Friday, September 05, 2014

APEX 5 New Static File Features

In APEX 4 you could upload files - like CSS files, JavaScript files, Images and whatever else you like - into the APEX Repository. When you navigate to Shared Components, there is a Files section that offers three different options:
CSS Files are always uploaded (and changed !) for the whole Workspace. For Images and Static Files (usually JavaScript) you could choose whether they should be available for the whole Workspace or for a specific Application only.
And if you had a lot of files - e.g. a lot of images - then you had to go through the upload process one-by-one. But that's usually a one time only thing. If you make changes to the CSS and JavaScript files - and that's a continuous process in development - then you had to delete the existing file and upload the new one. Over and over again. And meanwhile fighting the cache of the webserver and your browser. 
And another irritating issue: You couldn't use relative references in your CSS or JavaScript files as they just don't work as in a regular file system.
(Little side note here: Of course it is more convenient - and performant - to put those files on a web server and make the changes directly on the files. But alas, in some environments developers don't have access to the web server ....)

In APEX 5 .... this is all waaaay better and easier! First of all: There is no unnecessary distinction between file types. Just like pigs, all files are equal. There is only a logical distinction between Application and Workspace Files.
But wait. It gets even better. You don't have to upload all your files one-by-one anymore. You can just upload a zip file and upload that one. And the file will be unzipped into the different original files.
And if your zip file contains directories .... those directories are created in the APEX Repository as well. So now you CAN have relative references in your JavaScript files - as you can see in the screenshot below showing a set of uploaded Cordova files!  
And immediately you'll notice another handy addition: You can see how you can reference that file as well! And when you use a reference like #APP_IMAGES#database.png this will  be translated on runtime to something like roel/r/11788/files/static/v13/database.png. And that doesn't look like a procedure call anymore (wwv_flow_file_mgr.get_file....) but more like a path reference to a file.

And one more thing ....
You probably noticed the "v13" in the URL to that image. And this might be even the coolest part ... If you change a file and upload it with the same name - so no need to delete it first! - the reference will be automagically updated and points to your new file. Instead of "v13" it'll be using "v17" or similar. So you never experience caching issues as this is seen by the web server and your browser as a new file!

And as a bonus you can also select all the files from the APEX repository and download it as one zip file ...
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