The Benefits of Integrating a Google Search Appliance with an Oracle WebCenter or Liferay Portal

This month, the Fishbowl team presented two webinars on integrating a Google Search Appliance with a WebCenter or Liferay Portal. Our new product, the GSA Portal Search Suite, makes integration simple and also allows for customization to create a seamless, secure search experience. It brings a powerful, Google-like search experience directly to your portal.

The first webinar, “The Benefits of Google Search for your Oracle WebCenter or Liferay Portal”, focused on the Google Search Appliance and the positive experiences users have had with incorporating Google search in the enterprise.

 

The second webinar, “Integrating the Google Search Appliance with a WebCenter or Liferay Portal”, dove deeper into how the GSA Portal Search Suite and how it improves the integration process.

 

The following is a list of questions and answers from the webinar series. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to the Fishbowl team!

Q. What version of SharePoint does this product work with?

A. This product is not designed to work with SharePoint. Google has a SharePoint connector that indexes content from SharePoint and pulls it into the GSA, and then the GSA Portal Search Suite would allow any of that content to be served up in your portal.

Fishbowl also has a product called SharePoint Connector that connects SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter Content.

Q. Is Fishbowl a reseller of the GSA? Where can I get a GSA?

A. Yes, we sell the GSA, as well as add-on products and consulting services for the GSA. Visit our website for more information about our GSA services.

Q. What is the difficulty level of customizing the XSLT front end? How long would it take to roll out?

A. This will depend on what you’re trying to customize. If it’s just colors, headers, etc., you could do it pretty quickly because the difficulty level is fairly low. If you’re looking at doing a full-scale customization and entirely changing the look and feel, that could take a lot longer – I would say upwards of a month. The real challenge is that there isn’t a lot of documentation from Google on how to do it, so you would have to do a lot of experimentation.

One of the reasons we created this product is because most customers haven’t been able to fully customize their GSA with a portal, partly because Google didn’t design it to be customizable in this way.

Q. What versions of Liferay does this product support?

A. It supports version 6.2. If you have another version you’d like to integrate with, you can follow up with our team and we can discuss the possibility of working with other versions.

Q. Do you have a connector for IBM WCM?

A. Fishbowl does not have a connector, but Google has a number of connectors that can integrate with many different types of software.

Q. Are you talking about WebCenter Portal or WCM?

A. This connector is designed for WebCenter Portal. If you’re talking about WCM as in SiteStudio or WebCenter Content, we have done a number of projects with those programs. This particular product wouldn’t apply to those situations, but we have other connectors that would work with programs such as WebCenter Content.

Q. Where is the portlet deployed? Is it on the same managed node?

A. The portlets are deployed on the portlet server in WebCenter Portal.

Q. Where can we get the documentation for this product?

A. While the documentation is not publically available, we do have a product page on the website that includes a lot of information on the Portal Search Suite. Contact your Fishbowl representative if you’d like to learn more about it.

Q. What are the server requirements?

A. WebCenter Portal 11g or Liferay 6.2 and Google Search Appliance 7.2.

Q. Does this product include the connector for indexing content?

A. No, this product does not include a connector. We do have a product called GSA Connector for WebCenter that indexes content and then allows you to integrate that content with a portal. Depending on how your portal is configured, you could also crawl the portal just like you would in a regular website. However, this product focuses exclusively on serving and not on indexing.

Q. How many portals will a GSA support? I have several WebCenter Content domains on the same server.

A. The GSA is licensed according to number of content items, not number of sources. You purchase a license for a certain number of content items and then it doesn’t matter how many domains the content is coming from.

