APEX Interactive Grid: Customize Toolbar

APEX Interactive Grids allow customization of the Toolbar, the Grid Menu and the Column Heading options using JavaScript in the appropriate Grid or Column Attributes Advanced –> JavaScript Code element. This post discusses how to build a function to make simple changes to the Interactive Grid Toolbar.


The toolbar is implemented by a toolbar widget ,which is created by the interactive grid widget. To learn more about the toolbar widget, read library file widget.toolbar.js.  That file documents the properties of the toolbar widget,  the toolbarData array, control types and their properties.


toolbarData is an array that describes the toolbar – the buttons, fields and menus visible to the user, and their actions. Toolbar objects are grouped into control groups.  Each control group has one or more controls, of type Static, Text, Select, Button, Menu, Radio Group or Toggle.

By default, the toolbarData is based on the Grid default options and declarative settings.

Developers (you) can override the toolbarData property by adding a function to the Advanced–> JavaScript Code section of the Interactive Grid Attributes. Basically, you write a function that resets the toolbarData array to the configuration you want.

There are two general approaches to writing an override function:

  1. Totally replace
  2. Copy and adjust

That is, your custom configuration function can completely (re)define the toolbar, or, it can make adjustments to the default or current toolbarData.    Which approach is best depends on your requirements – the degree of customization required.

If you are totally replacing, you can fill the array as you want. You might want to examine the default toolbarData to see what is possible.

If you are adjusting, you need to understand the default toolbarData array to know where to add your customization.

Default toolbarData Array

By default, for an editable grid,  there are 7 control groups in the toolbar, as shown below:


Note that the reports, views, actions2 and actions3 toolbar groups are conditionally visible: the reports group becomes visible when there are multiple reports, the views group becomes visible when there are multiple views; the actions2 and actions3 groups become visible when edit mode is on.

To examine all of the elements in the toolbarData object (as well as all other objects of the interactiveGrid widget) use this command in the Console:


using the static id of your interactive Grid for “emp_igrid”. This command says, Show me the config options for the emp_igrid Interactive Grid region.

Examine the returned contents by clicking through all the objects.  Look at the toolbarData object, expanding the elements beneath it.  After a few clicks you will no doubt recognize menu and button elements of the interactive grid Actions menu and other toolbar features.

The default toolbarData array has 7 elements, for 7 control groups, shown below:


If we look at just “actions1” object, you will see that it is a menu containing  the familiar elements of the Actions menu. This image shows the download dialog menu element expanded.


Let’s say our users do not like doing two clicks (Actions –> Download) to get to Download – they want a Download button on their toolbar.  In fact, they want it all the way over to the right.

To do this, we need to construct a JavaScript function to adjust the toolbarData to add a Download button in the actions4 (the rightmost) control group.

This function does the trick:

function(config) {
 var $ = apex.jQuery,
 toolbarData = $.apex.interactiveGrid.copyDefaultToolbar(),
 toolbarGroup = toolbarData.toolbarFind("actions4"); // this IS the rightmost GROUP WITH the RESET button

// add a Download button next to the Reset button
 toolbarGroup.controls.push( {
 type: "BUTTON",
 action: "show-download-dialog",
 iconBeforeLabel: true,
 hide: false,
 disabled: false
 config.toolbarData = toolbarData;
 return config;

The toolbar stuff adds the button, with the action show-download-dialog.  The show-download-dialog action is the same definition found while examining the actions menu.

If you are a PL/SQL developer, and relatively new to JavaScript, the above JavaScript is very readable:

  • Copy the default toolbarData – we will make changes to a copy
  • Get the actions4 toolbar group
  • Add (Push) the download dialog to the actions4 toolbar group
  • Copy the modified toolbar to the return config

Very easy to follow.  But this is a very basic example.  If you will be doing a lot of such customization, pursue additional JavaScript training.  Hint: Remember that JavaScript is case sensitive, where PL./SQL is not.  That alone will save some grief.

