Saturday, August 24, 2013

WebCenter Portal new features - Composer

I'm quite impressed by the entirely new design of the composer, the edit mode of a page.
Instead of a popup containing the resource catalog, it is now an integral part of the design mode.

The basics are the same. You can create your own resource catalogs and can browse and search in the same way as in earlier releases.
But since it is now an integral part of the design view, you can easily drag and drop resources on any region of the page. As you remember, earlier you would select Add Content in a region and select resources for that specific region. Added specific resources to different region was always 'a lot of work'
You now also have a preview mode in which you can see your changes without saving them.

I don't see a lot of use for the Select mode. In this mode you can 'select' a component and edit it's properties. You can do that from the design view as well...

The structure view looks a lot like the old source view. What I miss however, is the option to edit a task flow that is on the page

A nice feature is the preview mode available only to moderators. When you are in edit mode, you get a preview icon with which you can get  a preview of the page when viewed with a specific mobile device (assuming the device groups are enabled, see previous post)

I noticed that the moderator has a lot of additional features available to maintain pages (add, remove) even though my participator account has manage all pages privileges.
What we see when we edit a page as moderator is that you can add pages with a hierarchy. It looks like you do not just add a page, but add it to the default navigation model at the same time, enabling you to create a hierarchy. On the Assets tab under Structure | Navigations you are still able to create multiple navigation models.

Another significant improvement is that you can navigate to the documents page from the edit mode. This enables you to add content while editing a page, again without saving your changes or navigating to the documents page inside a new incognito window.

All in all the interface has improved significantly and is a lot more intuitive.
I think it's a bit weird you do not see the list of pages if you have all the privileges to edit / delete pages, but I'll dive into that when I'm back from holiday. I must be doing something wrong... (the alternative is a bug?!?!?)

BTW: If you are hooked on the Add Content buttons... You can hide the catalog which will remove the docked resource catalog and will give you back your Add Content buttons. I think I'll forget the buttons within the next few weeks though :)

WebCenter Portal new features - Administration

When we start WebCenter Portal we see that the look and feel is brand new.
The styling is the new Skyros skin which is also available in the new JDeveloper.
It is a new and refreshing look and feel.

The first thing we do is of course checking out the new Administration options.
What we notice is the new menu orientation. In previous releases the menu was horizontally orientated with tabs and sub-tabs. Now it is a combination of a horizontal menu and a vertical sub-menu on the left which works fine. Sometimes the menu and sub menu and options of the sub menu get a bit confusing. It might have been better to split some settings to different menu options.

At some locations it's a bit confusing to see what change is set immediate and what change has to be committed explicitly wit the save button.

I can imagine the frustration with the less experienced business users who administers one or more portal.
I am sure I changed this setting but....

Some concepts have been renamed. Resources are now called Assets. And resources which were created on the Spaces application level (and not on a Space level) are called Shared Assets. Same things, different names.
Managing the Shared Assets is the same as in previous versions. New in this are is the Pagelets asset. In the previous versions you would have to know the URL of the WebCenter Ensemble Admin interface. Now, when you select Create Pagelet, you are redirected to the admin interface. It is nice the interface is easy accessible, but it would have been even better if you can create the pagelet from within the Portal interface.
The actions column often contains the most important action, Edit, but for other actions you still need to select the asset and select the action from the menu

New in the Administration section are the Device Settings. You can now differentiate between different device groups such as:

  • Desktop Browsers
  • iOS Phones or Tablets
  • Android Phones or Tablets
Within the groups you can create devices which are selected based on the User Agent they set. Per device you can specify attributes like CSS, streaming preference, height, width etc.
For most of the pages (lets say all new, user created pages) you can create a page variant to support a specific device group. Changes to the Desktop variant are copied to the device specific page variants (and vice verse)

One nice other feature is the ability to change attributes of the Portal application. The one attribute defined per default is the wcSessionTimeoutPeriod making it 100% easier to change the Session Timeout Period for the application.

In addition, there are a lot of small changes in the possibilities you have. Check them out by spending an hour clicking around in the Administration pages.

Friday, August 23, 2013

WebCenter (PS7) installation continued

We're home from vacation (one week to go until work) so I continued the installation.
After the errors during the WebCenter Content installation I decide to first install WebCenter Portal.
No problems, no errors, a textbook install.
I also installed the Web Tier to put WebCache and the Oracle HTTP Server (OHS) in fromt of the WebCenter installation.
Again, no pain what so ever.
Leaves us at the WebCenter Content installation.
I decided to retry the installation after a five minute search on My Oracle Support (MOS) without any result.
When I got the first error it appears to be logged during the outside-in technology installation.

The log file shows the installer is trying to do a CHMOD which, of course is not available on Windows.
After clicking Continue the error pops up a second later.
And again. And again... And again.....

The logfile also shown that the installer is trying to change the permissions on a number of Linux HP-UX and Solaris folders and files. Since we install on Windows I do not see this as an issue.
After the last error the installer starts installing the Content Server component. During this install we do not see any errors. Let's assume the installation was successful...

After the software installation we can create and configure the domain.

As usual, we run the \common\bin\config.cmd to start the configuration wizard.
Since we do a fresh install, we select create a domain and click Next
Next we need to select the components to enable in the domain. My interest goes mainly to the WebCenter Portal functionality so I select the following components:

  • Basic WebLogic Server Domain - Required
  • Oracle WebCenter Spaces - Main application, so a Must have
  • Oracle WebCenter Pagelet Producer - Always nice for demo's so a Should have
  • Oracle Universal Content Management - Content Server - Must have for storing documents
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager - Should have to make the management easier.
  • Oracle WebCenter Discussion Server - Should for our environment / demos
  • Oracle WebCenter Activity Graph Engines - Should for our environment / demos
  • Oracle WebCenter Personalization - Should for our environment / demos
  • Oracle WebCenter Analytics collector - Should for our environment / demos
  • Oracle WebCenter WSM Policy Manager - Must to secure communications between components
  • Oracle JRF - Must to run ADF based applications
I always separate by domain from my executables so I name the domain 11118_domain and create the domain in E:\Oracle\Software\user_projects\domains\11118_domain and the applications in E:\Oracle\Software\user_projects\applicationss\11118_domain

The username and password are default. Create your own ;)
Since this is not a production environment, I select development mode. The JRE locations is set correct by default.

