Archive for the ‘Integrations’ Category

OpenWorld 2012 Recap – Fishbowl Solutions Aligned with Oracle’s WebCenter Strategy

October 18, 2012

Another year; another OpenWorld. It seems that Oracle’s big event comes faster and faster each year and then goes by in a flash. Amidst the glitz and glamor and the sheer spectacle that is OpenWorld, the event has much to offer customers, vendors, partners and general technology enthusiasts. This is the event where attendees get to hear directly from Oracle’s top brass on what’s new, what’s coming, and what’s faster/better. For WebCenter customers, here are a few takeaways from me and my Fishbowl colleagues on what we felt were some of the major stories from OpenWorld 2012.

New WebCenter Content User Interface

The WebCenter community has been abuzz for many months now regarding a new user interface for Oracle WebCenter Content. This new interface was shown at a few sessions and within the WebCenter demo areas at OpenWorld. The responses from people I chatted with were all positive and how could it not have been. After all, WebCenter customers have been waiting for years for a new user interface, and it looks like in 12c they will finally get one.

Can’t wait until then? Fishbowl has been providing user interface enhancements to the Content Server for many years. These enhancements have specifically aided business users in contributing content to WebCenter. One such product is Fishbowl’s Policies and Procedures Solution Suite, which provides an intuitive, visually-rich interface to specifically manage quality documents, governance manuals, and standard operating procedures. Through a combination of search, browsing, workflow and alerts, Policies and Procedures Solution Suite can help improve access to quality control documents while enforcing their follow through.

Stance on SharePoint

We have mentioned in many other blog posts (here & here) some reasons why Oracle WebCenter customers who may also be using SharePoint should reconsider their decision to use more SharePoint or go to SharePoint altogether for content management, or when building an intranet, portal or any other content-backed business system. Fishbowl Solutions was front and center with our stance on SharePoint at OpenWorld. We featured our SharePoint Connector Version 2.0 for Oracle WebCenter, which provides an integration that enables content resulting from collaboration in SharePoint to be transparently and seamlessly stored in Oracle WebCenter Content. The main value proposition with this connector is that enables organizations to continue to use both SharePoint and WebCenter and leverage the benefits of each.

The key point that we want to have resonate with customers is that WebCenter should be the final system of record for content. This includes content not only existing in SharePoint, but also in other ECM systems, file shares, and even desktops. My colleague George Sokol participated in a session at OpenWorld titled “Living with SharePoint”. This session provided attendees some data and examples on what living with SharePoint would represent, namely high services cost, 3rd-party license costs for additional functionality, and potential governance dilemmas (I documented more of these issues in this white paper). All these things can be reduced with WebCenter, but the reality is most organizations want to continue to use SharePoint for work-in-progress collaboration and pair that with robust enterprise content management. Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for WebCenter enables organizations to do just that.

Integrations in the WebCenter Stack

Oracle has done a great job providing integrations between products across their various product/technology stacks. One popular example is the WebCenter integrations provided for E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel applications. Basically, these integrations enable content management to be invoked in context of business processes, so, for example, when users are processing invoices they can quickly reference the image of that invoice which was processed with Oracle WebCenter Imaging.

At OpenWorld 2012, Oracle also spoke about integrating components of WebCenter with each other. One popular topic was the integration of WebCenter Sites (Fatwire) with Oracle WebCenter Content. Another popular topic was integrating WebCenter Portal with WebCenter Content. Oracle has made this integration possible with the Content Presenter task flow. Although this integration does provide the ability to surface content from WebCenter Content to WebCenter Portal, Fishbowl has found that most organizations are looking for integrations that provide greater scalability while leveraging standards-based technologies (JAVA, JSP) over proprietary (iDoc).

Fishbowl provides an integration framework called Intranet In A Box (IIAB) that integrates WebCenter Content with WebCenter Portal by leveraging WebCenter Spaces as the container to which content will be surfaced to. This framework eases contribution through profiles defined in WebCenter Content, including categories, sub-categories, topic pages, articles, contacts, images and landing page assets. IIAB also includes JSR-286 portlets for interfacing with WebCenter Content. The value of IIAB is it removes some of the complexity around integrating Content with Portal while easing content contribution. Organizations using IIAB have been able to build WebCenter Content and Portal-based corporate intranets in less than 60 days, including the University of Pretoria. Fishbowl’s best demos at OpenWorld were of Intranet In A Box, and organizations that have made the investments in WebCenter Content and Portal but have struggled to build out next-generation intranets and portals were very interested.

