On a number of pages throughout my application, I needed to build a region containing a fairly complex set of items, along with dynamic actions and other controls to provide a friendly editing experience for the user. This non-trivial set of items with their accompanying dynamic actions and conditions would be needed on several different pages, and in some cases, multiple times on the same page.
Copying all this all over the place would have created a maintenance headache, so I would much prefer to build them only once, and then re-use the same component throughout my application. Unfortunately, APEX does not at this stage support the concept of a reusable region. An idea might be to allow a region to “subscribe” to another region – although this would be tricky because somehow the item names, dynamic action names, etc. would need to be unique but predictable.
Why not use a plugin?
One approach is to build the whole region as a plugin; this would be ideal as the plugin can then be maintained separately and deployed wherever it’s needed; this would have the benefit that it could be reused in multiple applications.
Why not put the region on the Global Page?
Another approach would be to build the region on the Global Page; a condition could be used to show it if it’s needed by the current page.
Use a Modal Page
Instead, the approach I took was to use a modal page. This is a page that will pop up as a layer on top of the calling page, making the calling page visible but non-responsive until the user closes the popup. I can then define all the items needed, along with their conditions and dynamic actions, in the one modal page, and then add buttons throughout my application wherever it was needed.
The calling page needs to pass the current value of one or more items to the modal page; these values are not in the database (yet) because the user may be in the middle of editing them, so their current value on screen may be different to the value stored in the table. This means I can’t have the modal page reading the value from the table, and I can’t just pass the value using the link attributes because these are set in stone when the page is rendered.
In order to open the modal page, then, I need to use a dynamic action.
apex_page.get_url which generates the checksum automatically.
The modal page is then shown, allowing the user to make changes to the value. When they click the “OK” button, the modal page closes and returns the value via Items to Return.
Note that the modal page itself never saves any changes to the database, since on the calling page, the user might decide to cancel.
Back on the calling page, the new value is copied back into the page item via a Dialog Closed dynamic action. This sets the value based on the Dialog Return Item.
I’ve built a “dummy” sample app to demonstrate this technique. You can try it out, and download the sample app definition, from here: https://apex.oracle.com/pls/apex/jk64/r/demo-reusable-modal/home
Here is my main page definition, with two regions. Each region has an item that we want to pass to/from our modal page.
Each region needs a unique Static ID.
Each region has a visible Value item, an Edit button, and a hidden item to precalculate the URL for the modal page.
There are no special attributes on the value item(s); they could be a simple text field, a text area, a readonly item, a combination of various item types, or they could be hidden. Typically they would be based on database column(s) and saved in the record being edited.
The “EDIT URL” hidden items are precalculated using an expression, and set to Always, replacing any existing value in session state.
The other edit URL is similar.
The call to
apex_page.get_url is used to pass some static values (that are not changed by the page at runtime) to the modal page. These values may be used by the modal page to customise it for the context it was called from.
apex_page.get_url( p_page => 'modal', p_items => 'P2_ID,P2_OPTION', p_values => :P1_ID || ',' || 'Region 1', p_triggering_element => '$(''#region1'')' )
Note that the value of the item is not passed in the URL.
p_triggering_element is a string, constructed to be a jQuery selector referring to the Static ID that was set on the region, so that the right Dialog Closed event will fire (since we may have multiple Edit buttons on the same page).
Tip: if your modal page doesn’t need them, you can omit the p_items and p_values parameters.
The Edit buttons are set to “Defined by Dynamic Action“.
The Server-side Code simply copies the current value of the item into the modal page’s item. This sets the session state on the server, which is then loaded when the modal is opened.
On page 2, the modal page, I have contrived an example “calculator” which simply breaks the string value into two “parts”, and allows the user to edit each “part” separately; when they click OK, the concatenated value gets returned to the calling page.
The two “PART” items are calculated on page load with some PL/SQL:
Note that this code is being executed based on the value of P2_VALUE which was set in session state by the calling page.
Just for the sake of the demo, my “calculator” merely sets the value of the hidden P2_VALUE item based on concatenating the two “parts”:
Note: you would define whatever items, dynamic actions or other components that you need.
This modal page never saves any changes to the database; that’s the role of the calling page.
The OK button simply closes the dialog, returning the new value of P2_VALUE to the calling page.
Back on the calling page, each region has a dynamic action defined on Dialog Closed.
The Set Value action copies the Dialog Return Item value into the appropriate item on the page.
To use my special modal page in my application, I need to:
- Set a unique Static ID on the region
- Add an Edit button with a dynamic action
- Add a hidden URL item based on an expression
- Add a dynamic action to the region on Dialog Closed
The outcome is that the modal page provides a user-friendly experience involving any complex items, lists, dynamic actions, conditions, etc. maintained in one place, which can be re-used anywhere needed in the application.
If you would like to examine in detail the demo app, you can download it from here: https://apex.oracle.com/pls/apex/jk64/r/demo-reusable-modal/home (click the “Download this demo app” link). You may then install this in your own workspace and check out how it all works.
Have you had a similar requirement in your apps? Comment below and describe how you implemented it.