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Understanding the Component Processor and the Component Buffer

What every PeopleSoft Developer and Analyst Must Know

By Derek Tomei DMT Solutions, Inc. www.DMTSolutions.com

DMT Solutions, Inc. All Rights Reserved

DMT Solutions, Inc. www.dmtsolutions.com Copyright 2008 by DMT Solutions, Inc. Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. The views expressed in this book are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of any other party or parties. PeopleSoft, PeopleTools, PeopleCode, PeopleBooks and nVision are registered trademarks of PeopleSoft Inc. This book is an independent creation of the author and has been published without license, authorization or participation of Oracle / PeopleSoft Inc. or Information contained in this work had been obtained by DMT Solutions, Inc. from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither DMT SOLUTIONS, INC. nor its authors guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein and shall not be responsible for any errors, omissions, or damage arising from the use of this publication. This work is published with the understanding that DMT Solutions, Inc. and its authors are supplying information but are not attempting to render engineering or other professional services. If such services are required, the assistance of an appropriate professional should be sought. You are permitted to print one copy of this eBook for yourself. You are not allowed to distribute or copy this book in any part. Any errors found, should be sent to info@dmtsolutions.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Derek Tomei is a Senior PeopleSoft Consultant, the CEO of DMT Solutions, Inc. and the founder of PeopleSoftCareer.com. Derek has been involved with PeopleSoft software for over 12 years since version 5 through the most recent versions of HCM and Financial. He has seen and worked through the progression from PeopleSoft client-server 2-tier, 3-tier, and the PeopleSoft Internet Architecture. He has worked with small private companies to large fortune 500 corporations implementing, upgrading, installing, enhancing, and maintaining PeopleSoft Financial and HCM applications. Derek is considered one of the PeopleSoft industrys top technical consultants with the ability to perform in all areas of technical expertise including but not limited to development, architecture, database administration, system administration, web development, employee and manager selfservice, and project management. Derek has presented at many PeopleSoft events and conferences and has written several articles that have helped many PeopleSoft professionals.

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Table of Contents
Who is This Book For?..........................................................................................................5 Introduction............................................................................................................................6 A Review of the PeopleSoft Architecture .............................................................................7 Meta-Data and Application Data.......................................................................................8 Accessing PeopleSoft Applications.....................................................................................10 The Component Processor ..................................................................................................12 PeopleCode and the Component Processor.........................................................................14 PeopleCode Events..............................................................................................................15 The Component and Triggering PeopleCode..................................................................16 The Component Buffer .......................................................................................................21 Understanding Occurs Levels..........................................................................................22 Rules for Buffer Allocation.............................................................................................23 PeopleCode Programs and the Component Buffer..........................................................25 Buffer Allocation Order...................................................................................................25 Application Performance and the Buffer.............................................................................28 Summary ..............................................................................................................................................30 PeopleSoft Resources...........................................................................................................30

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Who is This Book For? This book is a practical guide for technical users, developers, programmers, and analysts who work with applications for your PeopleSoft system. In addition, this guide can be used as an aide for ensuring the proper design of applications and for performance tuning your online PeopleSoft applications. If you are a developer or technical analyst, then this book is for you. This book is intended to be used as a guide that will educate you on how the component processor works and how the component buffer utilizes data in memory. These two concepts are extremely important. If you

completely understand how the component processor and the component buffer work, you will be able to write efficient code and ensure that your PeopleSoft applications are built for optimal performance.

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If I had to tell someone what the most important concept they need to understand as a PeopleSoft developer, I would quickly answer. It is the Component Processor and how it allocates Buffer space, how it places information in the buffer, and how to ensure that you maximize its use. The PeopleSoft application is an extremely powerful and highly configurable product that runs many different applications. component. Every application that is accessed online through the PeopleSoft Internet Architecture is part of a When you navigate to a particular content reference or menu item to access a particular page, the Component Processor is what performs all of the activity including executing SQL, PeopleCode, loading the component/page, and filling the buffer with the necessary data that was requested. More importantly, all of these activities happen in a specific order. It is this overall process that every PeopleSoft developer and analyst needs to understand thoroughly. If you understand how the component processor works and how it allocates buffer space, than debugging, performance tuning, designing, and developing your PeopleSoft applications will be simple for you. However, if you miss this concept or In dont fully understand it, your design and development process and your online performance will be inadequate. addition, it will become more difficult for you to debug your applications without understanding the component processor.

