APEX Popup LOV Deep Dive

APEX Popup LOV Deep Dive


10 min read


This post will deep dive into the APEX Popup LOV item type. Much like a Select List, the Popup LOV allows you to present users with a list of items to select from. The Popup LOV takes list selection further by offering these additional features:

  • Display additional columns of information for each item in the list

  • Allow the user to type search criteria to limit the list of options

  • Return additional values from the selected item to page items

  • Allow users to select multiple items

  • Allow users to enter items that are not in the source SQL or REST Source

  • Display icons to help highlight certain items

  • Group items in the list to make selection easier (Note: you can do this with a Select List also)

When to Use a Popup LOV

  • To display additional columns to help the user decide which item to select

  • To return additional values from the selected item to other page items

  • To give the user control by allowing them to start typing and dynamically filter the list of items

  • To allow users to enter values that are not in the source SQL/REST Source

  • To allow users to select multiple values from the list

I typically only use a Select List over a Popup LOV when fewer than 15 items are in the list.

Popup LOV Example

I will use the below use case to illustrate how to configure all of the features of a Popup LOV.

We have an APEX page where we need to present a list of users. When a user is selected, we need to set a default value for two fields, 'Provision Badge' and 'Provision Laptop'. 'Provision Badge' and 'Provision Laptop' are defaulted based on the User Type [EMPLOYEE, CUSTOMER, CONTRACTOR]. The user type field is another field in the 'users' table.

Here is what the result will look like:

Popup LOV Example Screenshot.png

List of Values

To use the advanced features of the Popup LOV, we must define a List of Values under Shared Components. Although several APEX item types can use a List of Values, some features of a List of Values are specific to a Popup LOV.

SQL Query

When creating a List of Values, we must first define the SELECT statement (or REST Source), which will generate the list of values to choose from. Notice I have included multiple columns in the below SELECT statement.

Popup LOV Example LOV1.png

Column Mapping

The next step in creating a List of Values is to map columns from the SELECT statement to options that will drive how the Popup LOV will behave at runtime. All values are optional, except for Return.

Popup LOV Example LOV2.png

  • Return is the value returned to the Popup LOV page item associated with the LOV

  • Display is the value displayed by the page item when a value has been selected from the LOV

  • Default Sort and Sort Direction are the columns used to sort the LOV and the sort direction? For Popup LOVs, users can change the sort at runtime

  • Group is used to group LOV items into related sets of values. The column value you select here is displayed at the start of each group. In my example, I have grouped values by user type [EMPLOYEE, CUSTOMER, CONTRACTOR]

  • Group Sort Direction is the sort direction for the group entries

  • Icon is the icon you want to be displayed against each item in the list. You can use font APEX icons, e.g., fa-user, and Universal Theme CSS classes, e.g., u-danger-text here. In my example, the column user_icon shows a different icon for each user type [EMPLOYEE, CUSTOMER, CONTRACTOR]. Icons are a great way to highlight specific entries in the LOV

  • Oracle Text Column if one of your columns has an Oracle Text index, you can reference it here. For Popup LOVs, APEX will utilize the Oracle Text index when performing row searches in the Popup LOV at runtime

Additional Display Columns

Popup LOV Example LOV3.png

This section is specific to the Popup LOV. Here we can configure which columns are displayed to the user at runtime, what the column titles are, the format string that should be applied, and which columns are searchable. Use the Select Columns button to select which columns from your SQL statement should appear in the Additional Display Columns table. Afterward, you can adjust specific options in the table directly.

  • Sequence is the order in which the column is displayed to the user at runtime

  • Column Name is read-only and represents the column name in the SELECT statement or REST Source

  • Heading is the heading for the column displayed to the user at runtime

  • Data Type is read-only and represents the data type of the column in the SELECT statement

  • Visible toggle this value to determine if the column should be displayed to the user at runtime

  • Searchable toggle this value to determine if the value in this column should be considered when the user is searching the LOV at runtime

  • Format Mask you can define an Oracle Format Mask for DATE and NUMBER Data Type columns here

Page Items

Now that the LOV is defined, we can create the 4-page items required for our example.

APEX Popup LOV Page Items 1.png


APEX Popup LOV Page Items 2. png

P90_USER_ID is the page item for the Popup LOV itself.

