ControlCenter for WebCenter Content: Controlled Document Management for any Device

Fishbowl Solutions recently held a webinar about our newest product, ControlCenter for Oracle WebCenter Content. Product manager Kim Negaard discussed ControlCenter’s unique features and advantages for controlled document management. If you missed the webinar, you can now view it on YouTube:

Below is a summary of questions Kim answered during the webinar. If you have any unanswered questions, or would just like to learn more, feel free to contact Fishbowl by emailing cmsales@fishbowlsolutions.com.

Is this a custom component that I can apply to current documents and workflow processes, or are there additional customization that needs to be done?

ControlCenter is installed as a custom component and will work with current documents. You can identify which document types and workflows you want to be able to access through ControlCenter and additional customizations are not necessary.

Does the metadata sync with the header information in both Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF documents?

The metadata synchronization works with PDF and Word documents.

Do you need to have a specific template in order to synchronize?

Not really. There’s two ways you can insert metadata into a document:

  1. You can use the header or footer area and replace anything existing in the current header with a standard header.
  2. You can use properties fields: for example, anytime the Microsoft Office properties field “document ID” occurs in a document, the dDoc name value could be inserted into that field.

In either of these cases, the formatting standards wouldn’t be rigid, but you would ideally want to know before rolling this out which approach you’d like to take.

What version of WebCenter do you need for this?

This is supported on WebCenter Content version 11.1.8 or above.

Is it completely built on component architecture as a custom component?

Yes.

Does ControlCenter require the Site Studio component to be enabled in order to work?

No, Site Studio doesn’t have to be enabled.

Does ControlCenter require Records Management to be installed on top of WCC?

No.

Does the custom component require additional metadata specific to ControlCenter?

Not exactly. We’ve made it pretty flexible; for example, with the scheduled reviews, we don’t force you to create a field called “review date”. We allow you to pick any date field you want to use for the scheduled reviews, so that if you already have something in place you could use it.

Where do you put ControlCenter if you don’t already have an existing server?

You do need to have an Oracle WebCenter Content server to run ControlCenter. If you don’t have a server, you’ll need to purchase a license for WebCenter Content. However, you don’t need any additional servers besides your WebCenter Content server.

Does the notification have to go to a specific author, or could you send it to a group or list in case that author is no longer with the organization?

The notification system is very flexible in terms of who you can send documents to. You can send it to a group, like an entire department or group of team leads, or it can be configured to send to just one person, like the document author or owner.

How does this work with profiles?

ControlCenter fully supports profiles. When you view content information for a document, it will display the metadata using the profile. If you check in a document using a check-in profile, then all of the metadata and values from that profile will be respected and enforced within ControlCenter. I should also mention that ControlCenter does support DCLs, so if you’re using DCLs those will be respected, both from a check in perspective but also in the metadata on the left. So as you are creating a browse navigation in ControlCenter, it will recognize your DCLs and allow you to filter with the proper relationships.

Does it integrate with or support OID (Oracle Internet Directory)/OAM (Oracle Access Manager)?

ControlCenter will use whatever authentication configuration you already have set up. So if you’re using OAM with WebCenter Content, then that’s what ControlCenter will use as well.

Does it support any custom metadata that has already been created?

Yes, if you have custom metadata fields that are already created, any of those can be exposed in ControlCenter.

Does it support any other customizations that have already been defined in the WebCenter Content instance?

It will depend on the nature of the customization. In general, if you have customized the WebCenter UI, those customizations would not show up in ControlCenter because ControlCenter has a separate UI; however, customizations on the back end, like workflow or security, would likely carry over into ControlCenter.

Does ControlCenter integrate with URM?

The ControlCenter interface isn’t specifically integrated with URM.

In case of a cluster environment, does ControlCenter need to be installed on both WebCenter Content servers?

Yes, if you have a clustered WebCenter Content environment, you would need to install ControlCenter on both/all nodes of the clustered environment.

Does it change anything within core WebCenter?

Not really. The only change to the core UI is an additional button in the Browse Content menu that will take you to the ControlCenter interface. But other than that, ControlCenter doesn’t change or prevent you from using the regular Content Server interface.

Can you customize the look and feel (icons, colors, etc.)?

Yes. We will work with you to customize the look and feel, widgets, etc. The architecture that we used when we created this supports customization.