Note that Download is a declarative option –


So, if/when a (the next?) developer sets Download Off … your newly-placed Download button disappears.  The declarative nature of the show-download-dialog action is contained within the action – our moving the button around does not overwrite that declarative toggle.

One can also turn off Download (and other features) programmatically. To do so, we use this command:

config.features.download = false;

as part of you Advanced –> JavaScript Code function, or in a dynamic action.  This command will also turn off your newly-placed Download button.

This simple example show how to add one button – you can of course add more, or redefine the entire toolbarData area.  For additional, more complex toolbar customization examples, see the examples in the Sample Interactive Grid packaged application.  And read the Interactive Grid posts in the HardLikeSoftware blog by John Snyders of the Oracle APEX team.

Interactive Grid is a great new region type – and it is still evolving. This writing is for APEX 5.1.2 – APEX 5.2 may bring more declarative options, and/or may bring documented APIs for customizing the toolbar – who knows.  Stay tuned!




APEX Interactive Grid: JavaScript Basics Cheat Sheet

APEX Interactive Grid can be customized by JavaScript in the Advanced –> JavaScript Code attribute of the Grid or a Grid column.  Yup – JavaScript.

JavaScript may be out of the comfort zone for PL/SQL developers, even those who implemented extensive tabular form customization working with PL/SQL collections.  Time to say Goodbye to those collections … Welcome JavaScript!

The following is a collection of simple JavaScript lines most likely to be needed by a developer wanting to customize an Interactive Grid, or access data elements in the Grid.

This is not a comprehensive list or a complete function – just a simple collection of lines to give you an idea of the process and examples of  – a reference for – the syntax.


Taken line by line:

var $te = $(this.triggeringElement);

This line gets the triggering element – the element that caused the dynamic action (DA) to fire. Usually we want to do this in a Grid to get the value of a particular cell – the one clicked on in this case. To get the value of the cell, we need to know which row id,  then we can narrow things down to a column using the column static id.

To get the row id, we start with the triggering element.

Next, we find the closest row – a ‘tr’ – and get the “id” data from it.  It helps to know that Interactive Grid has an “id” data element on each row:


var rowId = $te.closest('tr').data('id');

If our data element was data-thingamajig, we would access it via

 ... .data('thingamajig');

The next line gets the grid widget. The apex.region function is the preferred way to access region widgets.  “grid_static_id” is the Static ID of the Interactive Grid, set by the developer in the Advanced –> Static Id attribute of the Grid.  If you do not set one, a static id gets assigned, but it will be a long difficult-to-read identifier – it is much easier and better practice to set a meaningful static id, then use that meaningful static id in your code.

var ig$ = apex.region("grid_static_id").widget();

Given the Grid, we can now get the data model.  The data set is referred to as a data model.  There is a data model for every view:  grid,  chart, group by, icon, detail.  The following line gets the grid data model.

var model = ig$.interactiveGrid("getViews", "grid").model;

Given the grid data model, which we know is a table, we can get the record of the model, using our rowId which we identified via properties of the triggering element.

var record = model.getRecord(rowId);

Once we have the record,  we can access properties of any column in our Grid – any column in that record, using the column name – or the aliased name we assigned to the column.  Here my column name is COMM for commission.

var comm = model.getValue( record, "COMM");

model.getValue gives us the value of a cell in a record.  The corresponding model.setValue sets the value of a cell in a record.

if (comm < 100) { 

The above examples are easy on purpose. In fact, I bet any PL/SQL developer could follow these lines without headache.

Now you know how to access a row id, access the grid widget, access the data model of a grid, access rows – records – in that data model, and how to get and set values of the columns in that data model record.  That covers most of the basics!

You will need to learn more if you plan on complex customization or perhaps on building plugins.  For now, I recommend examining the grid in the Console, and reading the APEX widget js files.  Looking forward to APEX 5.2 (Oracle Safe Harbor), there may be documentation for all the Interactive Grid widget APIs.  Won’t that be nice!

