A Few of My Favorite Things for Ultimate Productivity with Oracle WebCenter

As an Oracle WebCenter consultant at Fishbowl Solutions, I have a number of tools that I use that keep me happy and productive. Whether or not you are a software developer, these tools can do the same for you and your business.

 

Slack

slack

Unless you’ve been hibernating for the last year or so, you’ve probably heard of Slack. Haven’t adopted it for your business yet? Here’s why you should.

Slack facilitates contextual, transparent and efficient communication for teams. Slack helps organize your communications into “channels.” Working on a project with Fishbowl Solutions on a WebCenter project? Create a Slack channel and centralize your communications. Quickly share files with the entire team, and “Slackers” can give instant feedback. On the go? Slack goes with you via mobile, of course. Slack provides direct messaging and private channels, too.

Even better, Slack lets you integrate dozens of apps, so that you can centralize all of the services you and your team use. Send calendar reminders and events, search for documents, even start a Skype call. Slack is team communication for the 21st century (with custom emojis!).

 

Twitter and Evernote

Evernote

Twitter and Evernote are my number one/two combo punch for staying on top of all things development. Twitter allows me to keep up to date with the latest news and trends in the web development world. I can peruse dozens of articles every day with information I want to store for later use. I save links to the best articles in my Evernote account, which I have organized into different notebooks for various topics. For example, I’m working on a presentation for Collaborate 16 on Oracle JET, Oracle’s new front-end JavaScript framework. Anything interesting I see on Twitter re: Oracle JET goes right into my Evernote notebook. It makes keeping track of news and information a breeze.

 

Trello

trello

Trello is the application for list-making over-achievers (like me). I organize my to-dos into different “boards”, depending on the project. I have a different board for each project I’m working on at Fishbowl. As I think of something I need to do, I can quickly add it to the appropriate to-do column. When I’m busy with a task, I put it in the “doing” column, and then slide it on over to “done” when finished. I can keep up with my task flow, it’s motivating, visually appealing, and goes with me where I go. Trello also allows me to share tables with others for easy collaboration. Oh, and did I mention I can integrate Trello with Slack (insert custom Slack emoji here)?

Toggl

toggl

Toggl is a fantastic little desktop timer tool my colleague Nate Yates introduced to me. We consultants at Fishbowl Solutions need to keep very accurate timing of the hours we spend on different projects. Toggl allows me to input my different projects, and then just click the appropriate button when I start working on it. It keeps track of my time for the week on each project. It makes keeping track of my time simple, so that I can focus most of my time on creating responsive single-page applications for Fishbowl Solutions customers.

 

 

Did your organization recently purchase Oracle WebCenter Content? Are you the new admin? Consider these 4 tools to successfully manage and administer the system

AdminSuiteCongratulations! Your organization has made an investment in a leading enterprise content management and portal system, and even better, you get to manage and administer the system. Lucky you, right? As long as users can access the system, find what they need, and receive important, system generated notifications that are relevant to them they will generally be happy and leave you alone, right?

Unfortunately, a complete state of end-user bliss doesn’t exist – if it did, there might not be a need for system administrators. The reason for this is there will be many different personas that will access and use the system, and each will have their own set of likes, dislikes and complaints. For example, some users won’t like the interface (most popular complaint). Others will complain about the (perceived) lack of features and functionality. Regardless, as the system administrator you will not be able to satisfy all user requests, but with Fishbowl’s Administration Suite  you will be able to ensure WebCenter users get the most out of inherent features and system functionality.

Administration (Admin) Suite brings together Fishbowl’s most popular components for WebCenter automation. The reason for their popularity is they truly help administrators be more efficient when performing the most common and repetitive tasks within Oracle WebCenter Content, as well as they provide additional functionality that provides organizations with more business value. These include rule-based security mappings to provide users with the right level of access (read, read/write, read/write/delete, etc.), enabling custom email notifications to be sent for content subscriptions, scheduling and off-loading the process of bulk loading content in WebCenter, and the addition of several workflow features to aid in workflow creation, review and auditing. Let’s take a closer look of each of these components.

Advanced User Security Mapping (AUSM)

  • Overview:
    • AUSM provides rule-based configuration to integrate external user sources (LDAP or Active Directory) with Oracle WebCenter. Rules can be created to assign aliases to users based on their directory information, and this information can be directly imported into WebCenter. AUSM also provides reporting capabilities to quickly audit user access and troubleshoot permission issues.
  • Business Problems it solves:
    • Decreases the time it takes for administrators to integrate an enterprise security model with Oracle WebCenter. No more having to create multiple (sometimes hundreds…) of mappings between LDAP groups and roles in WebCenter
    • Enables administrators to quickly troubleshoot user access issues
    • Accelerates new user access to content in the system by not having to wait until users log in

Subscription Notifier

  • Overview:
    • Subscription Notifier provides an intuitive interface for administrators to create subscriptions for tracking and managing business content. This is done through queries that can be scheduled to run at various intervals. For example, you can create queries to notify a contract manager at 90, 60 and 30 days before a vendor contract expires. You can also create queries that notify content owners that content is X days old and should be reviewed.
  • Business problem it solves:
    • Ensures internal and external stakeholders have visibility, and have enough time to respond, to when high-value content is set to expire (contracts, etc.)
    • Helps avoid duplication of effort by alerting teams when new content is available – sales teams get notified when new marketing content is checked in, for example
    • Provides owners of web content with triggers to update, create new or delete – this can help keep content on the site fresh and new which is important for SEO

