Category Archives: Learning

My ODTUG GeekAThon 2017 Entry

The rules and other information can be found at ODTUG GeekAThon 2017.


My son Alex attends a school where the students have some ‘bonus features’, or as the school puts it: “Educating Exceptional People”.  There are some students at Alex’s school who sometimes try to wander away.  Obviously, this could be a problem but the school staff is extremely well trained and they keep a close watchful eye on all of the students.  Still, I’d like to try and make their lives a little easier, and the students a little safer.

There are commercial systems available that could notify the administration and/or lock doors when a beacon worn by a student is detected in a hazardous zone, such as leaving the school.  That sounds perfect. There’s just one problem: those systems can be very expensive.


Implement a student tracking and door lock automation system that can operate on inexpensive components and open source the software.  I will set up a test environment at my house and my son will test it with me.

Desired Features

  • Central to the whole system is a way to detect a beacon when it enters a specific area such as near an exit door or a faculty-only area.
  • Ability to send notifications.
  • Ability to trigger a physical event such as a door lock or audible alert.
  • Log beacon detection events in a database.
    • Beacon Id.
    • Distance from the scanner.
    • Timestamp.
  • Affordable components.

Initial Idea

After browsing the web for a while I decided I would set up multiple scanners with overlapping zones then use trilateration (I like saying that word) to determine the position of the beacon.

I would set up multiple scanners, measure the distances between them and plug that data into my database.  When a scanner detects a beacon it would use my ORDS service to POST its own id, the beacon id and the calculated distance to the beacon.  On the database, I would use Oracle Spatial queries to determine the location of the beacon.  Finally, I would compare the beacon location to defined zones in my house and trigger the alerts/actions for the zones.

I have a tendency to over-engineer my projects.  I once built a doghouse that weighed close to 200 lbs.  (It was awesome.)

After getting most of this working, I realized that I could achieve the project goals by simply placing a single scanner near each zone and let that scanner initiate the alert actions for its zone.  Sometimes less is more.


I already had a bunch of Raspberry Pi so I decided to use a couple of my Pi 3s.  Since I’m always looking for an excuse to buy more toys, I decided to get a Pi Zero W.

I have a z-wave enabled deadbolt and a Z-Stick USB hub that I can control using  For the audio notification, I’ll push a ‘text to speech’ action to my Sonos speaker.  I can make the Sonos say anything I want, this entertains me a lot, my family… not so much.


  • Raspbian Linux
    • Linux modules
      • bluetooth
      • bluez
      • libbluetooth-dev
      • libudev-dev
  • NodeJS
    • NodeJS Modules
      • bleacon
      • request
  • Oracle Database
  • Oracle Rest Data Services (ORDS)

The installation instructions are in the GitHub repo.


The beacons are set to transmit every two seconds and can be detected by multiple sensors.  I always like to keep track of my data so of course, I’m pushing it to a database.  I’m using an Oracle Cloud Database with an ORDS (Oracle Rest Data Services) front end to collect the data.  When a Raspberry Pi detects a beacon, it will calculate the distance then POST the data to the database.  The database will automatically record a time-stamp when the record is inserted.

This is included in the current code and it’s what I need to collect the data for the “Initial Idea” section above.

If I decide to implement the feature to track the beacon’s position throughout my house.  I just need to determine the fixed position of each scanner relative to a point in my house and using the data I’m already collecting, run an Oracle Spatial query that defines a circle from each scanner with a radius of the distance to the beacon.  Where the circles overlap is the approximate location of the beacon.  The official term (linked above) is Trilateration, but you can think of it as a Venn Diagram.

How I Deployed the System

If you’d rather, you can watch the video and skip this section.

I configured and positioned three Raspberry Pi through my house.  I put a Pi 3 in the hallway outside of the bedrooms, a Pi 3 near the front door and a Pi Zero W outside on the front porch.

  • The first Raspberry Pi 3 in the hallway is set to trigger an alert when the beacon is approximately 2 meters away. This alert will send a notification through IFTTT* to the app on my phone.
  • The Raspberry Pi 3 near the front door fires an alert when the beacon is approximately 1 meter away.
    This alert has three actions:

    • Send the ‘lock’ command to the deadbolt through the REST interface of using Z-Wave. and the Z-Wave USB dongle are also installed on this Pi.
    • Set the Sonos volume to max and send ‘Locking the front door’ to the Sonos speaker using the text to speech function in
    • Send a notification through IFTTT to my cell phone.
  • The Raspberry Pi Zero W outside near the front door will trigger an alert when the beacon is approximately 1 meter away.
    This alert has three actions:

    • Send the ‘unlock’ command to the deadbolt through the REST interface of using Z-Wave.
      (If Alex makes it outside, I want the door unlocked so he can come back in.)
    • Set the Sonos volume to max and send ‘Unlocking the front door’ to the Sonos speaker using the text to speech function in
    • Send a notification through IFTTT to my cell phone.

*IFTTT can also send a text message but the free tier only allows a limited number of texts to be sent each month. I chose to use notifications through their Android app since they are unlimited and I would have burned through the text quota the first time I forgot to limit how often I send a notification. In a live situation, it could send out multiple texts.


I had intended to use OpenHab for the home automation features of the project, but when I built the project there was a bug in the Z-Wave addon that made interacting with the deadbolt more difficult.  I tried out and so far I really like it.  Each application has its own strengths and weaknesses, but they both run on a Raspberry Pi so I may use both for future projects.  I’d like to mention they are both open source which is an added bonus.

The beacon distance tracking is not as accurate as I hoped, but it’s fine for this project.  The signal can be degraded by walls, bodies or other objects being between the beacon and scanner.  To improve the accuracy, I implemented a weighted rolling average function as part of the distance calculation to smooth out some of the spikes.  Deploying more scanners would also greatly improve the accuracy if I implement the position tracking.