Happy coding!

I highly recommend reviewing all of the examples in the Sample Interactive Grid packaged application.  And, read John Snyders’ hardlikesoftware.com blog posts on How to Hack the Interactive Grid.


APEX Interactive Grid: Column Widths and noStretch

Setting column widths in Interactive Grid is totally different than how you may have set column widths in Interactive Reports.  While it is nice to blindly let APEX and the browser handle it, there are times when you need to explicitly set a column width, or at least set the width of one column relative to another, and for that you need to know how Interactive Grid handles column widths.

Recall that Interactive Reports let the browser figure out the column width, using table-layout:auto;  We could do little tricks like making the column heading longer or shorter to trick the browser into making the column wider or narrower.  That won’t work with Interactive Grids.  Interactive Grids are Fixed Table Width – table-layout:fixed;.  APEX will, by default, try to fill the full table width with the displayed columns, adjusting  – stretching or shrinking – the width of columns to  fit the full width of the table.

So how to set Interactive Grid column widths?

First,  the Width property (visible in the Appearance property group) for an Interactive Grid column does not set the width of the column.


Instead, run the Interactive Grid, then set the column widths interactively using Drag and Drop on the columns themselves.

Select the || divider to dynamically adjust column width:


Select the 4-way divider between columns to activate Drag and Drop column order:


Hover over the divider between column headings to grab either the column width adjustment icon or the drag-and-drop column order icon.

Adjust column widths and column order as desired.  (Notice that APEX will adjust column widths so the full width of the table is filled.  This auto-adjustment may not be what you want – more on “noStretch” later on in this post).  Then save the report: Action –> Report –> Save.   The column order and the relative column widths are saved with the report.   When a user adjusts column widths, or does any other actions, a Reset action will restore the column order and column widths to the default set by the Developer’s Save Report.  Much easier that messing with numbers!


You can, in the Column action, set a minimum column width. This sets just that – sets a minimum column width for the column that APEX tries to honor.


What about Max width?  You may have a Yes/No column, or a single-digit column, and do not want that column to get auto-stretched to some absurd-looking width.



This is where the noStretch option comes in.

Setting noStretch on a column will hopefully (Oracle Safe Harbor) be declarative as of  APEX 5.2.0.

Until then, to set noStretch, as of APEX 5.1.1, in the Advanced –> JavaScript for the column you do not want stretched, set the noStretch grid column option to true:

function(config) {
   config.defaultGridColumnOptions = {
       noStretch: true
   return config;

If you want noStretch true for all columns, the solution is similar, but this time we adjust the configuration in the Advanced–> JavaScript region for the Grid:

function(config) {
   var cfg = cfg;
  cfg.stretchColumns = false;
  return config;

With noStretch on, APEX will not resize your noStretch column(s) to fill the full table width:



While this works perfectly if the current view is your Grid view, remember that there are also Chart, Group By, Icon and Detail views – the above code will fail if the current view is not Grid.  So one should make that code that code a bit smarter, so it only acts on – changes the configuration for – a Grid view:

function(config) {
   var cfg = cfg;
  "views.grid.features".split(".").forEach( function (p) {
      if ( !cfg[p] ) {           cfg[p] = {};      cfg = cfg[p];  });
  cfg.stretch.noStretch = true;
Columns = false;
  return config;

In version APEX 5.1.0, setting noStretch is a bit different.  If you can, upgrade to APEX 5.1.1 or higher.  There are significant updates to Interactive Grid widgets and APIs in APEX 5.1.1.  IF you cannot upgrade and need noStretch, it can be implemented per column, by adding JavaScript to the Page Execute When Page Loads element:

var igrid = apex.region ("my igrid").widget().interactiveGrid("getViews", "grid");igrid.modelColumns.COLUMN1_NAME.noStretch = true;igrid.modelColumns.COLUMN2_NAME.noStretch = true;

That’s it!

I highly recommend checking out the APEX Sample Interactive Grid packaged application. Your best source of Interactive Grid documented examples.