Another Go at Social

There was a lot of buzz at OpenWorld regarding the Oracle Social Network (OSN). Oracle announced OSN at OpenWorld 2011, and we are starting to see more and more examples of how OSN can be applied. I had the privilege of participating in the OSN team’s Developer Challenge as I got to present John Sim’s “Avengers Assemble” application. The OSN Developer Challenge was open to any Oracle or Java technologist (hack) that wanted to build an application that leveraged OSN’s REST API and another service or application. The entries must help solve a business problem, and John focused his efforts on helping to keep teams on the go in touch. John specifically used Google Maps and PhoneGap to build an application he described as a Mobile GeoTagging Solution. John provides much more detail on this solution in this C4 blog post.

Mobile ECM  

Oracle provided further details at OpenWorld 2012 on their mobile application – Oracle ADF Mobile. According to this blog post, Oracle ADF Mobile uses a metadata-based development framework enabling developers to develop one application for multiple platforms (iOS and Android, for starters). It can also easily incorporate HTML5, Java, and the devices native container. As business processes become more and more mobilized, Oracle will be in great position to help facilitate the various business process steps that occur between the user and back-end systems like Oracle E-Business Suite. Oracle has the enabling technologies like SOA and BPM to provide a tightly integrated system for mobile processes.

Fishbowl Solutions has been developing Oracle WebCenter-based mobile applications for over two years now, and we were fortunate once again to be joined at OpenWorld with a customer that has succeeded deploying the mobile applications we have available for the iPad and Android devices. Banner Engineering was kind enough to speak during the WebCenter Content Strategy and Vision session at OpenWorld and also during a social business panel. Banner has rolled out a Mobile Library application that has enabled their sales force and distributors to reference sales collateral stored in Oracle WebCenter from their iPad and Android devices. This application has improved the overall sales process, making customer meetings much more interactive and engaging, and also provided a competitive advantage for Banner – their competitors are still bound to paper catalogs and the like to share product information.  Banner created a lot of excitement with their story, and this excitement carried over to the Fishbowl booth. Fortunately, we had enough iPads to circulate to show off the application and its features.

As a WebCenter partner, it was definitely reassuring to see that alignment existed between Fishbowl’s current software and services offerings and Oracle’s stated direction and positioning with the product that was discussed at OpenWorld . We are excited to see where the next year takes us.

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Maximize Your Oracle WebCenter Investment – See Fishbowl Solutions at Oracle OpenWorld

September 27, 2012

Oracle OpenWorld is upon us! Are you ready? Fishbowl Solutions is ready, and we are also willing and able to begin discussing how we can help your organization maximize its Oracle WebCenter Investment. Fishbowl Solutions has a lot planned for OpenWorld, but the main reason we are attending is to meet with WebCenter customers so that we can learn about your business challenges and discuss the ways in which Fishbowl Soutions may be able to solve them. To that end, I would encourage you to visit Fishbowl Solutions in booth #1941 – Moscone South. Stop by to see and discuss the value-add WebCenter components we offer, including solutions for mobile content management, SharePoint integrations, and Google search within WebCenter. We would also like to discuss the ways we can help you address your overall web content management, records management, enterprise portal, or document imaging initiatives. If you are a WebCenter customer, Fishbowl’s booth is a can’t miss destination.