Future Improvements

  • Add an Oracle JET front end for configuration and control of the system.
  • Add a map display that can show the beacons live.
  • Change the Alert/Action code to be more generic and provide a mechanism to define them in the front end.
  • Find a small inexpensive wearable BLE beacon or design one with a small rechargeable battery and a 3D printed enclosure.

Final Thoughts

If you decided not to participate in the GeekAThon this year please join in next year.  It is a great way to learn some new skills and have fun at the same time.  I am sure parts of what I described above sound intimidating. But if you’d like to try your hand at this or similar projects, don’t hesitate to contact me for help. And while I can’t speak for the other GeekAThon participants, this year or past years, I am certain they will be eager to help you, too.

This project has been a lot of fun, I learned a lot.  I’m looking forward to next year!

Becoming a DevOps “expert”

I’ve decided to learn more about DevOps.

I’ve always been a believer in automating repetitive tasks and letting machines do as much of “my” work as they can.  The way I learn best is (as you can tell by the name of my blog) I learn about the topic, I build something from what I’ve learned and I share my experience.

Given that DevOps is a very big topic, it will take more than one or two posts to do it justice.  This post is the first in a series of blog posts, videos and presentations that I plan to create as I learn more.  I think the best place to start is with what I “think” I know now.

What is DevOps?

A couple years ago I was using Jenkins to create a continuous delivery pipeline for a project I was working on.  I was the only one working on the project and after seeing a CD demonstration at a conference I figured I’d give it a try.  I had everything working and I was quite pleased with myself.  Then I started hearing the term DevOps and assumed it was just a term for what I was already doing.  I was partially right.

DevOps is more than just automating the software delivery process, it’s also a cultural mindset.  It’s developers and operations working together throughout the full lifecycle of a project instead of in separate silos.  Since I was working solo on that project I missed out on this aspect.  Currently, I’m not working on any project where I can experience the full cultural aspect so I plan to mentally assume different roles as I work through the learning process.

If you’d like a better definition, there is plenty of material available on the web from real experts.  I only wanted to document what DevOps means to me as I start to learn more.

My current plan.

I have been working on an open source application used for demonstrations and learning called DinoDate.  I am going to build a DevOps process around this application.  My focus will be a bit more on the database aspects of DevOps since the database isn’t always used to its full potential and sometimes even treated like a bucket of data.  I will be building this process using the Oracle Developer Cloud Service against an Oracle Cloud Database and other Oracle Cloud services, as well as other tools such as Jenkins against an Oracle Database on a VM.

Plan Steps:
  1. Define the steps to manually deploy DinoDate as is.
    1. Automate the build and deploy process which currently is, run some scripts and scp the code to an Oracle Compute instance where I have already setup Python and NodeJS.
    2. Deploy the NodeJS and Python apps to an Oracle Application Container Cloud instance.
  2. Add some open source tools to improve the process.
    • Build script using Gradle.
    • Schema object version control using Liquibase.
    • Unit tests for the PL/SQL using UTPLSQL.
  3. Automate creating the infrastructure (DB, Compute instance) from scratch then deploy, test and destroy.
  4. Reproduce the entire CD pipeline using Jenkins (or another tool) against a VM.

Once I’m satisfied with my understanding of the tools and workflow, I’ll find a project that would benefit from a DevOps environment and pester encourage them to switch to a DevOps process with an offer to act as the DevOps “expert”.

More to come.

Keep an eye out here and on my YouTube channel for how-to and ‘lessons learned’ posts that I’ll make as I go.  Feel free to post a comment if you see that I’ve already got something wrong or if you have a specific interest you’d like me to focus on as I go.





Getting started with Oracle Rest Data Services

Most applications today store data of some type, most likely that data is stored in a database.  There are many ways to get data from the application to the database and back, but one of the most popular methods is using RESTful services.  If you’re not familiar with REST think of it as an easy way to let 2 computers talk to each other.  For a more detailed explanation check out this Wikipedia page.

If you are familiar with REST you’re probably used to standing up a server and building a server side application that connects to your database and provides a REST API.

Oracle provides a simpler solution called Oracle REST Data Services or ORDS for short.  ORDS is a quick way to build a REST API directly to your database.  If you’d like a more thorough explanation, check out the ORDS site.

A Short Tutorial

Setup a VM

I’ll be using the Developer Days vm on Virtual Box for the tutorial.  This vm has the Oracle 12c Database and ORDS already installed and ready to go.

  1. Download the Database App Development VM.  I’m using the one from June 13, 2017.
  2. Create a new appliance and start it.
  3. Inside the appliance, open a terminal and enter the following commands.  Provide a password when prompted.
Now we have the VM running and we’ve created an ORDS user “ords_dev”.

SQL Developer

For these examples, I’ll be using SQL Developer version 4.2.0.

If you don’t already have SQL Developer installed you can download it here.

Connect to the HR schema

Open SQL Developer and create a connection to the HR schema.

  • Connection Name:  Anything you’d like.  I’m using Hr – VM
  • Username: hr
  • Password: oracle
  • Hostname: localhost
  • Port: 1521
  • Service name: oracle
    (Make sure you select the Service name radio button.)

Test the connection and connect.

Rest Enable The Schema
  1. Right click on the HR connection.
  2. Click REST Services.
  3. Click Enable REST Services…

  • Enable schema: checked
  • Schema alias: personnel
    (Remember this for later.)
  • Authorization required: un-checked
    For production applications, you will want to use authorization but I’m not going to cover it here.

You can click Finish or if you’d like to see the summary page you can click Next then Finish.

REST Data Services Wizard

From here SQL Developer offers a couple different ways to run the REST Data Services wizard.

One way you can work with the wizard is through the database connection.

