An Interesting Feature of NOT IN and Multi-Row Subqueries

March 1, 2013 4 comments

Take the following simple SQL statement:

FROM dual
(SELECT 'a' FROM dual);

Since ‘x’ cannot be found in our subquery, you’d expect this to return a row from Dual right? Indeed it does:

  2  FROM dual
  3  WHERE 'x' NOT IN
  4  (SELECT 'a' FROM dual);


What about in the following case?

FROM dual
(SELECT 'a' FROM dual

You might expect this to return a row as well since ‘x’ is still not in our subquery (which now returns two values: ‘x’ and NULL).

You’d be wrong, however. This query will in fact return no rows:

  2  FROM dual
  3  WHERE 'x' NOT IN
  4  (SELECT 'a' FROM dual
  6   SELECT NULL FROM dual);

no rows selected

If the subquery referenced by your NOT IN statement contains any NULL values, the NOT IN condition will evaluate to unknown.

It’s worth noting that this is not the case if you use an IN as opposed to a NOT IN:

  2   FROM dual
  3   WHERE 'a' IN
  4   (SELECT 'a' FROM dual
  5    UNION ALL
  6    SELECT NULL FROM dual);

Categories: SQL Tags: ,

Preventing calls to console.log throwing errors in IE

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

When developing applications which make a lot of use of Javascript, it can be very useful to use the console.log() function to output debug to Firefox’s Firebug console or to Chrome’s Javascript console.

However, such calls will cause errors when run inside IE as it does not by default have a console object (depending on the version of IE you are running and what add-ons you have installed). These errors may prevent other aspects of your Javascript from running, essentially breaking you application.

One quick solution to this is to add the following piece of jQuery to your code which will prevent console.log() from doing anything at all in IE and hence preventing the errors from occurring:



if ($.browser.msie) {console = { log: function() {} }};



Alternatively, you can incorporate the following piece of code which will, in IE, cause all messages sent to the console via console.log() to be alerted using alert() instead:


if ($.browser.msie) {console = { log: function(msg) {alert(‘Debug: ‘+msg);} }};



Categories: jQuery

New Release of jQuery UI

October 9, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve just noticed that there’s a new version of jQuery UI: 1.9. It includes nifty new widgets including Menu, Spinner and Tooltip. And who doesn’t love new widgets?

You can read about it and see demoes of the new functionality here:

Categories: Uncategorized

Clicking a Region Selector Button Programmatically

October 9, 2012 Leave a comment

As far as I’m aware, there’s no out-of-the-box call made available by Apex to allow you to click a particular button in a Region Selector programmatically via Javascript.

The following bit of jQuery will allow you to do this. Just change the string “Personal Bio” to be whatever the string is that appears in the Region Selector button you want to programatically “click”:

$(‘span:contains(“Personal Bio”)’).parent().click();

Be aware that the string (“Personal Bio” in the above example) is case sensitive.

With a bit more work this technique could be employed so that your pages “remember” which Region was last selected in the Region Selector whenever you go back to a page.

Categories: ApEx, jQuery

Using Dual to reduce function calls (and getting your 5-a-day)

February 7, 2011 1 comment

An introduction to an interesting feature of
Oracle SQL through the medium of fruit…



Make a FRUITS table.

CREATE TABLE fruits (fruit_name varchar2(30));

Put in 5 bananas, 7 apples and 3 blueberries.
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('banana');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('banana');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('banana');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('banana');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('banana');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('apple');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('apple');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('apple');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('apple');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('apple');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('apple');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('apple');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('blueberry');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('blueberry');
INSERT INTO fruits VALUES ('blueberry');

Create a sequence for keeping track of the number of times our function below is called.

Make our function which returns a fruit’s colour (and increments our sequence each time it runs).
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION get_colour (p_fruit_name IN varchar2)
RETURN varchar2
l_num number;
SELECT seq.nextval INTO l_num FROM dual;

CASE p_fruit_name
WHEN 'banana' THEN RETURN 'yellow';
WHEN 'apple' THEN RETURN 'green';
WHEN 'blueberry' THEN RETURN 'blue';
END get_colour;

Get the colour of each fruit in our table.
SELECT get_colour(fruit_name) FROM fruits;

QUESTION ONE: What will the following return?
SELECT seq.nextval FROM dual;

Well, there are 15 rows in our table so we’d expect the function to have run 15 times. And indeed it has: seq.nextval will show a value of 16.

Now, let’s reset the sequence for the next experiment.

And again get the colour of all of our fruits using our function but this time wrapping it inside a SELECT FROM dual.
SELECT (SELECT get_colour(fruit_name) FROM dual)
FROM fruits;

QUESTION TWO: What will the following return now?
SELECT seq.nextval FROM dual;

Well, we might be tempted to think that the function would have run 15 times as before and hence our sequence’s nextval would now be 16, as before. However, this is not the case. You’ll find the value returned is in fact 4, meaning that the function ran 3 times.

