Skip to main content

APEX app running native on iPhone - the details

A (rather long) time ago, I wrote a blog post showing a demo of an APEX application running native on an iPhone. Now, finally, the moment is there to explain how I did it ;-)

The key part of this demo, is the use of PhoneGap. PhoneGap "wraps" any HTML5 code, thereby giving you access to the native API's of your device. This solution is also used by the upcoming ADF Mobile solution, but can already be used now for any HTML5 web application..including your APEX application. 
Start with downloading the PhoneGap sources from their site and install it in your development environment (I used Apple's Xcode) - see the documentation on the PhoneGap site on the how-to. 
Within Xcode, you'll get an index.html, which is the starting point of your application. In this, simplified, example, my index.html only contains the following code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
  <title>APEX DEMO</title>
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no;" />
<meta charset="utf-8">
  </head>
  <body onload="window.location.href='http://apex.oracle.com/pls/apex/f?p=ROELSMOBILEAPP';">
    </body>
</html>

So the only thing it does, is a redirect to my APEX application. Nothing more, nothing less.
In the page template of the APEX application I included the phonegap-1.2.0.js script file (currently 1.3.0 is the latest version). 
Before any features can be used, PhoneGap has to be started. In my example, I added a Dynamic Action on Page 0, that runs on Page Load, with as contents
document.addEventListener("deviceready",onDeviceReady,false); 
And from that point on, any PhoneGap feature can be used. In the example in the blogpost mentioned above, I added a button on a form page, that executes the following snippet of Javascript:

var contact = navigator.contacts.create();
var name = new ContactName();
name.givenName = $v('P9_CUST_FIRST_NAME');
name.familyName = $v('P9_CUST_LAST_NAME');
contact.name = name;
contact.save(onSaveSuccess,onSaveError);

function onSaveSuccess( contact ){
   navigator.notification.alert("Contact saved on your device");
}
    
function onSaveError(contactError){
   alert("Error = " + contactError.code);
}


And that's it! When pressing the button, the contact - just the first and last name - is added to your contact list on your device. Of course you can add addresses, telephone numbers etc as well. And use other native device functionalities, like the camera or the compass as well.  See the API documentation for all the details.

The only "problem" will be, that this native iPhone "application" - which is just the index.html file - will never be accepted in the Apple store, just because it hasn't enough content to act on it's own. So you have to build an app with more content, and use your APEX application just to fill in some "gaps". But there are of course more ways to get data from your database to your native application, like web services. 
Please, let me know whenever you get an app in the store with some APEX content!

Happy PhoneGapping!

Comments

Learco Brizzi said…
Nice post!

Learco
Robin said…
Thanks for posting this!

Took me some time to get it running with cordova 2.1.0 on android / apex 4.2 but we're fine now :-)
Turned out cordova 2.2.0 is buggy and will not run properly.

I'm a happy gapper!

Popular posts from this blog

Filtering in the APEX Interactive Grid

Remember Oracle Forms?

One of the nice features of Forms was the use of GLOBAL items. More or less comparable to Application Items in APEX. These GLOBALS where often used to pre-query data. For example you queried Employee 200 in Form A, then opened Form B and on opening that Form the Employee field is filled with that (GLOBAL) value of 200 and the query was executed. So without additional keys strokes or entering data, when switching to another Form a user would immediately see the data in the same context. And they loved that.

In APEX you can create a similar experience using Application Items (or an Item on the Global Page) for Classic Reports (by setting a Default Value to a Search Item) and Interactive Reports (using the APEX_IR.ADD_FILTER procedure). But what about the Interactive Grid? There is no APEX_IG package ... so the first thing we have to figure out is how can we set a filter programmatically?

Start with creating an Interactive Grid based upon the good old Employees tab…

Adding items to your Interactive Grid Toolbar

The APEX Interactive Grid uses the Toolbar widget to create the default Toolbar showing the Search box, Actions menu, Save button etc. And since quite a while there is a nice Plugin "Extend IG Toolbar" by Marko Goricki that makes it very easy to add additional buttons to the Toolbar.

But what if you need more than a button? 
Inspecting the contents of widget.toolbar.js, you can easily spot there can be added more to the Toolbar than just a button: The type of control, available values:
"STATIC", "TEXT", "SELECT", "BUTTON", "MENU", "RADIO_GROUP", "TOGGLE".
The first example will show a way to easily switch from one filter to another. Of course we could use the standard functionality and create two different Report views, but using a Radio Group on the Toolbar gives a more "Tab" like user experience.

So how can we create a Radio Group that looks like a switch in the Toolbar?
In the Javascript Code …

apex_application.g_f0x array processing in Oracle 12

If you created your own "updatable reports" or your custom version of tabular forms in Oracle Application Express, you'll end up with a query that looks similar to this one:
then you disable the "Escape special characters" property and the result is an updatable multirecord form.
That was easy, right? But now we need to process the changes in the Ename column when the form is submitted, but only if the checkbox is checked. All the columns are submitted as separated arrays, named apex_application.g_f0x - where the "x" is the value of the "p_idx" parameter you specified in the apex_item calls. So we have apex_application.g_f01, g_f02 and g_f03. But then you discover APEX has the oddity that the "checkbox" array only contains values for the checked rows. Thus if you just check "Jones", the length of g_f02 is 1 and it contains only the empno of Jones - while the other two arrays will contain all (14) rows. So for processing y…