“Smart quotes” showing as “?” in emails

When some of my users were using my system to send emails, they’d often copy-and-paste their messages from their favourite word processor, but when my system sent the emails they’d have question marks dotted around, e.g.

“Why doesn’t this work?”

would get changed to

?Why doesn?t? this work??

Simple fix was to detect and replace those fancy-pants quote characters with the equivalent html entities, e.g.:

function enc_chars (m in varchar2) return  (more...)

Review all item help texts

The business analyst or QA wants to check all the help texts for all items in your apex application – don’t force them to navigate to each page and click on the labels, one by one; instead, give them a spreadsheet to review at their leisure.

Method 1: use the apex data dictionary viewer

1. Open your application in the Apex application builder

2. Utilities -> Application Express Views

3. Choose APEX Application Page Items


Custom html for an Apex generated item? jQuery to the rescue

The apex application I’m working on has a search filter on a report page that looks like this:


The list of values is based on a user-defined “ref codes” table, which includes an option “Show By Default”. This option is currently set on the “Closed” and “Deleted” status and means that transactions with that status will not normally be listed in the report, unless the user explicitly selects either of those statuses, e.g.:


If (more...)

Calculate Age in Javascript

I had a registration form in Apex which asks the applicant to enter their Date of Birth in a date item; I then needed to calculate how old they would be at the start of the event, which determines a number of rules, such as whether we need to obtain their parent’s permission.

In my first release I implemented this with a Dynamic Action which ran SQL something like this:

select round(months_between(start_date
             / 12,1)
from  (more...)

Why Kyte Tolerates Poor Questions

I have Tom Kyte’s “Ask Tom” in my feed reader, and every now and then it opens for questions and the flood pours in. Quite often there is an interesting question, but more often than not there are quite a lot of “poor” questions: some just poorly worded, some too-easily-googleable, others are could-have-answered-from-the-docs questions. It’s not dissimilar to StackOverflow, which doesn’t suffer so much because of the army of people who work together to either improve or (more...)

Sample TAPI Apex Application

If you attended my presentation at AUSOUG Perth earlier this month, or if you’ve had a peek at the slides, you may be interested in a more concrete demonstration of the ideas presented. So if you’d like to install and play with a sample application that includes a TAPI generator, feel free to download this.

Disclaimer: this is provided for information (and entertainment) purposes only.

Oracle Application Express 4.2.2 or later

Installation (more...)

Help for your keyboard users

Apex’s Blue Responsive Theme 25 is a great theme for building a user-friendly website, and unlike many other themes which make the item labels clickable to get help, it renders little question-mark icons to the right of each item that has a help message defined.


One issue with this design, however, is that a keyboard-savvy user (such as myself) hates to switch between keyboard and mouse – so they Tab between each field as they fill (more...)

AUSOUG Conference Perth, November 2014

What a great conference – there’s been a lot of praise for the organisers and all the speakers. I haven’t missed a conference since I started 15 years ago, and I hope it keeps going (in one form or another) for a long time to come.

This year I attended the following sessions (some titles changed for effect):

Björn Rost – 12c for DBAs and Developers; FDA (time to drop those journal triggers)

Scott Wesley – CSS & (more...)

Next/Previous buttons from Interactive Report results

What could be simpler than a set of "Next" and "Previous" buttons?

What could be simpler than a set of “Next” and “Previous” buttons?

I love Interactive Reports, they make it easy to deliver a lot of power to users for very little development effort. However, with that power comes some complexity for building certain features not available in the base Apex toolset.

I had an IR with a fairly costly and complex query behind it, linked to another screen to view the details for a record. The (more...)

Code can be scary when you simplify it

Disclaimer: I’m not posting to make me look better, we’ve all written code that we’re later ashamed of, and I’m no different!

This is some code from a system I was maintaining some time ago. I’ve kept it since then because it illustrates a number of things NOT to do:

FUNCTION password_is_valid
  (in_password IN VARCHAR2)
-- do NOT copy this code!!! ...
  l_valid VARCHAR2(1);
  l_sql VARCHAR2(32000);
  CURSOR cur_rules IS
    SELECT REPLACE(sql_expression
                  ,''''  (more...)