Good luck!


Going to the Grid: What the APEX Interactive Grid Means to You and Your End Users

I will be speaking at Kscope 17 in San Antonio, TX on APEX 5.1 Interactive Grid:

Going to the Grid: What the APEX 5.1 Interactive Grid Means for You and Your End Users

Karen Cannell , TH Technology
When: Jun 26, 2017, Monday Session 2 , 11:45 am – 12:45 pm
Room: Cibolo Canyon 5
Topic: Application Express – Subtopic: APEX New Release

The long-awaited APEX 5.1 Interactive Grid region is here – but what does it mean to you and your end users? Need some practical guidance on when, why, and how to adopt the interactive grid region type? This session is for those who have seen the introductory demonstrations, are looking to upgrade to APEX 5.1, and need some advice. Does the interactive grid replace interactive reports? No more tabular forms? This session answers practical functional and technical questions raised by this new region type:

• When and why should I upgrade existing regions to interactive grid?
• Is there an upgrade wizard?
• What features will I gain; what features will I lose?
• What about customizations – will they upgrade?
• How does an editable interactive grid compare to my existing tabular form?
• Which features must still be manually written? Do I still need to write all that collection logic?
• How can I customize appearance?
• How can I add dynamic actions?
• Can I extend the interactive grid functionality?
• Will my end users like it? What about data entry users?

This session compares and contrasts interactive grids with the interactive reports and tabular forms we are familiar with. We will pay particular attention to maintaining or replacing features and common customizations in existing applications: checkboxes, 32K limits, cascading select lists, row-level validations, interactions between columns, and navigation between fields. How does the interactive grid region measure up? Should you upgrade all your interactive reports and tabular forms now?

How we do settings of which features are on or off for a particular Grid and for a particular column is now controlled by javascript. Sound scary? It is really not, you just need to learn where to put what piece of code when.  How to access data in the Grid data model?  We will show you that too.

If you cannot attend, don’t worry, I will be posting bits of that presentation here over the next few weeks.  IF you can attend, I will see you there!

Rest up ~ our Kscope 17 schedule is packed, so don’t expect much sleep or downtime.

Read XLXS Files from APEX 5.0 and Higher – One (or Two) Ways

In my work as a consultant I often have the task of getting data from MS Excel spreadsheets into tables in the database.

If this is a one-time load, the process is simple – use either SQL Developer or, easier yet, use the Data Load Workshop in APEX:  SQL Workshop –> Utilities –> Data Workshop.

If the requirement is for a repeated load or many files, I need to set up some automated process for reading in the data.  I do not want to ask my users to open the XLSX files, save the data to CSV, then upload the CSV files.  That makes for unhappy users, at best.

I am sure there are several options for load XSLX files into Oracle data tables.  I am going to focus on a two I have used (and continue to use) successfully across several clients, across many projects.  And another option that used to be a very good option, that goes away with APEX 5.0 and higher.

Let’s do Bad News First.

The Option That Goes Away:

With APEX Listener, now Oracle REST Data Services, ORDS, we gained a wonderful utility for loading XLS or XLSX files into the database.

I will not elaborate on that here, for reasons which will be obvious in a bit.  I did cover that option, and several other Data Load options, in this presentation, How Do I Load Data, Let Me Count the Ways..  Most of these options still apply.  Yes, it is a PowerPoint, but gives you enough detail to get going.

This ORDS-based utility works fabulous for APEX versions less than APEX 5.0.  It loaded data into a collection. You can process your data however you wish from there.  However, as of APEX 5.0, APEX uses JSON to move data, and the ORDS Excel file upload function no longer works.  Joel Kallman explains this clearly in his blog, Let’s Wreck This Together, here.  It will still work for APEX versions < 5.0 – that is, APEX 4.2, APEX 4.1.  But beware, if you are using this Excel-Upload option of ORDS in APEX 4.1 or APEX 4.2 applications, you will need to make some changes when you upgrade those applications to APEX 5.0 and above.