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Before we begin to discuss and dissect the component processor and buffer, it is important to understand the PeopleSoft Internet Architecture (PIA); especially the separation or partitioning of the data elements within a PeopleSoft application. A Review of the PeopleSoft Architecture When PeopleSoft was first designed, it was originally introduced as client server architecture. the three tier architecture. With the inception of version 6, PeopleSoft introduced the application server for Now, in recent versions of In this new PeopleSoft starting with version 8 PeopleSoft introduced the PeopleSoft Internet architecture (PIA). on the client. architecture, a web server was added and there is now no code This means that PeopleSoft is a 100% Internet based application. A typical installation will look like the following.

Batch Server

RDBMS Browser Web Server App Server

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As you can see from this diagram a user using a browser will access a web server. The browser and the web server talk to From here, the web server The each other via the HTTP Protocol.

talks to the application server via the JOLT protocol.

application server communicates with the database via SQL. It is not important at this point to go into great detail on the components of the web server or the application server. just want you to understand the overall architecture and the servers that are involved. applications reside. For now, we are going to focus in on the database server where all of the data for PeopleSoft This includes system data, application data, and the data components that are used to build record definitions, fields, pages, components. Meta-Data and Application Data PeopleSoft uses database tables to store information and attributes for all of the objects that make up a basic PeopleSoft application. objects. This includes fields, record definitions, pages, components, menus, and many other types of This is known as meta-data. I

The PeopleSoft architecture has always been driven by metadata. For this reason, it is important to understand the make up of the different types or categories of database tables that are used within a PeopleSoft database. The three categories of tables are:

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1. System Catalog The system catalog is analogous to a table of contents for a book. The structure and names of the tables will vary However, the system catalog It contains metadata This is not depending on which RDBMS is used.

serves the same purpose in each RDBMS.

that tracks objects that reside in the database. the same as the metadata for PeopleSoft objects. 2. PeopleTools tables

These tables hold data about PeopleSoft application installed on the database. This includes tables that contain the When you create a definitions that make up an application, such as, Fields, Records, pages, components, SQL, and more. field in application designer, it will have many attributes that are associated with it. For example, the field will have a label, a type, etc. is named PSFIELDDEFN. The naming convention for PeopleTools tables is PS****. example, PSFIELDDEFN, PSRECDEFN, and PSOPRDEFN. 3. Application data tables These database tables contain the data that is entered into the system for use by your organization. The tables are specific to a given application and the structure will depend on the applications that are installed or by the definitions you create in customizations. For example supply chain management applications use tables to store inventory information. items for parts. These tables might contain These are usually stored in tables such as

All of this information is stored as The main parent table for fields

metadata in database tables.


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The Human Resource applications have tables An example of an HR

to hold information about employees.

application data table is PS_JOB or PS_PERSONAL_DATA. The naming convention for application data tables is PS_****. For example, PS_JOB, PS_EMPLOYEES, PS_PERSONAL_DATA, etc.

Accessing PeopleSoft Applications Now that we have reviewed the PIA and dissected the database tables into three different categories, it will be easier to understand how the component processor builds a page and places data into the buffer. Lets take the example of a user accessing a PeopleSoft application. When a user navigates using a browser, a number of things happen behind the scenes. The first set of actions has to do with the PeopleTools tables. All of the raw data that is required to assemble the page is contained in the PeopleTools tables. This includes definitions of the component, page, fields, record definitions, navigation, and possibly other elements. The component processor will need to gather all of the metadata regarding the application and pass it to the application server. Because we are dealing with a 100% internet based application, there is no code on the client desktop. So when a user clicks on a content reference that point to a component where the

