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Just as for implementing any new application, planning is by far the most important (and probably the most time-consuming) phase of implementing flexfields, so you should give it careful thought. The planning phase can be broken into smaller, though still interrelated, steps:

Suggestion: We recommend that you plan your flexfields as completely as possible, including your potential segment values, before you even begin to define them using Oracle Applications forms. Once you begin using your flexfields to acquire data, you cannot change them easily. Changing a flexfield for which you already have data may require a complex conversion process.

Decide which flexfields to implement

Oracle Applications products rely on some key flexfields as central parts of the applications, so you must set up these key flexfields. For example, while the Oracle General Ledger products use only the Accounting Flexfield key flexfield, almost every Oracle Applications product uses the Accounting Flexfield for some part of its processing. So, you must almost always set up the Accounting Flexfield, especially if you have more than one of the Oracle Applications at your site. In addition, many Oracle Applications products such as Oracle Inventory and Oracle Purchasing use the System Items Flexfield (Item Flexfield). Other Oracle Applications use various key flexfields for various purposes, and defining those flexfields is usually mandatory for a particular application.

While most Oracle Applications products require that you set up particular key flexfields, many descriptive flexfields are optional. You need only set up optional descriptive flexfields for forms where you want to capture business data not otherwise captured by the form fields.

Learning about a specific flexfield

Because each key and descriptive flexfield has a different purpose, you should be sure to understand the purpose and requirements for the flexfield you want to define. Some flexfields, particularly the Accounting Flexfield, have restrictions on how you can define them. Most descriptive flexfields simply provide a certain number of segment columns you can use for whatever you need to fill your organization's needs.


Key Flexfields in Oracle Applications

Planning the structure

For each flexfield you want to implement, plan your segment structure(s). You can completely customize the appearance of your flexfield pop-up window for each structure, including its title and the number, order, length, and prompts of its segments. Though you can always change the cosmetic aspects of your flexfield pop-up window, such as the title and prompts, you should never change the number, order, and maximum length of your segments once you have acquired flexfield data. So, you should plan your structures carefully and allow for future needs.


Planning Your Key Flexfield

Planning Your Descriptive Flexfield

Planning the segments

You must choose two lengths for each segment, the displayed length and the maximum length. The maximum length is the length of the longest value a user can enter into a segment. The largest maximum length you can choose must be less than or equal to the length of the underlying column that corresponds to the segment. Because these column sizes vary among flexfields, you need to know what column lengths are available for your flexfield.

The displayed length is the segment length a user sees in the pop-up window. If the displayed length is less than the maximum length, the user must scroll through the segment to see its entire contents.


Key Flexfields in Oracle Applications

Planning the segment validation

For each segment, plan your validation. Consider what types of values you will be using in your flexfield segments. These decisions affect how you set up your value sets and values.

Keep in mind that your values will change over time. Usually, an organization adds more values as the organization grows or reorganizes to use new values. For example, you might have a two-character long segment that holds a department number. Initially, a two-character department number (such as 01, 02, 15, and so on) may be sufficient. However, if you later need a department number larger than 99, such as 100, your segment cannot contain the larger values, and you would need to change the segment length and then convert any existing data. For example, your three-character department numbers may become 001, 002, 015, and so on instead of 01, 02, 15, and so on. You want to avoid such conversions if possible, so you should plan your values to allow for future needs.

You should also consider how you plan to acquire your values:

See: Values and Value Sets

Planning to use additional features

Flexfields have several additional features that make flexfields easier to use or that provide extra capabilities such as restricting users from using certain values. For a full discussion of these features, see the Using Additional Flexfields Features chapter. These features include:

Certain features that affect the end-user behavior of flexfields, such as AutoSkip and query-by-example, are discussed in the Oracle Applications User's Guide. See: Flexfields.


Overview of Shorthand Flexfield Entry

Cross Validation Rules

Overview of Flexfield Value Security

Documenting your plans

You should fully document your flexfield plans before you sit down to define your flexfields using your Oracle Applications setup forms.

We provide worksheets and templates throughout the book and in appendices that you can use to aid your decision and documentation process.

See Also

Planning Your Key Flexfield

Planning Your Descriptive Flexfield

Warning About Changing Data

Overview of Flexfield Concepts

Overview of Setting up Flexfields


Data Entry and Ongoing Maintenance


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