Archive for the ‘WebCenter Interaction’ Category

WebCenter Interaction 10gR4 (Neo) Now REALLY Available!

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Well, after a little bit of a false start, intrepid reader Brad Styve noticed that our binaries for WebCenter Interaction 10gR4 – a.k.a. “Neo” – are finally available as of yesterday. As he points out, there are now “three installers to rule them all”. That is, many of the separate installers you had to work through in the past – Portal, Identity Services (LDAP and AD), Crawlers (UCM, Exchange, Windows Files), Dev Tools (IDK, JSR-168), Sharepoint – have now been bundled into the single 1.5GB installer. Couple that with Collab and Analytics, and you’ve got a pretty good foundation for your upgrade or install process.

Contrary to my previous report, you can still find the installation package in the usual “Oracle BEA” media pack, and the installers sit alongside all the others:

Still painfully missing is Publisher, which technically isn’t supported on the new Windows platforms (Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008). And since Publisher needs to reside in the same database as the portal, well, this stack still isn’t “fully supported” if your IT department is nagging you to get your existing portal stack off Windows Server 2003 or SQL Server 2005. I’m still looking for an official (or unofficial) response from Oracle on this oversight: we know Publisher is end-of-life’d, but are we at least going to get the existing Publisher 6.5 binaries certified on these platforms? Or is the official party line that we HAVE to move to UCM? And if so, where are the migration tools?

Oh, and while we’re “nitpicking” (if you could call such a glaring omission “nitpicking”), Brad mentions that he’s been informed there are over 200 bug fixes. Sooo… why isn’t Oracle providing a list of significant fixes in this release like they have in every past release? I mean, the release notes list 36 “known issues”, but has no “resolved issues” section. Strange, huh?

WebCenter Interaction 10gR4 (Neo) Now Available!

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Psyche!

Today Oracle announced WCI 10gR4 through their blog and tech network. The problem is: the download isn’t available yet, and there’s already some conflicting information out there.

Following the instructions on the download page, you can see that you’re no longer supposed to find the download via the Oracle Software Delivery Cloud using the “Oracle BEA” Media pack, but the “Oracle Application Server 10g Release 3 (10.1.3) Media Pack”.

No 10.3.3 yet:

Aside from the conflicting information about the version being available and not being there, there’s more conflicting info after the break. Stay tuned, though, as I’m sure this’ll all be worked out soon, and we’ll keep you posted on new features and functionality!
(more…)

Turn off SSL for WCI Configuration Manager

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Not happy with that extra click accepting the busted SSL certificate in the ALUI/WCI Configuration Manager? Yeah, me too – that’s like, 47 milliseconds a day of wasted time each day that I’ll never get back:

So, spend 47 seconds to activate HTTP by editing this value in %PT_HOME%\configmgr\2.0\settings\config\private.xml:

<setting name="EAS:httpEnabled">
<value xsi:type="xsd:boolean">true</value>
</setting>

Viola! You now don’t have to use SSL to access the configuration manager. In 1,000 days, your 47 second time investment of time will have paid off:

BTW, you should probably just set the “BEA AL Configuration Manager” service to manual to save a couple megamajigs of RAM – once things are set up you shouldn’t bother leaving the service running anyway.

Oh, and don’t bother wasting the additional 5 minutes trying to turn on Basic Authentication because you think all the cool kids are doing it. That janx don’t work:

<!-- Authentication type. Should be blank for none, and set to either "JAAS" or "BASIC" if enabled. -->
<setting name="EAS:authType">
<value xsi:type="xsd:string">BASIC</value>
</setting>
<!-- EAS:basicAuthUser = username of the sole user allowed to access this server. Note: This user is given the role EAS:name iff authtype == "BASIC" then this setting takes effect -->
<setting name="EAS:basicAuthUser">
<value xsi:type="xsd:string">user</value>
</setting>
<!-- EAS:basicAuthUser = password of the sole user allowed to access this server. Note: This user is given the role EAS:name iff authtype == "BASIC" then this setting takes effect -->
<setting name="EAS:basicAuthPassword">
<value xsi:type="xsd:string">password</value>
</setting>

Viewing Experience Definition Debug Page

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Recently we discussed the Experience Definition Debug page. It’s pretty straight-forward: turn on debug mode in Portal Administration, then click the “Show Debug Messages” link that shows up in the WCI header.

But, what if you’ve customized the portal navigation and aren’t using the out-of-the-box header bar? We’ve gotchya covered – there are actually three ways this can be done.