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page resides, the web server will make the call to the application server from a java servlet. This call is made to the application server over the JOLT protocol. The application server, through a set of services, will issue SQL commands to the database that will retrieve the metadata. Basically, this data is returned to the application server, where it will be loaded into memory (or the component buffer) and used to assemble the necessary HTML to display to the user via the browser. server. The application server will also issue SQL statements to the database to retrieve the specific application data that is based on the high level key value that the user keyed into the search page. This data is retrieved by the component There is a precise manner in which all of processor and loaded into the component buffer on the application server. this data is loaded into the buffer, and we will discuss this in detail in another chapter. Application Server Processes There are dozens of processes or services that run on the application server and perform all of this work. PSAPPSRV is just one of these services that takes the PeopleTools data and application data and assembles it into a HTML for display. Tuxedo manages the multiple connections from the application server to the database. JOLT is a java based communication protocol. The HTML is then sent to the web server. Individual programs manage the state of each user session including a buffer that allows the use of the browser back
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Once the HTML is assembled, it is sent to the web

button. It is these servlets that actually pass HTML to web services for display. It is at this point that the user will see the page they requested with the data filled in. web server or browser. This is just a high level view of what happens when a user requests to access a page/component. steps that occur in specific order. PeopleCode. In the next several sections, we are going to review the sequence of events and the order of those events in detail. In addition we will review the exact order of how the Component Processor executes the PeopleCode programs in each PeopleCode event. And finally we will discuss what gets loaded into the component buffer and how the component processor allocates buffers and parses through occurs levels. The Component Processor The Component Processor is the PeopleTools runtime engine that controls processing of an application from the time that a user requests a component from an application menu until the database is updated and processing of the component is complete. We had a brief example in the previous section that discussed what happens when a user navigates to a content reference and There are many specific This order is important However, the data is actually stored in component buffer and not on the

to understand, especially as it pertains to programming

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accesses a PeopleSoft application. at a very high level.

This example was discussed

We will now discuss this in more detail

Before a user selects a component by clicking a content reference, the system is in reset state. This means that there is currently no component being displayed. The Component Processor does not begin its flow of execution until a user selects a component from a PeopleSoft menu. Once the user selects a component, the Component Processor does the following: Builds and displays the search page so the user can select a high level key to retrieve the data. Performs search processing, where it will retrieve and save the search key values that were selected for the component. Makes calls to the database to retrieve the metadata that is needed to build the component. Builds the component, including all of its pages, fields, PeopleCode programs, and data, creating buffers for the component data. Performs any additional processing for the component or the page. (We will discuss this in more detail in the section on the Component Buffer) Displays the component and waits for user action.
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This can be illustrated in detail the following flowchart

PeopleCode and the Component Processor Almost every application contains PeopleCode programs. component processor. These

programs are executed or triggered at specific times by the In the last section, we discussed what

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the Component Processor does when a user selects a component. We mentioned search dialogue, search processing, building the page, etc. behind them. All of these have underlying record definitions This is usually where the PeopleCode programming PeopleCode can be

logic for the application is stored.

associated with a PeopleCode record field, a component record, and many other items. However, PeopleCode is mostly associated with a Record field. PeopleCode events are initiated at particular times, in particular sequences, during the course of the Component Processors flow of execution. When an event is initiated, it triggers PeopleCode programs on specific objects. There are a The set of specific events where PeopleCode can be placed. processor in a specific order. user. action. PeopleCode Events Every PeopleCode program is associated with a PeopleCode event, and is often referred to by that name, such as RowInit PeopleCode or FieldChange PeopleCode. These programs are accessible from, and associated with, different items. The following events can contain PeopleCode programs.

PeopleCode within these events are triggered by the component There are certain events that are triggered before the component/page is displayed to the And, there are events that are triggered after the component is displayed and when a user performs a specific

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Record Field Events

Component Record Field Events

Component Record Events RowDelete RowInit RowInsert

Component Events

Page Events

Menu Events

FieldChange FieldDefault FieldEdit

FieldChange FieldDefault FieldEdit

PostBuild PreBuild SavePostChg SavePreChg Workflow

Activate ItemSelected

FieldFormula PrePopup RowDelete RowInit RowInsert RowSelect SaveEdit SavePostChg SavePreChg SearchInit SearchSave Workflow


RowSelect SaveEdit

SavePostChg SavePreChg SearchInit SearchSave

The Component and Triggering PeopleCode In PeopleSoft, the component is the representation of a transaction. Everything revolves around or is contained within the component. Therefore, any PeopleCode that is associated with a transaction or an application should reside in events associated with the component at one level or another. If you have a specific PeopleCode program that you want to be executed every time a field is changed, then the code should be at the record field level. If you have a specific PeopleCode program that you want to have executed every time a person presses the save button, then the code should be on the SaveEdit event of the primary record field.