This method does not require you to have an ORDS user, but the full ORDS URI won’t be automatically provided in the wizard so you’ll need to get that from the ORDS admin.  I’ll cover the URI below.

For this tutorial, I’ll be using the…

REST Development Panel
  1. Click the View menu item.
  2. Click REST Data Services.
  3. Click Development.

The REST Development panel (on the right) should now be in the left panel bar.


Connect to ORDS
  1. Click the Connect icon.
  2. Create a new connection.
  3. Populate the ORDS connection data.

This is an ORDS connection using the ORDS user we created in the VM earlier NOT the HR schema user.

Connection Name: HR-VM
Username: ords_dev
(The username is case sensitive.)
Select: http
Hostname: localhost
Port: 8080
Server Path: /ords
Schema/Workspace: /personnel
(If you used a different value when you rest enabled the schema use that value here ‘/your_alias’)

  1. Click OK in the New RESTful Services Connection panel.
  2. Select your new connection and click OK.
  3. Enter the password we created earlier: oracle
  4. Click OK.

New Module

A module is a collection of related REST services.  How the services are related is up to your imagination.  I usually think of a module like a package and the services as functions inside the package.

To create a new module:

  1. Right click on Modules.
  2. Click New Module…

The wizard will open and we can populate the data.  The purpose of my module is to manage the personnel so I’m going to name my module Manage.

Module Name: Manage
URI Prefix: manage
Check the Publish check box.

Notice that when you enter the URI Prefix the Example URI is expanded to include that value.  This is the URI I mentioned above.  If you run the wizard through the database connection the URI will include a generic value for the first part that refers to the ORDS server.  (http://localhost:8080/ords/personnel/)

Click Next.

Template URI

The template URI identifies a specific REST service endpoint.  In this case employees.  Notice that when you enter the URI Pattern the Example URI is expanded to also include that value.

Let’s break apart the URI.  First, we have the schema alias ‘personnel’ that gives us access to the HR schema.  Next, we created a module to ‘manage’ the HR schema records. Finally, we created a specific URI to handle transactions for ’employees’.

Method Handlers

Now that we’ve created the service endpoint to work with employees, we need to ‘Handle’ the different HTTP ‘Methods’ we intend to use.

A quick web search for ‘http rest methods’ will return pages of discussions on the available methods and how to “properly use them” but the short version is:

GET: Retrieve records with or without search criteria.
POST: Create records without providing the primary key.
PUT: Replace a record with a given primary key.  This can also be used to create a record if you’ve pre-assigned it a primary key.
DELETE: Remove a record with a given primary key.

We’ll start by creating a simple GET all handler.

  • Method: GET
  • Source Type: Query
  • Data Format: JSON
  • Pagination Size: 25
    We’ll leave this at the default value of 25.  It’s a good idea to define a pagination size, we don’t want to accidentally return a billion records in one call.  More on this later.

Click Next, review the summary and click Finish.

Get Query

Our GET method will return the Employee id, Hire Date, First and Last name for all employees.

If the GET employees SQL Worksheet did not automatically open, expand Manage, employees and click on GET.

Enter this query into the SQL Worksheet.

Push the new module to ORDS
  1. Right click on the Manage module.
  2. Click on Upload.


To create new records we’ll want a handler for the POST method.

  1. Right click the employees URI template.
  2. Click Add Handler.
  3. Click Post.

Notice that GET is grayed out since you can only have one method handler of each type per URI template.

We use the MIME Types to define the data format that we’ll accept.  Click the green plus to add a new MIME Type and enter application/json.  Click Apply.

If the POST employees SQL Worksheet did not automatically open, expand Manage, employees and click on POST.

ORDS uses PL/SQL for methods that change data, POST, PUT and DELETE.  PL/SQL gives us a greater amount of control which in turn provides better security.

Enter this PL/SQL into the SQL Worksheet.

Notice the use of bind variables in the PL/SQL.  If the data keys coming into our REST service match our bind variables, ORDS will auto-map the values.  However, if the keys do not match or we have additional use cases, we will need to map the bind variables using the Parameters tab. For this service, we will be passing in data values with keys that match the bind variables.

Since we are creating a new record and the primary key is auto-generated, it will be useful to the end user if we return the new id.  Above, we’ve defined a new bind variable :newid to pass this value back.  There is also another bind variable :status that we’ll use to change the response status from 200 (success) to 201 (success and I created a new record).


Click on the Parameters tab and enter the following values.

Colum definitions:

  • Name – Used by ORDS.
    • newid will be the key in the JSON object that returns the id to the user.
    • X-APEX-STATUS-CODE is a built in ORDS parameter used to set the status of the response object.
  • Bind Parameter – The bind variable used in our PL/SQL.
  • Access Method – Defines the direction in the transaction we intend to use the parameters; IN, OUT or IN/OUT.
  • Source Type is where the parameter will be used.
    • newid will be in the response body.
    • X-APEX-STATUS-CODE will be in the response header.
  • Data Type – Data type for the returned value.  When all else fails, choose STRING.
Push the modified module to ORDS
  1. Right click on the Manage module.
  2. Click on Upload.

At this point, we have created and deployed a fully functional REST API with the ability to GET all employees and POST a new employee.

It’s time to….

Test the Service

Switch to the Details tab for either the GET or the POST method handler.  At the bottom, you can copy the URI for the new REST service.

URI: http://localhost:8080/ords/personnel/manage/employees


To test the GET method you could simply enter the URI into a web browser and it will return the records.  Using my test tool, I enter the URI and hit send.

I receive back a JSON object with an “items” array that has 25 employee entries in it.  Below, I’ve trimmed a few out of the middle to keep it short.

Remember, I set the Pagination Size to 25 in the GET method, so ORDS returns the first 25 records.  Notice at the bottom of the JSON object after the array there is a “first” object.  The “$ref” value will take you to the first page of records.  This is automatically added to the response by ORDS when pagination is enabled.