Here is a listing of all our OpenWorld activities:

  • Fishbowl and Customer Presentations – Monday, October 1st:
    • WebCenter Content Strategy and Vision featuring Banner Engineering, 12:15 PM, Moscone West – 3001
    • Living with SharePoint, 1:45 PM, Moscone West – 3001
  • Wednesday, October 3rd
    • Building Next-Generation Portals: An Interactive Customer Panel Discussion, 5:00 p.m., Moscone West, room 3000
    • Sponsored by Fishbowl Solutions – drawing for a FREE iPad 3
  • Thursday, October 4th
    • Land Mines, Potholes, and Dirt Roads: Navigating the Way to ECM Nirvana featuring Banner Engineering, 12:45 PM, Moscone West – 3001
    • Sponsored by Fishbowl Solutions – drawing for a FREE iPad 3
    • Using Web Experience Management to Drive Online Marketing Success, 2:15 p.m., Moscone West, room 3001
    • Sponsored by Fishbowl Solutions – drawing for a FREE iPad 3
  • Sponsor – Oracle WebCenter Customer Appreciation Event
    • Tuesday, October 2nd, 6:30 – 9:30 PM, The Palace Hotel – Ralston Room

We look forward to discussing your current Oracle WebCenter use cases and what your organization would like to accomplish going forward. If you would like to schedule a private meeting at OpenWorld with any of our Oracle WebCenter experts, please email info@fishbowlsolutions.com.

Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector Version 2.0 for Oracle WebCenter Content – Webinar Recap, Recording, Q & A

September 12, 2012

Fishbowl Solutions officially released its SharePoint Connector on Friday, August 31st, and we followed that up with a webinar discussing the release on Thursday, September 6th. If you weren’t able to attend the webinar, you can view the recording from the link below. For those that did attend, I have also included below the answers to the questions that were asked during the webinar. Many thanks to the attendees for asking such great questions.

Before you move on to view the recording and skim the questions, here is a brief recap of what was covered in the webinar and why as a SharePoint and WebCenter customer you should care. Happy reading!

  • Fishbowl’s provides the only Oracle “Validated Integration” solution between Microsoft SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter Content
    • Validation from Oracle that the connector works as designed has helped to greatly increase customer confidence
  • The connector was developed using Microsoft’s own API (application program interface) for building third-party storage connectors
    • Microsoft’s publicly available API was used to build the connector, which is the same API used by other ECM vendors to integrate SharePoint – OpenText is probably the best example
  • Fishbowl’s SharePoint connector provides a seamless, transparent integration
    • Connector maintains the SharePoint user experience but content ultimately resides in Oracle WebCenter Content
  • Past client engagements have vetted out 3 distinct use cases:
    • Large Volume Sites – increase governance and reduce costs by centralizing SharePoint content within Oracle WebCenter
    • Content Distribution Across Enterprise – surface up content created in SharePoint but stored in WebCenter to other Oracle business systems and applications and even mobile devices
    • Records Retention & Discovery – meet compliance, reduce risk, and ensure the accuracy of information by utilizing WebCenter’s best-in-class content management capabilities
  • SharePoint and WebCenterlike peanut butter and chocolate
    • Leverage the benefits of both systems without having to choose one over the other
  • Evaluations Available!

Webinar Recording

Q & A

Q: Does your solution use a Remote Blob Storage (RBS) provider for SharePoint?

A: No. Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector utilizes External Blob Storage (EBS) to store content created in SharePoint within Oracle WebCenter. EBS Providers offload the BLOB (Binary Large Object) and pass an ID to SharePoint to keep track of it, whereas a RBS provider offloads all BLOB content being pushed to SQL Server and directs it to third-party storage. This means that EBS providers have the context information of the BLOB and changes/deletes to it can be tracked through SharePoint. RBS providers have less BLOB context because the metadata has to be stored outside of SQL Server. 

Using the EBS API the Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector acts at the Foundation Services level to intercept BLOB file stream requests (which occur during any save or open request) and redirects these calls to Oracle WebCenter Content. The SharePoint client and client-side API are unaffected by this redirection and content will appear to the user as residing ‘inside’ SharePoint.

Q: Does the Fishbowl SharePoint Connector require the installation of the Oracle SharePoint Connector?

A: No. The Connector has no relationship, nor is Oracle supporting their former connector.

Q: How does the licensing work?

A: The Connector is licensed per SharePoint server.

Q: Is it possible to use SharePoint search to search WebCenter Content – both content stored through the connector and other content stored in WebCenter Content?

A: No, only SharePoint content can be searched through SharePoint by average users. The only search for WebCenter Content is through the “Add from WebCenter” administrator feature.

Q: Is there a risk that Microsoft could deprecate the APIs (Application Programming Interface) you leverage and threaten the viability of the connector going forward?  How heavily are the APIs used by other software vendors/MS partners?

