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Descriptive Flexfield

The descriptive flexfield could be defined for a custom form or a standard form but in either case, the
descriptive flexfield is required to be defined in the system first. If the descriptive flexfield is to be defined on
a custom table then the custom table is required to be registered with Applications Objects Library before it
can be used in the descriptive flexfield definition. To register custom tables under AOL refer to the document
on Table Registration. The standard tables come registered with the Oracle Applications therefore you do
not need to register them again.
To register the descriptive flexfield, open the register form using the navigation path : Application Developer
à Flexfield à Descriptive à Register. The form would look like as shown in figure 12 below.

Figure 12. Descriptive Flexfield Register form

Once you have identified the additional information you want to capture in a Descriptive flexfield, you must
determine the usage. There are two types of segments for Descriptive flexfields:

• Global segments
• Context-sensitive segments

Global Segments

A global segment is a segment that will always be displayed in a Descriptive flexfield window common to all
context values, and it is the most commonly used type of Descriptive flexfield. Each global segment maps
one-to-one to a database column. Descriptive flexfield segments are usually stored in columns named
ATTRIBUTE1 to ATTRIBUTEn, where n is the maximum number of segments for a given Descriptive

Context-Sensitive Segments
A context-sensitive segment is a segment that may or may not be displayed in a Descriptive flexfield
window, depending on a context value. A context value can be derived from another field in the same block
or from the context field. The field from which a context value derives its value is called a reference field.
Remember, a Descriptive flexfield is associated with a database table, not a single form. A context field is a
special field appearing in the Descriptive flexfield window. You can use a context field to allow users to enter
their own context values or override what is defaulted from the reference field. The context value, whether
from a reference field or a context field, determines which context-sensitive segments will be displayed.

Let’s say, you need to define a DFF for the Human Resource à People à Enter and Maintain form. The DFF
field ( [ ] ) is already provided on the form. Depending upon whether the details being entered are for an
employee or an applicant, you want to decide on the details to be entered in the database.
For an employee the details required are:

1. Drivers License Jurisdiction

2. Drivers License Number
3. Global ID
4. Country of Origin
5. Security Clearance
6. Badge Number
7. Bonded?
8. Hired Via Acquisition
9. Acquired Company
10. Original Hire Date
11. Proposed Retirement Date
12. Proposed Retirement Reason
13. Service Start Date
14. Union Seniority Date

And the details required if the person is an applicant are:

1. Current Employer
2. Employer's Phone
3. Verification Check Date
4. Verification Checked By
5. Reference Check Date
6. Referenced Checked By
7. Pre-Employment Physical Date

The DFF prompt fields have to depend on the value entered in the context field. If the value entered is EMP
then the prompt for the employee details should pop-up and if the value entered is APL then the prompt for
Applicant details should pop-up.
The steps involved are :
Register the DFF using the Descriptive Flexfield registration form as shown in figure 13 below. Standard
DDF’s are already registered with oracle applications and hence this step can be skipped for seeded DFF’s.
Figure 13. DFF Register Form
Forms and flexfield routines use the combination of application name and flexfield name to uniquely identify
your flexfield. The details of the fields on the above forms are:
Application name where you want to register your DFF.

Use this name when you use flexfield routines to call your descriptive flexfield from your forms or programs.


Flexfields displays this unique title at the top of the flexfield window when your users enter your descriptive

Table Name

Enter the name of the table that contains your descriptive flexfield columns. Your table must already exist in
the database, and it should already have columns for your descriptive flexfield segments, as well as a
structure column. These segment columns are usually called ATTRIBUTE1, ATTRIBUTE2, ...,

You must register your table with Oracle Applications before you can use it in this field

Structure Column

Enter the name of the column, such as ATTRIBUTE_CATEGORY, in your table that your flexfield uses to
differentiate among descriptive flexfield structures. Your descriptive flexfield uses this column to let your
users see different descriptive flexfield structures based on data supplied by the form or the user. You must
have a structure column even if you only intend to use one descriptive flexfield structure.
Context Prompt

Enter a default context field prompt that asks your user which descriptive flexfield structure to display.
Depending upon how your application installer defines your descriptive flexfield, your user may or may not
see a context field as part of the descriptive flexfield pop-up window. Descriptive flexfield windows display
this context field prompt if the installer allows the end user to override the default context field value.

If your application installer defines it, the context field appears to the user as if it were simply another
flexfield segment (with the prompt you specify here). Your user enters a value in the context field, and other
descriptive flexfield segments pop up based on that value. The installer can modify the context field prompt
using the Define Descriptive Segments window.


In some cases, you may want to create a descriptive flexfield that cannot be inadvertently changed by an
installer or user. This type of flexfield is called a protected descriptive flexfield. You build a protected
descriptive flexfield the same way you build a normal descriptive flexfield. The main difference is that you
check the Protected check box after defining your segment structures. Once a descriptive flexfield is
protected, you cannot query or change its definition using the Descriptive Flexfield Segments window. You
should define your descriptive flexfield segments before you change the Protected check box.

Reference Fields Window

Use this window to specify any form fields that might serve as descriptive flexfield reference fields. Your
flexfield can use values in one of these fields (context field values) to determine which flexfield structure to


These are columns of the table that would to be used in the DFF. You may declare all columns here even if
they are not being used in the DFF presently.

Save the changes and close the form. You need to define the structure of the DFF now. To do this open the
Segments form using the path Application Developer  Flexfield  Descriptive  Segments.
Figure 14. DFF Segments Form

The segment form as shown in the figure 14 above is used to enter the context field values upon which the
prompts in the pop-up would depend. The EMP and APL are the values that a user would enter in the
context prompt for the DFF. The pop-up would decide the prompts on the basis of this value.

Global Data Elements are those prompts which would be displayed in the all the values for the context

To determine the structure of the DFF on APL context value, click on segments button at the bottom when
the APL value in Context Field Values is selected. The fields to be entered are shown in figure 15 below.

Figure 15. Prompts for the APL context value

Figure 16 below shows the prompts for the EMP context value.
Figure 16. Prompts for the EMP context value

Save the changes and click on compile to freeze the DFF definition. You may optionally use the Value Sets
for the values to be entered in the various prompts.

The DFF is now ready to be used from the form. To enable the DFF on the form, follow the steps below.

Open the form using the form builder and write the following code in WHEN-NEW-FORM-INSTANCE trigger
of the form. Standard forms (already defined by oracle) will have this code already present in the appropriate


Where BLOCK is the name of block containing DFF item

FIELD is the DFF item on form
APPL_SHORT_NAME is the short name of the application with which the flex field is registered
DESC_FLEX_NAME is the name of the registered flexfield (Step 3)

Also write the following code in 'WHEN-NEW-ITEM-INSTANCE' at the form level:

The DFF would look like as shown in the figure 18 and figure 19 below depending upon the context value
provided in the form as shown in figure 17 below.

Figure 17. Context Prompt

Figure 18. Prompt for APL Context Value