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ODI 12c - Improving Usability of KM recipes

David Allan
Architect

This post is all about reducing user errors and improving usability surrounding definition of Knowledge Modules and their usage. Knowledge Modules are all about encapsulating recipes - every great cookbook has lots of recipes and some are based on common techniques and ingredients. ODI Knowledge Modules are data integration recipes - they define how to access, transform and store information based on the directions in the KM. There are a few usability improvements in the recent 12.1.3.0.1 release around both the KM definition and usage of the KM that make for an improved user experience. I've seen many KMs over the years where its many things to many people and there are a bundle of options that expose all facets for every path possible in the KM - the user has to read the description and follow the instructions.

The first improvement I'll mention is the KM (and procedure) option type of 'Choice'. Not exactly rocket science here I know, but an addition that greatly helps usage of a KM that may do more than one thing. Let's take the example of a KM that can make different .....pizzas. In the past you would have an option field which was a string based value where the user would type either margerita or pepperoni to drive a path within the KM implementation, users of the KM would have to know that those were the accepted option values and they'd have to type it in properly (otherwise things would go wrong). So now the options can be specified as the 'Choice' type, see below where in the IKM we capture the recipe type as a choice.

The choices can be defined in the default value field, below the recipe is going to either create margherita pizza or pepperoni- these are the only two choices and the default is margherita;

Then I can define all the rest of the options, let's say the pizza needs flour, oil, salt, yeast and pepperoni needs... pepperoni of course and margherita needs tomatoes and basil - so some of the options are applicable to both types and some are only applicable to the specific one. Prior to this release when the KM is used you would see all of these option values and you'd be reading the description 'only set basil if you are making margherita' and so on. Another feature has been added to improve this area. Below you can see all of the options....

One column was snipped out of the image - the condition expression. This is a groovy expression to determine whether the option is shown. So now we can say only display basil when margherita pizza is the recipe type or only display pepperoni when pepperoni is the recipe type. We see below the options only applicable to the recipe type are displayed - anything common has no condition expression.

The groovy snippet must return a string. The string must be of the format show=true|false

When you see the KM assigned in the mapping it becomes a little clearer. Below you can see the choice box, the user is constrained to pick one of those types;

 When margherita is selected above remember some options were for margherita and some were for pepperoni, we see a subset of options;

Above you can see tomatoes and basic, if you change the type to pepperoni the above options are hidden and pepperoni is displayed as below;

This helps guide the user into configuration options that are more applicable to a path within the KM. One of the other visual enhancements is the ability to group options together. We can add all of the options above into a group named 'Ingredients' that helps visually group related options together;

 Then when this is used you see the options related to ingredients from where the KM is assigned.

You can see how these help improve the usability of KMs in ODI and help reduce errors by further specializing how data is entered and related in the configuration options of the KM. The tasks within the KM can retrieve the option values and perform condition code based on those values. There are some other areas around this but that's all for now. The functionality described here is available in the 12.1.3.0.1.

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