The XLSX Option That Still Works – READ_XLSX

Thanks to Anton Scheffer from AMIS, we have a PL/SQL package that reads .XSLX files from a file in a file server folder that has been mapped to an Oracle directory.  That sounds like a mouthful, but it is simple.

You have files in a folder.  You or your system administrators arrange for that file system folder to be available to the database – usually a mapping of the physical folder to a virtual folder on the database file server.  Then your DBA creates an Oracle directory that points to the folder, physical or virtual, on the database file system. And grants appropriate grants so you can see and read and/or write from /to that Oracle directory.

Now Anton’s package, READ_XLSX comes in.  download the package, read Anton’s blog post.  I am only going to summarize here.

READ_XLSX consists of two main functions, one to read the contents of an XLSX file into a BLOB (named file2blob), and another to read the contents of that BLOB into records (this one is named “read“).  Cast the results of the read function as a TABLE, and voila, you have the results of your XLSX file.

This statement is the guts of it:

SELECT * FROM TABLE( as_read_xlsx.read( as_read_xlsx.file2blob('MY_ORA_DIRECTORY',
 'MyExcelWorkbook.xlsx' ) ) );

Now if you are like me, you do not want ot have to keep typing that SELECT statement.  So I turn it into a view:

CREATE VIEW MY_SPREADSHEET_V AS SELECT * FROM TABLE( as_read_xlsx.read( as_read_xlsx.file2blob('MY_ORA_DIRECTORY',
 'MyExcelWorkbook.xlsx' ) ) );

Now I can query from the view the same as I query from any other table or view I have access.  And incorporate queries from that view into any packages, procedures and functions that I build to meet the requirements of the task at hand.

When I have a series of files in a folder, I use a version of GET_DIR_LIST to read files from the Oracle directory.  (GET_DIR_LIST is a java utility, wrapped in PL/SQL, that returns the list of file names in a folder in a one-column table). You probably have your own method of doing the same.  Then, in a loop, I use dynamic SQL to point my view to the next file in the loop, call my loading procedure to process the contents of that file, then move on to the next file.  OF course I have all kinds of validations and error checking in there, as much is needed depending on the task at hand.  Once configured, the process is clean, reusable, easily customizable and – best of all – works in APEX 5.0 and above.

I did not use Anton’s READ_XLSX directly.  Why?  At the time I downloaded it (years ago now), Anton’s package handled cells of up to 4000 characters.  The spreadsheets I had to load contains some cells with > 4000 characters.  So I made a slight adjustment to handle CLOBs.  I described those customizations here.  I suspect most persons will not need such a customization.

Another (Better?) Option – EXCEL2COLLECTION Plugin:

Is READ_XLSX the only way? No. Seems like too much work? Yup, it can be.  Anton apparently thought so too, because he came up with EXCEL2COLECTION, a utility APEX Plugin that, with less coding than the READ_XLSX package, will read data from an XLSX, XSL, XML 2003 or CSV file into a PL/SQL collection.  I have also used this plugin successfully across several customers and projects.

I have used the EXCEL2COLLECTION plugin in conjunction with a customized instance of the APEX Data Load Wizard to enable simpler (from a user perspective) upload of XLSX files.  I describe more of that process here.  The APEX Data Load Wizard does not out-of-the-box allow upload of XLSX files – one needs to cut/paste.  Integrating the EXCEL2COLLECTION plugin into a customized Data Load Wizard series of pages makes use of other features of the Data Load Wizard – like the column mapping page – possible.  Beware, that customizing the Data Load Wizard pages and process flow means that your work is subject to break upon any and every APEX upgrade.  This customization of the Data Load Wizard process is unsupported territory.  Note that the EXCEL2COLLECTION plugin itself is supported (by Anton). My use of it in customizing the Data Load Wizard is not.