One thing what would be extremely helpful is the ability to set a schema owner prefix at the JDBC Component section. We need to enter the database information for all the JDBC connections that are going to be created. A drawback is that you need to change ALL the usernames because someone thought to set the default prefix to DEV.
Ah well. Let's start typing...
Select all the JDBC Component schemas and set the DBMS/Service, host name, port and schema password (assuming they are all the same for the schemas like in my situation) and select the component schema's to change the schema owner one by one.
On the next page the connections will be tested.

As I always try to utilize my resources as efficient as possible I change the server configuration so I select the modify the Administration Server settings, the Managed Server, Clusters and Machines settings.
The administration server will listen on port 7111 due to multiple installations on my machine.
I create four new managed servers which I will later add to the appropriate clusters.
By adding the new managed servers and adding both them and the original servers to the clusters, the applications and all other objects will be targetted to the cluster.
After the domain is created, the original managed servers can just be deleted, giving us only the new managed servers running all the applications targetted to the cluster.

We now should be done so we start the admin server.
In the Enterprise Manager (accessible at http://localhost:7111/em in my case) we can see all the details in regards to settings and connections from Spaces.

The Console (located at htpp://localhost:7111/console) will show you the domain configuration.

Now we can remove the default managed servers and start the rest.
After starting all the servers we need to configure the connections between the different components.
This process is exactly the same as with the previous release.
You can view my earlier posts to see hot to configure these connections.

Small thing that is different:
Don't forget to enable the folders_g component in WebCenter Content.
The way to do it is a bit different. Although WebCenter Portal does not support the use of the framework folders component, it is this component that is displayed at the WebCenter Content UI Components section of the component manager.

In other sections, the folders_g component cannot be found either.
You need to enable it through the advanced component manager section.
The first negative of this release, the fact that the new framework folders component is still not supported!!!

After enabling all the required components and creating the installation works.
Happy WebCentering!

Friday, August 16, 2013

WebCenter (PS7) released

When WebCenter PS5 was released, I was in the middle of my holiday.
Two days ago, PS7 got released ant today... I'm going on holiday.
I really need to have some conversations with Oracle to align these two events in the future...

I started the installation today and for now I assume the procedure is not much different from the previous releases. The previous release I installed on the 'old' WebLogic (10.3.5) but I'll pick the 'new' release (10.3.6) for this install.

The database is reused from the previous version. Since some time you can create a prefix for your installation so we can just create a new prefix (WC8 in my case).

First thing I noticed is that the RCU supports installation of the OSN schema's.
Will OSN be released as a local installable application soon?

The next thing I noticed that I had hardly any time starting the post during the installation process.
The creation of the schema's and tables took less than five minutes. Record breaking!!

In the Weblogic 12c installation the weblogic folder is renamed from wlserver_10.3 to wlserver.
To make my life potentially easier in the future I'll adapt to this naming convention during the WebLogic installation. Again, the installation is straight forward. I did unchecked the example database (a packaged Derby database) to save some disk space (of about 5 MB :)

After the WebLogic install I first started with the WebCenter Content installation.
You still need to start the installer with the -jreLoc parameter. This sucks on Windows. I just want to click the setup.exe file...
Once it is started, the installer requires about six fields (folder locations) and the installation process starts.
No pain at all! Until 81%.
There we got an error...

In the log file we see that the installer tries a chmod statement ... on Windows ...
Not going to happen....
I really got the generic install.
Unfortunately, the flight is leaving soon so I don't have time to fix this.
End of the installation so far :(

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nice tool to replace many others

It's been a while, but last Friday I got inspired to write another post.
This time not directly related to ADF / WebCenter but to a tool I recently came across.

For some time I'm more and more involved in installation, configuration, performance testing etc.
Therefore, I spend more time on the server to do a number of tasks.
Normally I use the following tools:

  • Putty
    SSH / Telnet client to connect to a server and perform numerous command line tools
  • VNC Viewer
    Combined with VNC Server running on the server machine to run X11 applications. Often used for running Oracle installers
  • WinSCP
    Secure copy tool to copy files to and from the server
Recently I was pointed to MobaXterm 
This tool can replace all of the above.

Why do I use the tool?
First of all, the tool replaces all the tools I used before.
When you create a new session, you get to choose the type and as you can see they support a lot.

Let's say we open a SSH session to one of our servers.
As soon as the connection is made and you logged in, you can start a X11 application like the installer, provided you enabled X11-Forwarding (which is enabled by default)

As with Putty, you can change the background / foreground color of the session to differentiate the environment you are working in (Development, Production etc)

Another nice one is that you can FTP to and from the server immediately as well.
In the sidebar there is a SFTP tab in which you can browse folders and up / download.

Another great feature is the Multi-execution mode
When you enter a command, it is sent to all terminals.
This is ideal when you are managing multiple nodes. Type once. Execute many :)

There are some limitations in the free version. The professional edition will cost you E 49,00
The most annoying limitation of the free version is the fact that the number of saved session is limited to 10
However (can I mention this??) If you edit the MobaXterm.ini file, you can add additional session manually.
This is not recommended of course and for only E 49,00 who's not willing to buy the professional version :)