Friday, 8 December 2017

Friday Fun SQL Lesson - union all

Our office kitchen is unavailable this Friday, so the call was put out for pub lunch.

After a couple of replies I decided to enter my reply, in full nerd mode.
select * from people_coming_to_lunch;


3 rows selected.
And of course one of the other SQL geeks (name redacted) replied to extend the data set.
select * from people_coming_to_lunch
select 'Shanequa'
from dual;
And I couldn't help myself. I had to play the performance card and suggest that UNION ALL would be the appropriate usage, and should be the default you type out. Always. Until you decide otherwise.

That's because sorts are expensive. And a UNION will need sorting to check for duplicates.

That sort of all the rows isn't necessary
And it will sort the data set even if there is a unique key on the data.
create table people_coming_to_lunch (people varchar2(30));
insert into people_coming_to_lunch values ('Scott');
insert into people_coming_to_lunch values ('Kate');
insert into people_coming_to_lunch values ('Karolina');

create unique index lunch_people on people_coming_to_lunch(people);

select * from people_coming_to_lunch
union all
select 'Shanequa' from dual
By using UNION ALL instead of UNION, you're telling the database not to even bother sorting the set to eliminate any potential duplicates, since your advanced human brain knows there will be no duplicates.

With only a few rows, the timing of sheer throughput is barely noticable.
     0.30 secs (.0003 secs per iteration)  -- UNION
     0.25 secs (.00025 secs per iteration) -- UNION ALL
     1.72 secs (.000172 secs per iteration)
     1.09 secs (.000109 secs per iteration)
    10.94 secs (.0002188 secs per iteration)
     8.48 secs (.0001696 secs per iteration)
So I turned it up a notch and added about 5000 rows to the table.
insert into people_coming_to_lunch
select table_name from all_tables;
5000 rows inserted
Here's the explain plan without the sort.

That's one less chunk of 5000 rows to process

Now the differences in performance stand out.
     6.79 secs (.00679 secs per iteration) -- UNION
     2.85 secs (.00285 secs per iteration) -- UNION ALL
    42.91 secs (.008582 secs per iteration)
    19.89 secs (.003978 secs per iteration)
    31.70 secs (.00634 secs per iteration)
    22.83 secs (.004566 secs per iteration)
    30.75 secs (.00615 secs per iteration)
    16.76 secs (.003352 secs per iteration)
Upto twice as long for the same statement?
No thanks, not when I could just type 4 extra characters to get an easy performance win.

Turns out this topic formed my first technical post. Back in 2009, after almost 10 years of using SQL, that was the first thing I blogged about. How about that.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Exporting an APEX page plus Shared Components

Imagine, if you will, a really large application. Perhaps it's a reporting application, and you've just created a new page (report) and an associated breadcrumb. 

Now for migration. You have a choice between exporting the entire application, or you could just export the page. But what about the associated breadcrumb? What about the LOV?

This is where the Component Export can help.

You'll find it in the Tasks menu when you start to export your application.

Tip: Keep an eye out for these Task menus, they can 'hide' interesting features
From there you can find, then check the most recently modified components to your application, then press "Add to Export" to add them to what I would imagine would be an apex_collection.

Creating this type of page would be a good learning exercise

The final confirmation, with the additional option to export as of x minutes ago.

Upon export you'll receive a file that looks just like a normal export, just with your selected components.

There are advantages to exporting only selected components. For instance, during a full application install, existing users will remove existing user sessions for the application unless you use apex_application_install.set_keep_sessions on the command line.

Though are a few reasons to take care.

For example, when I exported/imported the List for my left sidebar menu, the menu disappeared from my runtime view.
I had to re-assign the list as the navigation menu.
Shared Components - User Interface - Nagivation Menu - Navigation Menu List.

Exporting without the list was ok, so for all good for data driven (dynamic) menus. In that case the page should only appear in the menu when the relevant security tables say so.

And the export may not be as granular as you need. Or perhaps you'll forget components. Or perhaps your changes overlap with others.

Component export is fit for some purposes, and has been around forever. Give it a go.

And wouldn't you know, turns out it was a year ago today that I also felt compelled to blog about this very topic.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Exploring AJAX presentation

Wow, what a busy year. My blog archive is pretty thin this year, isn't it?

I'm moving house next week, but I'm itching to get back into blogging about my tech journey.
I need to get back into learning mode, I have some Kscope ideas to foster!

Perth had a humble but successful conference last week. It was impressive to see Oracle APEX dominating the developer track, with thanks to ACE Director Dimitri stepping up and delivering four engaging sessions in one day.