Collaborate 2015: WebCenter Discussions and Networking in Sunny Las Vegas

In less than a week, Fishbowl’s WebCenter experts will be heading to sunny Las Vegas for Collaborate 2015! We have a wide range of activities planned, and are looking forward to meeting and learning from other WebCenter users. If you’d like to view a full list of what Fishbowl will be participating in at Collaborate, download our Focus on Fishbowl guide. IOUG also has detailed information about Collaborate on their website.

Collaborate Image 1  Collaborate Image 2

Exhibit Information | Booth #948

Stop by Fishbowl’s booth for demos and discussions of Google Search for WebCenter, next-generation portals and intranets, image-enabled accounts payable solutions, and our newest product, ControlCenter, which provides an intuitive user interface along with workflow and review automation for controlled document management. We’ll be holding a special giveaway related to ControlCenter; stop by the booth for more details and to also register for an iPad drawing!

Presentation Information | Room Banyan F

Fishbowl will be holding three presentations at Collaborate, all in room Banyan F at Mandalay Bay. Be sure to attend to hear firsthand how our WebCenter team is working with customers to solve business problems.

Tuesday, April 14, 3:15-4:15 PM: Engaging Employees Through an Enterprise Portal: HealthPartners Case Study
Presented by Neamul Haque of HealthPartners and Tim Gruidl and Jerry Aber of Fishbowl Solutions

  • Issues HealthPartners had with previous portal sites
  • Benefits of deploying a content-centric, portal-focused framework
  • Improvement in end-user experience HealthPartners has seen with the new portal

Wednesday, April 15, 2:45-3:45 PM: The Doctors Company Creates Mobile-Ready Website Using Responsive and Adaptive Design
Presented by Paul Manno of The Doctors Company and Jimmy Haugen of Fishbowl Solutions

  • Importance of The Doctors’ website for educating customers and prospects
  • How responsive and adaptive design transformed user experience
  • Technologies leveraged to create a mobile-optimized site

Thursday, April 16, 8:30-9:30 AM: Using Oracle WebCenter Content for Document Compliancy in Food and Manufacturing
Presented by Kim Negaard and George Sokol of Fishbowl Solutions

  • Techniques for using revision control and automatic conversion
  • How to provide additional security and auditability around document approvals
  • How to increase efficiency and control over changes in documents

If you’d like to schedule a meeting with anyone on the Fishbowl team during Collaborate, feel free to contact us at cmsales@fishbowlsolutions.com. See you in Las Vegas!

WebCenter Portal & SPA (Single Page Application) – Enhancing ADF UI Design and UX Functionality

First of all, you may be wondering: what is SPA and how can it improve Oracle WebCenter Portal?
It’s the future, trust me, especially when it comes to providing the best possible UX and flexible UI to your users and enhancing the power of ADF Taskflows with a radical UI overhaul. ADF is great for creating rich applications fast, but to be honest, it is limited in its capability to provide that rich flexible HTML5 UX  through the ADF UI components and to create that truly interactive design that we all seek in today’s modern web based apps and portals. If we are honest, the developer (or more importantly, the designers) are constrained with the out-of-the-box ADF components/taskflows and their lack of design flexibility, unless they want to create their own and extend the render kit capabilities (but extending the render kit will be for another post – today lets cover SPA with Portal).

SPA fits in perfectly – overhaul the ADF UI using today’s modern techniques and design agency with the skills to build responsive components using the latest frameworks and libraries, such as knockout, backbone, requirejs, socket.io with reactive templating using mustache, handlebars to compliment ADF and WebCenters services via its REST API.

But before taking the next step and thinking SPA is right for you, read these warnings!

  • The taskflow interface is developed using the latest framework and libraries – not all partners and web design agencies are forward thinking and may not be able to develop and achieve SPA components for WebCenter Portal.
  • The cost can be greater, as the interface is usually designed from the ground up and requires browser and device testing. But if it’s done well, it will outmatch anything that the ADF UI layer can provide your users.
  • Experience goes a long way, especially with matching your design agency with ADF-experienced developers to provide responsive web services and inline datasets.

So what is SPA?

A single-page application (SPA) is a web application or website that fits on a single web page with the goal of providing a more fluid user experience. In an SPA, either all necessary code – HTML, JavaScript and CSS – is retrieved with a single page load, or the appropriate resources are dynamically loaded and added to the page (similar to ADFs PPR) as and when necessary, reducing the page load and speeding up page load times.

With our use of SPA within portal, the SPA is made modular and wrapped within a taskflow container, providing the rich capability to have multiple components that can be easily dropped into a page while providing rich interaction between components that are context aware by simply adding them from the resource catalog from within the WebCenter Composer view.