What happened there?
How can the function have run only 3 times if we gave it 15 bits of data to process (i.e. 15 fruits, one for each row from our table) and it returned the correct answer in each case?

The answer is Scalar Subquery Caching whereby the result of a “SELECT some_function(x) FROM dual” will be remembered for x as soon as it is run once. Hence, the function need only be run for each of the different fruits in the table and since we have only 3 different fruits (blueberry, apple and banana), the function is only run 3 times.

Tom Kyte talks about it here.

Nifty, eh?

Categories: SQL

ChangeCase: A Simple Apex 4.0 Plugin

July 16, 2010 2 comments

A foray into Plug-Ins

To educate myself in the ways of the new Apex 4.0 Plug-Ins feature, I decided to create a simple item Plug-In which automatically converts all the text entered into the item either to uppercase or to lowercase, depending on which option the developer chooses. I’m making it available here not so much because I think it will be a useful Plug-In (though perhaps it might be if your requirement is very simple) but rather in the hope that it might be helpful to anyone else looking at Plug-Ins for the first time. I have heavily commented the code to explain what each bit is doing.

See it in action

A working example of this plugin can be seen here.

Download and install

The plugin itself can be downloaded here.

Once you have downloaded the Plug-In, you can install it by going to Shared Components > Plug-Ins > Import and following the prompt. You will then be able to create ChangeCase items in your application, choosing whether you want the contents to be automatically uppercased or lowercased.

Creating it from scratch

If, for the hell of it, you want to create this Plug-In from scratch as opposed to just downloading and installing it you can do so by following these steps.

  1. Within Application Builder go to Shared Components > Plug-ins and click “Create >”.
  2. Specify the following details and then click “Create”:

    : ChangeCase
    Internal Name: (or change this to be a universally unique name based on your domain name)
    Type: Item
    PL/SQL Code: Paste in the contents of this file. This contains two PLSQL functions (render_changecase and validate_changecase which we reference in the Render Function Name and Validation Function Name properties of this Plug-In). This PL/SQL code is heavily commented so should hopefully be fairly self-explanatory.
    Render Function Name: render_changecase
    Validation Function Name: validate_changecase
    Standard Attributes: Tick the checkbox labelled “Is Visible Widget”. If you do not tick this checkbox then there will be no option to specify a Label for our ChangeCase Item Plugin when we create an instance of it in our application. Since this is essentially just a slightly-modified Text Field, we certainly want the ability to specify a label.
  3. Click “Custom Attributes”. When we create a new instance of our new Plug-In, we want to be able to decide whether we want the contents to be automatically uppercased or lowercased so we create a custom attribute here to allow that decision to be made.
  4. Click “Add Attribute”.
  5. Specify the following details and then click “Create”.

    : Component
    Attribute: 1
    Label: Case Alteration Option
    Type: Select List
    Required: Yes
    Default Value: UPPER
    Add Value button in List of Values Section: Create two entries. One with a Display Value of “Uppercase” & a Return Value of “UPPER”; and the other with a Display Value of “Lowercase” and a Return Value of “LOWER”.
  6. We want the value entered into any instance of our new Plug-In Item to be either automatically uppercased or lowercased. We want this to happen client-side so for this we need some Javascript. That very simple Javascript can be found in this file. Download this file to your computer.
  7. Back in Application Builder, click “Files” and then the “Upload New File” button.
  8. Browse for the changecase.js file that you just downloaded and then click “Upload”.
  9. Finally, click “Apply Changes”.

You will now be able to create ChangeCase items in your pages where you’ll be able to specify, under settings, whether you want the content automatically uppercased or lowercased.

Categories: Uncategorized

Free Full UK Postcode Data

Ordnance Survey Free Postcode DataFor a long time the full set of UK Postcode data has been subject to quite a hefty fee. I didn’t realise until today but, earlier this year, this information was made available by Ordnance Survey free of charge.

The data can be downloaded from here (

Just tick the checkbox entitled Code-Point Open then click Next. They then email you a link to the CSV file to download (about 20 mb).

Now, can this data be incorporated into a nifty Apex 4 Plug-in?

The License

The licensing for this data seems pretty open, too, which is good news.

Taken from the Ordnance Survey License found here:

You are free to:
 copy, distribute and transmit the Data;
 adapt the Data;
 exploit the Data commercially whether by sub-licensing it, combining it with other data, or by including it in your own product or application.

A Note on the CSV File

In the CSV files that you will download from the link that Ordnance Survey send you, column K is the British National Grid (BNG) X co-ordinate and column L is the BNG Y co-ordinate. You can use for converting the odd co-ordinate backwards and forwards between BNG and Lat/Lon.
Categories: Uncategorized