PeopleSoft Development Tools | PeopleSoft Tutorial

PeopleSoft Development Tools

As a PeopleSoft developer, you will havce a variety of tools available to develop and customize a PeopleSoft application. The tools you end up using will depend on the application installed at the place you’re working. Let’s have a look at the PeopleSoft development tools to gain some familiarity.

PeopleSoft Development Tools

Application Designer

Application Designer is the main development area in PeopleSoft. Within Application Designer you can create projects, fields, records, translate values, pages, components, menus, PeopleCode, and HTML. When you create a PeopleSoft objects or PeopleSoft definitions using the PeopleSoft App Designer – it is not complete till it gets created in the database.


PeopleCode is a proprietary language used to do object-oriented coding in PeopleTools. PeopleCode is the programming language delivered by PeopleSoft for the customization of the PeopleSoft application. PeopleCode is written using the Application Designer. The code can exist on a record, a button, an action, or, possibly, an Application Engine batch program.


SQR or Structured Query Report Writer is a PeopleSoft-delivered reporting tool. SQR used to be pretty popular early on, however, it has been losing popularity to XML reports. SQR has a robust report-writing environment with complex procedural logic built in. You can combine database retrieval and row processing. You can even embed PL/SQL in your reports and do complex database manipulation.

Application Engine

Application Engine is a batch processing tool provided via Application Designer in PeopleTools. It allows for calls to SQL, PeopleCode, or another Application Engine Section. It allows for you to do file extraction, manipulate databases, e-mail results to your staff, and embed PL/SQL within PeopleCode.

Application Engine focuses on set-based SQL logic and goes to a much deeper level of the underlying application definitions. Application Engine has been pretty popular and is a part of Oracle Fusion as well? The reason for it being part of Oracle Fusion is that Oracle really doesn’t have a good tool for batch development and also the fact that Application Engine pushes much of the processing to the database, which plays well to Oracle’s strengths.

Most of the PeopleSoft shops use SQR primarily for reporting purposes. SQL has the advantage of being a little bit more independent of the applications. You don’t need Application Designer for coding a SQR and a SQR can run in any database, not just a PeopleSoft database. Since SQR is application independent, so the drawbacks include its inability to work with Trees, effective dating, setids, row-level security, related language records, etc. – All these have to be coded by hand when you’re writing SQR code.

Application Engine on the other hand comes with the knowledge of the PeopleSoft application, however, its drawback is that its a very PeopleSoft-specific tool. App Engine lacks any kind of built-in output capability.


Meta-SQL expands to platform-specific SQL substrings and then causes another function to be called, or substitutes a value. Meta-SQL constructs are used in functions that pass SQL strings, such as the following:

  • SQL Exec
  • Scroll buffer functions
  • PeopleSoft Application Designer dynamic and SQL views
  • Sone Rowset class methods like Select, SelectNew, Fill, and so on.
  • The SQL class
  • PeopleSoft Application Engine programs
  • Some Record class methods (Insert, Update and so on)
  • Cobol functions

Not all Meta-SQL can be used by all programs. Some Meta-SQL can be used only in Application Engine programs. Other Meta-SQL can only be used as part of an SQL statement in an SQL or dynamic view. If a Meta-SQL construct, function, or meta-variable is supported in PeopleCode, it is supported in all types of PeopleCode programs, that is, in Application Engine PeopleCode programs (actions), component interface PeopleCode programs, and so on.

Even if a Meta-SQL element is used in PeopleCode, you cannot use Meta-SQL like a built-in function. You can, however, use Meta-SQL in the SQLExec function, the Select method, the Fill method, and so on. Note that Meta-SQL is not available in SQR.


PeopleSoft started with two main batch tools: COBOL and SQR. COBOLs are still around, especially in HCM.

Apurva Tripathi