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Lets consider the process of accessing a component to see when all the types of events are going to get triggered. 1. The user selects a content reference / component from the menu to run a specific component in a certain action. They are: Add Update/Display Update/Display All Correction A component can have different actions associated with them.

2. The component that is selected by the user will contain the search record for the action in which the user has asked the system to run. 3. The search page is created online with the keys and alternate keys displayed for entry, but before the user can enter any data, the first event of PeopleCode activates. SearchInit: The SearchInit event is generated just before a search, add, or data-entry dialog box is displayed. It triggers the PeopleCode in the search key fields of the search record so that you can control the processing before a user enters a value into the search key field. 4. After SearchInit, the user is able to interact with the search page to search for records and select the high level
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key that they wish to process. Upon clicking OK in this search page, the next event becomes active. SearchSave: The PeopleCode in SearchSave is executed for all search key fields on a search, add, or dataentry dialog box after a user clicks Search. Note. This event, and all its associated PeopleCode, is not initiated if run from a component interface 5. Now, the main page of the component, as requested from the menu, is now being accessed. However, before the page is visible to the user, each row of data that is to be loaded onto the page is validated by the code contained in the RowSelect event. RowSelect: The PeopleCode in this event is initiated at the beginning of the component build process in any of the update action modes. 6. The page is now filled with data from the high level key that was chosen on the search page. However, the processor is For each not yet ready for user input. A series of events must launch for each row of data already loaded into the page. triggered. FieldDefault: This event enables you to programmatically set fields to default values when they are initially displayed. if It only gets triggered row of data loaded into the page, the following events get

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o The page field is still blank after applying any default value specified in the record field properties. o This is true if there is no default specified, if a null value is specified, or if a 0 is specified for a numeric field. o The field has a FieldDefault PeopleCode program

Field Formula: This event is used to store functions. It is highly recommended not to place any code in this event for a record that is used within a component. Rather, use it on FUNCLIB records.

RowInit: The PeopleCode in this event is initiated the first time that the Component Processor encounters a row of data. IUse it to set the initial state of component controls.

Each one of these events runs, in order, on all rows of data within the page. Therefore, it is extremely important that you ensure that the code you place in these events are absolutely necessary. Placing the wrong kind of PeopleCode in these events can cause serious performance problems. 7. At this point the page is displayed to the user and is ready and waiting for the user to take a specific action. If the user inserts a new row of data on a page (only for occurs levels 1 through 3), then the following PeopleCode

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events run for all the fields on the record that is within the level where the ADD was performed. If the insert was done on level 2, then only the PeopleCode events on the record definitions contained within level 2 are activated. The PeopleCode events within the record definition on levels 0 or 1 are not activated.
RowInsert FieldDefault FieldFormula

If the user deletes a row of data on a level 1 through 3 scroll area, then the following PeopleCode events run for the row deleted and then for all the rows that are left within the level where the delete occurred.
RowDelete FieldDefault FieldFormula

The last step the user can take is to save the page. The save process runs another set of PeopleCode events, as listed below. SaveEdit: The PeopleCode in this event is triggered whenever a user attempts to save the component. It is usually used to validate the consistency of data in component fields. SavePreChg: The PeopleCode in this event is initiated after SaveEdit completes without errors. SavePreChange PeopleCode provides one final opportunity to manipulate data before the system updates the database.

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Workflow: Only PeopleCode related to workflow (such as TriggerBusinessEvent) should be in workflow programs.

SavePostChg: The code in this event gets triggered after the Component Processor saves the data to the database. This event is usually used to update data that is not in the component. This can be accomplished with a SQLEXEC.