Add the Adaptive Tags to your own header
The following code comes from \imageserver \plumtree\portal \private\pagelayouts \basepagelayout.html. You can stick this code into any header (or footer, or portlet) to get the Debug link to show up, and it will only show up for the appropriate users.

    <pt:core.comment><!-- DCA - get the Rules Debug link; if we don't have access to the rules debug page, the variable won't exist --></pt:core.comment>
    <pt:ptdata.rulesdebugdata pt:id="rulesDebugLink" />
    <pt:logic.existexpr pt:data="rulesDebugLink" pt:key="canAccessRulesDebug"/>
    <pt:logic.if pt:expr="$canAccessRulesDebug">
        <pt:logic.iftrue>
            <pt:core.comment><!-- DCA - there should only be 1 --></pt:core.comment>
            <pt:logic.foreach pt:data="rulesDebugLink" pt:var="link">
                <li><pt:core.html pt:tag="a" target="_blank" href="$link.url"><pt:core.html pt:tag="img" src= "pt://images/plumtree/portal/private/img/icon_subportal_rule.gif" alt="$link.title"/></pt:core.html><pt:core.html pt:tag="a" target="_blank" href="$link.url"><pt:logic.value pt:value="$link.title"/></pt:core.html></li> &amp;nbsp;|
            </pt:logic.foreach>
        </pt:logic.iftrue>
    </pt:logic.if>

Access the URL
The debug Messages page is available at /portal /server.pt? open=space &name=RulesDebugMSGAS. You can just drop that URL in there and the browser should display the debug page if you have access.

Use the MemoryDebug space
Finally, the portal session object stores this information so that it can be accessed through the MemoryDebug page we’ve discussed before. Just flip your URL to /portal /server.pt /debug /memory and you’ll see something that’s a little less readable, but still a functional alternative to the above two methods:

One caveat to all of these methods is if you have Community-based rules. Because sometimes the debug page itself applies its own URL for the rules, in some cases that means you’re no longer in any communities, so that could mean you get a false-negative for that condition. Your mileage may vary.

What Experience Definition is being applied?

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

In Plumtree they were called Subportals. In Aqualogic the name was changed to Experience Definitions, and they continued to evolve in WebCenter Interaction with the introduction of Adaptive Layouts.

Experience Definitions are useful constructs in the portal that allow you to customize the header/footer, navigation, and Adaptive Layouts based on Experience Rules – which can be applied based on the host IP, community, user/group, or user-agent header. So you can apply different rules based on any of those criteria and heavily customize the experience based on any of those conditions.

An useful feature that was introduced with Experience Definitions was the “Debug Mode”, which can be accessed from Administration -> Select Utility -> Portal Settings -> User Settings Manager:

When this option is selected, a new link for “Show Debug Messages” is shown in the standard topbar, or in the out-of-the-box Adaptive Layout:

From this link, you can see the “Rules Debugging Messages”, which explains each rule, whether it matched the condition, and how long the evaluation took:

WCI Health Monitor: Interesting but Useless

Friday, October 28th, 2011

As I’ve dug into the rarely used diagnostic pages in the WebCenter portal, I’ve taken a second look at the System Health Monitor. As mentioned, you can get there through the URL /portal/server.pt?space=Debug, /portal/server.pt/debug, or just by going to Administration -> Select Utility… -> System Health Monitor.

Here you can see various half-baked real-time diagnostic reports. They’re interesting because you’ve probably had your portal running for years (really, are there any NEW Webcenter Interaction clients these days?) and haven’t seen these reports. But they’re not particularly useful because they aren’t reliable – false “offline” reports are common – and don’t provide a decent interface to tie into a reasonable monitoring solution. A REST-based solution would be nice to be able to query the status of various services, for example.

Maybe I’m being hard too hard on this thing. While the high-level “Related Services” or “Remote Host” reports don’t seem to work all that well, if you click on the “Remote Host” links you get a Web Service report showing the status of the various services running on that Remote Server:

Yeah, I suppose that could be useful. I better go figure out why half my portlets are showing offline. You prob’ly should too…

WebCenter Interaction Debug Space

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Years ago I posted about a little-known MemoryDebug Activity Space in the Plumtree portal (or were we already calling this thing AquaLogic or ALUI by then?).

Recently I found a somewhat “meta” page with an activity space name of just “Debug” that links to this MemoryDebug space and two other useless pages. I won’t get into the gory details here, but I stumbled across this when dealing with some code related to varpacks (we’ll get to all those gory details in due time).