Bottom line:

Anton’s READ_XLSX remains one of the best methods of reading XLSX data into an Oracle database, when the requirement is to read many XLSX files.  When using APEX, investigate using the EXCEL2COLLECTION plugin; that will make your XLSX load tasks easier.  For one-of data loads, I still use SQL Developer or the APEX SQL Workshop Data Workshop utility.  Need to script the load for Production?  Use SQL Developer in a DEV environment, then use SQL Developer to generate a load script, there are several options for that.

Happy Data Loading!




ODTUG Innovation Award ~ Make Your Nomination Now!

Nominations for the 2017 ODTUG Innovation Award are open now through June 2nd.  Make your nomination now, before your Memorial Day weekend.

We are looking for innovative, exceptional, ahead-of-the-curve applications of Oracle development tools that stand out as examples of “the next big thing”, or maybe the really neat next small thing,  in Oracle technology.   Can’t think of anything? Nah, I don’t believe that.  Consider:

  • Do  you have, or does your co-worker have an unusually creative application or combination of new and emerging Oracle tools?
  • Did you find a new open source project that makes your life easier?  Open source projects are eligible, as long as they integrate some Oracle technology.
  • Does your latest project enable faster, smoother, cleaner adoption of an Oracle tool?
  • Are you envying someone else’s work, saying “Wish I thought of that …”?
  • Have you seen a real neat learning tool that aids others in understanding a new Oracle tool?   All projects, large and small, are eligible.
  • Does your organization have an exception program for attracting or training persons new to Oracle technology?
  • Have you created, seen or adopted a new plugin or feature, large or small, that others may not have seen yet?

We are looking for the stuff that makes you say “Wow, great idea …”  or “Neat stuff …” or “wicked cool …” (you can tell where I am from).  We need your help to get as many innovation examples in before the June 2nd deadline.

Now is the time to make your nomination.

The ODTUG Innovation Award honors excellence in creative, effective, and innovative use of Oracle development tools within ODTUG’s supported communities (ADF, APEX, BI, Database, EPM and Career). The goal is to honor developers – individuals or teams – whose passion and creativity shine through in their application of Oracle technology to address real-world problems.  Note that this year we are not excluding anything or anyone, so projects and individuals from all organizations (Oracle, too!) are welcome.

Note that ODTUG members get to vote this year.  Make your nomination, then vote for it too! Member voting will be combined with judges scoring to determine an overall Innovation Award winner.

Check out the full information on the ODTUG web site here:

ODTUG Innovation Award Nominations

Nominations close June 2nd, so act soon!

ODTUG Innovation Award 2017 ~ Nominations are Open!

Nominations for the 2nd Annual ODTUG Innovation Award are now open!

The ODTUG Innovation Award honors excellence in creative, effective, and innovative use of Oracle development tools within ODTUG’s supported communities (ADF, APEX, BI, Database, EPM and Career). The goal is to honor developers – individuals or teams – whose passion and creativity shine through in their application of Oracle technology to address real-world problems.

We are looking for innovative, exceptional, ahead-of-the-curve applications of Oracle development tools that stand out as examples of “the next big thing” in Oracle technology or as unusually creative applications of new and emerging Oracle tools.  The stuff that makes you say “Wow, great idea …”  or “Neat stuff …” or whatever rad saying you use.

Now is the time to make your nomination.

What is it this year: A new Cloud implementation?  A clever APEX integration? A cross-platform collaboration?  The sky (cloud joke) is not the limit!

New this year is Member Voting – all ODTUG members are invited to vote for your favorite Innovation Award nomination. Yes,  we want YOU to help decide the 2017 Innovation Award winner. Member voting will be combined with judges scoring to determine an overall Innovation Award winner.

Check out the full information on the ODTUG web site here: ODTUG Innovation Award Nominations

Nominations close June 2nd, so act soon!


The 2017 ODTUG Innovation Award nominations will be reviewed by a team of judges according to these general topics:

  • Innovation – The “wow” factor: acknowledges the exceptional and innovative
  • Quality – Not only does it have to be “wow,” but it has to work
  • Applicability – Evaluates subject matter importance, completeness, effectiveness, and accuracy
  • Topic merit – Treatment of a cutting-edge topic, technical complexity, or new and unique approach to a common problem

Judges score will be combined with member voting results to determine the overall winner.

