After tearing my hair out for 2 or 3 days and pestering Oracle Support with a number of SR’s, I have finally understood the impact of an important Sept 2018 update. This currently affects only Test instances, but the Sept Prod update arrives this Friday. This concerns how user & substitution variables are created and managed. Unfortunately, the change in the administration side of this was not documented in the monthly updates documentation nor the online administration documentation.
The Way it Used to Be (and currently exists in Prod until this Friday)
Administrators would go into Navigator >> Create and Manage >> Variables to create and manage both substitution variables and user variables:
Administrators could try to set limits in these fields, but they only seemed to save if “Use Context” was also checked. (From the Oracle online documentation: Select Use Context to allow user variables to be used in the Point of View. With this setting, the value of the user variable changes dynamically based on the context of the form.)
Users would navigate to Tools >> User Variables to set values for the user variables that Administrators set up for them:
Sept 2018 Update
Administrators now go to Tools >> User Variables (yes, the same place where you used to set user variable values) to create and manage both substitution variables and user variables:
Administrators can now also set limits for these values and they save regardless if “Use Context” is checked. In addition, “Use Context” has been improved in utility. If it’s checked on this screen, that variable won’t even appear to users in their new screen.
Users now navigate to Tools >> User Preferences >> User Variables to set values for the user variables that Administrators set up for them:
Users cannot see Tools >> User Variables (or anything else in the Tools card for that matter). They only see Tools >> User Preferences now:
How did I stumble across this?
If you, as a newly logged in Administrator who hasn’t set up your user variable values yet and were unaware of this change, navigate to Tools >> User Variables and update those values there, several anomalies happen. First, you are not setting values at all. You’re setting a strict limit of one member per variable. So, you, thinking that you had set up your variable values, then attempt to open a data form. You continue to receive error messages opening forms that use those user variables since your values have not formally been set yet. Puzzling indeed. Since the navigation has not changed (you’re still navigating to Tools >> User Variables, but now to manage user variables and not set them), I expect this will confuse some folks out there once the update hits Prod instances.
Or, on the user side, you log in as a newly set up user who hasn’t set up your user variables yet. You try to change your user variables, but can’t get past what the administrator mistakenly set as a single member limit:
(Why do I only see one member?)
Hope this saves on some confusion out there!