  • Display As determines if the LOV is displayed as an Inline Popup with the field or as a Modal Popup. I typically use Inline Popup

  • Initial Fetch I typically set this to Automatic; you can choose from three options:

    • On User Request - Initially, no list of values is fetched until the user hits enter with or without a search term. This is useful if your LOV source (SQL or REST Service) is slow and you only want to perform the LOV search when the user explicitly requests it

    • Automatic When the page is loaded, the list of values is fetched without a search term

    • Automatic with Current Value Initially fetch the list of values with the current value as the search term

  • Multiple Values if switched on, the user can select multiple values from the Popup LOV. Values are returned to the page item as a delimited list, e.g., 35363:28228:12922. The delimiter is determined by the Separator field that is displayed if you switch on Multiple Values. If our use case required us to select multiple users and we set this on, the Popup LOV would look like this at runtime:

    APEX Popup LOV Page Items 3.png

  • Manual Entry if switched on, the user can manually enter values that do not exist in the source LOV. When you switch this on, the value returned to the page item is the value the user enters at runtime. Given this, when Manual Entry is switched on, you will need to make the display value the same as the return value. This can be useful for tags. Users can select from existing tags (based on the source SQL) and enter new ones. I could enter 'PLSQL' in the screenshot below, even though it is not in the LOV. In this example, the return values would be APEX:PLSQL

    APEX Popup LOV Page Items 4.png

  • Search as You Type if switched on, the LOV SQL or REST Source is re-executed after each keystroke, and the LOV is reduced to matching entries. This option is used in conjunction with the option Minimum Characters, which (when set) forces the Popup LOV to start applying the filter to the LOV after the user has typed the specified number of characters. Minimum Characters should be used when dealing with large or slow LOVs. This prevents multiple slow executions of the LOV after each keystroke which would be annoying to the user and causes unnecessary load on the server.

    • This screenshot shows a filtered list after the user has entered three characters:

      APEX Popup LOV Page Items 5.png

  • This screenshot shows a list where Minimum Characters is set to 3, but the user has not yet entered three characters:

    APEX Popup LOV Page Items 6.png

  • Title is the title that is displayed if you selected Modal Popup for the Display As option above

  • Popup Width determines the width in pixels of the popup

  • Popup Height determines the height in pixels of the popup

  • Additional Outputs allows you to return column values from your LOV to page items in your APEX page (for the selected item). In my example, when the user picks a user from the Popup LOV, in addition to the ID field being returned to the page item P90_USER_ID, the value of the USER_TYPE column is also returned to the page item P90_USER_TYPE. See below for more on Additional Outputs


P90_USER_TYPE is a hidden page item that receives the additional output USER_TYPE when a user is selected from the Popup LOV. I have a Change Event Dynamic Action on this field which is used to set the page items P90_PROVISION_BADGE and P90_PROVISION_LAPTOP based on the user type of the selected user.

APEX Popup LOV Page Items 7a.png

The Dynamic Action has four True actions which a very similar, so I have only shown the first one here:

APEX Popup LOV Page Items 7.png


These are two switch-type page items set by the dynamic actions attached to P90_USER_TYPE.

More on Additional Outputs

In my opinion, Additional Outputs are an underutilized feature of Popup LOVs.

In my example, I want to set the value of two other page items based on the type of user selected. If I were using a Select List Item Type, I would have to do the following to achieve the same result:

  1. Create a Dynamic Action on the change of P90_USER_ID

  2. The DA would take the selected user id and run some server-side code to get the user type for the selected user; the USER_TYPE would then be returned to P90_USER_TYPE to trigger the dynamic action, which default values for P90_PROVISION_BADGE and P90_PROVISION_LAPTOP

It may not seem like much of a difference, but by using Additional Outputs, we removed a round trip to the database to get the USER_TYPE. This improves user experience and reduces the load on the server.

Setting Column Widths

While it is not yet possible to declaratively set the width of the columns in a Popup LOV, thanks to a Tweet from Paulo Künzel you can do it via the 'Initialization JavaScript Function' of the Popup LOV Page Item.

In the P90_USER_ID example, we can set the width of the name column to 60% of the overall width of the Popup LOV as follows:


If we open up the Popup LOV, we can see that the name column now takes up 60% of the Popup LOV.


As well as setting the column width as a percentage, you can also set a specific pixel size.

Room for Improvement

I do believe there is room for improvement, and I would like to see the following features added at some point:

  • Ability to configure Popup LOV column widths at design time

  • Ability to pass in parameters from the calling page. If your Popup LOV is dependent on a Parent Cascading List of Values item, you need to reference the parent item in the LOV definition in shared components, e.g.,

,      last_name || ', ' || first_name name
,      email
FROM   users
WHERE user_type = :P90_USER_TYPE

This means you need to create a different shared component LOV for each page you need to use the LOV for. Ideally, there would be an additional option for a Popup LOV item type, allowing you to enter a comma-separated list of page items that would be passed to the Popup LOV at run time. Then you could reference them using generic bind variables in the LOV definition in shared components, e.g.,

,      last_name || ', ' || first_name name
,      email
FROM   users
WHERE user_type = :PARAM1


Popup LOVs were a welcome addition to APEX and removed the need for plugins like Select2. They provide several features that offer real value to end users and convenience for developers. I hope this post has helped you realize their importance.

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