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.

Oracle WebCenter Tools for Loading Content and Workflow Automation

Fishbowl Solutions continued its summer webinar series this week. I had the opportunity to present during this webinar, and I covered two popular content management topics – integrating enterprise content with WebCenter and leveraging workflows for process automation. Realizing that these are both very broad topics, I wanted to focus specifically on ways to automate those processes while introducing more features that may help organizations to further leverage their investments and find more value. The following is a recap of what I shared during the webinar.

Integrating Enterprise Content with WebCenter

Organizations continue to be faced with the problem of ensuring that their high-value content can be easily found and therefore used. With the amount of different and disconnected data sources within an organization – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Computer Aided Design (CAD), etc. – it is difficult to integrate these systems and link the data and content between them.

Furthermore, because there are so many systems, users spend a lot of time just looking for information. They aren’t always sure which system they should be accessing to find the data they need, and the inability to find the data or content can delay decision-making capabilities. Effectively then, organizations are all left with silos of information that doesn’t get adequately shared and utilized.

Content management systems, like Oracle WebCenter Content, provide a centralized repository to store an organization’s content and make it easy for users to find, access and share information. However, content management systems are most valuable when the information they contain is comprehensive, meaning any and all documents and other content that an organization has identified as high value can be found in the system by those people who need it and have access to it. The problem is getting content and data into the system easily and efficiently. If it can’t be done easily and efficiently, say for example an excessive amount of coding or manual steps are required, then employees may need to access many different systems for information they need to do their jobs. Thus the problems of content silos and inefficiencies continue to proliferate across an organization.

The key then is getting content into one, centralized system, and Oracle WebCenter Content provides many options to do that, including:

  • Standard Check In – check in content one item at a time
  • WebDav – Windows Explorer-like contribution of content
  • Batch Loader – Manually invoked loading tool included with the Content Server

Depending on your use case, one or more of the above options will suffice to load content into Oracle WebCenter. However, if organizations are looking to increase the efficiencies of their content loads, integrate data from other business systems, or check content into a workflow, then Fishbowl’s Enterprise Batch Loader may be a better fit and provide more value. Fishbowl’s Enterprise Batch Loader includes these features:

  • Configurable Pre-Processor – reads the contents XML, TXT or other file types output by ERP, CRM and CAD systems and converts them to the file format necessary to perform a check in to WebCenter
  • Workflow Injection – ability to ensure that batch-load files enter workflow
  • Run as a Service – run the system on an external server for optimal process and standalone capabilities
  • Watch Folders – ability to delegate watch folders where the system will just continue to watch the folders and perform check ins
  • Metadata Mapping –  Enterprise Batch Loader does not have a GUI for this feature, but admins and super users can map system metadata to WebCenter metadata

Enterprise Batch loader includes many other features as well, and I detailed them in the webinar. I also discussed some ways in which current customers are using the product, so please give the recording a listen when you have some time.

Leveraging Workflows for Process Automation

So, you are getting more and more content checked in to WebCenter. Users seem happier because they are finding the content they need without having to access multiple systems. What’ next? Well, for many organizations its workflow. Oracle WebCenter Content features content-based workflows, which are typically only 1, 2 or 3 steps and are for such things as approving web content or publishing a press release. However, they can also be built for such things as capital expenditure requests, using the combination of simple forms and workflows to enter, deliver, review, approve or reject such requests. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, many times organizations do not utilize workflow because it is thought to be too complex and therefore they don’t know where to begin. Additionally, companies looking for a complete, comprehensive audit trail for content workflow can’t find one. Such things as saving accept or reject comments can’ be included in the audit.

For those organizations that are using workflows, a lot of them still find it hard to have a real-time view into which step the workflow is currently in, so they turn to email to ask questions about their request or content they may be looking to publish or revise.

All of this leads to the inability to fully leverage a very strong capability of WebCenter Content, which is its content-based workflows. These workflows are included as a feature, so not being able to fully leverage them probably means that organizations aren’t able to fully realize their investment in WebCenter.

Fishbowl’s Workflow Solution Set can help organizations get started with and further leverage the workflow capabilities of Oracle WebCenter Content. Workflow Solution Set fills some of WebCenter’s workflow functionality gaps. It provides a simple user interface for configuring its nine combined components. With Workflow Solution Set, customers have found that they have been able to streamline their workflow implementations while improving the overall user experience. Here are some its features that have enabled them to do that:

  • Workflow History – delivers a detailed and permanent history of the workflows, including rejection comments which are otherwise lost
  • Workflow Search – provides insight into all content in workflow, along with the number of days it has been at each step
  • Workflow in Queue – provides a view and quick access to content in the workflow queue, through a customizable interface
  • Approve with Comments – allows workflow users to enter comments on an item upon approval – not just rejection

Those were the four I wanted to share here, and details regarding its other features can also be found in the webinar recording.  So, if you haven’t started with WebCenter workflows yet, or if you already have and are looking to do more, Workflow Solution Set can help you realize the full power of WebCenter Content Workflows.

Summary

I started off this blog post by discussing some of the problems that organizations have with integrating all the content within their enterprises into one system and automating how they do that. Fishbowl’s Enterprise Batch Loader provides robust batch loading capabilities that include pulling data from other sources and moving them to WebCenter for access. This process can be configured to continue to run automatically, helping to drive process efficiencies while expediting content access.

Once content has been checked in to Oracle WebCenter, Fishbowl’s Workflow Solution Set can help streamline the management of workflows and take a comprehensive approach to do so. It provides intuitive interfaces for configuration that can help organizations easily get started, and multiple value-add features that help to fully leverage WebCenter’s inherent workflow capabilities.

I would again encourage you to view the webinar recording for more information, or visit the respective Enterprise Batch Loader and Workflow Solution Set pages on Fishbowl’s website.

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.

Use Cases for Content Subscriptions in Oracle WebCenter

Subscribing content to users, as documented here, has been a feature of the Oracle Content Server for many years. Companies use this feature to send out “notification” emails to other users when specific content items have been revised. These subscriptions are either open, which means they can manually be subscribed to, or enforced, which means an administrator assigns specific users to subscriptions. Overall, this feature is important to ensure that when content items change, the proper people are notified and can take action.

The use cases for subscriptions are typically driven by business groups that have a need to ensure high-value content is visible, up-to-date, and if and when it requires an update or review, it is done so proactively with enough forewarning. A common use case for subscriptions is notifying content owners of public facing content when it is about to become out of date. This could be content that the organization has determined should no longer be on the website, given its original creation date, or if it is to remain needs to be updated. In this case, a subscription to, for example, a white paper that references old product names or features, could be sent to the original author or even a team member letting them know that the white paper is about to reach the date it was originally published – 1 year, 2 years, etc. Getting that notification or alert would then prompt the author or team member to update the content with new product names, etc., or decide to expire (retire) the white paper. With such notifications, companies are able to ensure that the content on their website doesn’t become stagnant, which could not only negatively impact SEO but also customer and prospect perception.

There are numerous other use cases for content subscriptions in Oracle WebCenter Content, and I hope you will be able to join me on Tuesday, August 20th for this webinar Accelerate Content Access and Updates with Subscription Notifier for Oracle WebCenter as I share other examples. During this 30-minute webinar, I will also share how Fishbowl’s Subscription Notifier component for Oracle WebCenter Content expands on the features of the Oracle Content Server’s native subscriptions capabilities to bring even more value to organizations using this functionality. I hope you will be able to join us.