Tuesday Mar 26, 2013

Sharing a saved query through Desktop Integration Suite and folders

I had someone recently ask if there is a way to create a query folder through Desktop Integration Suite (DIS).  Query folders are a new feature available in Framework Folders that basically run pre-defined searches within the context of a folder.  While not immediately obvious, there is a way to do it. 

First, you perform your search through DIS and get your results in the Search Results folder.

DIS Search

Image Search

Search Results

You then take those results and right-click to save them as a Saved Query.  It now goes under the My Saved Queries folder within My Content Server.   Now you can hold down the Ctrl key and drag it to one of the folders under Browse Content.  

SaveQuery

Saved query

Query copied

Query in web UI

And that's all you need to create that query folder in DIS! 


Tuesday Feb 19, 2013

Getting started with Desktop Integration Suite

Getting Started with Desktop Integration SuiteI recently discovered the Oracle Learning Library which is a nice site for self-learning videos and tutorials on Oracle products.  Marsha Hancock, Senior Principal Curriculum Developer for WebCenter Content, just posted a video on Getting Started with Desktop Integration Suite (DIS).  This is a great way to quickly understand how to connect to WebCenter Content with DIS and begin working with it.

Thursday Feb 07, 2013

Caught in the act!

BustedSometimes when troubleshooting issues, the exact cause of the issue may be difficult to find.  You may run across an error appearing in the log file.  But it may not have enough information about what went wrong...or how it might happen again.  So you can turn on tracing and watch the output, but if you don't know when the error may happen, you may have to sift through a lot of trace logs to find the spot of the error.  That's where Event Trap tracing comes it.

Event Trap tracing allows you to specify keywords for content server to look for as it's writing out tracing in the server output.  If that keyword is found, all of the tracing in the buffer at that time will be sent to a separate event tracing output file.  So now you have a nice slice of tracing activity at the exact moment the particular keyword (based off error message or such) is hit. In addition, a thread dump from the JVM can be obtained at the same time to capture all of the thread activity as well. By default, the keyword is Exception so that every exception is captured this way.  

Event Trap Settings

 By default, the log files can be found in the <content server instance directory>/data/trace/event directory or they can be viewed in the browser by clicking on the 'View Event Output' link.

Tuesday Jan 29, 2013

Conversions in WebCenter Content

One of the guiding principles with WebCenter Content has been to make it as easy as possible to consume content.  And part of that means viewing content in a format that is optimal for the end user… regardless of the format the content was created in.  So WebCenter Content has a long history of converting files from one format to another.  Often this involves converting a proprietary desktop publishing format to something more open that can be viewed directly from a browser.  Or taking a high resolution image and creating a rendition that download quickly over a slow network.

Conversion Decision TreeOver the life of the product, the types and methods for those conversions has grown to provide a broad range of options.  It’s sometimes confusing to know what conversion are available and where exactly they are done (Content Server or Inbound Refinery), so I've put together a flowchart and list describing all of the different types of conversion, how and where they are done, and the pros and cons of each.  This list covers what’s available as of the current release – WebCenter Content 11g PS5.

PDF Conversions

Where: Inbound Refinery
When: Upon check-in
How: Multiple ways
Platform: All (* but depends)

So PDF conversions are probably the most common type of conversion done with WCC.  This involves converting a desktop publishing format (e.g. Microsoft Word) into Adobe PDF format.  The benefits obviously include being able to read the document directly in the browser (with a PDF reader plug-in) and not requiring the 3rd party product to read the proprietary format. In addition, PDFs also provide additional benefits such as being able to start viewing the document before the entire file downloads, possible compression on file size, and the ability to provide watermarks and additional security on the file.  And optionally, PDF/A format can be chosen which is recognized as an approved archival format.

Within PDF conversions, there are several different methods that can be used to create the PDF, depending on the needs and requirements.

PDFExportConverter – This method uses Oracle’s own OutsideIn filters to directly convert multiple format types into PDF.  The benefits include multiple platform support (any platform that WCC supports), fastest conversion, and no 3rd party software requirements.  The main downside to this type of conversion is it has the lowest fidelity to the original document. Meaning it won’t always exactly match the look and feel of the original document.  These formats are supported by the OutsideIn filters for conversion to PDF.

WinNativeConverter – Like the name implies, this type of conversion uses the native applications on Windows to do the conversion.  By using the original application that was used to create the document, you will get the best fidelity of PDF compared to the original.  The downside is that the Inbound Refinery can only be run on Windows and not other platforms.  It also requires a distiller engine to convert the PostScript format that gets printed from the native applications to PDF.  The recommended choice for that is AFPL Ghostscript

OpenOfficeConversion – The Open Office conversion is a bit of a compromise between the two types of conversions mentioned above.  It uses Apache Open Office to open and convert the native file. In most cases, it will give you better fidelity of PDF then the PDFExportConverter, but still not as good as WinNativeConverter.  Also, it does support more than just Windows, so it has broader platform support then WinNativeConverter. 

