I want to create a view of certain custom fields and objects, with the data for the view computed in a controller with input from SOQL statements from custom objects. The view would consist of several dynamic elements and fields, in a view that does not match just one object.

Now I have tried the basics of Visualforce and APEX controllers, but do not understand which way to make a dynamic list in Visualforce. Eg the number of entries in the list is dynamic. I have read some examples, for instance in the Visualforce workbook, where I could just use a standard control to view of one of my custom objects.

Maybe I could create a specific custom object for displaying the information, but what I would prefer, is if I have full control in the controller code to compute the values and then display them.

One way to do this looks like the example

    <apex:pageBlockTable value="{! account.contacts}" var="item">
         <apex:column value="{!item.FirstName}"/>

But replaced with a list of custom objects instead of account and contacts. I do not have the ID of the object in the visualforce call, instead this will be based on a inputField from the user, with a set method.

The only real example I have found is How can I create tables Dynamically in a VisualForce using dynamic components in a list and then push them to the page?

Are there any other alternatives?

2 Answers 2


This Visualforce table can display a table of arbitrary fields from arbitrary SObjects by making use of map syntax:

<apex:page controller="MyController">
        <apex:pageBlockTable value="{!items}" var="item">
            <apex:repeat value="{!keys}" var="key">
                <apex:column value="{!item[key.sob][key.field]}"/>

The corresponding controller - I've just used some random queries for this example - looks like this:

public with sharing class MyController {
    public class Key {
        public String sob {get; set;}
        public String field {get; set;}
        Key(String sob, String field) {
            this.sob = sob;
            this.field = field;
    public List<Map<String, SObject>> items {
        get {
            List<Map<String, SObject>> l = new List<Map<String, SObject>>();
            Account[] accounts = [select Name from Account limit 5];
            Contact[] contacts = [select FirstName, Birthdate from Contact limit 5];
            for (Integer i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
                Map<String, SObject> m = new Map<String, SObject>();
                m.put('Account', accounts[i]);
                m.put('Contact', contacts[i]);
            return l;
    public Key[] keys {
        get {
            return new Key[] {
                    new Key('Contact', 'Birthdate'),
                    new Key('Account', 'Name'),
                    new Key('Contact', 'FirstName')

It is the keys array returned that determines the table columns displayed with one attribute choosing the SObject and the other attribute choosing the field in that SObject. By referencing the field directly the column heading and presentation formatting are automatically driven by the field's metadata.

Note that this is not a typical solution. In Salesforce, tables usually only contain fields from one object.


For the scenario you described, that is the only way you can accomplish what you need. You need to build a basic controller that can do the custom query you desire. In your sample with apex:pageBlockTable, you can use it with any custom object, custom class, standard class, or standard object.

The following link will teach you how to create a basic custom controller. Once you learn that you can add any additional features you need in order to fill your requirements. One thing you might also want to look at after you learn this, is wrapper classes. You can use a List of Wrapper classes to iterate over in an apex:pageBlockTable also.


If you have a more specific question, feel free to ask or create another question. As it is, this question feels pretty broad (you are likely going to get your question closed) but I'd still like to help point you in the right direction since you seem new to this.

  • Yes I agree, it's quite broad, thank you for the examples and pointers for further information, I will try those out tonight. Jun 23, 2014 at 16:58

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