ApexLib: Get a Page Flow Diagram of your application!

Yesterday I came across Graphviz and remembered that a college had already used it to generate some ERDs/Class diagrams. After taking a closer look, I thought to give it a try and use it to generate a page flow diagram for an APEX application as you can also see it for JSF in JDeveloper.

After some try and error figuring out how to use this tool. I created a new package for my ApexLib Framework to do all the work. The diagram output is not optimal yet (I have to ask my college for tips & tricks when he is coming back from vacation), but for a quick overview I think it’s good enough.

So what does my script do?

It generates for each page group (Application/Tasks/Manage Page Groups) a separate diagram, which just contains the pages of this group or referenced pages of other groups (they show gray). Links with a condition are displayed red.

It also generates an overview diagram which contains all the pages of the application.

Pages which do not exist anymore, but which are referenced somewhere are marked red. So you can even use this diagram to find out if you have some dead links.

How to use it?

  1. Get the newest release of the ApexLib Framework.
  2. If you just want to use this feature of the framework you only have to install the ApexLib_PageFlowDiagram package. See HowToInstall.html for details. Note: This package needs access to the tables in the FLOWS_XXX schema, because the APEX repository views didn’t contain all the necessary information. Eg there is now view for WWV_FLOW_PAGE_GROUPS. That’s why it will not work if you install the ApexLib Framework into your application schema.
  3. Download Graphviz and install it.
  4. Try it the following command works in a command box
    dot.exe -h

    If it doesn’t work, you can add the Graphviz directory to your PATH or you include the directory in the $dot (eg. $c:\programs\graphviz\dot) call in ApexLib_Generate_PageFlowDiagram.sql

  5. Open sqlplus and connect to your application schema or to the apexlib schema.
    sqlplus apex_demo/apex_demo@mydatabase
  6. Run the script ApexLib_Generate_PageFlowDiagram.sql
    @ApexLib_Generate_PageFlowDiagram.sql

    and enter the id of your application.

  7. Now you should see several PNG files in your directory!

I tried it with the sample application “Software Projects” and the output seems to be ok.

Problems?

If it doesn’t work, check the tmp_export_diagram.sql file and manually execute the steps and look which step fails.

Suggestions?

I’m sure I didn’t capture every property or object which can have a link to a page, so if you notice some missing links. Let me know!

14 thoughts on “ApexLib: Get a Page Flow Diagram of your application!

  1. Is there any way you can use this graph feature just through the browser based app? i cant/dont know how to get to the sever via sqlplus

  2. Hi,

    not yet, but I’m looking into that.
    Your DBA should be able to help you how to connect to the server. Or are you using Oracle XE on your local PC?

    Patrick

  3. To generate the PNG from Apex in XE on Windows, I did this (need to experiment with minimal grants, and try FTP user other than sys). Grant execute on utl_file, dbms_scheduler, create any job, create any directory to user1. Ensure OracleJobSchedulerXE started in Windows services.
    From http://daust.blogspot.com/2006/03/where-are-images-of-application.html

    SQL> exec dbms_xdb.setftpport(’2100′);
    PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.
    SQL> alter system register;
    System altered.

    Write the dot input to file using utl_file then call a DOS script to generate the PNG and get it back into XE.

    – DBMS_SCHEDULER.create_job
    – (job_name => ‘testjob’,
    – job_type => ‘EXECUTABLE’,
    – job_action => ‘c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe /c c:\gen_png.bat’,
    – enabled => false
    – );
    DBMS_SCHEDULER.run_job
    (job_name => ‘testjob’,
    use_current_session =>TRUE);
    –commit;

    gen_png.bat
    ———–
    cd c:\
    type DOT.txt | “C:\Program Files\ATT\Graphviz\bin\dot.exe” -Tpng -o test.png
    REM ftp .png back into Oracle…
    c:\windows\system32\ftp.exe -s:ftp.scr

    http://ftp.scr
    ——-
    open localhost 2100
    sys
    pass1
    bin
    cd public
    put c:\test.png
    bye

    Then just reference the image in apex:
    <img src=”http://127.0.0.1:8080/public/test.png”>

  4. Nice solution!! Thanks for sharing!

    I have created a feature request to be able to specify where the output of generateDiagram should be directed to (to a file handler or dbms_output)

    Patrick

  5. Very nice and usefull.
    We have an apex app that we use for tracking complex jobs and jobdepencies. Would be very nice to generalize the functionality to display graphs on some given view/table structure, we would love to have job trees

  6. Very useful! I have Oracle XE on Linux so it didn’t complete the process of creating the PNGs. I just did it manually.

    Thanks again.

  7. Hi,

    I assume the call in ApexLib_Generate_PageFlowDiagram.sql for the “dot” executable is different on Linux. Just adapt the script to automatically generate it on Linux.

    Greetings
    Patrick

  8. rather than using ftp like shown above (which needs user/pass), you can do this:
    DECLARE
    rv BOOLEAN;
    BEGIN
    BEGIN
    DBMS_XDB.deleteresource (‘/public/test.svg’, DBMS_XDB.delete_force);
    EXCEPTION
    WHEN OTHERS THEN NULL;
    END;
    — unsure if charset is relevant/required but it works
    rv := DBMS_XDB.createresource (‘/public/test.svg’,BFILENAME (‘MY_DIR’, ‘test.svg’), NLS_CHARSET_ID (‘AL32UTF8′));
    END;

  9. Hi!
    I have a little problem with this appi. I have 3 application for which i have to generate a page flow diagram.The problem is that for one of them it dosen’t work. This is the error :
    begin ApexLib_PageFlowDiagram.generateDiagram(NULL, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE); end;

    ORA-01403: no data found
    ORA-06512: at “APEXLIB.APEXLIB_PAGEFLOWDIAGRAM”, line 674
    ORA-06512: at “APEXLIB.APEXLIB_PAGEFLOWDIAGRAM”, line 769
    ORA-06512: at line 2

  10. I made solution to extract Data from Siebel (Oracle DBMS) into XML and then converted the XML using XSLT into DOT.
    This makes the configuration of the view much more flexible.
    I wish there is an alternative to use Graphviz, like a deidicated PL/SQL package or something to do everything internally inside Oracle, without having to be coupled to Oracle/Windows/file-system-access combination.

    I assume also something with SVG or HTML5 might be possible.

    http://blog.maksoft.ch/2010/09/15/visualize-your-data-with-graphviz/

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