There is also a “next” object added by ORDS to indicate that there are more records on the server.  When you write your client side application, you would process the returned records and check to see if there is a “next” object.  If there is, you could use URI in the “$ref” object to fetch the next set of records.  You would loop through this process until the last set of records.  When you reach the last set there will not be a “next” object.

After the first page, you would start to see a “prev” object containing a “$ref” object that you can use to reverse through the records.

If you set Pagination Size to 0 the service will return every record at once and the navigation objects will not be included.


In your REST testing tool:

  • Change the method to POST.
  • Add a header.
    Content-Type: application/json
  • Enter the following as the payload.
  • Send the request.

You should receive a response with a status of “201 Created” and the response body should contain the newly generated id.

Our service is deployed and the tests return the data we expect.

The wizards are a great way to quickly define REST services for your database, but you won’t want to use them when you deploy your application.  Instead, we can…

Export SQL

For mass deployment (or for people who just prefer to type everything) a SQL script is a better option.

Another difference between the REST Development panel and REST Data Services in the database connection is that you can export the SQL using the database connection tool.

Open the HR database connection and expand the REST Data Services item.  If you do not see your new service, click on the REST Data Services item and click the refresh arrows at the top of the panel.

  1. Expand Modules.
  2. Right click on Manage.
  3. Select Export…

In the window that pops up:

  1. Check the Enable Schema check box if you want to include the statement.
  2. Un-Check Privileges.
  3. Enter a filename and location.
  4. Click Apply.
  5. Open the file.

You can now include this SQL script in your application build process to deploy the REST services right alongside the rest of your database objects.

When you need a REST API to work with your database, ORDS and the SQL Developer wizards will save you a ton of time and help you create very robust and elegant solutions.

Please leave me a comment if you have trouble or find any bugs.



Three ways to make a REST call from Oracle JET

GET Data Into Your App

In this post, I will demonstrate three methods for loading data into your JET application using GET calls to retrieve data from a REST API.  You don’t need to know anything about JET to follow through the examples.  However, I do assume that you’re familiar with JET so I won’t be explaining most of the JET functionality.  If you would like to know more about Oracle JET, check out these resources.


The setup section will walk through creating a functioning JET application you can use to call each of the examples and display the data.  If you prefer to just read through the examples you can skip down to the REST GET Examples section.

In order to make the REST calls, we’ll need an application with a REST API.  I’ll be using DinoDate for the back end API.

Go to and follow the installation instructions.  Verify that DinoDate is running before proceeding.

DinoDate includes a JET front end that you can look through, but for this post, we’re going to replace it with the navbar JET template.

Start with a template

Rename the commonClient directory and create a new empty directory:

Install Oracle JET following the Oracle Jet Get Started guide:

Oracle JET is a very active open source project so the following may change over time.  If the version you’re using is different, try to locate the files mentioned in the following commands.  Locating the /src directory is required.  If you can’t find the rest of these files, the examples should still work, they just won’t be as pretty.

Alternatively, you can install the version of the generator used for this post instead of the global install above:

This JET template comes with a lot of pre-installed functionality added to the tempJet directory.  For this post, we’ll grab only the files that we need and put them in a jet directory

  • Create the directory structure ‘jet/css/libs/oj/v2.3.0/alta’.
  • Copy everything from tempJet/src to the root of the new jet folder.
  • Copy and rename the .css file.
  • Copy the fonts and images directories.
  • Delete the tempJet folder.
  • CD into jet.
Now if you haven’t already started DinoDate, follow the instructions to start your preferred middle tier.

Open a browser and go to http://localhost:3000/ (use the port for the mid-tier you started) and you should now see this.

Convert Existing Module

Rather than create a new module from scratch, I’m going to change the Customer module into a DinoDate member search module.  This way we can see what’s included in the template and how it’s ‘wired’ together.

If you’re not already there, navigate to dino-date/commonClient/jet/

Rename the files js/views/customers.html and js/viewModels/customers.js to search.html and search.js.

In order to change our the Navigation List Item from ‘Customer’ to ‘Search’, we need to edit js/appController.js.

Change the code on the following lines (Line numbers may change with future versions of JET):
22:  'customers': {label: 'Customers'}, to  'search': {label: 'Search'},

33:  {name: 'Customers', id: 'customers', to  {name: 'Search', id: 'search',

34:  iconClass: 'oj-navigationlist-item-icon demo-icon-font-24 demo-people-icon-24'}, we’ll use the magnifier icon  iconClass: 'oj-fwk-icon-magnifier oj-fwk-icon oj-navigationlist-item-icon'},

DinoDate creates a user token as part of the login process.  This token is required to access the API.  This process is not really relevant to the examples so while we’re in appController.js we’ll add a helper (cheater) function to make the examples work.

The $.ajax function will automatically log us in as the Administrator user and set the authorization token when the application starts.

The getHeaders function will be used later to generate the headers used by DinoDate for authorization and processing options.

Add this code after   self.navDataSource = .... , line 38.

Edit js/index.html and add an id property to the <div> with role=”main”.

Refresh the page and click the Search tab.

Prepare the viewModel

Edit js/viewModels/search.js

Add the Jet components we plan to use in our view, to the list of dependencies.

Change CustomerViewModel to SearchViewModel for the function name and in the return statement at the bottom.

Delete everything inside the SearchViewModel function except for var self = this;

Add a variable ‘rootViewModel’ to give us access to js/appController.js.  We’ll use this to access the getHeaders function.

If you used a different id value in the <div id="mainContent" role="main"  section above, use that id instead of ‘mainContent’.

Add some Knockout observables we’ll need for the view data-binding.  We’ll use the observable searchRun to display the method used to call the REST API.