Enterprise Batch Loader

  • Overview:
    • Enterprise Batch Loader provides a robust, standalone component for WebCenter administrators to quickly and efficiently load content into the system. This content can come from ERP, CRM, CAD and other business systems as Enterprise Batch Loader can be configured to “watch” folders where such data is output and then create a batch load file for loading into WebCenter. Metadata from these systems can also be mapped to fields existing in WebCenter.
  • Business problems it solves:
    • Helps organizations reduce content repositories and file shares by automating the process of checking content into Oracle WebCenter
    • Ensures high-value data from ERP, CRM, CAD and other business systems gets loaded into WebCenter, providing a single location for users to access and find information

Workflow Solution Set

  • Overview:
    • Packed with 9 powerful features, Workflow Solution Set complements the out-of-the-box Oracle WebCenter workflows through detailed auditing, the ability to search for content in workflow, and the ability to customize email notifications and the workflow review pane. Workflow Solution Set makes it easier for users to interact with and fully leverage WebCenter Content workflows.
  • Business problem it solves:
    • Helps remove confusion from the workflow process by enabling explicit instructions to be included in the workflow review pane or email notifications
    • Ensures the history of a workflow is fully retained – including rejection comments
    • Provides visibility into content that is in a workflow, which natively in WebCenter items in a workflow are not included as part of search results
    • Improves performance of review process by separating out workflow items into pages instead of one long list

I will be covering more of the capabilities of these components that make up Fishbowl’s Administration Suite during a one-hour webinar on Thursday, June 11th. Come hear more about why, together, the components of Fishbowl’s Admin Suite provide the perfect tools for WebCenter admins.

You can register for the event here. I hope you will be able to join us.

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.

 

Collaborate 14 Preview: Oracle WebCenter 11g Upgrades – What You Need to Know

Title: #996 – A Successful Oracle WebCenter Upgrade: What You Need to Know

Date: Monday, April 7th
Time: 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Location: Level 3, San Polo 3405

Upgrading to the next major release of software can sometimes be a complex and arduous task for organizations. In determining the how and when to perform the upgrade, organizations typically go through an evaluation process that includes new feature/function analysis, new technology and architecture analysis, and the overall time they expect the upgrade to take. This is especially the case for software upgrades that add a new layer of complexity and technology architecture that organizations have to plan and adapt for. Such is the case with Oracle WebCenter, as it added WebLogic Server as the application server from 10g to 11g. This addition, although beneficial in many areas, came with a set of new technologies and complexities that organizations with little to no exposure to had to first understand, perhaps get trained on, procure the necessary hardware to run, and in many cases deploy a separate team to manage. In considering all of these steps to perform the upgrade, organizations have undoubtedly gone through the process of “trade-off” analysis, where they weigh the pros and cons of performing the upgrade immediately versus putting it off until, for example, support for their current version runs out. This “trade-off” analysis describes many WebCenter customers as a great number have still not upgraded to 11g.

If this sounds like your organization, then make plans now to attend this session to receive overviews, examples, and actionable tasks that can be used when planning and performing your WebCenter upgrade.

Fishbowl Solutions is happy to be joined by WebCenter customers Ryan Companies, Cascade, Aleris International and AAM as they share their stories on upgrading to Oracle WebCenter 11g. Join us and hear directly from these customers to learn the tips, tricks and best practices for a successful WebCenter upgrade. Here is the tentative schedule for the presentation:

More information on this presentation, as well as all of Fishbowl’s activities at Collaborate, can be found here.

We hope to see you at Collaborate 14!

Oracle WebCenter Content Automation Webinar Series – Recap

I recently concluded a series of webinars that detailed some of the Fishbowl components available to streamline and automate administrative tasks in Oracle WebCenter Content, as well as provide additional value and extend upon some its inherent features. This included topics on content notifications, loading content into the system, administering and leveraging content-based workflows, and providing users access to secure content.

I have provided links to the webinar recordings, as well as a video recap to the entire webinar series below.

Subscription Notifier: Rule-based content notifications

 

 

 

Enterprise Batch Loader: Streamline the loading of content into Oracle WebCenter, including content from third-party systems

 

 

 

Workflow Solution Set: Bring all workflow information into view, including workflow history, approval comments, workflow status, and more

 

 

 

Advanced User Security Mapping: Interpret additional directory information including user attributes, organizational units, and group membership to define access to content

 

 

 

Administration Suite: All the components mentioned above come together to form Fishbowl’s Admin Suite – the most comprehensive suite of Oracle WebCenter Content Administration tools to streamline common, administrative tasks

 

If you would like any additional information on any of these topics, or further details on how Fishbowl’s components can help, please email info@fishbowlsolutions.com.

Jason Lamon is a product strategist and technology evangelist who writes about a range of topics regarding content management and enterprise portals. He writes to keep the communication going about such topics, uncover new opinions, and to get responses from people who are smarter than him. If you are one of those people, feel free to respond to his tweets and posts.