Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Getting rid of the annoying popup help

Recently I stumbled upon two excellent blog posts about how to change the default pop up APEX Help functionality to something more user friendly. Martin explained how to transform the Help into a tooltip, while Piotr transformed the Help pop up into a DIV.
I will add my two cents to this discussion by adding another option...
The pop up is trigger by a call to the Javascript function "popupFieldHelp'. So I decided to locally overwrite that function with this one:

function popupFieldHelp(pItemId, pSessionId ){
// Construct the URL
vURL = "wwv_flow_item_help.show_help?p_item_id=" + pItemId + "&p_session=" + pSessionId;
// Call getRequest to get the HTML for the popupWindow
var popupWindow = getRequest(vURL);
// Get the Subject (item name) from the Window
var HelpSubject = $(popupWindow).find('.fieldtitlebold').html();
// Get the HelpText from the Window
var HelpText = $(popupWindow).find('.instructiontext').html();
// Show the results as an alert
showHelp( HelpSubject, HelpText );
This function calls two other functions:
a. showHelp - to show the Helptext in a jQuery Dialog box
b. getRequest - to retrieve the results of an URL by executing an AJAX call (I was hoping to find something like that available in the standard APEX Javascript lib, but couldn't find it - if you know a better way, please let me know!).
The result is a nice looking help (you can tweak the settings and/or presentation the way you like):

IMHO the main advantage for this approach is that you don't need to change anything in your templates (apart from loading the necessary Javascript files), so it is very easy to implement!
As usual there is an example on apex.oracle.com...

The code for "showHelp" is below:

function showHelp(pTitle, pText){
vText = '
bgiframe: true,
modal: true,
minHeight : 200,
width : 200,
close : function(){$("#info").remove();},
closeOnEscape : false,
buttons: {
Ok: function() {
The code for "getRequest" is here:

function getRequest( vURL ){
http_request = false;
if (window.XMLHttpRequest) { // Mozilla, Safari,…
http_request = new XMLHttpRequest();
if (http_request.overrideMimeType) {
// set type accordingly to anticipated content type
else if (window.ActiveXObject) { // IE
try {
http_request = new ActiveXObject("Msxml2.XMLHTTP");
} catch (e) {
try {
http_request = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
} catch (e) {}
if (!http_request) {
alert("Cannot create XMLHTTP instance");
return false;
http_request.open("GET", vURL, false);
return http_request.responseText;
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