The gist for this post is that you can not only view the debug space in your portal by setting the space to Debug (/portal/server.pt?space=Debug), but there’s also a Friendly URL for this space: /portal/server.pt/debug/.

In fact, all three of these debug pages have friendly URLs

  • portal/server.pt/debug/ui – a useless ‘help’ page
  • portal/server.pt/debug/memory – the memory debug page, largely only useful for reloading varpacks
  • portal/server.pt/debug/portal/ – the useless page you can access through Admin: Select Utility: System Health Monitor

This isn’t an entirely earth-shattering discovery, but as I’ve been revisiting this debug space and friendly URL configurations, I’ve made some other interesting discoveries that I’ll post about soon. In the meantime, try out those friendly URLs in your portal and marvel at the completely hidden piece of functionality you never wanted or needed.

Crawl RSS Feeds with WebCenter Interaction

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

I don’t know whether to file this one under “obvious” or not. On one hand, I guess most people have always known this. But on the other, it’s such an under-used feature it bears repeating: Web Crawlers in Webcenter Interaction (and even back in the ALUI days) aren’t just for web sites – they can crawl RSS feeds too.

Configuration is identical to creating a Web Crawler. In administration, select “Create Object: Content Crawler – WWW” and choose the “World Wide Web” Content Source:

Here, instead of entering a web site, just provide the URL of the RSS feed:

Once the job runs, a card is created for each article in the feed:

Note the created date shows when the feed was crawled, not when the original articles were written. And in this example, only 11 cards have been created because that’s all that’s being provided on the Integryst RSS Feed. Both of these problems can be resolved by running your crawler job regularly, so that the dates are closer to when the posts are written, and the cards stick around after they’ve “left the feed”.

Tick, Tock, WebCenter Interaction…

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

While we may eventually see the new version of WebCenter Interaction (code name: Neo) this year, we’ve been hearing about it for what seems like years now. Neo will be more of a patch release – say, 10gR4 or 10.3.3 – rather than a new major revision. Pre-release versions have been out there for some time now; see Jeremy’s excellent post for some idea of what to expect with this build.

Whatever it ends up being called, Neo is largely a refresh to get additional platform support (64-bit, IIS7, Windows 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2010). The pre-release version that we’ve been working with has a couple of interesting new features – especially around Collaboration – but it remains to be seen whether these make the final cut. This will certainly be the last significant WebCenter Interaction release, and it’s time to start thinking about what happens next.

The support clock is ticking:

Oracle wants you on WebCenter suite, but you have choices. At Integryst, we spend a lot of time discussing the “Post-WCI World“, and the choices faced by our clients when deciding whether to remain on the Oracle stack or move to a different platform entirely.

Either way, we’ve got you covered. As always, stay tuned to this blog to read the latest coverage of new and noteworthy tips and tricks for WCI. But, in the coming weeks and months, you’ll start seeing more posts discussing alternate portal-type technologies, including Atlassian Confluence (wiki), Alfresco (document management), Frevvo (forms/workflow) and Drupal (Content Management, Collaboration).

Customize IIS error pages to augment WIA authentication

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

When you configure SSO (Single Sign-On) in the WCI portal, you’re basically telling the portal to redirect to the /portal/sso/SSOLogin.aspx page, and configuring your SSO product to “protect” that page.  I could write volumes about this topic – and probably will at some point – but for this post let’s consider Windows Integrated Authentication (WIA).

The trick to configuring Windows Integrated Authentication for the portal is to enable Integrated Windows authentication on the “sso” folder like this:

This allows IIS to authenticate the user and pass the username to the portal through the portal session.  But, if the user can’t authenticate for some reason, they may see a screen like this:

While I’ll call out a portal bug any day of the week, this isn’t one of them: the portal is doing exactly what it’s supposed to, and in this case that is NOTHING.  The above error comes from IIS, and the portal never even sees the request to take action on it. [side note: in my last post, I mentioned working on a WebDav fix for Collab; it’s looking like the problems with Windows 7/Office 2010 aren’t Collab’s “fault”, but – like this issue – are the fault of the application server handling the requests.]

Now that we’ve established the issue is with IIS and not the portal, the “fix” is pretty straight-forward.  Just craft a custom HTML error page that redirects the browser back to the portal with this code:

<script>window.location='/portal/server.pt'</script>

… then, configure IIS to use that error page when the unauthorized message is generated:

This way, if IIS can’t authenticate the user, instead of presenting the error page, it’ll send a redirect to the browser to bounce back to the portal – which will know that it’s already attempted SSO and just present the user with the forms-based login.