This section contains the following topics:
This section contains the following topics:
PL/SQL Server Pages (PSP) are server-side scripts that include dynamic content, including the results of SQL queries, inside Web pages. You can author the Web pages in an HTML authoring tool and insert blocks of PL/SQL code.
Example 12-1 shows a simple PL/SQL server page called
Example 12-1 simple.psp
<%@ page language="PL/SQL" %> <%@ page contentType="text/html" %> <%@ plsql procedure="show_employees" %> <%-- This example displays the last name and first name of every employee in the hr.employees table. --%> <%! CURSOR emp_cursor IS SELECT last_name, first_name FROM hr.employees ORDER BY last_name; %> <html> <head> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html"> <title>List of Employees</title> </head> <body TEXT="#000000" BGCOLOR="#FFFFFF"> <h1>List of Employees</h1> <table width="40%" border="1"> <tr> <th align="left">Last Name</th> <th align="left">First Name</th> </tr> <% FOR emp_record IN emp_cursor LOOP %> <tr> <td> <%= emp_record.last_name %> </td> <td> <%= emp_record.first_name %> </td> </tr> <% END LOOP; %> </table> </body> </html>
You can compile and load this script into an Oracle database with the
loadpsp command-line utility. The following example loads this server page into the
hr schema, replacing the
show_employees procedure if it already exists:
loadpsp -replace -user hr/hr simple.psp
Browser users can execute the
show_employees procedure through a URL. An HTML page that displays the last and first names of employees in the
hr.employees table is returned to the browser through the PL/SQL gateway.
Deploying content through PL/SQL Server Pages has the following advantages:
For developers familiar with PL/SQL, the server pages are the easiest way to create professional Web pages that included database-generated content. You can develop Web pages as normal and then embed PL/SQL code in the HTML.
PSP can be more convenient than using the
HTF packages to write out HTML content line by line.
Because processing is performed on the database server, the client browser receives a plain HTML page with no special script tags. You can support all browsers and browser levels equally.
Network traffic is efficient because use of PSP minimizes the number of database round-trips.
You can write content quickly and follow a rapid, iterative development process. You maintain central control of the software, with only a Web browser required on the client machine.
To develop and deploy PL/SQL server pages, you must meet the following prerequisites:
To write a PL/SQL server page you need access to a text editor or HTML authoring tool for writing the script. No other development tool is required.
To load a PL/SQL server page you need:
An account on an Oracle database in which to load the server pages.
Execution rights to the
loadpsp command-line utility, which is located in
To deploy the server pages you must use mod_plsql. As explained in "PL/SQL Web Toolkit", the gateway makes use of the PL/SQL Web Toolkit.
You can enable browser users to execute PL/SQL program units through HTTP in the following ways:
By writing an HTML page with embedded PL/SQL code and compiling it as a PL/SQL server page. You may call procedures from the PL/SQL Web Toolkit, but not to generate every line of HTML output.
By writing a complete stored procedure that produces HTML by calling the
OWA_* packages in the PL/SQL Web Toolkit. This technique is described in "Generating HTML Output with PL/SQL".
Thus, you must choose which technique to use when writing your Web application. The key factors in choosing between these techniques are:
What source are you using as a starting point?
If you have a large body of HTML, and if you want to include dynamic content or make it the front end of a database application, then use PSP.
If you have a large body of PL/SQL code that produces formatted output, then you may find it more convenient to produce HTML tags by changing your print statements to call the
HTP package of the PL/SQL Web Toolkit.
What is the fastest and most convenient authoring environment for your group?
If most work is done using HTML authoring tools, then use PSP.
If you use authoring tools that produce PL/SQL code, then it might be less convenient to use PSP.
Java Server Pages (JSP) and Active Server Pages (ASP) are two of the most popular server-side scripting solutions. Note the following points of comparison with PSP:
Java server pages are loosely analogous to PSP pages; Java servlets are analogous to PL/SQL packages. PSP uses the same script tag syntax as JSP to make it easy to switch back and forth.
PSP uses syntax that is similar to ASP, although not identical. Typically, you must translate from VBScript or JScript to PL/SQL. The best candidates for migration are pages that use the Active Data Object (ADO) interface to perform database operations.
Note:You cannot mix PL/SQL server pages with other server-side script features, such as server-side includes. In many cases, you can get the same results by using the corresponding PSP features.
To write a PL/SQL server page, you can start with an existing Web page or with an existing stored procedure. Either way, with a few additions and changes you can create dynamic Web pages that perform database operations and display the results.