Add a function to generate the URL for the search API.

Stub in the search functions.

Change the View

Now let’s switch over to our view, edit js/views/search.html.

Delete the all of the HTML in the file.

If you want to dig into the details on the components we’re using you can check out the CookBook.  For this example, we’ll just identify the components we’re using.

Add an ojInputText and an ojInputNumber to accept our search criteria for a Keyword and Distance.  Set their values to the correct observables in the viewModel.

Add three ojButton components, one for each method we’re going to demonstrate. We’ll set them to be disabled until the token in appController.js is populated to prevent querying before we’re logged in.

Display which search function as been run and add an ojTable component to display the returned data.

And finally, an ojPagingControl to add pagination controls.

Notice the data property for the table and paging controls are both using the same ko.observable, memberData.

The setup is complete, let’s flesh out our search functions.

REST GET Examples


Using the viewModel method is typically the default approach for making REST calls in JET.  The JET components (oj.Model and oj.Collection) implement a lot of functionality behind the scenes allowing you to focus on your application instead of generic plumbing.

  • Define the Member model by extending oj.Model .  Since we don’t plan to do any single record functions, we only need to define the idAttribute of a Member.
  • Define a collection of by extending oj.Collection.
  • Set the base URL for the REST API.
  • Set the model to Member, which we defined above.
  • Set customURL to our getHeaders function in appController.js.  This adds the headers needed for DinoDate.
  • Parse the returned object and return the member array ‘items’.
    Sometimes we only need part of the data returned by the REST API, so we need to define a function to parse the response.  For our examples, all we need is the members.items array.  If your REST API returns only the array, you shouldn’t need to define a parse function at all.
  • Create a new Members collection.
  • Create the members variable using membersColl to create a new oj.CollectionTableDataSource which is then used to create a new oj.PagingTableDataSource.
  • Modify the URL of membersColl using the searchURL function.  This will create the URL using the ko.observables keywords and maxDistance.
  • Call the fetch function.
  • Set self.memberData(self.members); after the fetch() has returned.

Replace the stubbed searchViewModel function with this code.

In your browser, refresh your page and search for the letter ‘a’ using the ViewModel button. You should see a list of Member names. The ojPagingControl defines a page as 10 records so you may have multiple pages of members.

Shared Model

Sometimes you will want to use the same Model and/or Collection across multiple functions or viewModels.  Trying to keep our application as DRY as possible, we’ll move the model and collection definitions out to their own files.

Let’s create a new directory /js/models  and two new files /js/models/Member.js  and /js/models/Members.js .

For both files, we’ll define components we need to include and also add the variable rootViewModel.

In Member.js, we’ll create a Members Model.  This model could be used by itself to work with a single Member object, see oj.Model for more information.

  • Create a Member by extending oj.Model, as shown in the last example.
  • Add the urlRoot for the members endpoint of your RESTFull API.
  • The customURL property is used for the DinoDate headers, just like in the previous Collection example.  If your application doesn’t need to modify the headers, you could exclude this property.
  • Return the new Model.

Edit Member.js and add the following code.

For our Members Collection:

  • Add the new member model to the define dependencies array.
  • Accept the member model as an argument to the function.
  • Create a Members collection by extending oj.Collection, like in the last viewModel example.
  • Set the URL.  In this case, it’s the same as the rootUrl for Member.
  • Set the model to Member.
  • We use the customURL for the DinoDate headers, the same as in the other examples.
  • Parse the returned object.  When DinoDate returns a set of members it includes some extra data.  We are only interested in the items array.
  • Return the collection.

Edit Members.js and add the following code.

Back to search.js.

Include our new collection in the define dependencies array, add ‘models/Members’ right after ‘jquery’.

Accept the Members Collection into the function definition by adding the Members argument.

To flesh out the searchSharedModel function we simply copy the code from searchViewModel() excluding the Model and Collection definitions.

  • Create a new Members collection.
  • Create the members variable using membersColl to create a new oj.CollectionTableDataSource which is then used to create a new oj.PagingTableDataSource.
  • Modify the URL of membersColl using the searchURL function.  This will create the URL using the ko.observables keywords and maxDistance.
  • Call the fetch function.
  • Set self.memberData(self.members); after the fetch() has returned.

Replace the stubbed searchSharedModel function with this code.

Refresh your page and search for ‘a’ again using the Shared Model button, you should see the same results as the ViewModel button.


Sometimes you may need some specific functionality not supported by the framework.  If extending oj.Collection or oj.Model doesn’t meet all of your needs, you can use the jQuery ajax method.

  • We’re using a standard $.ajax call with a type of “GET”.
  • Set the headers needed by DinoDate using the getHeaders() function in appController.js.
  • The searchURL function will create the URL using the ko.observables keywords and maxDistance.
  • Assuming everything is setup properly and we get a successful response we need to create the proper object types for the Jet components we’re using in the view.
    • Since we are using a paging control, we’ll need an oj.PagingTableDataSource object which we’ll create from an oj.ArrayTableDataSource object.
    • The oj.ArrayTableDataSource object is created from the items array returned in the GET response.
    • We also need to identify the idAttribute of our returned objects, which is ‘memberId’.
  • Finally, we’ll set the Knockout Observable self.memberData to our new resData object.
  • If there’s a failure, show it in an alert.

Replace the stubbed searchAJAX function with this code.

Refresh your page and search for ‘a’ using the AJAX button, you should see the same results as the other buttons.

If you are watching the execution time in the returned object, be aware that the time is only tracking the call from the middle tier to the database, so these changes to the client side code do not affect the execution time. Any differences for these examples should be ignored.

Be Flexible

As you build applications with Oracle JET, you will probably use the viewModel method the most.  However, don’t be afraid to use other methods when they make more sense for your application. It is perfectly acceptable to mix and match these different approaches as needed. Use the shared model to try and stay DRY and the AJAX method for special cases.