So, now you know the PeopleCode events and the exact order of how the component processor triggers these events. programs in specific events. corrupt data integrity. The Component Buffer As you saw in the last section, many different PeopleCode programs work together and it is very important to understand the exact order in which they will be executed. It is necessary to identify within the component which PeopleCode program will be performed and which PeopleCode will not be performed. Every time you access a component, the component processor queries the database and moves relevant data from the database to the application server. The Component processor manages Therefore, your this data according to special rules. It is very important to understand the order when placing your PeopleCode Placing your code in the wrong place could be detrimental to performance and could possibly

Component design has a crucial impact and it is extremely important to understand how the buffers are allocated and maintained by the component processor.

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We learned in the last section that before a page can be displayed, all of the associated data for the entire component has to be brought into the memory buffer of the application server. Once the data is retrieved and brought into the Once the user saves the component component buffer, it can be manipulated by PeopleCode programs or directly by the user. database tables. Understanding Occurs Levels Before we get into the discussion on the Buffer Allocation process, I would like to first, talk briefly about the various occurs levels of a component. reside. Scroll occurs levels in the page definition allow PeopleSoft to maintain common key information for child record definitions. table. Every component has at least one level 0 record definition. There can only be one row of data for each level 0 record definition because scrolls begin at occurs level 1. The keys of the occurs level 1 record definition must include the same search keys as level 0, with at least one additional key. PeopleSoft allows only one primary record definition per The purpose of a scroll is to control input into a scroll. If the value of the common key is updated on the parent table, PeopleSoft automatically updates it on the child Occurs level is similar to the scroll areas or grids on a page and the level where they all of the information in buffer will get saved to the

single SQL table. There can be more then one scroll on level 1. Each scroll has it own primary record definition. The rows
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of data within one scroll are completely independent from the rows of data within another scroll at level 1. Additional occurs levels can be added to a component. The maximum possible value of an occurs level for a component is 3. Each Occurs Level is subordinate to the one above it. The Occurs Levels are managed by common keys between the tables using a parent/child relationship The Component Processor allocates temporary buffers on the application server to hold the application data for a component and retrieves all the data needed for the entire component up front. Its important to understand the fields that the component processor retrieves and how they are arranged in the buffer. For PeopleCode to refer successfully to a page field online, the Component Processor must retrieve that field from the database. As a developer it is your job to ensure that the Component Processor retrieves all the data required. The component processor follows a simple set of rules for determining how data is retrieved and stored in memory. The performance of your online application will depend on how you create the component buffers, so it is extremely important that you understand this section. Rules for Buffer Allocation When a user chooses a search key from the search page, the component processor will build a set of SQL statements to retrieve data from the database and store it into the buffer.
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The component processor uses a specific set of rules to do this. If a field from a record is referenced on a page, then all fields/columns from that record definition and all rows that are subordinate to the search key are retrieved into the component buffer. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. exception has to do with the data at level 0. The first

If the only

fields at level 0 are the search key and alternate search key, then the component processor will only retrieve those fields and not the entire row. However, if there is at least one field that is not a search field on the page at level 0, the component processor will retrieve the entire row and load it into the buffer. The second exception deals with related fields. If you have a

related field on the page, the component processor will only retrieve that field from the database and place it in the buffer. It will not bring in any other columns or rows from the record definition associated with the related display. Other fields may also be retrieved. the following types of fields: Derived/Work Field Translate Table Field These fields consist of

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PeopleCode Programs and the Component Buffer It is crucial to know what fields get loaded into the component buffer; especially, when you are writing PeopleCode programs. Many times, PeopleCode programs will make reference to other fields and potentially other PeopleCode programs. However, if you attempt to access the field and/or PeopleCode program and it is not in the buffer, you will get an error. If an entire row of data was brought into the buffer, any PeopleCode program on any field event within that record definition may be accessed and executed. Here are a few other rules for PeopleCode and the buffer allocation. If derived/work fields are brought into the buffers, any PeopleCode on that specific field maybe performed. PeopleCode on the related/display record definition is not performed. Buffer Allocation Order The component processor is responsible for loading data into the buffer. This includes not only the application data, but it also includes the meta-data and more importantly the PeopleCode that is associated the record/fields on the page. The component buffer is located on the application server and is allocated and filled in a very precise approach. The component processor loads the buffer and the PeopleCode programs are executed in the following manner. record. Buffers are allocated and filled for the first row from the level 0 Level 0 always has one row of data and it loads the If there is fields according to the tab order on the page.