The file for a PL/SQL server page must have the extension
.psp. It can contain whatever content you choose, with text and tags interspersed with PSP directives, declarations, and scriptlets. A server page can take the following forms:
In the simplest case, it is an HTML file. Compiling it as a PL/SQL server page produces a stored procedure that outputs exactly the same HTML file.
In the most complex case, it is a PL/SQL procedure that generates all the content of the Web page, including the tags for title, body, and headings.
In the typical case, it is a mixture of HTML (providing the static parts of the page) and PL/SQL (providing the dynamic content).
The order and placement of the PSP directives and declarations is usually not significant. It becomes significant only when another file is included. For ease of maintenance, it is recommended that you place the directives and declarations together near the beginning of the file.
Table 12-1 lists the PSP elements and directs you to the section that discusses how to use them. The section "Quoting and Escaping Strings in a PSP Script" describes how to quote strings that are used in various PSP elements.
Table 12-1 PSP Elements
|PSP Element||Name||Specifies . . .||Section|
Characteristics of the PL/SQL server page.
The name, and optionally the type and default, for each parameter expected by the PSP stored procedure.
The name of the stored procedure produced by the PSP file.
The name of a file to be included at a specific point in the PSP file.
The declaration for a set of PL/SQL variables that are visible throughout the page, not just within the next
A set of PL/SQL statements to be executed when the procedure is run.
A single PL/SQL expression, such as a string, arithmetic expression, function call, or combination of these.
A comment in a PSP script.
Note:If you are familiar with dynamic HTML and want to start coding right away, you can jump forward to"Examples of PL/SQL Server Pages".
<%@ page ... %> directive to specify characteristics of the PL/SQL server page such as the following:
What scripting language it uses.
What type of information (MIME type) it produces.
What code to run to handle all uncaught exceptions. This might be an HTML file with a friendly message, renamed to a
.psp file. You must specify this same file name in the
loadpsp command that compiles the main PSP file. You must specify exactly the same name in both the
errorPage directive and in the
loadpsp command, including any relative path name such as
The following code shows the syntax of the
page directive (note that the attribute names
errorPage are case-sensitive):
<%@ page [language="PL/SQL"] [contentType="content type string"] charset="encoding" [errorPage="file.psp"] %>
To identify a file as a PL/SQL server page, include the following directive somewhere in the file:
<%@ page language="PL/SQL" %>
This directive is for compatibility with other scripting environments. Example 12-1 shows an example of a simple PL/SQL server page that includes the language directive.
You have the following basic options when specifying the type of data to return to the client browser:
The PL/SQL parts of a PL/SQL server page are enclosed within special delimiters. All other content is passed along verbatim—including any whitespace—to the browser. To display text or HTML tags, write it as you would a typical Web page. You do not need to call any output functions. As illustration, the server page in Example 12-1 returns the HTML page shown in Example 12-2, except that it includes the table rows for the queried employees.
Example 12-2 Sample Returned HTML Page
<html> <head> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html"> <title>List of Employees</title> </head> <body TEXT="#000000" BGCOLOR="#FFFFFF"> <h1>List of Employees</h1> <table width="40%" border="1"> <tr> <th align="left">Last Name</th> <th align="left">First Name</th> </tr> <!-- result set of query of hr.employees inserted here --> </table> </body> </html>
Sometimes you might want to display one line of output or another, or change the value of an attribute, based on a condition. You can include control structures and variable substitution inside the PSP delimiters, as shown in the following code fragment from Example 12-1:
<% FOR emp_record IN emp_cursor LOOP %> <tr> <td> <%= emp_record.last_name %> </td> <td> <%= emp_record.first_name %> </td> </tr> <% END LOOP; %>
By default, the PL/SQL gateway transmits files as HTML documents so that the browser interprets the HTML tags. If you want the browser to interpret the document as XML, plain text (with no formatting), or some other document type, then include the following directive:
<%@ page contentType="
The attribute name is case-sensitive, so be sure to capitalize it as
image/jpeg, or some other MIME type that the browser or other client program recognizes. Users may have to configure their browsers to recognize some MIME types. The following shows an example of a directive for an Excel spreadsheet:
<%@ page contentType="application/vnd.ms-excel" %>
Typically, a PL/SQL server page is intended to be displayed in a Web browser. It can also be retrieved and interpreted by a program that can make HTTP requests, such as a a Java or Perl client.
By default, the PL/SQL gateway transmits files with the character set defined by the PL/SQL gateway. To convert the data to a different character set for browser display, include the following directive:
<%@ page charset="encoding" %>
UTF-8, or another encoding that the client program recognizes.
