Posts Tagged ‘Oracle’

Oracle WebCenter Interaction LIVES! (kind of)

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Sorry if the title got your hopes up, folks: “living” is not the same thing as “growing and thriving”.

We all know Oracle’s stated direction on WebCenter Interaction, a.k.a Plumtree, a.k.a. ALUI, a.k.a WCI: While it’s had some promising adoption news within Oracle, it’s pretty clear “the ‘tree” is on its way out in favor of the WebCenter Suite.

If you need any further evidence that WCI is not long for this world, take a look at the just-released webinar that Oracle gave this week: Oracle WebCenter Suite – Giving Users a Modern Experience.

Now for the good news (and the crux of this post’s title): We are not a forgotten user community:

… and, as Oracle stated in that webinar, the long-promised Oracle 10.3.3 patch release is coming soon.  No formal release date, but it seems we aren’t going to be left completely in the cold; this patch release focuses mostly on integrating with the rest of the Oracle stack to make the transition less painful – if you choose to continue drinking the Oracle Kool-Aid.

Any way you cut it, this transition isn’t going to be easy, and is likely going to feel like “starting over”.  I mean, how many times did we hear Oracle emphasize how long it would take their own services group to make the transition in that webinar?  A LOT – I counted them (no, I didn’t): there were at least eleventy-two.

WebCenter Spaces, Weblogic, ALUI, Plumtree, Oh My!

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

When BEA acquired Plumtree and repositioned everything under the Aqualogic User Interaction brand, they made a decision that few of us consultants thought was incredibly logical: they kept the Plumtree product line separate from the BEA product line.  We commonly heard stories where a “BEA Classic” salesperson and “Plumtree” salesperson were calling the same customer prospect, one touting the virtues of the Weblogic Portal and the other touting the Plumtree Portal.  Of course, this was odd since at that point we all worked for the same company, and in my opinion, they never were really even the same product: WebLogic Portal was a set of APIs for developing a portal; Plumtree Portal was an out-of-the-box product that you largely configured rather than programmed.  So if you were a Java shop and/or had developers who could code and compile web apps, you should be using WLP.  If you were a .NET shop and/or didn’t have a development team, ALUI was the way to go.

Since Oracle now owns these product stacks, there are three “portal” offerings – and, if you buy the Oracle WebCenter Suite, you own them all:

  1. Weblogic Portal.  Built as a set of APIs that allowed developers to create portal applications in Eclipse on top of WebLogic Server, this was a powerful set of libraries that provided a great environment for Java shops to code their web interfaces to back-end applications.
  2. AquaLogic User Interaction (aka WebCenter Interaction).  Built as an out-of-the-box portal, the Plumtree application was designed to be open and flexible, but more for mixed (.NET/Java, Oracle/SQL Server) shops to configure the web interfaces to their applications.
  3. WebCenter Spaces.  This is basically Oracle’s “portal”, which provides a web-based UI to access various social networking and personal productivity (read: Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking) features provided by WebCenter Services.

I can’t profess to know the exact plans that Oracle has here, but it seems pretty clear to most outside observers (and most insiders I’ve spoken to): WebLogic Portal and WebCenter Interaction will continue to be supported for years to come, but Oracle is throwing its weight behind WebCenter Spaces.  This has a couple of implications for legacy Plumtree customers:

  1. Oracle is going down the path that the Weblogic Portal took – while a lot of the functionality you need (such as Collaborative and Social tools) will be available out of the box through WebCenter Services, you will be doing most of your customizations with Java in jDeveloper.
  2. If you’re a .NET shop, you need to brace yourself for a huge learning curve, or consider looking at other platforms, such as SharePoint, or a hybrid solution using tools like Confluence, WordPress, and some glue that holds the pieces together.
  3. There still is no formal migration plan for getting from WCI to Spaces.  Although Oracle has promised it for some time, a migration will not be a one-click process, so when you’re evaluating what to do “after WCI” – whether you’re Java or .NET – consider ALL available options, as a migration from WCI to Spaces could be as complicated as just “starting over”.
  4. Each of the individual products in the stack has its own migration path.  For example, WCI configurations will need to be migrated to WebCenter Spaces, Publisher content will need to be migrated to Oracle Universal Content Manager (UCM), and Collaboration and Studio will need to be migrated to their equivalent WebCenter Services.