Workspace manager

Here is an example Photoshop design that we can easily convert into a pixel perfect functioning SPA taskflows we have developed that enables logged in users to manage their own list of Application and Spaces. All server side interaction is handled via ADFm (model) layer, which enables the ADF life cycle to be aware of REST calls and prevent memory leaks or other possible session issues. While the UI layer is all custom with reactive dynamic templating that is far superior and faster than the current ADF, PPR calls, as all the interaction and updating of the template is handled client side. Another great thing is that this template can easily transform and support modern responsive design techniques and can be consumed by mobile devices, and could also be deployed to other app environments like Liferay, SharePoint, and WebCenter Content, as the UI layer does not rely on ADF calls and service requests can be proxied or CORS enabled if the calls are handled by AJAX and are not WebSocket requests.

Click here for hi-resolution

Here you can see another example of a SPA Taskflow in action displaying the JIVE Forums (above), compared against the out of the box ADF Forum Taskflow (below).

Conclusion

If you are looking to create applications fast that are functional, use the out of the box taskflows or develop your own ADF components entirely in ADF with your development team and customize the ADF skin to improve on the ADF look.

However, if you are looking to take the experience to the next level and want to invest more to create visually interactive modern and rich dynamic experiences to your users, bring in a good UX/UI team that can help transform your interface layer while enabling components to have the potential to be deployed across multiple platforms while maintaining the power of the ADF back end.

Side Note

I’m currently co-authoring a white paper on modular SPA for ADF taskflows providing examples and different development techniques that can be used to enrich the UI. I hope to get this out to you and on OTN in the next 6 months so keep a look out for it.

Fishbowl’s GSA Portal Search Suite introduces JSR-286 portlet integration that brings Google search to Oracle WebCenter and Liferay Portal

Integrated Google search has arrived for Oracle WebCenter and Liferay Portal. Last week, Fishbowl Solutions announced the GSA (Google Search Appliance) Portal Search Suite. This is Fishbowl’s fourth product for the Google Search Appliance, and introduces a productized integration that exposes Google search features like spelling suggestions, dynamic navigation, and document previews directly within the portal.

Previous integrations between the GSA and WebCenter or Liferay Portal had to be heavily customized to expose similar search features and functionality. In most cases, extensive customization was needed even when adding only one new search feature, such as autocomplete query suggestions, to portal search pages. Additionally, such customization had to be done by someone with specialized technical expertise including portal development, familiarity with the GSA response format, and XML transformation. Alternately some organizations have used the GSA’s built-in stylesheet typically directing users to search functions outside of the portal either as an iframe or a completely separate search page. This disconnect devalues the portal as being the single, universal location to access enterprise information, and detracts from the overall portal user experience.

Fishbowl’s GSA Portal Search Suite seamlessly integrates the GSA with WebCenter and Liferay portals. The integration is made possible by a collection of JSR-286 portlets that provide a search box and search results layout directly within the portal. These configurable portlets let customers choose which Google search features to expose, and lets them mix and match portlets for specific pages. The GSA Portal Search Suite also includes an authentication mechanism to provide single-sign-on between the portal and the GSA when performing secure searches. All these features help ensure that searches conducted from the portal return results with higher relevancy, and that search pages match the look and feel of the portal, leading to an enhanced user experience.

Customers with WebCenter or Liferay Portal that are looking to improve relevancy and provide search features that users have come to expect can do so with the GSA. And now with Fishbowl’s GSA Portal Search Suite, a seamless and flexible integration is available decreasing time to value and helping to maximize your WebCenter, Liferay and GSA investment.

Fishbowl will be demonstrating GSA Portal Search Suite, as well as our other GSA value-add products, at Oracle OpenWorld from September 29th through October 1st. You can see us in booth #2036 Moscone South. To read the brochure, click here.

GSA Portal Search Screen

 

Migrating Existing PeopleSoft Attachments into the Managed Attachments Solution

This post comes from Fishbowl’s Mark Heupel. Mark is an Oracle Webcenter consultant, and he has worked on a few different projects over the last year helping customers integrate WebCenter with Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft. One of WebCenter’s strengths is it provides these integrations out-of-the-box, including a document imaging integration to automate invoice processing with WebCenter’s capture, forms recognition and imaging capabilities, as well as workflows leveraging Oracle Business Process Management. Mark discusses WebCenter’s integration with PeopleSoft and its managed attachments solution below.