You must also configure the character set setting in the database accessor descriptor (DAD) of the PL/SQL gateway. Users may have to select the same encoding in their browsers to see the data displayed properly. For example, a database in Japan might have a database character set that uses the
EUC encoding, but the Web browsers are configured to display
When writing PL/SQL server pages, be mindful of the following types of errors:
HTML syntax errors. Any errors in HTML markup are handled by the browser. The
loadpsp utility does not check for them.
PL/SQL syntax errors. If you make a syntax error in the PL/SQL code, the
loadpsp utility stops and displays the line number, column number, and a brief message. You must fix the error before continuing. Note that any previous version of the stored procedure can be erased when you attempt to replace it with a script that contains a syntax error. You might want to use one database for prototyping and debugging, then load the final stored procedure into a different database for production. You can switch databases using a command-line flag without changing any source code.
Runtime errors. To handle database errors that occur when the script runs, you can include PL/SQL exception-handling code within a PSP file and have any unhandled exceptions bring up a special PL/SQL server page. Use the
errorPage attribute (note that the name is case-sensitive) of the
<%@ page ... %> directive to specify the page name.
The page for unhandled exceptions is a PL/SQL server page with extension
.psp. The error procedure does not receive any parameters, so to determine the cause of the error, it can call the
SQLERRM functions. You can also display a standard HTML page without any scripting when an error occurs, but you must still give it the extension
.psp and load it into the database as a stored procedure.
The following example shows a directive that specifies
errors.psp as the page to run when errors are encountered:
<%@ page language="PL/SQL" contentType="text/html" errorPage="errors.psp" %>
To set up parameter passing for a PL/SQL server page, include a directive with the following syntax:
<%@ plsql parameter="parameter name" [type="PL/SQL type"] [default="value"] %>
Example 12-9 shows an example of a script that includes the parameter directive.
By default, parameters are of type
VARCHAR2. To use a different type, include a
" attribute within the directive, as in the following example:
<%@ plsql parameter="p_employee_id" type="NUMBER" %>
To set a default value, so that the parameter becomes optional, include a
" attribute in the directive. The values for this attribute are substituted directly into a PL/SQL statement, so any strings must be single-quoted, and you can use special values such as
null, as in the following example:
<%@ plsql parameter="p_last_name" default="null" %>
User input comes encoded in the URL that retrieves the HTML page. You can generate the URL by hard-coding it in an HTML link, or by calling your page as the action of an HTML form. Your page receives the input as parameters to a PL/SQL stored procedure. For example, assume that you change the first few lines of Example 12-1 to include a parameter directive as follows, and then load it into the database:
<%@ page language="PL/SQL" %> <%@ page contentType="text/html" %> <%@ plsql parameter="p_employee_id" default="null" type="NUMBER" %> <%@ plsql procedure="show_employees" %> <%! CURSOR emp_cursor IS SELECT last_name, first_name FROM hr.employees WHERE employee_id = p_employee_id ORDER BY last_name; %>
If the PL/SQL gateway were configured so that you could execute procedures by calling
proc_name is the name of a procedure, then you could pass
200 for parameter
p_employee_id as follows:
Each top-level PL/SQL server page corresponds to a stored procedure within the server. When you load the page with
loadpsp, the utility creates a PL/SQL stored procedure. By default, the procedure is given the same name as the PSP script, except with the
.psp extension removed. Thus, if your script is named
hello_world.psp, then by default the utility creates a procedure named
To give the procedure a name that is different from the script name, include the following directive, where
procname is the name of a procedure:
<%@ plsql procedure="
Example 12-1 includes the following directive, which gives the stored procedure the name
<%@ plsql procedure="show_employees" %>
Thus, you could name the file
empnames.psp or anything else that ends with
*.psp, but the procedure is created as
show_employees. Note that it is the name of the procedure, not the name of the PSP script, that you include in the URL.
You can set up an include mechanism to pull in the contents of other files, typically containing either static HTML content or more PL/SQL scripting code. Insert the following directive at the point where the content of the other file should appear, replacing
filename with the name of the file to be included:
<%@ include file="
The included file must have an extension other than
.psp. You must specify exactly the same name in both the
include directive and in the
loadpsp command, including any relative path name such as
Because the files are processed when you load the stored procedure into the database, the substitution is performed only once, not whenever the page is served. Therefore, changes to the included files that occur after the page is loaded into the database are not displayed when the procedure is executed.
You can use the include feature to pull in libraries of code, such as a navigation banners, footers, tables of contents, and so forth into multiple files. Alternatively, you can use this feature as a macro capability to include the same section of script code in more than one place in a page. The following example includes an HTML footer:
<%@ include file="footer.htm" %>
Note the following characteristics of included files:
You can use any names and extensions for the included files. For example, you could include a file called
If the included files contain PL/SQL scripting code, then they do not need their own set of directives to identify the procedure name, character set, and so on.
