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Ever thought of replacing your under-utilized, expensive or outdated BI tool with a suite of APEX Interactive Reports?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:

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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!