For guidance, a perfect example of innovation with Oracle tools is our 2016 Innovation Award Winner: Mia Urman, AuraPlayer 

AuraPlayer and Oracle joined forces to mobilize the Oracle Forms based collision reporting system for the New York MTA to a new Oracle Mobile Cloud based application without redevelopment. In the past, MTA’s officers had to manually fill out accident reports in the field and then deliver it to a data entry clerk who would then enter the information into MTA’s legacy system.  Using AuraPlayer and Oracle’s Mobile cloud they were able to create a “mobile-ready” version of the application without the need for redevelopment or migration of the underlying Oracle Forms system. To enable this modernization, REST services were automatically generated from the Oracle Forms business processes using AuraPlayer. The REST services communicate with the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, enabling authentication and push notifications, as well as application monitoring and analytics.

Using this application, MTA employees are now able to gather collision information and in addition, now capture photos of the accidents and documents on their tablets.  This data is automatically updated by AuraPlayer into MTA’s Oracle Forms system.  The mobile app also works offline, even without cell or Wi-Fi coverage, this is especially important when an officer is working in a tunnel or on the middle of a bridge. With the real-time submission of traffic accident reports, MTA can assess damages much quicker, determine if a crew is needed to repair damage, and clear the scene in much shorter time—in some cases minutes, instead of hours. The need to manually type collision reports after the fact was eliminated, and the efficiency, accuracy, and timeliness of the data were improved.

See more about AuraPlayer here.

Congratulations, Mia and AuraPlayer!


APEX 5 IR Guts and Performance

APEX 5 Interactive Reports (IR) are powerful out of the box, but one can significantly improve performance by strategic settings of certain key parameters.  The full presentation covers all the options.

When your data volumes are low to medium, there may not be much noticeable difference. But when data volumes are high, or the query is resource intensive, the following advice and settings can have a significant performance impact.

In brief:

  • Tune your query, then fine-tune your SQL query. Any slowness here will be magnified in APEX
  • Check MAXROWCOUNT.   The more rows, the longer it takes APEX to retrieve them.  do users really need ALL the rows? OR is it reasonable to ask users to filter first. (APEX 5.1 Interactive Grid will include features to FORCE users to filter first – nice!) Consider  supplying users who need to Download All a separate pag,e os not all users are handicapped by a high MAXROWCOUNT value.
  • Check Max Rows Per Page
  • Check your Pagination setting.  The X to Y of Z is popular, but the “of Z” part is expensive – APEX needs to retrieve all rows then set up pagination. That All Rows part takes time.  Consider using X to Y, and adding a page item that calculates the Z separately. (THere are various options to do this, a topic for another blog post, ranging from a straight COUNT(*) to a sophistcated use of APEX_IR to get the count of the as-filtered IR query)

These are your big-impact settings.

For more info, see the full presentation via the link below or Slideshare:

As you move to APEX 5 Interactive Grid, these three settings till apply – but you have better pagination options, and pagination works differently – heck, all of Interactive Grid works differently – better!  So watch here for upcoming information on Interactive Grid.

APEX5 IR Guts and Performance

Smart use of the IR settings makes for a better end user experience ~ and that’s the whole point!

Migrate BI to APEX 5?

Just back from presenting Migrating BI to APEX 5 at RMOUG Training Days 2016.  Great conference!  Great experts on all Oracle technology. If you have to pick one short sweet conference a year, this is it.

