Saturday, September 20, 2008

printf for Peoplesoft

Many languages include a printf function for formatting strings. The main point of printf is to provide programmers with a way to insert dates, times, numbers, and other strings into a final string. This final string is sometimes referred to as a format string or pattern because it contains the formatting characters required by printf to convert numbers and dates into strings. For example, should that floating point decimal have 2 or 3 digits after the decimal place? printf has its roots in C++, where string construction requires memory buffer allocation, etc. Simply put, printf simplifies formatting strings in languages that don't treat strings as native objects. Many languages support printf. As of Java 1.5, the Java runtime environment included with PeopleTools 8.49, supports printf. Since Java supports it, we can use it from PeopleCode. If you are new to printf, then take a look at the printf Wikipedia entry. If you are familiar with printf and just want to know how to use it, then take a look at the Format String Syntax of the java.util.Formatter class. The code below actually uses the format(Locale l, String format, Object... args) method of the java.lang.String class. If you are interested in using printf with PeopleCode, here is an example to get you started:

Function printf(&language As string, &country As string, &message As string, &parms As array of any) Returns string
Local JavaObject &jLocale = CreateJavaObject("java.util.Locale", &language, &country);
Local JavaObject &jParms = CreateJavaArray("java.lang.Object[]", &parms.Len);

CopyToJavaArray(&parms, &jParms);
Return GetJavaClass("java.lang.String").format(&jLocale, &message, &jParms);

Function IScript_TestPrintf()
Local string &message = "Amount gained or lost since last statement dated %1$tc: $ %2$(,.2f";
Local array of any &parms = CreateArrayAny();

%Response.WriteLine(printf("en", "us", &message, &parms));
%Response.WriteLine(printf("es", "es", &message, &parms));

Notice that my printf function takes a language code and a country code. These are the ISO language and country codes defined in ISO-639 and ISO-3166 respectively. One of the places Java's formatting functions shine is in creating locale specific strings. If you don't need to format strings for different Locales, then you can delete these parameters and use the 2 argument version of the format method.

One thing that is interesting to note is that the format method of the java.lang.String class takes a variable length list of arguments. PeopleCode functions don't have this concept. In fact, Java objects called from PeopleCode don't have this concept either. As I was trying to figure out how to call this function from PeopleCode, I did a little research on Java's variable length parameter lists. It appears that this convention is a design time convention and that the compiler actually converts variable length lists into arrays. At runtime, these lists actually appear as arrays. Therefore, we can call a method that takes variable length parameters by passing that method an array. In this case, since the parameters are of type java.lang.Object, we can use the CopyToJavaArray PeopleCode function to copy an array of type Any into a Java Array of type java.lang.Object.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Parsing JSON with PeopleCode

A lot of web services return results in JSON format rather than XML. Is it possible to parse JSON in PeopleCode? Can you consume JSON web services uisng PeopleCode? Absolutely. My first attempt at parsing JSON in PeopleCode used eval and the Rhino JavaScript scripting engine as documented in my post Scripting PeopleSoft. Because the Bean Scripting Framework's BSFEngine.eval method returns a java.lang.Object, I was left in a state of painful Java Reflection (executing each call using Java Reflection). Looking over the website, I took note of the collection of Java JSON parsers. After choosing the org.json parser. I again found myself having to deal with the pain of Java Reflection (and, most definitely, I was left wishing PeopleCode had a JavaCast function). Rather than deal with the Java reflection required to create an instance of a JSONObject or JSONArray, I chose an easier route: write a helper class to construct JSON objects. Here is the source:

package yourcompany.json;

import org.json.JSONArray;
import org.json.JSONException;
import org.json.JSONObject;

public class ParseHelper {
private ParseHelper() {

public static JSONObject objectFromString(String json) throws JSONException {
return new JSONObject(json);

public static JSONArray arrayFromString(String json) throws JSONException {
return new JSONArray(json);

If my JSON looks like

"EMPLID": "E1234",
"NAME": "Marion,Jim",
"EMPLID": "E5678",
"NAME": "Doe,John"
"EMPLID": "E2468",
"NAME": "Doe,Jane"

Then I can enumerate the directs array using PeopleCode like:

Local string &json_data = "my JSON string...";

REM ** use static helper class to avoid ugly Java reflection;
Local JavaObject &json = GetJavaClass("yourcompany.json.ParseHelper").objectFromString(&json_data);
Local JavaObject &directsArr = &json.getJSONArray("DIRECTS");
Local number &length = &directsArr.length();
Local number &directsIdx = 0;

For &directsIdx = 0 To &length - 1
Local JavaObject &direct = &directsArr.getJSONObject(&directsIdx);
&logger.debug("DIRECTS [" | &directsIdx | "] " | &direct.get("NAME").toString());