Enable Real Application Security (RAS) in APEX 5.0

Oracle Database 12c introduced Oracle Real Application Security (RAS), the next generation Oracle Virtual Private Database (VPD). In APEX 5.0 RAS is declaratively build-in. Follow the below steps to enable it:

Login to the INTERNAL workspace and go to Manage Instance > Security:

In the Real Application Security section set Allow Real Application Security to Yes.

Next login to the Workspace your Application is build in and go to your Authentication Scheme.
You'll see a new section in there called Real Application Security.



The dropdown has following possibilities:

  • Disabled: Real Application Security does not get used in the application. 
  • Internal Users: APEX creates a RAS session and assumes that all users are internal and passes false via the is_external parameter to dbms_xs_sessions.assign_user. 
  • External Users: RAS session created and true gets passed via the is_external parameter to dbms_xs_sessions.assign_user. 

The last two options enable RAS Mode and make the Dynamic Roles and Namespaces shuttle available. (from the help in APEX) Make sure that the users get privileges to access the application's schema objects. For External Users, you can for example grant database privileges to a RAS Dynamic Application Role and configure it in this authentication scheme as a Dynamic Role. You can also enable roles via a call to apex_authorization.enable_dynamic_groups, e.g. in a Post-Authentication procedure.

You can read more about Oracle Real Application Security and view an entire example how to set up RAS at the database side. I'm still learning about all the RAS features myself too, but thought to already share the above. I plan to include a chapter in my e-book about RAS and APEX 5.0 with a real-case example, as I see a big benefit for using it in a highly regulatory, secure and audited environment.


JSON for APEX Developers (part 3): Querying JSON in Oracle DB 12c

In previous blog posts I talked about JSON for APEX Developers:
In this post I want to show how you store and query JSON data straight in the database.

To start, create a table to store the JSON object:

CREATE TABLE ssn_json
   (id          NUMBER GENERATED ALWAYS AS IDENTITY NOT NULL,
    date_loaded DATE,
    json_document CLOB
    CONSTRAINT ensure_json CHECK (json_document IS JSON));


I inserted a couple of records in the table:


Here's in more detail the JSON in the json_document column:

Now to query the JSON data I can do :


You basically say j (table) . json_document (column) . analyses (first entry in JSON) . ... (other fields of the hierarchy you want to navigate to)
 
You see the data I get back is actually two records as I actually get back the JSON array.

To go into the array and see for example the first record, I can use json_value:


Note that the array start with 0.

And finally to see both records that are in the JSON array I can make use of json_table like this:


The above is just a grasp of what you can do with JSON directly in the database (12c) by using SQL.
If you're interested to read more about how to manipulate JSON in the database, have a look at the documentation, it contains a wealth on information with great examples.

As you can basically query the JSON with SQL you can use this SQL in your APEX reports... in the coming days I'll show you a real case where I used the above techniques to do some interesting searching in data.

Oracle APEX 5.0 released today

After 2.5 years of development, today is the day APEX 5.0 is publicly released and ready to be downloaded to install on your own environment.

In my view it's the best release ever. Not so much of the new Page Designer - although that is definitely a piece of art and it increased productivity even further - but because it's the first time whole of APEX got refreshed and every piece was put under a radar to see how it could be improved. All the small changes and the new UI, together with the Page Designer makes it a whole new development tool, without losing it's strengths from before.

Also note that APEX 5.0 enables many new features build on top of the Oracle Database 12c features, so if you're on that database, you'll see even more nice features.

If you wonder if you should wait with upgrading to APEX 5.0 because you're afraid that your current APEX applications break, I can only share that I upgraded many of my applications as part of EA/beta and most of my apps kept running without issues. As always you have to try your applications yourself, but the APEX development team spend a lot of time trying to keep things backwards compatible. But make sure to have a look at the APEX 5.0 release notes and known issues as they contain important information about changes, expected behaviour and workarounds.

You can develop online on apex.oracle.com or you can download APEX 5.0 and install into your own environment.