Ever thought of replacing your under-utilized, expensive or outdated BI tool with a suite of APEX Interactive Reports?  In *SOME* cases this makes sense:

  • Your Data Display requirements are reasonable – i.e. users are happy with seeing and working with a few thousand rows or less at a time.
  • Your BI feature requirements include APEX IR Actions (select, sort, filter, chart, pivot, group by aggregate, save, download), and
  • Your BI feature requirements do NOT include BI analysis, unlimited drill-downs, automatic or integrated analysis (such as percents, rank, etc), drag and drop report creation/analysis, and/or MS-Excel-like features. IF you want these, you have to build them.
  • You have APEX resources to plan, design, build and maintain the APEX app
  • You have Database Architects/Developers to plan, design, build and manage the data structures in the database required to consolidate and serve your data ( materialized views, indexes, or other rollups as needed as licensed for).
  • You are prepared to design, build and tune all for performance (as you always should anyways!)
  • You do NOT require out-of-the-box PDF Printing for the as-displayed data set.  Those who own and extensively use BI Publisher may not want to give up this printing luxury IF moving to APEX means doing so. There are many many printing uses cases for which there are many solutions – ensure you have a solution that fits (and is reasonable to implement) before you jump.

Given all this, it just might work for you  It has for many customers, successfully.  The caveats are:

  • If you need a feature that APEX does not natively supply, you must build it.
  • Dynamic Actions are great -but need to be implemented wisely. They may not always perform well with volumes of data.
    • ex: Dynamic parameter selection => Good.
    • Dynamic parameter selection AND dynamic refresh of the IR with the new parameters (a new query against the source data structure) may/will not perform so nicely, depending on the volume of data.
  • Some features are just not reasonable to build in APEX:
    • ex: True Excel-Like behavior
    •        Dynamic Aggregate adjustments

So – want to replace that aging Discoverer installation?  Consider APEX 5.

In planning pages, menus and features, consider these tips:

  • Plan and meticulously tune all structures – materialized views, CUBEs or ROLLUPS, or whatever works for your data. Anything slow here is magnified slow in APEX.
  • Give users mandatory parameters.  This forces up-front filtering, to reduce the result set to a reasonable size AND gives you a ready-made drill path.  We want reasonable size for reasonable performance of all interactive features.
  • Try 3 to 5 Parameters – More gets tedious for end users if they have to select every time.
    • A Temporal (Year. Quarter, Month), and Spatial ( Country, State, City ) and one or few others specific to your data.
    • Consider using Page Zero or building  a Plugin for displaying the same parameter set on all or several pages. (Yes, Plug-Ins can be used locally!)
  • Use a flag to control when data displays. This allows users to filter (using your parmeters Plugin) first, then wait for data to display.  Plan so users do not incur a big wait right up front.
  • Consider multiple IRs on one page, each containing different aggregates of you data depending on the parameters.  The parameters chosen control which ONE of thes IRs displays at any given time.
  • Consider multiple IRs on one page, each containing different Action Item features.  Authorizations for authenticated users control which ONE of thes IRs displays at any given time.
  • Plan and build drill paths wisely.  Intelligently build useful drill paths.  A drill on every column is not necessary. Drills on key columns are nice to have.

Know Your Users, and know what they really do with the data.  That helps you to design and build truly useful data sets and features.

Still not convinced? On the Fence ?

Consider waiting for APEX 5.1 Interactive Grid.  Previews of this new region type show some promising features that BI folks may find interesting:

  • Drag and drop headings
  • Lazy loading – an option to display the frame then the rest of the data
  • Loading data in pages, as opposed to one big result set.

Doesn’t seem like much, but these are big useability improvements , especially when we are considering paging through volumes of data.  Were I to be starting a BI migration project now,  I would investigate the APEX 5.1 Interactive Grid previews and plan my project accordingly.

In the meantime, see my Migrating tBI to APEX 5 slides here, and  if you have specific questions, reach out:






RMOUG  – Rocky Mountain Oracle User Group – 2013 is around the corner – check out the RMOUG 2013 Training Days for more information. I’ll be presenting on Tabular Form Terrors and How to Overcome Them – updated APEX tabular form information, with guidance on how to build some of those out-of-the-sandbox features that are not readily built by existing wizards and dynamic actions. See you there!