A few months ago I drafted a session exploring the concept of AJAX, and how it fits within the world of web application development. I was aiming for a more widespread crowd, hoping to fill some gaps by doing something as non-technical as possible.

Next minute, among what seems like many other things, I'm preparing to move house, so I came in a little underprepared.
Here's my slide-deck, but it's missing the passionate space-nerd adding enthusiasm to the content ;p

I'll probably post about certain frames that are worth a mention.

I'll have my regular hands on a 5.1 environment soon, I've got some catching up to do before 5.2 arrives. Bring on OracleJET.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Cassini. So long and thanks for all the pics

Recently I stumbled upon an amazing documentary called The Farthest about the Voyager spacecraft and their grand tour of the solar system. You know the hub-hub caused as New Horizons flung past Pluto and we got to see that proto-planet close up for the first time? Voyager did that with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. With two spacecraft shot out during a convenient syzygy.

It was an amazing tale, even if you geek out to astronomy quite the way I do. I grew up being rather aware of space and the various spacecraft being sent far beyond our world. One of few, beyond the short news cycles:

I suspect there will be another spike for Cassini over the next week, since it crashes into Saturn on Friday night, twelve years after it's companion Huygens decended onto Saturn's moon, Titan.

I perceived Voyager through the lens of a growing boy. Cassini I have appreciated while I've grown as, and I'll use this term today, a software engineer. One involved with project management.

Some major events on the Cassini timeline paired with my life events:
- mission conceived when I was a toddler
- mission approved when I was in primary school
- rocket launched after I learned to drive
- (as the IT industry scrambled over Y2k, the Mars Climate Orbiter was lost due to a feet-metres calculation error. Cassini approaches the most massive planet in the solar system)
- probes flew by Jupiter when I left started my first programming job
- probes arrived at Saturn when HTMLDB was born
- huygens descended Titan soon after arrival, floated through the thick nitrogen haze and landed on a lake strewn surface
- Cassini conducted most of it's science operations during my APEX career (to date)
- and now it's about to be scuttled into the clouds of Saturn

I've been reading about Cassini science for a long time, enjoying stunning photos as Cassini loops around the Saturnian system, and learning from from this project during my entire programming career.

This is quite possibly one of my favourite images from space of all time. Of all time. Eat it, Kanye.
Titan's Haze PIA07774
I find crescents poetic; interesting information can be garnered from such perspectives; the atmospheric haze; the exotic colours; the distance involved; the engineering required; the timing.

I stand in completer awe of the planning, project management, engineering, communications, politics, and pure passion that has been involved in making this one of the most successful multi-decade projects in humanity's history.

That's a mighty statement, but I believe it shares space with some undeniably society changing projects across the ages. Multiple nations were involved - NASA built Cassini while ESA built the Huygens probes that landed successfully on Titan soon after arrival.

Titan's surface PIA07232
All this while communicating information back to Earth with a 70 minute communication lag.
With 1990's technology.
And this is the sort of project that can inspire the future generation of STEM students. And it's not alone, there are more amazing projects on that way destined to keep doing so.

What can replace this satiation? Hubble is aging, and next year NASA will launch a telescope that makes Hubble look small, and will be the one to stun us with new information for years to come, no doubt related to exoplanets as it studies the infrared spectrum it will see while hiding in the Earth's shadow, 1.5 million kms away.  No corrective lens surgery from charismatic spacemen for this one..

Hubble vs JWST
Not only that, the James Webb Space Telescope reminds me a little of a star destroyer from Star Wars.

JWST. Bringing sexy back for telescopes
Space exploration is a nett gain for humanity. If you're not convinced by that statement, listen to this interview with David Grinspoon, and pay attention when he describes the lessons learned about CFCs while studying Venus, or the concept of nuclear winter while observing dust storms on Mars.

But back to Cassini.

Do yourself a favour. Set some time aside and let Phil Plait's passionate & informative writing guide you through the journey, and use a big screen:

NASA/JPL also have a great hall of fame.

To get a sense of the now, I've been watching related Twitter feeds over this past week, and I feel for all the people involved in the Cassini/Huygens project.

Expecting tears? Heck, I shed a tear for you.
Need humour? Check out this interaction between the dude with the mohawk, Bobak Ferdowsi and Sarcastic Rover. Yep, that's a thing, and it's a great feed. Need to believe scientists can be more than just boffins, here, same guy.
And I've just discovered Australia's geographical location will be handy again to receive the final communications #CassiniAus

Stand proud, Cassini team, and thanks for all the pics.


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Educational Eclipse

Last night around midnight I laid in bed hoping that thousands of people on the other side of the world took the opportunity to experience the once in a life time experience that would be a total solar eclipse.