When specifying the names of files to the
loadpsp utility, you must include the names of all included files also. Specify the names of included files before the names of any
You can use the
<%! ... %> directive to define a set of PL/SQL variables that are visible throughout the page, not just within the next
BEGIN/END block. This element typically spans multiple lines, with individual PL/SQL variable declarations ended by semicolons. The syntax for this directive is as follows:
<%! PL/SQL declaration; [ PL/SQL declaration; ] ... %>
The usual PL/SQL syntax is allowed within the block. The delimiters server as shorthand, enabling you to omit the
DECLARE keyword. All declarations are available to the code later in the file. Example 12-1 includes the following cursor declaration:
<%! CURSOR emp_cursor IS SELECT last_name, first_name FROM hr.employees ORDER BY last_name; %>
You can specify multiple declaration blocks; internally, they are all merged into a single block when the PSP file is created as a stored procedure.
You can also use explicit
DECLARE blocks within the
<% ... %> delimiters that are explained in "Specifying Executable Statements in a PSP Script". These declarations are only visible to the following
Note:To make things easier to maintain, keep all your directives and declarations together near the beginning of a PL/SQL server page.
You can use the
<% ... %> code block directive to execute a set of PL/SQL statements when the stored procedure is run. The following code shows the syntax for executable statements:
<% PL/SQL statement; [ PL/SQL statement; ] ... %>
This element typically spans multiple lines, with individual PL/SQL statements ended by semicolons. The statements can include complete blocks, as in the following example, which calls the
<% OWA_UTIL.TABLEPRINT(CTABLE => 'hr.employees', CATTRIBUTES => 'border=2', CCOLUMNS => 'last_name,first_name', CCLAUSES => 'WHERE employee_id > 100'); %>
The statements can also be the bracketing parts of
BEGIN/END blocks. When a code block is split into multiple directives, you can put HTML or other directives in the middle, and the middle pieces are conditionally executed when the stored procedure is run. The following code from Example 12-10 provides an illustration of this technique:
<% FOR ITEM IN (SELECT product_name, list_price, catalog_url FROM product_information WHERE list_price IS NOT NULL ORDER BY list_price DESC) LOOP IF item.list_price > p_minprice THEN v_color := '#CCCCFF'; ELSE v_color := '#CCCCCC'; END IF; %> <TR BGCOLOR="<%= v_color %>"> <TD><A HREF="<%= item.catalog_url %>"><%= item.product_name %></A></TD> <TD><BIG><%= item.list_price %></BIG></TD> </TR> <% END LOOP; %>
All the usual PL/SQL syntax is allowed within the block. The delimiters server as shorthand, letting you omit the
DECLARE keyword. All the declarations are available to the code later on in the file.
Note:To share procedures, constants, and types across different PL/SQL server pages, compile them into a package in the database by using a plain PL/SQL source file. Although you can reference packaged procedures, constants, and types from PSP scripts, the PSP scripts can only produce standalone procedures, not packages.
An expression directive outputs a single PL/SQL expression, such as a string, arithmetic expression, function call, or combination of these things. The result is substituted as a string at that spot in the HTML page that is produced by the stored procedure. The expression result must be a string value or be able to be cast to a string. For any types that cannot be implicitly cast, such as
DATE, pass the value to the PL/SQL
The syntax of an expression directive is as follows, where the
expression placeholder is replaced by the desired expression:
Note that you do not need to end the PL/SQL expression with a semicolon.
Example 12-1 includes a directive to print the value of a variable in a row of a cursor:
<%= emp_record.last_name %>
Compare the preceding example to the equivalent
htp.print call in the following example (note especially the semicolon that ends the statement):
<% HTP.PRN (emp_record.last_name); %>
The content within the
<%= ... %> delimiters is processed by the
HTP.PRN function, which trims leading or trailing whitespace and requires that you quote literal strings.
Note that you can use concatenation by using the twin pipe symbol (
||) as you would in PL/SQL. The following directive shows an example of concatenation:
<%= 'The employee last name is ' || emp_record.last_name %>
PSP attributes use double quotes to delimit data. When values specified in PSP attributes are used for PL/SQL operations, they are passed exactly as you specify them in the PSP file. Thus, if PL/SQL requires a single-quoted string, then you must specify the string with the single quotes around it—and surround the whole thing with double quotes.