As the saying goes; When you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Keep your toolbox full.

Getting Started With Oracle Spatial part 2


See the previous post for setup instructions.

Is the object valid?

If you don’t have a tool with Map View or if you have problems displaying the objects (for example not enough resources to display them all) you can use the SDO_GEOM.VALIDATE_GEOMETRY_WITH_CONTEXT() function to check if they are valid. Pass your object into the function with a tolerance. It will return TRUE or FALSE.

For example, I have used this function to validate the line exercise answer from the previous post.

Create a Polygon

We want to create a home for our dinosaurs so let’s look at some examples to create polygons using different methods.

Let’s make a simple rectangle using 2 points on opposite corners.

This creates a rectangle with one corner at Lon-0, Lat-0 and the opposite corner at Lon-0.9, Lat-0.9, approximately 100KM East and 100KM North.

Let’s make another simple rectangle using points for all corners.

Notice that when we create a simple exterior polygon we define the points in counter-clockwise order, also the first and last points are the same.

This could be an OK home for our dinosaurs, it’s 100 KM by 100 KM, but living on a rectangle could be kind of boring.

Let’s make it more interesting.

This time, we’ll create an irregular shaped polygon. This is basically the same as the last rectangle polygon but we’ll be using a few more points.


1. Create a rectangle using 2 points starting at the center of the Bermuda Triangle – Latitude 26.846786, Longitude -69.322920 and having its opposite corner approximately 100KM East and 100KM North. (0.9 is approximately 100KM)


2. Create the same rectangle but this time, using 4 points to define the corners.


3. Create an irregular polygon near the center of the Bermuda Triangle using at least 8 points.


Note: when creating this type of polygon (1, 1003, 1), be careful to ensure that none of the lines cross or the object will be invalid.  Also, as with lines, if your object is “off the map”, it will be invalid.

Experiment with other polygons using different point sets.

Populate Tables

Now it’s time to start adding some data for our dinosaurs and their island.  We’ll start by building populateData.sql.  Here’s a stub to get you started.

At the start of our script we are clearing any previous changes in order to maintain a clean set of data.

We’ll be storing our data in 2 tables. Our polygons that designate an area will be stored in the DD_LOCATIONS table and we’ll keep track of where our dinosaurs are in their member record using the  DD_MEMBERS.SPTUT_LOCATION column we created in the setup.

We will be storing sdo_geometry objects. These objects must be created using the same SRID (4326) we used to populate user_sdo_geom_metadata in the setup script. We will not be going into detail on the metadata and indexes, but if you receive an error mentioning SRID, it’s probably due to mismatching the SRID.


1. Insert the polygon we previously defined into the dd_locations table with a location_name of ‘dino-island’.

2. Update our admin dinosaur (member_id = 0) and set the location to a point inside of ‘dino-island’.

New populateData.sql

Random Polygon

Most of the time you’ll be creating pre-defined objects. But, one of the reasons our dinosaurs have been able to stay undetected for so long is their island randomly changes shape every now and then.

In previous exercises, we created our polygons one point at a time in a counter-clockwise direction so we should be able to do this programmatically with some random coordinates.

On the first attempt to create a random polygon, I went with an idea to walk the edges of a square and define points a random distance in or out from the edge. While this did work, the function was a bit more complicated than I wanted, involving nested loops and multi-layered if/then statements.

I decided to go with a circular approach instead.

Helper Functions:

Here are examples of a couple useful functions.


  • A standard SDO_GEOMETRY point object
  • A radian value from 0 to 2pi. The gif here explains what a radian is perfectly.
    Note: SDO_UTIL.POINT_AT_BEARING uses 12 o’clock as 0 radian and increases clockwise.
  • A distance in M.

The function returns an SDO_GEOMETRY point object, X meters from the given point in the direction of the radian value.

Since we are creating our polygon using an MDSYS.SDO_ORDINATE_ARRAY we need to extract the x/y coordinates from our new point and add them to our array. (Remember the first and last point in the array are the same.)

SDO_UTIL.GETVERTICES can be used to extract quite a lot of data from our point object, but since we’re only interested in the x / y coordinates we will treat the output as a table and select the values.


Create a function that accepts:

  • A minimum radius. We need to ensure that our dinosaurs have land to stand on.
  • A variance percent that we will use to calculate our random edge points.
  • A center point longitude.
  • A center point latitude.

The function should return a valid SDO_GEOMETRY simple polygon object.

Change populateData.sql to use the new function for the dino-island value, centered in the Bermuda Triangle.

New generate_polygon_rad.fnc

New populateData.sql

Random Point Inside a Given Polygon

Now that we have an island lets figure out where the rest of our dinosaurs are.

We want to make sure our dinosaurs are all on the island. We could take the easy way out and just use the POINT_AT_BEARING function with a random radian and distance from 0 to the minimum limit used to create the island, but that leaves a lot of unused space out by the beaches.

Helper Functions:

Here are examples of a couple useful functions.

SDO_GEOM.SDO_INTERSECTION accepts 2 SDO_GEOMETRY objects and returns just the overlapping section. Pass in your dino-island and a line starting at the center that is long enough to extend outside of the island. You will get back a line from the center that stops right at the edge of the island.

SDO_GEOM.SDO_LENGTH accepts an SDO_GEOMETRY object and returns different information depending on the object passed in. We’re passing in a line so it will return the length of that line.

You may notice that these two functions accept a Tolerance parameter. The tolerance value determines how close two adjacent points have to be together to be considered the same point. So passing a value of 0.05 means: Points which are closer together than 5 centimeters, are considered to be one point.


Create a function that accepts:

  • The island as an SDO_GEOMETRY simple polygon object.
  • The island’s minimum radius.
  • The island’s variance percent.
  • The island’s center point longitude.
  • The island’s center point latitude.

