Oh, Those Blinking Screens!

Putting Lessons Learned at the Conference to Good Work

Once fiscal year end, calendar year end, W2s, open enrollment and electronic W2 emails were completed for another year, (along with any clean up that followed) I was able to get back to work on the Electronic Request For Personnel Actions (eRPA) project.

I could not wait to apply my new found knowledge that I learned at the 2014 PDS UGA Conference in Tucson. I had attended the session Technical Development Part II presented by Bill Davies and Gordon Kitzmiller and was very interested to learn that there was a way to make those blinking screens* caused by doing a “postback” disappear by using an update panel. The update panel enables sections of a page to be partially rendered without using a postback.

So I reviewed Bill’s session over and over again picking up any information that would help me obtain my goal. Although I understood what needed to be done I had a few questions on how it should be done. So I sent off some emails to Bill who responded with excellent examples and explained what I needed to do. And finally I could check off another goal on my list – I was able to get rid of the blinking screens! On the eRPA, when a department code is selected only those distribution ids that are associated with the selected department code should be displayed. This used to incorporate the postback option but I modified the code to use the update panel logic.

To better explain this property click here for an example; for those of you who like me are a visual person. You’ll need your PDS Support login and password to download the file.

On the same screen, when a manager selects a paygrade the eRPA populates the corresponding min/max paygrades along with those positions that have the paygrade selected. Well guess what – the screen “blinked” during this process because a postback was being used ~ not once, but twice! So determined to get rid of the postback I went back to Bill’s session because I knew that I needed to use an update panel but this time add a conditional step to it. Once again I emailed Bill with the code that I created that was not yet working 100 percent. Bill was able to help me out and explain to me what I needed to do and now it is working exactly like I wanted it to.

According to Bill “a very important aspect of the ‘conditional’ step is that this property runs the associated conditional javascript on an update panel AFTER it is refreshed IF the condition is met”. This was my problem; I had the property set on the wrong update panel. Once I modified the code the logic worked perfectly. Click here for an example of how the conditional update panel works. (You’ll need your PDS Support login and password to download the file.)

My thanks to Bill for his help in both explaining how the update panel works and for his terrific examples.
Are you ready now to tackle those blinking screens?


* Blinking screen refers to what is often called “page flash”. When you do an update on a page, historically the page would submit data to the server and then completely refresh itself, and all the items on the page would do an unattractive “blink”. With our new PDS controls, we can now do an update on only a small part of the web page, and the rest stays intact and does not blink.

Barbara Cobb
Lee County Clerk Of Circuit Court
Applications Analyst 3