If you agree that a wonderful piece of prose can help recreate the experience, I recommend this literary non-fiction from 1982 by Annie Dillard.

Today I'd like to share three things I learned about the solar eclipse, considering I'm somewhat of an astronomy geek.

1) Shadow Bands

One of the amazing things about total solar eclipses is because they are relatively rare, there are still phenomena that science is trying to explain.

This video of an eclipse (which I recommend with a little sound) actually shows none of the classic imagery of a solar eclipse, but it captures so much of the awe.

And should I be lucky enough to witness one in future, I would have to ensure I experienced all that's available, even if it meant sticking up some big sheets of paper!

I think I might have a look like that of Katie Mack in the second photo, and probably the third.

2) Gravitational Lensing

In addition to the fact these eclipses are so awe inspiring, they do offer a bit of science, beyond helping calculate the dimensions of the solar system.

This example includes one of my favourite phenomena, more frequently associated with deep space imagery - gravitational lensing.

It turns out when the total eclipse happens, astronomers can take the opportunity to locate stars prominent enough to shine through. Compare distance between stars as observed at night, and astronomers can see how the sun's mass has nudged light, thereby confirming general relativity.

A concise article here with two great images, or google "Eddington 1919 eclipse"

3) Flight of the Concorde

All speeds involved with the eclipse are pretty wild, but back in the 70s, long before SpaceX started landing rockets on sea barges, there was a curious supersonic jet about to go commercial that took the public relations opportunity to fly faster than the speed of sound across Africa to accompany a 1973 eclipse.
Curious Droid - NASA chasing a shadow at 50k feet | Concorde 1973

I've been quite addicted to that channel recently, some great videos to watch during a lunchtime subway.

The first two I learned directly from Skeptoid Episode #584 by Brian Dunning. It's a great 12 minute podcast (now with ads) that I might describe as mixing science with anthropology. Very easy to pick a few interesting topics, then get hooked.

Did you see #Eclipse2017? Did you travel to get there?

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Revising jQuery with Oracle APEX

A few years ago I managed to bust out a book that explored my experiences using jQuery within Oracle APEX to solve various problems, many originally explored when building some "backend" apps for use on tablets.

For those who've read my book, thank you and I hope it was useful to you.
(I also hope you read the revised chapter 9 on calling PL/SQL from JavaScript.)
Please let me know what you thought of it with a review on Amazon.

The reason I bring this up is because I was asked on Twitter whether I would do a revision of my book for APEX 5.1.
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but my extra-curricular output has been down this year, despite my best intentions. That's not my answer, but it does weigh into what I think about the answer to that question.

Half of that book was written prior to APEX 5.0 being released. While a lot of the content is agnostic to the version of APEX you have, I must admit my techniques have evolved since the advent of the Page Designer.

That's not to say learning how to apply jQuery within APEX isn't useful. Having these fundamentals are still very much applicable, and useful to know when constructing dynamic actions; and even when defining CSS. But I think because it's much quicker to navigate through your dynamic actions in the Page Designer, I think there is less need to bundle logic within a JavaScript block.

I'm not sure revising this particular book for a later version of APEX would add value.

NASA Cassini
My video course had no particular theme and just explored various APEX techniques, hence the name. My book wasn't much different, and if I was going to do something again in future, it would possibly be along the same lines. Or something
even more applied. I do have ideas.

But I've been enjoying an awful lot of science in the time being. So much going on in space news!
It will be sad to see Cassini finish... Don't be surpised, I already have a post in mind for that amazing project. Correction, I already mentioned it during my 2016 blog review. Heck, I might do another anyway.

In Memory Session State - Simple Example

Not too long ago I encountered an interesting behaviour with session state, turns out not long after Dick Dral posted a very similar article that I had not yet seen.

Recently I encountered an even easier scenario.

I had a bunch of columns where I wanted to use the same prefix across all headers, but I wanted to define the value once, referring to it many times. I'm betting on the fact someone may change their mind.

Interactive Report with pivoted data

So I created a hidden item called P222_PREFIX and gave it a static source of "Ch".

Page item source

If I substitute this item as part of the column heading for each column, it will use the value found session state - not the database value, but the value based on the defined source, placed only in memory for the duration of page rendering.

Column heading

So while the output may appear as desired after the page renders, if the region is partially refreshed by hitting "Go" on an interactive report or just triggering region refresh, the prefix will disappear because there is no value for P222_PREFIX in session state once the page finishes rendering.

Desired output

To fix the problem we add a computation on the hidden item to set the value, instead of using a static source. This ensures the value is in session state for current and later usage.

An alternative solution to the task at hand might be to use Shortcuts.