The function should return a valid SDO_GEOMETRY point object located inside the island polygon.

New generate_random_location.fnc

Change populateData.sql to use the new function to update the dinosaurs locations using the same values as the island.

New populateData.sql

Using this information and the methods you’ve used previously, you can generate random points around the island without having to worry about dropping any dinosaurs in the ocean.

Using this specific methodology will tend to favor placing dinosaurs in the center of the island since the location always starts from the center and goes out. Feel free to try other methods to create a more random dispersion.

Random Point Inside a Given Polygon using only the Polygon

The function generate_random_location works well enough to generate a point inside a polygon if you already know something about it.

Let’s change it so it can accept just the polygon and figure out the rest of the data we need.

We still want to make sure our dinosaurs are all on the island.

Helper Functions:

Here are examples of a couple useful functions.

SDO_GEOM.SDO_MBC_CENTER accepts an SDO_GEOMETRY object and a tolerance. The function calculates the Minimum Bounding Circle, which is the smallest circle that could contain the object. It then returns an SDO_GEOMETRY point object for the calculated center of the MBC.

SDO_GEOM.SDO_MBC_RADIUS accepts an SDO_GEOMETRY object and a tolerance. The function calculates the Minimum Bounding Circle, which is the smallest circle that could contain the object. It then returns the calculated radius of the MBC.


Change the generate_random_location function so it accepts:

  • The island as an SDO_GEOMETRY simple polygon object.

The function should return a valid SDO_GEOMETRY point object located inside the island polygon.

New generate_random_location.fnc

Change populateData.sql so it uses the new function to update the dinosaurs locations using only the island.

New populateData.sql

Find the Dinosaurs

Run populateData.sql to generate an island and update the dinosaur locations.

Now that we have an island and we’ve scattered the dinosaurs, let’s figure out where they are.

Helper Functions:

Here are examples of a couple useful functions.

SDO_WITHIN_DISTANCE accepts two SDO_GEOMETRY objects and a parameter string. The first SDO_GEOMETRY object must be in a table and have a spatial index. The parameter string is a set of parameters defined in the linked document, for our purposes we are using distance and unit. If the two SDO_GEOMETRY objects are within the given distance the function returns ‘TRUE’.

SDO_RELATE accepts two SDO_GEOMETRY objects and a mask parameter. The mask parameter specifies the relationship you are testing. See the Usage Notes section of the linked documentation for a list of valid options.

Alternatively, if your objects are not both in tables or you are trying to determine their relationship you could use SDO_GEOM.RELATE but it is less efficient since it does not leverage a Spatial Index.


  1. Write a query that finds all of the dinosaurs within 5 KM of the beach.
  2. Write a statement that creates a smaller polygon with a minimum radius of 10 KM and centered randomly inside the island. Using the location_name of ‘asteroid-impact’ insert this polygon into the dd_locations table.
  3. Write a query that finds the dinosaurs inside the ‘asteroid-impact’ so we can warn them to move to safety.
Answer 1
Answer 2
Answer 3


There are many more functions and capabilities included with Oracle Spatial, this tutorial has barely scratched the surface.

The ‘answers’ I have included are merely suggestions and there are many other ways to complete the same tasks. Please dig into the documentation and experiment.

Please leave comments if you have any questions, corrections or suggestions.

Getting Started With Oracle Spatial part 1

In this tutorial, we’ll go over how to create some basic spatial objects such as points, lines and polygons. We’ll create some random objects and run some fun queries.

We’ll be using the Spatial and Graph Developer’s Guide as our reference.

First, let’s take a look at the SDO_GEOMETRY Object.

SDO_GTYPE is a 4 digit number that defines what type of object we’re making, using a format of DLTT

D = Dimensions of the object 2, 3 or 4 (can not mix different dimensions in the same layer)

L = Linear Referencing System. This is a more advanced topic for another day. For our examples, we will be using 0.

TT = Type of Geometry, 00 through 09

We will be using the following Geometry Types. You can find the full list here.

Value Description
DL01 Point Geometry contains one point.
DL02 Line or Curve Geometry contains one line string that can contain straight or circular arc segments, or both. (LINE and CURVE are synonymous in this context.)
DL03 Polygon or Surface Geometry contains one polygon with or without holes,1 or one surface consisting of one or more polygons. In a three-dimensional polygon, all points must be on the same plane.

SDO_SRID is a number referencing the coordinate system used, it must either be NULL or the SRID value from the SDO_COORD_REF_SYS table.  We’ll be using 4326, which is the standard Earth-based Latitude / Longitude system.

SDO_POINT is used to define the object as a point. This is only used if this object is a point, otherwise, this should be NULL and the following two parameters will define the object.

SDO_ELEM_INFO is basically a set of numbers that work like a key for using the information in the SDO_ORDINATES parameter to create the object. These numbers are grouped into one or more sets of 3 numbers or triplets. If we are creating a complex object that has more than one segment, each segment will be defined by its own triplet.

  • The first number in the triplet is the SDO_STARTING_OFFSET and indicates which number in the following SDO_ORDINATE_ARRAY is the starting point for this segment. The first element is 1.
  • The second number is the SDO_ETYPE which is used to define the type of object we are creating in this segment. For example, 2 is a straight line and 1003 is a simple polygon.
  • The third number is the SDO_INTERPRETATION and is used in one of two ways.
    • For simple objects such as a polygon, the SDO_INTERPRETATION will further define the type of polygon. 1 is a simple straight line polygon, 2 uses circular arcs, 3 is a rectangle and 4 is a circle.
    • For complex objects such as a polygon with holes in it, SDO_INTERPRETATION is used to specify how many ordinates are used for this segment.