Regardless of what path you choose, at this point it’s pretty clear:  you need to start thinking about a long-term strategy in a post-Plumtree world.  As a vendor-agnostic consulting firm, Integryst can help you choose your way – or help implement whatever technology you’ve ultimately chosen.

Oracle Support Master Notes and Webinars

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

I’ve been critical of Oracle Support in the past, but recently had a great experience with some of the old Plumtree support buddies that are still around – specifically, Merrick Huang in Oracle Support was able to provide a tremendous amount of assistance on a very thorny search issue I was having at a client site and will be writing about here in upcoming posts.  Before we get into the nitty gritty of that problem, I want to share with you a great resource I didn’t know existed until now: Oracle Support Master Notes and Webinars (login required).

The purpose of “Master Notes” is to “provide the most important links that users will need to install and support the product”, and there are some pretty decent pages in there if you know where to look.  For example, the IDK Master Note is a collection of a bunch of documentation, KB articles, known issues, and bug fixes all in one place.

But what I really wanted to highlight here is the Webinars provided by Oracle Support – with one in particular being the best Oracle Webinar I’ve seen: the Search Webinar, by Eno Gjerasi.  Eno shows that there’s still life left from the Plumtree support group, and demonstrates a level of knowledge of the Search Server that rivals most engineers or consultants.  There was one tip in particular that I’ll focus on in upcoming posts (about how to communicate directly with Search), but I encourage you to check out all three Webinars (Search, Portal / SSO, and Analytics) and the other Master Notes – you may just find a gem in there and wonder how you made it all these years without knowing “that one thing” you never knew you needed.

Keep up the good work, Oracle support!

Cool Tools 7: Benthic Software’s Golden

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

For those of you that use the Oracle DB in your portal stack (or for pretty much anything), you know what an atrocity Oracle’s SQL*Plus is (it’s more dated than Plumtree / ALUI!).  I’ve looked on and off over the years for a simple Oracle client that works as well as Microsoft’s SQL Server Management Studio, and I want to thank Hani Atalla for turning me on to this one: Benthic Software’s Golden.  It’s hyper-simple to use, and even has all the “creature comforts” like being able to copy a result set into an Excel Spreadsheet (try doing THAT with SQL*Plus!).  It does require Oracle’s Instant Client to work, but even I (as a non-Oracle DBA) was able to install both in a matter of minutes.

If you’ve sweated through SQL*Plus sessions for way too long, definitely check this tool out – it’s cheap, at only $40.  If you’ve got a better tool for quick and easy Oracle DB queries, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Plumtree (aka ALUI, aka WCI), indeed, is not dead yet

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

You’ve heard it here before, but yesterday, Brian Harrison, Oracle Product Manager extraordinaire, made it official: The My Oracle Support (MOS) community has been announced!

Any thoughts?  A great step by Oracle to showcase the virtues of WebCenter Interaction?  Too little too late?  I for one haven’t completely given up, and this community shows great promise – even if it’s not for the community itself (which has been around for a while), but a showcase of how the ALUI Collaboration UI doesn’t have to be so bad, and can truly integrate into a social community space.

Don’t count Plumtree out just yet; there are still a few more tricks up its sleeve…

Wall of Shame Rant: Oracle Support and Maintenance

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

In my last Wall of Shame rant, I blasted some shady spammer and had no qualms about it.  But this time is different:  I’m writing this post in a sincere effort to get Oracle to look at some of its policies and procedures, specifically around support.  Oracle has some stellar products and decent support, and in defense of Oracle’s support organization, support people have a tireless, thankless job, dealing with irate customers who think that software should never have problems.  So, while occasionally customers have it tough, customer support often has it much tougher (NSFW for a LOT of language; kudos to that Dell support guy for keeping his cool and staying on the line).