For example, your PL/SQL procedure may use the string
Babe Ruth as the default value for a variable. Because the string will be used in PL/SQL, you must enclose it in single quotes as
'Babe Ruth'. If you specify this single-quoted string in the
default attribute of a PSP directive, then you must surround it in double quotes as in the following example:
<%@ plsql parameter="in_players" default="'Babe Ruth'" %>
You can also nest single-quoted strings inside single quotes. In this case, you must escape the nested single quotes by specifying the sequence
\'. For example:
<%@ plsql parameter="in_players" default="'Walter \'Big Train\' Johnson'" %>
You can include most characters and character sequences in a PSP file without having them changed by the PSP loader. To include the sequence
%>, specify the escape sequence
%\>. To include the sequence
<%, specify the escape sequence
<\%. For example:
<%= 'The %\> sequence is used in scripting language: ' || lang_name %> <%= 'The <\% sequence is used in scripting language: ' || lang_name %>
To put a comment in the HTML portion of a PL/SQL server page for the benefit of those reading the PSP source code, use the following syntax:
<%-- PSP comment text --%>
Comments in the preceding form do not appear in the HTML output from the PSP and also do not appear when you query the PL/SQL source code in
To create a comment that is visible in the HTML output and in the
USER_OBJECTS source, place the comment in the HTML and use the normal HTML comment syntax:
HTML comment text-->
To include a comment inside a PL/SQL block within a PSP, and to make the comment invisible in the HTML output but visible in
USER_OBJECTS, use the normal PL/SQL comment syntax, as in the following example:
-- Comment in PL/SQL code
Example 12-3 shows a fragment of a PSP file with the three types of comments.
Example 12-3 Sample Comments in a PSP File
<p>Today we introduce our new model XP-10. <%-- This is the project with code name "Secret Project". Users viewing the HTML page will not see this PSP script comment. The comment is not visible in the USER_OBJECTS source code. --%> <!-- Some pictures of the XP-10. Users viewing the HTML page source will see this comment. The comment is also visible in the USER_OBJECTS source code. --> <% FOR image_file IN (SELECT pathname, width, height, description FROM image_library WHERE model_num = 'XP-10') -- Comments interspersed with PL/SQL statements. -- Users viewing the HTML page source will not see these PL/SQL comments. -- These comments are visible in the USER_OBJECTS source code. LOOP %> <img src="<%= image_file.pathname %>" width=<% image_file.width %> height=<% image_file.height %> alt="<% image_file.description %>"> <br> <% END LOOP; %>
loadpsp utility, which is located in
$ORACLE_HOME/bin, to load one or more PSP files into the database as stored procedures. Each
.psp file corresponds to one stored procedure. The pages are compiled and loaded in one step, to speed up the development cycle. The syntax of the
loadpsp utility as follows:
loadpsp [ -replace ] -user username/password[@connect_string] [ include_file_name ... ] [
error_file_name] psp_file_name ...
To create procedures with
CREATE OR REPLACE syntax, use the
When you load a PSP file, the loader performs the following actions:
Logs on to the database with the specified user name, password, and net service name
Creates the stored procedures in the user schema
Include the names of all the include files before the names of the PL/SQL server pages. Also include the name of the file specified in the
errorPage attribute of the
page directive. These filenames on the loadpsp command line must match exactly the names specified within the PSP
page directives, including any relative path name such as
../include/. Example 12-4 shows a sample PSP load command.
Note the following characteristics of Example 12-4:
The stored procedure is created in the database
orcl. The database is accessed as user
hr with password
hr, both to create the stored procedure and when the stored procedure is executed.
banner.inc is a file containing boilerplate text and script code that is included by the
.psp file. The inclusion occurs when the PSP is loaded into the database, not when the stored procedure is executed.
error.psp is a file containing code, text, or both that is processed when an unhandled exception occurs, to present a friendly page rather than an internal error message.
display_order.psp contains the main code and text for the Web page. By default, the corresponding stored procedure is named
After you have loaded a PSP file, you can view the source code in the
DBA_SOURCE tables in the data dictionary. For example, suppose that you load the script in Example 12-1 with the following command:
loadpsp -replace -user hr/hr simple.psp
If you log on to the database as user
hr, then you can execute the following query in SQL*Plus to view the source code of the PSP:
SET HEADING OFF SELECT TEXT FROM USER_SOURCE WHERE NAME = 'SHOW_EMPLOYEES' ORDER BY LINE;
Sample output is shown in Example 12-5. Note that the code generated by
loadpsp is different from the code in the source file. The
loadpsp utility has added extra code, mainly calls to the
HTP package, to the PSP code. The
HTP package generates the HTML tags for the web page.