Please see Table 2-2 Values and Semantics in SDO_ELEM_INFO for further details.

SDO_ORDINATES are pairs of coordinates used along with SDO_ELEM_INFO to define the object


You’ll need a copy of the git repository.

  1. Go to
  2. Fork the repository.
  3. Clone the repository.
  4. Follow the DinoDate install instructions.
  5. Run the following as the new DD user.

This script will add the sptut_location column to our dd_members table, setup the spatial metadata and create the spatial indexes. We will not be covering these steps in the tutorial.


This script can also be used to reset the database if something goes wrong.

We’ll need some dinosaurs to locate so let’s randomly generate a few.

Connected as dd run the following command to generate 1,000 dinosaurs.


If you’d like to restore the DD schema to its default state, run this script to remove the new column and re-create the dd_locations index.

View the Objects

For my examples, I will be using Oracle SQL Developer which includes a Map View utility to display the objects.

Create a Point

Select the following example from dual to create a point.

When you run the query you’ll see it generates an SDO_GEOMETRY type object. In SQL Developer you can select the results, right click the object and “Invoke Map View on Results Set” to display the point in the Map Viewer.

Note that there is no background map displayed, just an empty background with a point. If there were a map, this point would be just west of Africa.


Create a point at the center of the Bermuda Triangle – Latitude 26.846786, Longitude -69.322920.

If you invoke the map view for both points, you can change the marker type for one to identify which is which. If your Bermuda Triangle point is South East of 0,0 you have your Lat and Lon backward. If this is a consistent issue, you can use named parameters.


Create a Line

Select the following example from dual to create a line.

This creates a line starting at Lon-0, Lat-0 and ending at Lon-0.9, Lat-0, approximately 100KM East.


Create a line starting at the center of the Bermuda Triangle – Latitude 26.846786, Longitude -69.322920 and going approximately 100KM North. (0.9 is approximately 100KM)


Experiment with other lines. Keep in mind if your object is “off the map”, it will be invalid.

In the next post, I’ll go over creating polygons and run some fun spatial queries.

Delete (cruD) using Ruby-OCI8

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the D in CRUD: Delete.

We use the ruby-oci8 driver to delete some data in the database tables, using the connection object created in the Initial Setup section of the first post in this series.


Helper Function

My helper function get_all_rows() encapsulates a select statement used to verify that the deletes worked. The select functionality is covered in the R part of this series, so I won’t go into the details here.

Add this function to the top of your file.

Resetting the data

To keep the examples clean and precise, I will reset the data at times.

Create a new file called reset_data.rb with the following code and run it whenever you would like to reset the data. (Notice this version adds people and pet data not included in other sections.)

Boilerplate template

The template we will be using is:

For each exercise, replace the “# Your code here” line with your code.

Reset the data

First, let’s run reset_data.rb to set up our data.

Simple delete

We will perform a simple delete that removes a single record from the lcs_people table.  These are the steps performed in the code snippet below.

  • Prepare a SQL DELETE statement, deleting the record with an id of 1.
  • Parse the statement to create a cursor.
  • Bind the id value.  (See the R part of this series for an explanation of bind variables.)
  • Execute the statement.
  • Commit the transaction.
When I run this code in my Ruby session, I see:

Extra Fun 1

Delete all the birds.

Your results should be:

Reset the data

Now is a good time to run reset_data.rb.

Boilerplate change

Change the boilerplate get_all_rows statements to get people and pet data.

Deleting records referenced by Foreign Keys

If you are using integrity constraints in your database (of course you are, because then you let the database do some heavy lifting for you), you will sometimes need to change the way you process your changes.

In our design, we have a Foreign Key constraint in lcs_pets that ensures if a pet has an owner, that owner exists.

This is the statement that creates the constraint in the Creating the Database Objects section of the Initial Setup post.

If we attempt to delete a record in lcs_people that is referenced in lcs_pets (Person has a pet,) we get an error.

When I run this code in my Ruby session, I see:

Before deleting the person you have to handle the pet (watch out for claws and teeth).

There are a few options here, depending on your database design:

  • If: pets are not required to have an owner and you only want to delete the person, not the pets.  Then: you can update the pets and set their owner to null.
  • If: pets are required to have an owner.  Then: you can delete the pets for the owner.

In either of the above scenarios, you can update the pets and set their owner to another person.

Bob is moving out of our area and his new apartment doesn’t allow pets, so he’s giving them to Kim.  Let’s use that last option here.

  • Prepare a SQL UPDATE statement, changing owner to 2 (Kim) for the records with an owner of 1 (Bob).  Updating is covered in the U part of this series.
  • Parse the statement to create a cursor.
  • Bind the new and old owner values.
  • Execute the statement.
  • Prepare a SQL DELETE statement, deleting records with an id of 1 (Bob).
  • Parse the statement to create a cursor.
  • Bind the id value.
  • Execute the statement.
  • Commit both transactions.
When I run this code in my Ruby session, I see:

When you change data it’s a good idea to verify the number of affected rows.  This is covered in the R part of this series.

Extra Fun 2

Due to a zoning change, snakes are no longer allowed in our area.  Stacey has decided to move and take Sneaky with her.

Let’s fix our data.

Your results should be:

Some other things you could try
  • Change the database constraints to delete or Null the child record on delete (a cascading delete).  Delete a person and let the database handle the children.
  • Remove the people who don’t have any pets.

Series sections

Initial Setup
Create records
Retrieve records
Update records
Delete records

Delete (cruD) using Perl and DBD::ORACLE

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the D in CRUD: Delete.

We use the DBD::Oracle driver to delete some data in the database tables, using the connection object created in the Initial Setup section of the first post in this series.


Helper Function

My helper function get_all_rows encapsulates a select statement used to verify that the deletes worked. The select functionality is covered in the R part of this series, so I won’t go into the details here.