Fishbowl’s ShipIT Hackathon Event Produces Four, New, Value-Add Components for Oracle WebCenter Content

The weekend of November 10th was known as Innovation Weekend at Fishbowl Solutions. Fishbowl’s development, sales and marketing teams participated in a “ShipIT Hackathon” event to develop new Oracle WebCenter Content-based products. If you aren’t familiar with hackathons, just imagine a very intense software programming session where the end goal is to develop usable software within a set period of time – here is Wikipedia’s definition, and you may remember that Fishbowl participated in a similar hackathon at Oracle OpenWorld. Anyway, Fishbowl’s WebCenter UI and UX design extraordinaire, John Sim, was visiting from London and he was the catalyst for Fishbowl’s internal hackathon. Here were the rules that he helped establish:

  1. The new software/functionality should either support one of Fishbowl’s current products or provide new ways to interact, utilize, or provide an integration with Oracle WebCenter Content.
  2. The finished product should be deployable to Fishbowl’s internal WebCenter Content system and be usable by Fishbowl employees.
  3. Teams will have only 24 hours to complete their product.
  4. The winning team would be decided by votes from all participants, but participants could not vote for their own team.

At 3:00 PM on Friday, November 9th the hacking commenced. Fueled by Red Bull, pizza, coffee and sugar, four teams of Fishbowl employees developed the following WebCenter-based programs by 3:00 PM on Saturday, November 10th where they were presented and voted on. Here they are in order of finish:

  • 1st Place – WebCenter Content Multi-Checkin
    • Enables users to drag and drop content items directly into Oracle WebCenter Content from desktops or file shares and be tagged with keywords.
    • Checked in content bypasses the check in metadata screen and instead is grouped within a user’s “workspace”.  Users can return to their workspace at a later time to add metadata.
    • Integrates with Fishbowl’s Duplicate File Checker to ensure that duplicate content items do no enter the system.

    (The winning hackers – left to right: Paul Heupel, John Sim, Tom Jaede)

  • 2nd Place – Filtered Search Results and Grid View Metadata Updater
    • Update metadata on multiple items at once using a simple grid format.
    • Content Server query defines items to display in grid view with configurable sorting and result count.
    • Easily configure columns to view and update both standard and custom metadata values.
    • Uses Excel-like functionality within the browser such as copy, paste, drag, and fill-down.
  • 3rd Place – Duplicate File Checker Desktop Application
    • Lightweight desktop application can detect and remove duplicate content items from user desktops or network file shares.
    • Users simply browse to a folder or item and select the content they want to check against already existing in Oracle WebCenter Content. Any duplicate items are returned to the user in a grid view, and the user can select any duplicates for deletion.
  • 4th Place - WebCenter Content and Google Drive (Docs) Synchronization & Contribution
    • Provides ability to import content stored in Google Drive to Oracle Webcenter Content.
    • Google Drive files can be batch imported and their metadata can be mapped or the files can be published directly to WebCenter Content.
    • Includes ability to also link to Google Drive document directly from WebCenter Content.

Aside from some mild cases of indigestion, carpal tunnel, and weariness; the participants in Fishbowl’s ShipIT hackathon all agreed that it was a great event to be a part of. It was really exciting to see what could be developed in a limited amount of time when a group of people worked together and were driven by a deadline. The best part was ending up with four new WebCenter-based products that solve real-world problems and add immediate value. If any of these products interest you, feel free to contact us at 952-465-3400 or info@fishbowlsolutions.com.

You can see more pictures of Fishbowl’s ShipIT Hackathon here.

As always, your comments on this blog are appreciated.

jQuery Customizations for WebCenter

jQuery has become a staple for a lot of the customizations in WebCenter Content. In fact, I can’t think of a customization over the past couple years that I haven’t used jQuery in some form. I’ve outlined below a few of the basics to get jQuery running on your content server and a couple examples on how we use it. For those of you mumbling “jQuery is just javascript”, well you’re right, but who in the world would pick an axe to cut down a tree when you’ve got a perfectly good chainsaw to do the work for you? Javascript is still great for the little stuff, but jQuery is a much better toolbox.

