Overview of Key and Descriptive Flex fields

Here is a brief description of key and descriptive flexfields. It is not detailed but gives a good overview.

Key Flexfield: 

Most businesses use codes made up of meaningful segments
(intelligent keys) to identify accounts, part numbers, and other business

For example, a company might have a part number
â€?PAD–NR–YEL–8 1/2×14â€? indicating a notepad, narrow–ruled, yellow,
and 14� by 8 1/2�. A key flexfield lets you provide your users with a
flexible �code� data structure that users can set up however they like
using key flexfield segments. Key flexfields let your users customize
your application to show their �codes� any way they want them.

For example, a different company might have a different code for the same
notepad, such as â€?8×14–PD–Y–NRâ€?, and they can easily customize
your application to meet that different need. Key flexfields let you
satisfy different customers without having to reprogram your
In another example, Oracle General Ledger uses a key flexfield called
the Accounting Flexfield to uniquely identify a general ledger account.
For e.g. some companies who have installed Oracle General Ledger have customized this Accounting Flexfield to include six segments: company code, cost center, account, product, product line, and sub–account.  However, other companies might structure their general ledger account fields differently. By including the Accounting Flexfield
key flexfield, Oracle General Ledger can accommodate the needs of
different companies. One company can customize the Accounting
Flexfield to include six segments, while another company includes
twelve segments, all without programming.

A key flexfield represents an intelligent key that uniquely identifies an
application entity. Each key flexfield segment has a name you assign,
and a set of valid values you specify. Each value has a meaning you
also specify. Oracle General Ledger’s Accounting Flexfield is an
example of a key flexfield used to uniquely identify a general ledger
You can use key flexfields in many applications. For example, you
could use a Part Flexfield in an inventory application to uniquely
identify parts. Your Part Flexfield could contain such segments as
product class, product code, size, color and packaging code. You could
define valid values for the color segment, for example, to range from 01
to 10, where 01 means red, 02 means blue, and so on. You could even
specify cross–validation rules to describe valid combinations of
segment values. For example, products with a specific product code
may only be available in certain colors.


Descriptive Flexfields
Descriptive flexfields let you satisfy different groups of users without
having to reprogram your application, by letting you provide
customizable �expansion space� on your forms.

For example, suppose you have a retail application that keeps track of customers. Your
Customers form would normally include fields such as Name,
Address, State, Customer Number, and so on. However, your form
might not include extra fields to keep track of customer clothing size
and color preferences, or regular salesperson, since these are attributes
of the customer entity that depend on how your users use your

For example, if your retail application is used for a tool
company, a field for clothing size would be undesirable. Even if you
initially provide all the fields your users need, your users might later
identify even more customer attributes that they want to keep track of.
You add a descriptive flexfield to your form so that your users have the
desired expansion space. Your users can also take advantage of the fact
that descriptive flexfields can be context sensitive, where the
information your application stores depends on other values your users
enter in other parts of the form.

A descriptive flexfield describes an application entity, providing form
and database expansion space that you can customize. Each
descriptive segment has a name you assign. You can specify valid
segment values or set up criteria to validate the entry of any value.

Oracle General Ledger includes a descriptive flexfield in its journal
entry form to allow end users to add information of their own
choosing. For example, end users might want to capture additional
information about each journal entry, such as source document number
or the name of the person who prepared the entry.
You could use a descriptive flexfield in a fixed assets application you
build to allow further description of a fixed asset. You could let the
structure of your assets flexfield depend on the value of an asset type
field. For example, if asset type were �desk�, your descriptive flexfield
could prompt for style, size and wood type. If asset type were
�computer�, your descriptive flexfield could prompt for CPU chip and
memory size.

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