Example 12-5 Output from Query of USER_SOURCE
PROCEDURE show_employees AS CURSOR emp_cursor IS SELECT last_name, first_name FROM hr.employees ORDER BY last_name; BEGIN NULL; owa_util.mime_header('text/html'); htp.prn(' '); htp.prn(' '); htp.prn(' '); htp.prn(' <html> <head> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html"> <title>List of Employees</title> </head> <body TEXT="#000000" BGCOLOR="#FFFFFF"> <h1>List of Employees</h1> <table width="40%" border="1"> <tr> <th align="left">Last Name</th> <th align="left">First Name</th> </tr> '); FOR emp_record IN emp_cursor LOOP htp.prn(' <tr> <td> '); htp.prn( emp_record.last_name ); htp.prn(' </td> <td> '); htp.prn( emp_record.first_name ); htp.prn(' </td> </tr> '); END LOOP; htp.prn(' </table> </body> </html> '); END;
After the PL/SQL server page has been turned into a stored procedure, you can run the procedure by retrieving an HTTP URL through a Web browser or other Internet-aware client program. The virtual path in the URL depends on the way the PL/SQL gateway is configured.
The parameters to the stored procedure are passed through either the
POST method or the
GET method of the HTTP protocol. With the
POST method, the parameters are passed directly from an HTML form and are not visible in the URL. With the
GET method, the parameters are passed as name-value pairs in the query string of the URL, separated by
& characters, with most non-alphanumeric characters in encoded format (such as
%20 for a space). You can use the
GET method to call a PSP page from an HTML form, or you can use a hard-coded HTML link to call the stored procedure with a given set of parameters.
METHOD=GET, the syntax of the URL looks something like the following:
For example, the following URL includes a
METHOD=POST, the syntax of the URL does not show the parameters:
For example, the following URL specifies a procedure name but does not pass parameters:
METHOD=GET format is more convenient for debugging and allows visitors to pass exactly the same parameters when they return to the page through a bookmark.
METHOD=POST format allows a larger volume of parameter data, and is suitable for passing sensitive information that should not be displayed in the URL. (URLs linger on in the browser's history list and in the HTTP headers that are passed to the next-visited page.) It is not practical to bookmark pages that are called this way.
This section shows how you might start with a very simple PL/SQL server page, and produce progressively more complicated versions as you gain more confidence.
This section contains the following topics:
These examples use the
product_information table in the
oe schema, which is described as follows:
Table PRODUCT_INFORMATION Name Null? Type ----------------------------------------- -------- ---------------------------- PRODUCT_ID NOT NULL NUMBER(6) PRODUCT_NAME VARCHAR2(50) PRODUCT_DESCRIPTION VARCHAR2(2000) CATEGORY_ID NUMBER(2) WEIGHT_CLASS NUMBER(1) WARRANTY_PERIOD INTERVAL YEAR(2) TO MONTH SUPPLIER_ID NUMBER(6) PRODUCT_STATUS VARCHAR2(20) LIST_PRICE NUMBER(8,2) MIN_PRICE NUMBER(8,2) CATALOG_URL VARCHAR2(50)
The examples assume the following:
Youn have set up mod_plsql as described in "Using the mod_plsql Gateway".
You have created a DAD for static authentication of the
You can access PL/SQL stored procedures created in the
oe schema through the following URL, where
proc_name is the name of a stored procedure:
For debugging purposes, you can display the complete contents of an SQL table. You can do this with a single call to
OWA_UTIL.TABLEPRINT as illustrated in Example 12-6. In subsequent iterations, we use other techniques to gain more control over the presentation.
Example 12-6 show_prod_simple.psp
<%@ plsql procedure="show_prod_simple" %> <HTML> <HEAD><TITLE>Show Contents of product_information (Complete Dump)</TITLE></HEAD> <BODY> <% DECLARE dummy BOOLEAN; BEGIN dummy := OWA_UTIL.TABLEPRINT('oe.product_information','border'); END; %> </BODY> </HTML>
Load the PSP in Example 12-6 at the command line as follows:
loadpsp -replace -user oe/oe show_prod_simple.psp
Access the PSP through the following URL:
Example 12-6 loops through the items in the
product_information table and adjusts the
SELECT statement to retrieve only a subset of the rows or columns. In this example, we pick a very simple presentation, a set of list items, to avoid any problems from mismatched or unclosed table tags.