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PeopleCode associated with any of the fields at level 0 they will get loaded and executed in the order that was discussed in the previous section. Depending on the design of your application, the component may have one or more scroll areas or levels. This means there could be a level 1 on the page. The level 1 record is subordinate to level 0, meaning that it is a child record of the level 0 record. Furthermore, there could be 1 or more Remember, a component can level 1 record on the component. level one record definition. The component processor will first fill only the first row of data for each level 1 record definition. Even if your level one record has over 100 rows associated with it, the component processor will only load the first row. If there is a related display field associated with your level 1 record, it will also be loaded. Again, each field is loaded in the tab order on the page and any associated PeopleCode in an event on these fields will get executed in the proper order. If you remember, when you design / develop a page, you have the ability to have up to 4 occurs levels or scroll areas. These are: Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
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contain multiple pages and each page could have a different

At this point, the component processor will work its way down through each occurs level. Once it loads the data from the first row of level one, it looks to see if there is a level 2. If there is it will load the first row of the level 2 record. If there is not a level 2 it will then load the remaining field rows at level one. Once it loads the first row of level 2, it looks to see if there is a level 3 row that is subordinate to itself. there is it will load the rows. So basically, if the component processor retrieves all of the data that is subordinate to an occurs-level or when it cant find any more child record definitions, it will retrieve the next row of data at the current occurs-level. It will continue to work its way down through the occurs levels. Picture a page that has 3 scroll areas associated with it. There is a level 0, level 1, level 2 and a level 3. In the following diagram, I have illustrated how the component processor allocated the data that is stored in several different tables. In this example there are 4 rows in the child table, 3 rows in the grand-child table, and 1 row in the great grand-child record. If

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Notice, that I also labeled each row with a letter. processor will allocate and load the buffer. follows: A,B,F,I,G,C,D,H,E Application Performance and the Buffer

I did

this so that I can list out the exact order that the component The order is as

Now that you understand how the component processor works and how it allocates and loads data into the buffer, you can see how the design of your application can have a tremendous effect on performance. Sometimes its advantageous to have a component with multiple pages, however, there are also situations that can cause your online performance of the overall component to slow down. When it comes to buffer allocation and processing of the component, there are two specific features that have a very high cost associated to them. For this reason, you should be judicious then using them. They are

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Nested Scroll Areas Table References

Obviously, the more record definitions that you add to a component, the more work the component processor has to perform. Therefore, think through whether or not you really Each need the additional references, before you add them.

time you add a record definition to a component, whether its in the form of a related display, or a field with PeopleCode, the component processor must follow all of its rules and allocate buffers for them. If it is at all possible, I highly advise you to use views as the primary record of scroll areas. Using views eliminates the need for related displays and can enhance PeopleCode efficiency. Writing extensive PeopleCode can sometimes cause performance issues, if not correctly written and placed in the proper location. For the best performance of your PeopleCode, you should try to place the code at the lowest level possible. Sometimes you are forced to place the code up a level due to operator actions. However, the lower the level, the easier and more straightforward the code can be written. Additionally, when you design your pages you should use as few nested scrolls as possible. Every time you access a component This requires more the component processor has to allocate buffers for every row of each subordinate table and scroll area. overhead and processing time than is necessary.

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This eBook provides you with the basic guidelines, methods, and information necessary for understanding the component processor and how it utilizes the component buffer. There are many facets to designing and developing PeopleSoft applications. However, I believe that every developer should fully understand the component processor and the component buffer allocation methods. Whether you are just learning how to develop PeopleSoft applications, or have been developing for years, this information and guidelines will help you to design better performing PeopleSoft applications.

PeopleSoft Resources The following is a list of websites and other resources for PeopleSoft information, and products to assist you in maximizing performance in your PeopleSoft environment.

PeopleSoft Career - www.PeopleSoftCareer.com

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