Application Integration

Oracle’s Managed Attachments solution enables business users in PeopleSoft to attach, scan, and retrieve document attachments stored in an Oracle WebCenter Content Server repository.

One of the issues that our clients face when moving to Oracle’s Managed Attachments solution is determining what to do with the attachments that already exist in PeopleSoft. We at Fishbowl have come up with a method to migrate these attachments into WebCenter Content in bulk while still maintaining the attachments’ context within PeopleSoft.

A high-level view of the solution is as follows. Queries are written on the PeopleSoft side to export each of the attachments, as well as a file containing each attachment’s metadata and PeopleSoft contextual information, to a network share. This is a task done by a PeopleSoft administrator. We then use our Enterprise Batchloader product to bulk load these files into WebCenter Content. We’ve written a customization that overrides the set of services that qualify for Managed Attachments to include our Enterprise Batchloader service. Since the context of the attachments is included in the metadata file, the Enterprise Batchloader check-ins work in the same way that a normal check-in from Managed Attachments would and the attachments retain their PeopleSoft context. Let’s get into the details of how this works.

Managed Attachments Overview

In order to understand the migration strategy, we first need to understand how Managed Attachments works under the covers. The important piece to know for this migration is that the table that stores the Managed Attachment object information on the WebCenter side is the AFObjects table. This table stores the PeopleSoft context information as well as the dDocName of each of the attachments currently being stored in WebCenter. Here is an example of what the AFObjects table looks like:

AFObjects Table

Each row in this table represents one PeopleSoft attachment being managed in WebCenter Content. The dAFApplication, dAFBusinessObjectType, and dAFBusinessObject fields make up the context for where the attachment is located in PeopleSoft. The dAFApplication field represents the application, the dAFObjectType field represents the page, and the dAFBusinessObject field is a pipe delimited list of the primary key values from the page where the attachment is located in PeopleSoft. The dDocName field is simply the dDocName of the content item in WebCenter.

When a user clicks the Managed Attachments link on the PeopleSoft screen a request is made over to WebCenter that contains the contextual page information from PeopleSoft (dAFApplication, dAFBusinessObjectType, and dAFBusinessObject). Using this contextual information, a query is then made against the AFObjects table to find the content IDs of the attachments that should be returned back to the user. A similar request is made when a user checks in a document through the Managed Attachments screen in PeopleSoft. The PeopleSoft context information is sent to WebCenter, the document is checked in, and then a row is inserted into the AFObjects table that contains the PeopleSoft contextual information as well as the dDocName of the newly checked-in document.

Loading Content into WebCenter

In order to be able to successfully load a large number of content items into WebCenter, while still maintaining the correct PeopleSoft context, we had to write a customization to hook into the existing Managed Attachments check-in functionality. The AppAdapterCore component, one of the two components installed on WebCenter for Managed Attachments, contains the core Managed Attachments code. This component contains a list of services such as CHECKIN_NEW that, when called with the PeopleSoft contextual information in the binder (dAFApplication, dAFObjectType, and dAFObject), executes the query that inserts a row into the AFObjects table. The customization that we wrote overrides the list of services specified in the AppAdapterCore component to include our Enterprise Batchloader check-in services. By doing so, we’re able to hook into the same insert query that Managed Attachments already uses, assuming we have placed the correct PeopleSoft context information in the binder.

Here is an example of what a standard Enterprise Batchloader blf (batch load file) would look like:

Batch Load File
As you can see, the file simply contains the action to take (insert), the location of the primary file, and the required metadata fields for WebCenter. In order to assign the correct PeopleSoft context we simply need to specify the dAFApplication, dAFObjectType, and dAFObject fields in the blf file:

Batch Load File 2

This effectively places each of those fields into the binder in WebCenter. When Enterprise Batchloader is run and performs its check-ins into WebCenter, the Managed Attachments functionality gets called and a row is inserted into the AFObjects table for each attachment that specifies the PeopleSoft context information. As long as the correct PeopleSoft contextual information is placed into the Enterprise Batchloader blf file, we’re able to bulk load as many attachments as needed into WebCenter while still retaining the correct PeopleSoft context information for use with the Managed Attachments solution.

I hope this provides you with an example of how your existing PeopleSoft Managed Attachments content could be migrated to WebCenter. After all, getting this content into WebCenter has many additional benefits, such as version control, renditions, retention management and the ability to surface this content to WebCenter-based mobile apps and portals. If you have questions or would like to engage with Fishbowl on such projects, please email info@fishbowlsolutions.com.