Example 12-7 show_catalog_raw.psp
<%@ plsql procedure="show_prod_raw" %> <HTML> <HEAD><TITLE>Show Products (Raw Form)</TITLE></HEAD> <BODY> <UL> <% FOR item IN (SELECT product_name, list_price, catalog_url FROM product_information WHERE list_price IS NOT NULL ORDER BY list_price DESC) LOOP %> <LI> Item = <%= item.product_name %><BR> Price = <%= item.list_price %><BR> URL = <%= item.catalog_url %><BR> <% END LOOP; %> </UL> </BODY> </HTML>
Example 12-8 show_catalog_pretty.psp
<%@ plsql procedure="show_prod_pretty" %> <HTML> <HEAD><TITLE>Show Products (Better Form)</TITLE></HEAD> <BODY> <UL> <% FOR item IN (SELECT product_name, list_price, catalog_url FROM product_information WHERE list_price IS NOT NULL ORDER BY list_price DESC) LOOP %> <LI> Item = <A HREF=<%= item.catalog_url %>><%= item.product_name %></A><BR> Price = <BIG><%= item.list_price %></BIG><BR> <% END LOOP; %> </UL> </BODY> </HTML>
In the previous examples, the HTML page remains the same unless the
product_information table is updated. Example 12-9 livens up the page by:
Making it accept a minimum price, and present only the items that are more expensive. (Your customers' buying criteria may vary.)
Setting the default minimum price to 100 units of the appropriate currency. Later, we see how to allow the user to pick a minimum price.
Example 12-9 show_product_partial.psp
<%@ plsql procedure="show_product_partial" %> <%@ plsql parameter="p_minprice" default="100" %> <HTML> <HEAD><TITLE>Show Items Greater Than Specified Price</TITLE></HEAD> <BODY> <P>This report shows the items whose price is greater than <%= p_minprice %>. <UL> <% FOR ITEM IN (SELECT product_name, list_price, catalog_url FROM product_information WHERE list_price > p_minprice ORDER BY list_price DESC) LOOP %> <LI> Item = <A HREF="<%= item.catalog_url %>"><%= item.product_name %></A><BR> Price = <BIG><%= item.list_price %></BIG><BR> <% END LOOP; %> </UL> </BODY> </HTML>
After loading Example 12-9 into the database, you can pass a parameter to the
show_product_partial procedure through a URL. The following example specifies a minimum price of 250:
This technique of filtering results is fine for some applications, such as search results, in which users might worry about being overwhelmed by choices. But in a retail situation, you might want to use the alternative technique illustrated in Example 12-10 so that customers can still choose to purchase other items. Note the following features of this example:
Instead of filtering the results through a
WHERE clause, we can retrieve the entire result set and then take different actions for different returned rows.
We can change the HTML to highlight the output that meets their criteria. In this case, we use the background color for an HTML table row. We could also insert a special icon, increase the font size, or use some other technique to call attention to the most important rows.
We can present the results in an HTML table.
Example 12-10 show_product_highlighed.psp
<%@ plsql procedure="show_product_highlighted" %> <%@ plsql parameter="p_minprice" default="100" %> <%! v_color VARCHAR2(7); %> <HTML> <HEAD><TITLE>Show Items Greater Than Specified Price</TITLE></HEAD> <BODY> <P>This report shows all items, highlighting those whose price is greater than <%= p_minprice %>. <P> <TABLE BORDER> <TR> <TH>Product</TH> <TH>Price</TH> </TR> <% FOR ITEM IN (SELECT product_name, list_price, catalog_url FROM product_information WHERE list_price IS NOT NULL ORDER BY list_price DESC) LOOP IF item.list_price > p_minprice THEN v_color := '#CCCCFF'; ELSE v_color := '#CCCCCC'; END IF; %> <TR BGCOLOR="<%= v_color %>"> <TD><A HREF="<%= item.catalog_url %>"><%= item.product_name %></A></TD> <TD><BIG><%= item.list_price %></BIG></TD> </TR> <% END LOOP; %> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>
Example 12-11 shows a bare-bones HTML form that allows the user to enter a price. The form calls the
show_product_partial stored procedure illustrated in Example 12-9 and passes it the entered value as the
To avoid coding the entire URL of the stored procedure in the
ACTION= attribute of the form, we can make the form a PSP file so that it resides in the same directory as the PSP file that it calls. Even though this HTML file contains no PL/SQL code, we can give it a
.psp extension and load it as a stored procedure into the database. When the
product_form stored procedure is executed through a URL, it displays the HTML exactly as it appears in the file.
Example 12-11 product_form.psp
<HTML> <BODY> <FORM method="POST" action="show_product_partial"> <P>Enter the minimum price you want to pay: <INPUT type="text" name="p_minprice"> <INPUT type="submit" value="Submit"> </FORM> </BODY> </HTML>
As you begin experimenting with PSP, and as you adapt your first simple pages into more elaborate ones, keep these guidelines in mind when you encounter problems:
The first step is to get all the PL/SQL syntax and PSP directive syntax right. If you make a mistake here, the file does not compile.
