Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Easier maintenance of standard APEX buttons

One of the strong points of APEX is the use of templates. Combining templates with template options and attributes you can end up with HTML objects that are declarative and in most cases do exactly what you want. When you want to make general changes to these objects just change the template or the underlying CSS. This is a very good implementation of the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) principle.

However when generating pages with APEX you generate many identical buttons (CREATE,SUBMIT,DELETE,CANCEL,NEW) for which the label is a hard coded property for each instance of the button (not so DRY). If you there is the need to change the labels ( maybe for a translation ), you will have to go through the entire application and change all the relevant instances of the buttons.
It gets even harder (or more nagging) when after finishing the application you are asked to apply another look-and-feel including a left-side icon.

So you have to change the button on the left to the button on the right.
For each button you need to:
- select the button
- apply the CSS class
- apply the icon CSS class
- open the template options (default icon position is right)
- change the icon position
- close the template options
A lot of work, and that times the number of buttons in your application. That is a lot of work and by its repetitive nature very error prone.
All these scattered definitions are not very DRY either.

A solution I use is to create specific button templates for the most used buttons (CREATE,SUBMIT,DELETE,CANCEL,NEW). The button templates are based on the Text with icon button:

New button templates are created by copying the Text with icon template and adapting it to your needs.In my applications for example for the Save Button, this looks like:

The label is hard coded to Save and the left icon class fa fa-save refers to the save icon (the floppy disk). As we are using the left icon, the code for the right icon is omitted. The class t-Button--iconLeft is needed to display the left icon. And finally the class delphy-hot defines the specific look-and-feel for this application suite.

Now all that needs to be done is to apply these specific templates to the buttons. This took me about half an hour for a medium sized application.
Instead of the list of actions mentioned above you just need to:
- select the button
- change the button template
Look at the animated GIF below to see how fast the change can be applied.

Once you have got all the button templates referenced, you can easily change the look-and-feel of all the buttons just by changing the corresponding templates.

If you have several applications with the same look-and-feel you can copy the templates from one application to another. After copying you can adapt to the application, for example by translating the labels.

Happy APEXing ;-)

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