Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oracle Learning Library Advertisement Video

The Oracle Learning Library team just published a new advertisement video, promoting the Oracle Learning Library.  OLL is a great, free source for a lot of technical content on virtually every Oracle product.  Just be sure you turn your volume down before playing this video - the music is quite loud.

You may ask why I'm promoting this on an APEX blog.  Well, it's because:
  1. The Oracle Learning Library application itself is written in Oracle Application Express.
  2. There is a wealth of Oracle Application Express content available in the OLL.
  3. It's yet one more application that runs successfully on  This application alone accounts for over 2M page views/events per week on

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

High CPU Usage and APEX (again)

A couple months ago, I wrote about a customer who was experiencing High CPU Waits presumably from Oracle Application Express.  Well, earlier this week I was at another customer site with exactly the same problem.

This was a case of "the business users" using Oracle Application Express to build an application.  The application was built in short order and well received by the end users.  The application became popular, they expanded the application and grew the user base, and after moving it to a different and faster environment, they hit a wall.  The DBA's performed some analysis on the application, and based upon the Active Session History reports, they concluded that the statements using the most CPU were all from Application Express and of the form:

   rc__ number; 
   simple_list__ owa_util.vc_arr; 
    complex_list__ owa_util.vc_arr; 
owa.init_cgi_env(:n__, :nm__, :v__); 
htp.HTBUF_LEN := 63; 
null;  null; 
simple_list__(1) := 'sys.%'; 
simple_list__(2) := 'dbms\_%'; 
simple_list__(3) := 'utl\_%'; 
simple_list__(4) := 'owa\_%'; 
simple_list__(5) := 'owa.%'; 
simple_list__(6) := 'htp.%'; 
simple_list__(7) := 'htf.%'; 
simple_list__(8) := 'wpg_docload.%'; 
simple_list__(9) := 'ctxsys.%'; 
simple_list__(10) := 'mdsys.%'; 
if ((owa_match.match_pattern(p_string => 'f' /* */, p_simple_pattern => simple_list__ , p_complex_pattern => complex_list__ , p_use_special_chars => false))) then
    rc__ := 2; 
    null; null; f(p=>:p); 
if (wpg_docload.is_file_download) then
   rc__ := 1; 
   null;  null;   null; 
  rc__ := 0;  null;      null;   null;  commit; 
   owa.get_page(:data__, :ndata__); 
end if; 
end if; 
:rc__ := rc__; 

The problem was, as I tried to explain to the DBA's, this PL/SQL block merely reflected the execution of a page view in Application Express. The ASH report will aggregate the "top" sections by top-level call, but the problem really lies within these calls, with what the application developers coded in their application.  For all practical purposes, the overhead of the APEX engine is fixed, and anything else beyond that is what is coded inside of the application by the application developer.  The DBA's asked a very reasonable question, namely "what do we do next?"

We started the process by analyzing the activity log of Oracle Application Express for the particular time window, to identify what was consuming the vast majority of time.  And we were able to produce a nice listing of applications and pages, sorted by average execution time (really no differently than what I posted earlier).  But once we did this, the DBA's wanted to be able to drill down into what was executing on those pages so they could analyze it and tune it.  Given that the vast majority of this customer's primary application used SQL Reports and Interactive Reports, we joined the activity log with the APEX view which contained the SQL statements for the reporting regions on those pages (APEX_APPLICATION_PAGE_REGIONS).  We ended up with the following query:

select sum(elapsed_time), count(*), 
       to_char(avg(elapsed_time),'9999.99') avg_elap, 
       a.application_id||':'||a.page_id app_and_page,
  from apex_workspace_activity_log a
  join apex_application_page_regions b 
    on a.application_id = b.application_id and a.page_id = b.page_id
 where a.view_date between to_date('201112142100','RRRRMMDDHH24MI') 
                       and to_date('201112142105','RRRRMMDDHH24MI')
   and a.page_id is not null
   and b.source_type like '%Report%'
 group by a.application_id||':'||a.page_id, dbms_lob.substr(b.region_source,2000,1)
having count(*) > 10
 order by 3 desc

This query can also be issued directly from SQL*Plus by the DBA's.  If they connect as SYS or as a user who has been granted the database role APEX_ADMINISTRATOR_ROLE, in Application Express 4.1, they will be able to query across all workspaces and APEX applications on the instance.

Understand that there are many places in an application which could be causing performance issues.  There could be slow queries in an authorization scheme that is used in multiple places on a page.  There could be processes or validations or elements on page 0 or a slow page sentry or a host of other things that could be causing degraded performance and which would become apparent when debugging a page.  But to identify the report queries on pages and associate those with the activity log and slowest performing pages, the above query is a great place to start.