Apex 5 – show Y/N columns as font awesome icons


The database column value is Y or N (J or N for German databases). In the past I rendered such columns using images that had a name, where the column value could be appended to, for example IconCheckbox_Y.png. In Apex 5 the same is possible using icon classes.

1) add an alias for Font-Awesome Icons

This little css will create two aliases for the fa-check and the fa-remove icons. And it will give them a default color.

.syn-check-J:before,.syn-check-Y:before {
  content: "\f00c";
  color: green;
.syn-check-N:before {
  content: "\f00d";
  color: #ff3a30; /* color: red; */

If you want to know the content code for a different icon you can search in the fontAwesome.min.css file or have a look at some “cheatsheet” pages like this one here: http://astronautweb.co/snippet/font-awesome/

If we would add another attribute:


then we could use the icon even without the “leading” fa class.
I do not recommend this! Remember in Apex 5.1 we have two icon fonts to choose from – FontAwesome OR Font-Apex. Adding the font-family would prevent switching the icons.

2) html expression to set the class

And then use a normal text field with a html expression.
Html expressions are available for classic reports, but also for interactive reports and interactive grids.

<span class="fa fa-lg syn-check-#COL1#" alt="#COL1#"></span>

Our new classes still can be combined with other font-awesome styles. Here I enlarged them a little bit by adding the “fa-lg” class.

The good thing about an html expression is, that the field value still is the original value. So we can use the interactive report column filters on this value and an export to csv will not add any html tags. This solution is SOC conform. The database query will not bother with the representation of the values.


Quick. Easy. Useful.

How does it work in 5.1 with Interactive grids?

IGs are slightly different. Especially if they are editable. We can not simply add the icon to a text column. Instead we have a new column type HTML EXPRESSION. In that we can reference a different column.

Here is an example from the Interactive Grid Sample Application (Page 30, Base Edit). The emp table has a column ONLEAVE and holds Y and N values. apex5_YN_icons_IG_column2

The substitution syntax for IG columns does not use # anymore. Instead the expression will look like below. The column value from ONLEAVE is substituted.

<span class="fa syn-check-&ONLEAVE.">&ONLEAVE.</span>

We now face an additional obstacle. The ONLEAVE column is a switch. The switch component will translate Y into Yes and N into No. Our new second column recieves that translated value. We could either add an additional hidden column to the select and referece that one or we can extend our css aliases. Because the switch component look pretty useful, it seems better to include its outcome to the css.

.syn-check-J:before,.syn-check-Y:before,.syn-check-Yes:before {
  content: "\f00c";
  color: green;
.syn-check-N:before,.syn-check-No:before {
  content: "\f00d";
  color: #ff3a30; /* color: red; */

And here is how the result looks like:

As you can see the icons look more delicate than before. This is because the sample application uses Font Apex and not Font Awesome anymore.

Example using images

And sometimes we still want an image. Maybe because there is no fitting icon in our font or maybe because the users insist on keeping the old images. This can also be done with css classes. However some more attributes are needed.

Here is an example without further explaination.

.syn-checkImg-J,.syn-checkImg-Y {
  background-repeat: no-repeat;
  background-origin: padding-box;
  background-size: 20px 20px;
  padding:0 20px;
.syn-checkImg-N {
  background-repeat: no-repeat;
  background-origin: padding-box;
  background-size: 20px 20px;
  padding:0 20px;

It works with DIVs and SPAN tags.
And I created a jsfiddle where you can test it out for yourself.


4 thoughts on “Apex 5 – show Y/N columns as font awesome icons

  1. I do the same. It’s a cool technique.
    Sometimes I don’t want the red for N, for those cases a define a check2-Y but no counterpart for N to get a nice empty cell.

    • Hi Nils,

      for interactive reports this will work. I didn’t test it for grids. The column value is exported not the html_expression. Will double check later on.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s