A: API deprecation is always an issue. However, this is not likely to happen with our connector in the foreseeable future. Here are several reasons why:

  1. We use the same APIs from Microsoft as used by OpenText, EMC, and others for their connectors. These APIs are new or enhanced with SharePoint Services 3.0 and were specifically designed to enable vendors such as us to build connectors. As Microsoft is very sensitive about appearing as a monopoly, it is very unlikely they open themselves to yet another lawsuit by removing this functionality.
  2. We are working on achieving Microsoft certification and hope to have it by end of this year or early spring of next. We are already a development partner of Microsoft but our goal is to ensure the product will be supported across all Microsoft and Oracle platforms.

Q: Can storage of a document or change to a document kickoff BPM (Business Process Management) processes in the Oracle environment?

A: The ‘out-of-the-box’ Connector does not support this at this time. However, we do offer consulting services in support of this and have one customer that is doing something similar. We hope to support this out-of-the-box in the near future and would be grateful to discuss your needs to ensure we do this right.

Q: OpenText was mentioned earlier, from a high-level, how does the v2.0 connector “stack up” to OpenText’s Application Governance & Archiving solution for SharePoint 2010?

A: The connectors are quite similar. Here is a short list of some similarities:

  • Both use Microsoft’s own API for the creation of third-party storage providers
  • Both do not interrupt/change the front-end SharePoint user experience. The storage of content to WebCenter or OpenText is completely transparent to the user
  • Content can be stored automatically – based on size, extension, folder location – or interactively – SharePoint user decides if content should be stored externally.
  • The ability to synchronize active and archived SharePoint content versions with versions in WebCenter or OpenText

Furthermore, the goal of OpenText’s and Fishbowl’s SharePoint connector was to provide organizations using both SharePoint and OpenText or WebCenter Content with the ability to continue to leverage the capabilities of each system, but also provide an integrated, end-to-end information management strategy to consolidate content within one system of record.

Q: I saw that it can search WebCenter and add to SharePoint, but can you also just search?  In other words click on a button in SharePoint to pass some values from a SharePoint list to search for content in WebCenter or if not mapped to a list, pop up a search dialog to key in search values manually.

A: Yes, however, this feature is only exposed to SharePoint Administrators and is intended to search and add content from Oracle WebCenter into SharePoint. Nonetheless, administrators can use either Webcenter Basic Search or Profile Search to search and add items from WebCenter.

Q: Can Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector work with Oracle Imaging and Process Management (I/PM) 11g or just Universal Content Management (UCM)?

A: Yes. The connector is designed specifically for the WebCenter underlying repository: Content Server. Since I/PM  11g supports the same repository, the Connector should support most operations.

Q: Can the storage of a document in WebCenter be driven by a metadata value?

A: No. Storage of a document is driven by file extension, size, library, location and whether it is a major or minor version.

The Fishbowl SharePoint Connector allows required and custom metadata values that may be required for searching or retention management to be mapped from SharePoint to WebCenter Content. This enables Document Property values from SharePoint to be populated in Oracle WebCenter Content metadata fields. Certain values are automatically synchronized between the two systems such as the file name and the user id of the person checking in the content. When someone adds or updates an item in SharePoint, the Connector will automatically put their user id in the Oracle WebCenter Content dDocAuthor field.

Additional values such as the Title field or other custom fields defined in SharePoint can be mapped through the Connector configuration. For example, a ‘Department’ field in SharePoint could be mapped to a ‘Department’ field in Oracle WebCenter Content. Whenever a document is checked into SharePoint and stored in WebCenter Content by the Connector, the value supplied by the user through the SharePoint interface would automatically be assigned and displayed within Oracle WebCenter Content.

Q: How long does a typical implementation of Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector take?

A: This will vary based on a number of factors, but an implementation involving one SharePoint Server should take around 40 hours. This includes installation, configuration and testing.

Q: How does the connector resolve the discrepancy if the Oracle WebCenter Content repository requires a metadata value that the SharePoint library does not have (and, therefore, the SharePoint user didn’t provide it)?

