APEX 19.2 ea – features I like

The following is a not complete and not ordered list of tiny and major features that I found interesting in the upcoming APEX 19.2 version. Since this is an early adopter version, be aware that some of those features might not make it into the final product.

I can not guarantee that all features are exclusively for APEX 19.2 I might have overlooked one or the other in one of the previous very recent versions like 19.1 or 18.3.

Here is a link to the new features page. Not everything I mention is on that new features page.

Star item type

There is a new item type “star”. Essentially the star rating plugin has been integrated directly.

The default setting is ok, but we can customize it.

It works even better with the dark theme.

I encountered a display bug when trying to use a large font with the “fa-lg” modifier. But when trying to reproduce that again, it worked. It seems to help, if there is another star item on the same page.

Debug level default

The “Debug” level setting now has new default options. We can customize them via the toolbar.

Additionally to the old YES/NO debug switch we can also choose “App Trace” and “Full Trace”.

The setting is then attached to the toolbar “Debug” button, so that we can remember which option was chosen.

  • Info = Level4 = YES
  • APP Trace = Level6
  • Full Trace = Level9
dev toolbar
c_log_level_error constant t_log_level := 1; -- critical error 
c_log_level_warn constant t_log_level := 2; -- less critical error 
c_log_level_info constant t_log_level := 4; -- default level if debugging is enabled (for example, used by apex_application.debug) 
c_log_level_app_enter constant t_log_level := 5; -- application: messages when procedures/functions are entered 
c_log_level_app_trace constant t_log_level := 6; -- application: other messages within procedures/functions 
c_log_level_engine_enter constant t_log_level := 8; -- Application Express engine: messages when procedures/functions are entered 
c_log_level_engine_trace constant t_log_level := 9; -- Application Express engine: other messages within procedures/functions 

https://docs.oracle.com/en/database/oracle/application-express/19.1/aeapi/Constants-2.html#GUID-412ED5E2-1739-4A9B-B214-38674B4A4BCD

I think my preferred debug default will be “App Trace”.

faceted search

When I saw the first versions of this during APEX Connect 2019 it was still called “report filter region”. And I was totally hyped about that. It seems to fulfill that promise.

general considerations

There are other products like QlikView/QlikSense that offer such a kind of user experience. And once the users are used to that, they miss it in APEX applications. APEX is not yet on par with those products. Faceted searches are a big step forward for an improved user experience.

Here is a promotion video, that shows some of those enhanced filter capabilities in QlikView.

implementation in APEX

So how does the APEX version of faceted search looks like and how does it work?

  • First create a data region, like a classic report. I didn’t test other region types like Interactive Reports yet.
  • Then create a faceted search region that references the data region.
  • Then create facets that are connected to database columns from the data region.
APEX 19.2 – faceted search example

The user clicks on any of the filter options in the search (the facet region) and the report is filtered to those search options. The total counts for each options also react to the other filters and change accordingly.

In the facet search region we can create facets of different types (checkbox, radio, range, search, select list). A facet is always connected to a database column. Each facet has a large number of configuration options.

feature assessment

Here is a highly educating discussion with examples about how the GUI for faceted filters should work: https://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2009/09/best-practices-for-designing-faceted-search-filters.php.

When we compare the criteria from that article to the options available in APEX we see that APEX does many things right. UX considerations like how to clear filters are supplied in a declarative way. Still the feature is not complete yet and slightly buggy (I had issues with the range type facet for example). But that is to be expected for such a complex enhancement. And we can expect more improvements in the future.

Meanwhile on twitter:

So one trick for range facets to use a special syntax on LOVs. It works!

This is the best and most useful 19.2 feature!

enhanced LOV

I like icons. The new features page mentions that we can now put icons to LOV entries. Unfortunately this works only for multi-column popup LOVs. Not for normal static lists.

An LOV can now be used to populate multiple items. This is a really nice enhancement (and long overdue).

Currently many options seem not to be balanced properly. For example a on a modal page layout – depending on some other settings – the shared component LOV uses the return value and does not show the display value.

Remember it is still an early adopter version.

improved LOV configuration

It is now possible to convert a locally defined LOV (one that is defined on a page) into a shared LOV.

Static LOV entries now have conditions, a sequence number and we can comment the LOV.

New design for the switch item

There are three different component settings possible, that influence how a switch item will look like.

APEX 19.2 display style = Switch

display style = Pill Button

display style = Select List

More options are better!

Unfortunately the new Switch style does not show the label value that is currently choosen. Nevertheless it looks very useful especially for interactive grid columns.

Excel Upload for Data load wizard

I couldn’t test this yet, but it sounds highly useful.

Markdown textareas

Markdown is a very common shorthand syntax to format text. Mostly used on GitHub, but also many wikis use a similar syntax. Useful for developers, but also for end users. If the rich text editor offers too many options, the markdown editor is very nice to concentrate on basic styling.

APEX 19.2 markdown editor vs. richtext editor

For more information check out the many helpful articles about markdown on GitHub:

https://help.github.com/en/articles/basic-writing-and-formatting-syntax

github markdown cheatsheet

Other tiny changes

  • The Hamburger Menu that collapses the left sidebar – removes the sidebar completely. Icons included. This is configurable (Collapse Mode in User Interface).
  • The page loading indicator is smaller and spins faster
  • The icon library can be “Font APEX” or “Font APEX – latest”
  • There is a compatibility mode 19.2
  • More options for the logo line: Like “IMAGE and TEXT”
Advertisements