Make sure you use semicolons to terminate lines where required.
If a value must be quoted, quote it. You might need to enclose a single-quoted value (needed by PL/SQL) inside double quotes (needed by PSP).
Mistakes in the PSP directives are usually reported through PL/SQL syntax messages. Check that your directives use the right syntax, that directives are closed properly, and that you are using the right element (declaration, expression, or code block) depending on what goes inside it.
PSP attribute names are case-sensitive. Most are specified in all lowercase;
errorPage must be specified as mixed-case.
When using a URL to request a PSP, you may get an error that the file is not found. In this case, note the following:
Make sure you are requesting the right virtual path, depending on the way the Web gateway is configured. Typically, the path includes the host name, optionally a port number, the schema name, and the name of the stored procedure (with no
If you use the
-replace option when compiling the file, the old version of the stored procedure is erased. So, after a failed compilation, you must fix the error or the page is not available. You might want to test new scripts in a separate schema, then load them into the production schema.
If you copied the file from another file, remember to change any procedure name directives in the source to match the new file name.
When you get one file-not-found error, make sure to request the latest version of the page the next time. The error page might be cached by the browser. You may need to force a page reload in the browser to bypass the cache.
When the PSP script is run, and the results come back to the browser, use standard debugging techniques to check for and correct wrong output. The difficult part is to configure the interface between different HTML forms, scripts, and CGI programs so that the right values are passed into your page. The page might return an error because of a parameter mismatch. Note the following tips:
To determine exactly what is being passed to your page, use
METHOD=GET in the calling form so that the parameters are visible in the URL.
Make sure that the form or CGI program that calls your page passes the correct number of parameters, and that the names specified by the
NAME= attributes on the form match the parameter names in the PSP file. If the form includes any hidden input fields, or uses the
NAME= attribute on the
Reset buttons, then the PSP file must declare equivalent parameters.
Make sure that the parameters can be cast from string into the correct PL/SQL types. For example, do not include alphabetic characters if the parameter in the PSP file is declared as a
Make sure that the query string of the URL consists of name-value pairs, separated by equals signs, especially if you are passing parameters by constructing a hard-coded link to the page.
If you are passing a lot of parameter data, such as large strings, you might exceed the volume that can be passed with
METHOD=GET. You can switch to
METHOD=POST in the calling form without changing your PSP file.
loadpsp command reports line numbers correctly when there is a syntax error in your source file, line numbers reported for runtime errors refer to a transformed version of the source and do not match the line numbers in the original source. When you encounter errors that produce an error trace instead of the expected Web page, you will need to locate the error through exception handlers and by printing debug output.
Before putting your PSP application into production, consider issues such as usability and download speed:
Pages can be rendered faster in the browser if the
WIDTH= attributes are specified for all images. You might standardize on picture sizes, or store the height and width of images in the database along with the data or URL.
For viewers who turn off graphics, or who use alternative browsers that read the text out loud, include a description of significant images using the
ALT= attribute. You might store the description in the database along with the image.
Although an HTML table provides a good way to display data, a large table can make your application seem slow. Often, the reader sees a blank page until the entire table is downloaded. If the amount of data in an HTML table is large, consider splitting the output into multiple tables.
If you set text, font, or background colors, test your application with different combinations of browser color settings:
Test what happens if you override just the foreground color in the browser, or just the background color, or both.
Generally, if you set one color (such as the foreground text color), you should set all the colors through the
<BODY> tag, to avoid hard-to-read combinations like white text on a white background.
If you use a background image, specify a similar background color to provide proper contrast for viewers who do not load graphics.
If the information conveyed by different colors is crucial, consider using an alternative technique. For example, you might put an icon next to special items in a table. Some users may see your page on a monochrome screen or on browsers that cannot represent different colors.
Providing context information prevents users from getting lost. Include a descriptive
<TITLE> tag for your page. If the user is partway through a procedure, indicate which step is represented by your page. Provide links to logical points to continue with the procedure, return to a previous step, or cancel the procedure completely. Many pages might use a standard set of links that you embed using the include directive.
Submit button and make a call to the database.
Browsers tend to be lenient when displaying incorrect HTML. What looks OK in one browser might look bad or might not display at all in another browser. Note the following guidelines:
Pay attention to HTML rules for quotation marks, closing tags, and especially for anything to do with tables.
Minimize the dependence on tags that are only supported by a single browser. Sometimes you can provide an extra bonus using such tags, but your application should still be usable with other browsers.
You can check the validity, and even in some cases the usability, of your HTML for free at many sites on the World Wide Web.