS in APEX

The new (not legacy calendar) in APEX 5 comes with a set of default calendar CSS classes to style calendar events. The following screenshot is from the inline help for the calendar CSS Class attribute:

calendar-help.png

I couldn’t find how to create a custom class in the documents (as the help suggests). Using the pre-defined classes as an example I was able to create a custom class for a new color for my calendar. The following is an example of a custom APEX calendar class:

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.fc .fc-event.apex-cal-demo {
background-color: #F0F8FF;
border-color: #000000;
color: #FFFFFF;
}

In the calendar query this class can now be referenced as apex-cal-demo.

How to Run Remote SQL Scripts in SQLcl

Over the past few years of developing open source PL/SQL tools I’ve learned that one of the key things to make a project successful is have a frictionless install process. Node.js does this very well with their Node Package Manager (npm). Currently there is no largely adopted solution like npm for Oracle tools so one must usually provide a downloadable zip file containing the code along with installation instructions.

Recently I found out that SQLcl (and I think SQL*Plus 12.1) support running remote SQL scripts. The following is an example of running a remote script from SQLcl:

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SQL> @https://gist.githubusercontent.com/martindsouza/91742f28c39ed2d41d35d80b6c4cc4c1/raw/d0f28ab7e8af5f64629ad480bad570764cece543/test.sql
hello from github
SQL>

The above script is a very simple one: prompt hello from github which can be adapted to contain a full install process.

The nice thing about running remote SQL scripts is that no ACL settings are required on the server nor SSL certificates since the client (i.e. your machine) is making the web request. The bad thing about this is that it opens the door for a lot of vulnerability potentials. It’s recommended to always review the script before running it.

Using Pivot for Aggregations

Suppose you had a requirement in which you needed to return one row which had two columns. The two columns would contain the number of employees in the two different departments. This sounds like a trivial problem to solve but isn’t as easy when you get to coding it.

One way to do this is to use case statements in the aggregation function such as :

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select
count(case when d.dname = 'ACCOUNTING' then 1 else null end) acct_dept_cnt,
count(case when d.dname = 'RESEARCH' then 1 else null end) rsch_dept_cnt
from emp e, dept d
where 1=1
and e.deptno = d.deptno
;
ACCT_DEPT_CNT RSCH_DEPT_CNT
3 5

Another neat way to do this is to use the pivot function:

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select
acct_dept_cnt,
rsch_dept_cnt
from (
select e.deptno, d.dname
from emp e, dept d
where 1=1
and e.deptno = d.deptno)
pivot (count(deptno) as dept_cnt for (dname) in ('ACCOUNTING' as acct, 'RESEARCH' as rsch))
;

In this example they both have the same explain plan as shown below. If using on larger / more complex data sets it would be a good idea to compare the explain plans for both queries to see if there’s performance gain between the two.

explain-plan.png

How to Reference Package Variables in SQL

A long time ago (pre-12c) I wrote about How To Reference Package Variables Outside of PL/SQL. This technique used an execute immediate function to reference a given package variable. Another alternative at the time was to create individual get functions for each variable.

Starting in Oracle 12c you can directly use PL/SQL in SQL and thus reference package variables in SQL. The following example shows how:

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create or replace package pkg_demo as
gc_first_name constant varchar2(255) := 'Martin';
end pkg_demo;
/
with
function get_name return varchar2 as
begin
return pkg_demo.gc_first_name;
end;
select get_name() my_name
from dual;
/
-- Will return
MY_NAME
Martin

You can also use this concept in views.

How to Reference JavsScript and CSS Files for Entire Application

Kim Mertens recently posted the following question today on Twitter: Where to put JS-file that has to be loaded on every page in #orclapex 5.0? Tried “Global Page - Static region” but jQuery isn’t loaded yet

The answer isn’t as straight forward as you think. Most people are used to referencing web files (JavaScript and CSS files) on Page 0 from legacy APEX 4. As Kim hinted at in his question this isn’t always the best thing to do.

In APEX 5 there’s a specific area dedicated to reference custom web files. It’s not the easiest thing to find at first (it takes me a few tries to find it sometimes if I haven’t used it in a while).

js-storage.gif

New Blog Platform Based on Markdown and Git

If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll notice that I had a significant drop in articles over the past year. So much so that I went from 35 posts in 2015 to just 4 posts in 2016. They’re various reasons for the reduction of posts which all came down to time, more specifically the lack of it.

I realized that I had the time to write the content for posts but I didn’t have the time to deal with all the formatting that was required on the blogger.com platform (which used to host talkapex.com). It’s a great platform when writing basic text articles however when adding code samples it becomes an absolute pain to manage code formatting, especially editing an existing post.

Since working on many open source projects I’ve discovered Markdown which is an easy-to-write plain text format that has special syntax for developers. If you’ve never used it I highly recommend that you look into it as it’ll change how you write technical documentation.

Over the weekend I moved this blog from the Blogger platform to Hexo and its now hosted on Github Pages. This allows me to quickly write my blog posts in Markdown, manage the entire blog as a git repository on Github, and use Github Pages to host the site. If I find some time I’ll try to write about the migration process.

A few notes on the new talkapex.com:

  • Older posts may not be formatted correctly. I’m working towards cleaning them as time permits
  • Comments were not retained and the site is using a new comment platform: Disqus
  • Tags have all been cleaned up
  • All the old URLs should work
  • If you need to reference a comment or view the old site you can do so here.

If you do find something out of place or a broken link let me know or leave a comment on the article.

Going forward I’m hoping to write a lot of new posts quickly with this platform and time will tell if this migration solved the goal of allowing me to write more in 2017.

Special thanks to Adrian Png for introducing me to Hexo

APEX OOW 2016 Meetup

Each year the Oracle APEX community gets together at Oracle Open World (OOW) to have a few beers and catch up. This is a great informal event and its your chance to network with a lot of people in the APEX community and meet some of the gurus and members of the core APEX development team.

We’ll be having the annual APEX OOW Meetup at Johnny Foleys on Tuesday September 20th at 7:30 onwards. Please let us know if you’re coming by signing up on the Meetup for this event.

If it’s your first time attending, we’re in the basement and there will be dueling piano’s. Show up early as it gets packed pretty!


243 O’Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Martin

ODTUG Leadership Program

ODTUG has long been recognized as an outstanding source for the technical content Oracle professionals desire, but that’s only half of the story. We’re providing our members with yet another avenue to add to their skills and increase their value to their employer or client. ODTUG is pleased to open enrollment for the fourth class of the ODTUG Leadership Program

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the classes and individuals from the Leadership Program and have heard some amazing stories on how this program changed peoples lives and carriers!

If you, or someone you know, is interested I encourage you to submit an application. Applications must be submitted by August 14th so hurry up!

APEX and the Nest Thermostat

At ODTUG Kscope 15 last year I gave a presentation about APEX plugins. During the presentation I built a plugin from scratch to control my Nest Thermostat. Everything went well until I did a live demo connecting the APEX plugin with my home Nest. I forgot to enable a service and unfortunately the demo didn’t work.

I recently gave a talk to the Vancouver Oracle User Group on APEX and the Future of Enterprise Development. During this presentation I pre-recorded a video of APEX controlling my home Nest to highlight that APEX can work with the Internet of Things (IoT).

There has been some interest to see this in action so I have included a copy of the video below. On the right is a Nest plugin that I wrote for APEX, the left is the Nest app on an Android tablet, and in the center is the actual Nest.