A: Any field that is required to submit content to WebCenter Content must also have a corresponding SharePoint column mapping configured otherwise the content will not be saved into Oracle WebCenter Content. To ensure that field values are provided by the user when checking in content, you should also designate the corresponding field as required and provide a default value within Microsoft SharePoint. Simply mapping a field from SharePoint to a required field in Oracle WebCenter Content using this page will not make the field required in SharePoint and will result in the file not being stored in Oracle WebCenter Content.

Anytime a field value cannot be updated correctly within Oracle WebCenter Content (i.e. required field missing, mismatched data types), the Connector will store the file in the native SharePoint file store (i.e. SQL Server). These errors are recorded in the Content Server log which should be monitored regularly to ensure the Connector is working properly.

Q: Can Fishbowl’s connector be configured to affect the move of content from SharePoint to Oracle WebCenter Content, in effect making the document no longer available in SharePoint and only in WebCenter.  For example, a document is available for a while in SharePoint, then a metadata value of “complete” moves the document to oracle.

A: Yes and No. Fishbowl’s SharePoint connector can be configured to store all versions of SharePoint documents within Oracle WebCenter Content or only Major versions. To store Major versions, SharePoint users select the appropriate content items and then select the “Publish” command from the document menu – so this is driven by user interaction and not metadata.

However, content created in SharePoint and stored in WebCenter is considered “managed” SharePoint content. This means that the content can be viewed from either system but only updated/edited in SharePoint.

To completely remove content items from SharePoint and have them only available in WebCenter, Fishbowl’s connector can also be configured to retain content versions in Oracle WebCenter that have been deleted from SharePoint. In this case however, the content will appear to the user normally in the recycle bin and can be restored.

Q: What is planned for the next version?

A: Fishbowl Solutions does not typically share feature/functionality plans for future versions. However, we are keenly focused on improving the product in such areas as workflow and records management.

Q: Does Fishbowl’s SharePoint connector work with other RBS Providers like StoragePoint?

A: At the present time, no.

Q: What needs to be configured in SharePoint to have a document loaded into Oracle WebCenter vs. into SharePoint?

A: Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for WebCenter Content begins with the assumption that all content is to be stored in the default SharePoint repository (i.e. Microsoft SQL Server) unless otherwise specified by one of many configuration options. These configuration options are available and displayed at the farm, site collection, Site, and “UCM Folder” level.

It doesn’t matter which configuration option is in effect, as long as a single configuration rule is met the file will be stored in Oracle WebCenter Content.

Q: Can you set an automatic default storage location as well as allow the user to overwrite the location as long as if follows certain exception rules?

A: Yes.

Q: Have seen anyone use the connector to create an easy to use content contribution interface via SharePoint for non-technical users, i.e., to update images & PDFs on a website, etc.?

A: Yes. Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for WebCenter Content enables organizations to easily utilize SharePoint as a collaboration and authoring tool in these scenarios yet leverage the additional features provided by WebCenter Content for distribution and publishing of information.

If you are using SharePoint as a space to Collaborate on work-in-process documents and wish to use WebCenter content as the location to publish final versions, you will likely want to configure SharePoint to use major and minor version control and only publish major versions to WebCenter. This will cause the Connector to only store versions that a user has explicitly used the “Publish” command on within SharePoint.  Once in WebCenter, these versions can serve as the final record or “single source of truth” and can be linked to various applications using Oracle-provided connectors, custom integrations, or web publishing.

We look forward to your comments and thoughts regarding the integration we have provided to connect SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter Content. If you have any questions regarding this integration, please feel free to ask them here on our blog and we will answer them. Your comments and feedback are always appreciated.

Introducing WebCenter Portal Spaces HTML5 Template Support

September 8, 2012

When designing and coding sites, I like to keep ahead with latest coding standards and best practises whilst still maintaining support for older browsers that don’t yet have support for new tags or functionality that are available today in the latest browser releases. I’m not talking about nightly release support but browsers that have been fully tested and have been an official releases for at least 6 months.

As we know ADF is putting in HTML5 support into it’s latest PatchSets just take a look at DVT graphing for example that uses the HTML 5 <Canvas> tag.
Now; how does that work with Internet Explorer? Well they use a fallback to Flash as a lot of html5 tags aren’t supported by IE.