First things first, you need a place to include your jQuery and you customizations. We generally create a brand new component, which I won’t cover here, but you’ll find all the  information you need at oracle.com. You’ll also need to download the latest and greatest jQuery here:

http://www.jquery.com/download

After downloading the jQuery source you’ll need to put it on the server so the client can access it. We usually store these files with the component we create to allow easy access.
Once you’ve created your new jQuery customizations component you’ll simply need to overwrite the std_html_head_declarations like so:

<@dynamichtml std_html_head_declarations@>
<$include super.std_html_head_declarations$>
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”js/jquery-min.js“></script>
<@end@>

You will need to make a few small changes to setup the source highlighted in red, but this is pretty straight forward. (it’s the location of those jQuery files you’ve just downloaded)

Now that all the pieces are in place to use jQuery, let’s move on to some quick and easy customizations.  Say you have a pretty basic UCM check-in screen: Content ID, Title, Author and any other information you need for a standard check-in. This is great, but your users don’t follow the standard you’d really like them to follow for Titles. This can be difficult to regulate and the default profiles and rules just don’t cut it. With jQuery, we could simply add the following code and it would pop-up a message when the user clicks on the title field:


While this may look confusing the code is very straight forward. It basically states that when the document is ready for check in, add a click event to the dDocTitle input, and when this click event occurs send an alert to the user. With such a minimal amount of code we were able to let our users know they need to structure their titles to start with ‘FB_’.

This is great and almost everyone is following the process, but they are getting really frustrated with all the alerts. Here is some code to check if they have added the ‘FB_’ and alert them if they haven’t:


With just a simple if statement to check the beginning of all our clients values when they focus off the item we can alert them of their mistake. To take this one last step further, we can add the ability to check for the correct value. If it’s not there, it would be added instead of warning our users by simply adding this section inside of the ‘if statement’ above:


While regulating what our users enter can be very difficult in most situations, jQuery makes regulating this easy. On top of that it removes any server side work which can take a lot of expensive resource time for even the simplest validation. I encourage you to give jQuery a try and see what other solutions you can come up with.

Lessons Learned from Oracle WebCenter Sites Training

We recently participated in Oracle WebCenter Sites training, provided for partners by the Oracle Fusion Middleware Architecture Team (“A-Team”). Oracle offered insight into architecting and implementing the WebCenter Sites Solution, and committed to assisting partners like Fishbowl through initial client implementations.

The promise of WebCenter Sites (formerly FatWire) is a very high-performance website delivery platform along with a business-focused WYSIWYG Web Content Management (WCM) solution. The main benefit of Sites is high-performance site delivery. High-performance, dynamic content sites require a caching layer between visitors and the content management system. With some solutions, this requires (potentially) endless meetings to figure out how to balance business needs for content/publishing timeliness against website and proxy limitations and finessing time-to-live settings on the cache server(s). However, the WebCenter Sites’ Content Server can communicate with tightly-coupled caching server(s) when any content asset has been updated and the caching server retrieves the updates. This dynamic “edge caching” model results in highly-efficient caching and allows for lower hardware costs compared to less-aware caching models.

Website types that are the best fit for WebCenter Sites include consumer websites where page-response time is a premium. Consumers won’t wait for your site to download when the competition’s site is responding more quickly. Site types include brochureware sites; product and services marketing websites; news/media websites; eCommerce sites (Sites is frequently used as the product catalog “behind” the shopping cart) and financial services sites. This technology works best when implemented for clients who can express the financial value of site traffic and performance and are willing to invest in improving site response times and the content editor experience.

If none of the use cases we’ve described apply to your website needs, then Oracle WebCenter Sites may not be the right technology for your environment. Each use case is different, and realistic implementation timeframes exceed three months with significant investment required. We have other tools available to meet the range of website needs, including portal and WCM tools for intranet, extranet and public-facing websites all leveraging the Oracle WebCenter platform. Contact us for more information on which strategy is right for you.