Oracle support, I salute you for the tireless, thankless job you have, but please stop telling clients their problems will be fixed with an upgrade when you’re not sure it will, or worse, know that it won’t.  Also, please honor Oracle’s support policy and don’t withold patches until a client gets to the latest version of the software, knowing that by the time they do, another patch release will probably come out, starting the whole cycle all over.  Of course, it’d be different if the upgraded version actually fixed the problem, but in the below rant, my client couldn’t even submit a patch request that affected the 10gR3 version of Analytics because they weren’t on the “latest version”, which was ridiculous because the latest version didn’t fix the problem either.

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Setting config.xml for WebLogic in Oracle’s jDeveloper

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

This post is a two-fer.  For those of you that are drinking the Oracle KoolAid, you’ve no doubt been using Oracle’s JDeveloper lately, especially since WebCenter Spaces and Services require it to do anything substantive with them.  In the 10.x line, Oracle incorporated WebLogic (bloatware, IMO, but that’s another post entirely) as the default Application Server for debugging your apps.

The first tip here is that by default WebLogic Server looks at the Authentication Header, and even if you’re your code and app is set to allow anonymous access, if there’s any HTTP Authentication header, WebLogic fails to handle the requests and throws up a browser login dialog:

This has caused me headaches with PublisherEditor, which uses the ALUI Publisher Web Service to run.  The Publisher web service by default uses authentication headers, so the Publisher authentication headers get sent to my portlet code.  Fortunately, the fix for this is pretty straight-forward and documented: add the following to your config.xml file:

<enforce-valid-basic-auth-credentials>
false
</enforce-valid-basic-auth-credentials>

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“I’m nawt dead yet!”: WCI getting some love at Oracle?

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Woah, what’s this?  Perhaps rumors of WebCenter Interaction’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  The Little Portal That Could seems to have gained a foothold – however slight – in an Oracle site at communities.oracle.com.

I don’t really know how long this has been available – or even if it’s an official Oracle site – and maybe you’ve already heard of it.  But I think it’s promising that at least the old AquaLogic User Interaction is getting some mindshare over at the Oracle mothership.

Ironically, this portal is still BEA’s ALUI version 6.5:

alui-6-5

.. and not Oracle’s WebCenter Interaction (10gR3).  It would have been even neater if this was a preview release of the much-fabled 11g, but I’m not complaining.  The site does look pretty interesting in an “Enterprise 2.0-y” kind of way and appears to have some neat social features such as tagging, profiles, and a much more integrated Collab (if it’s even Collaboration Server at all?).  Maybe this will some day replace that terrible flash-based support.oracle.com site?  A person can hope…

Check it out at http://communities.oracle.com/ – your support credentials should work to get you logged in:

oracle-communities

Finally, special thanks to Monty Pyton, Mark Twain, and, uh, The Little Engine That Could for providing the mixed metaphore fodder above…

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Free Oracle WebCenter Interaction Code!

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Sorry if the title of this post sounded sensational; this code has been around forever.  In fact, it’s kind of ancient, and as far as I can tell hasn’t had new submissions in years.  But for those of you looking for the old BEA “CodeShare” repository, this is the link you’re looking for.  All the classics are here: Lotus Notes / SAP / PeopleSoft / Exchange Portlet Suites, Java Portlet Tools, the Publisher Blog Templates, Sample Code (including some under-publicized Social Network portlets).

You won’t need any of this stuff today (or tomorrow), but someday when you’re pulling your hair out and thinking to yourself “if only BEA’s CodeShare was still around!”, this is the link you’re looking for: https://aqualogic-interaction.samplecode.oracle.com/ (free registration/login required).

codesamples