This is great!.. I can create my own TagLib to detect the browser and put in fallback support.

But what if you are a webdesigner with no knowledge of how to create your own tagLib and develop a html based template for WebCenter Portal or Spaces, that incorporates new functionality new tags unsupported by older browsers??

There is a Solution!
First “HTML5 Shim” also know more popularly as “HTML5 Shiv” coined by the jQuery Guru John Resig  .

Whats the difference..

Answer: nothing, one has an m and one has a v – that’s it.

So what do they.. … … it.. … Do?
They are really a polyfill for browsers that do not support HTML5 tags.
I’ll come back to Polyfills later..

So essentially it’s a script that applies support for tags like <header>, <nav>, <figure> etc that make up html5 incorporating the correct styling and functionality.

Now when I create simple html5 based templates I incorportate Modernizr.
Modenizr includes html5 shiv/m but also provides detection on the browser for CSS3 and HTML5 elements handled all within Javascript..
This allows me to write CSS or Javascript files that can easily provide support or clean degredation for incompatible features.

Also you can choose to include the yepNope.js conditional loader that will load in polyfils to supply support for functionality not currently within a browser like localStorage..

Ok, but what is a polyfill?..

Simply a JS Library that integrates support for older browsers that don’t support the latest and greatest additions that are available in todays browsers.
Click here to check a list of polyfills that are available today!

One thing to note.. Although <canvas> makes up html5 it is not supported by html5 shiv/m and therefor requires a pollyfill fallback to something like flashCanvas or excanvas.

If your interested in the history of HTML Shiv/Shim Modernizr check out another Gurus Blog Paul Irish know for his HTML 5 Boilerplate.

Thats it.
Have fun incorporating and playing with Modernizr and Polyfills..
A Word of warning:: although I know Modernizr plays well with ADF I cannot guarentee that some of the polyfill addons will work..

Announcing Version 2.0 of Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content

August 31, 2012

Back on June 21st, Fishbowl Solutions previewed Version 2.0 of its SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content – watch the recording here. I am happy to announce that after 10 weeks of further testing, refinement, and a successful Beta program, Version 2.0 is now available!

Version 2.0 marks a significant evolution of Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector. Before I get into a few of the reasons why, I will first provide a brief history of this product. Fishbowl started working on the connector in late 2010. Version 1.0 was released in April of 2011, and the product achieved Oracle Validated Integration a few months after that. Version 1.0 worked as intended. It was essentially a web part that could be configured to act as a storage provider to store content created in SharePoint within Oracle WebCenter Content. Customers were happy that the product enabled them to get content into WebCenter and off SQL Server, but as with most software products they wanted more. There was also some confusion regarding 1.0 use cases. For example, Version 1.0 allowed bi-directional content updates. Content could be updated in either system and the updates would be reflected in both systems. However, this was somewhat problematic as customers expressed concerns regarding security and content/data integrity issues that may arise from having the ability to update content from either system.

With Version 2.0, Fishbowl Solutions has provided an integration that helps to clearly separate use cases for each product, yet still enable the back-end power of Oracle WebCenter Content to be leveraged. That being the case, Version 2.0 does not support bi-directional content updates. Content creation and updates occur exclusively in SharePoint. Permissioned users can access and view the content from either system, but WebCenter users will be alerted with icon and text cues for those content items “managed in SharePoint”. This further helps separate use cases for each product, positioning SharePoint as the collaboration platform, and WebCenter as the single-source-of-truth repository.

Version 2.0 also includes greater configuration flexibility. Connector settings are applied at the SharePoint central admin level, and either inherited or overwritten at the site collection, site and folder level. This will enable organizations to get the Connector up and running quickly decreasing overall time to value.

There are many more Version 2.0 features and improved functionality that I would like to discuss in this blog post, but instead I am going to wait and share these with you during our SharePoint Version 2.0 Connector webinar next Thursday, September 6th at 1:00 PM EST, 10:00 AM PST – see registration link below. I hope you will be able to join us as we discuss the use cases for the connector, the new features/functionality and corresponding benefits of each, as well as a demonstration.

Fishbowl Webinar: Pair Best-In-Class Collaboration with Industry-Leading Enterprise Content Management