Archive for November, 2010

WCI database Access Levels

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know we like getting under the Plumtree covers and figuring out what’s going on behind the scenes.  The ALUI databases are sometimes confusing – particularly the newer half-baked ones like the security database.  But the old legacy PT tables have undergone years of refinement, and every now and then show a well-thought-out design.

Today’s post is a quick lesson in binary math and how the ALUI security tables work. 

As you know, WebCenter Interaction object security includes READ/SELECT/EDIT/ADMIN privileges, and while there are some challenges to manipulating these security settings in the database (and some products to overcome the limitations), the underlying database structure is pretty straight-forward:  In tables like PTOBJECTSECURITY and PTCARDSECURITY you’ll find records that look like this:

While ObjectID, ClassID, and GroupID might be obvious in the context of the portal, AccessLevel is a bit-wise representation of the security level for that object, and contains either a 1, 3, 7, or 15.

Why these numbers?  Binary math.  Any number can be represented in binary (a base-2 numeric system) using bits; you’d represent the number 7 with a binary number of 0111, because:

Value: 8 4 2 1
Bit: 0 1 1 1

In other words: 8*0 + 4*1 + 2*1 + 1*1 = 7.

So if we look at the above table in the context of ALUI security privileges, EDIT access would be:

Value ADMIN EDIT SELECT READ
Bit: 0 1 1 1

i.e., a value of “7” in the database means “edit”, and you can calculate the values for the other privileges.  Interestingly, you can’t have EDIT privileges without having SELECT and READ (which is why you don’t see any values of, say, “4” in these tables). I wonder what would happen in the code if you manipulated the DB to give someone edit privileges WITHOUT giving them SELECT or READ? 

I guarantee this:  if you muck up this table, you are not going to get official support any time soon…

Update: WCI Search Configuration through Configuration Manager

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

A couple months ago, I wrote a post about using the old nodes.ini or cluster.ini files to change your WebCenter Interaction Search Service settings through the deprecated nodes.ini or cluster.ini files.  Since then, I’ve found you can achieve the same effect through the portal’s Configuration Manager:

Now you know.

Redux: WCI 10gR3 Installer Errors

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Another Rock Star in the WebCenter Interaction consulting industry, Bill Benac, wrote a blog post years ago, describing a problem with the WebCenter Interaction 10gR3 installers.  I hadn’t worried about it for a long time until it bit me in the ass – after dozens of successful installs and upgrades of the WCI portal, I had never seen the problem he reported.  The problem as he described is that sometimes a portal installer chokes and displays some error like:

Serious errors occurred during your installation.  Click OK and then click through to the end of installation to complete installation and then look at log for WebCenter Interaction in …

Recently, the same error bit me during an ALUI upgrade, and I saw pretty much the same error in the portal, Collaboration Server, and Analytics.  The errors seemed benign so I just ignored them until I realized that the WebCenter Analytics installer hadn’t created the Analytics Collector Service.

It turns out – and I have no idea why I’d never come across this issue with other installs and upgrades – that the WCI installers look for free memory on the host machine.  In some (unknown and unusual) circumstances, it can’t query the Windows OS for free memory, so it defaults to 0.  But 0GB of free RAM is less than what it needs, so the installer chokes.  In Collab and the Portal, the error is at the end of the installation process, so it seems pretty benign, but for Analytics, it gets thrown before the services are created, so you’re boned unless you fix it.

As for fixing it, check out Bill’s Blog Post, but the gist is that you need to set a fixed amount of Virtual Memory to avoid an error like… (more…)