APEX 19 Form PL/SQL Processing

Starting with APEX 19.1 a new form type was introduced that replaces the old "Auto DML" model with much more robust functionality. Carsten Czarski wrote an in depth article about the new form regions and I suggest you read it before continuing with this post.

One really nice feature with the new form regions is the ability to have a PL/SQL process instead of automatic DML to save changes. This allows for all the great functionality to load data and manage lost updates, while having the customization of PL/SQL to process your data. An example of a Form Region with PL/SQL Code:

{% asset_img plsql-process.png %}

Note the PL/SQL code sample was taken from the help section for demo purposes.

Processes associated to a Form Region will only run if a value directly associated to that Form Region has changed. For example in the screen shot below, P4_SAL is associated with the Emp Form Region. If this value is changed than the process, Process form Emp (from the previous screen shot), will be executed.

{% asset_img page-item-sal.png %}

If a field is not associated with the Form Region and it's changed then the process associated to that Form Region will not run. For example, suppose a new page item is added: P4_SAL_INCREASE. It is not associated to any Form Region:

{% asset_img page-item-sal-increase.png %}

The Form Region PL/SQL Processing code is then changed to:

  -- Updating
  when 'U' then
    update emp
    set sal  = :SAL + nvl(:P4_SAL_INCREASE, 0),
    where rowid  = :ROWID;

If a user only updates P4_SAL_INCREASE then the page process Process form Emp (i.e. the process associated to the Form Region) will not run since none of the associated values have changed.

They're several work arounds to this, each have their pros and cons:

  • Create a computation or PL/SQL process (that runs before the current process) to set :P4_SAL := :P4_SAL + nvl(:P4_SAL_INCREASE, 0). This will change the associate P4_SAL if P4_SAL_INCREASE has a value and therefore trigger the Form Region process to run.
  • Change the process type to PL/SQL Code (no associated Form Region). This will make things very straight forward but the built-in row locking and lost update prevention functionalities will be lost.