Tiff Converter

Where: Inbound Refinery
When: Upon check-in
How: Uses a 3rd party (CVISION PdfCompressor) engine to perform OCR and PDF conversion
Platform: Windows Only

When needing to convert TIFF formatted files into PDFs, this can be done with either PDFExportConverter or Tiff Converter.  The major difference is if optical character recognition (OCR) needs to be performed on the file in order to extract the full-text off the image.  If OCR is required, then Tiff Converter is used for that type of conversion.  In addition, a 3rd party tool, CVISION PdfCompressor, is required to do the actual OCR and conversion piece.  Tiff Converter acts as the controller between the Inbound Refinery and PdfCompressor.  But because PdfCompressor is a Windows-only application, the Inbound Refinery must also be on Windows. 

XML Converter

Where: Inbound Refinery
When: Upon check-in
How: Uses Oracle OutsideIn filters to convert native formats into XML
Platform: All

The XML Converter allows for native documents to be converted into 2 flavors of XML: FlexionXML (based on FlexionDoc schema) and SearchML (based on the SearchML schema).  In addition, those formats can go through additional transformation with a custom XSLT.  Because the XML Converter utilizes the Oracle OutsideIn filter technology, it supports all platforms.

DAM Converter

Where: Inbound Refinery
When: Upon check-in and updates
How: Can use both Oracle OutsideIn filters as well as 3rd party applications to do image conversions.  Flip Factory is required for video conversions.
Platform: All (* but depends)

DAM Converter is used to create multiple renditions of either image or video files.  The primary goal is to convert original formats which can typically be high resolution and large in size into other formats that are geared towards web or print delivery.  One thing that is unique to DAM Converter is the metadata that is used to specify the rendition set can be updated after the item has been submitted which will send the file back to the Inbound Refinery to be reprocessed.

When using the image converter, the Inbound Refinery comes with the Oracle OutsideIn filters to create renditions, so nothing else is required and it can run on all platforms.  But the converter also supports other types of image converters which are command-line driven such as Adobe Photoshop, XnView NConvert, ImageMagick.  Some are commercial and some are freeware.  Each has different capabilities for different use-cases and are supported on various platforms.  But for general purpose re-sizing, resolution, and format changes, OutsideIn can handle it.

For video conversion, Telestream’s Flip Factory is required.  The DAM Converter acts as the controller between the Inbound Refinery and Flip Factory.  What makes this integration a bit unique is that it is handled purely at a file system level.  This means that Flip Factory, which is a Windows-only application, does not need to reside on the same server as the Inbound Refinery.  They simply need shared file system access between servers.  So the Inbound Refinery can be on Linux while Flip Factory is on Windows.  

HTML Converter

Where: Inbound Refinery
When: Upon check-in
How: Uses Microsoft Office to convert Office documents into HTML
Platform: Windows Only

HTML Converter uses Microsoft Office to save the documents as HTML documents, collects the output (into a zip file if multiple files), and returns them to Content Server.  Using the HTML save output directly from Office, you get a very good fidelity of HTML compared to the original native format.  This is especially true for Excel and Visio which are less text-based.  The downside is you have no control over the HTML output to make any changes or provide consistency between conversions.  It’s simply formatted based on Office’s formatting.  Also, it does not apply any templating around the content to insert code before or after the content or present the document within the structure of a larger HTML page such as in the case of Site Studio.   

Dynamic Converter

Where: Content Server
When: Upon check-in or on-demand
How: Uses Oracle OutsideIn filters to convert native documents into HTML
Platform: All

Like HTML Converter, Dynamic Converter converts Office documents into HTML.  But there are several key differences between the two.  First is Dynamic Converter uses OutsideIn filters to convert to HTML so it supports a wide range of different native formats. Another difference is the processing happens on the Content Server side and not Inbound Refinery.  This allows the conversion to happen on-demand the first time the HTML version is requested.  Alternatively, DC can be configured to do the conversion upon check-in and cache the results so they are immediately available and don’t need to go through conversion on first request. DC also supports a wide range of controls over how the HTML is precisely formatted.  The result can be very minimal and clean HTML with various div or span tags to allow styling with CSS.  This can lead to a more consistent look and feel between converted documents.  In also allows for insertion of code before or after the content to embed the output within a template and is what is used within Site Studio.

Thumbnail Creation

Where: Content Server or Inbound Refinery
When: Upon check-in
How: Uses Oracle OutsideIn filters to create a thumbnail representation of the document to be used on search results
Platform: All

As a new feature in PS5, thumbnails can now be generated directly in the Content Server and not require the document to be sent to the Inbound Refinery (if it doesn’t need other conversions).  This allows the document to become available much more quickly.  But if the file is sent to the Inbound Refinery for other types of conversions, the thumbnail can be generated at that point.

For further information on conversions, see the documentation on Conversions as well as Dynamic Converter

Friday Sep 14, 2012

Mass Metadata Updates with Folders

With the release of WebCenter Content PS5, a new folder architecture called 'Framework Folders' was introduced.  This is meant to replace the folder architecture of 'Folders_g'.  While the concepts of a folder structure and access to those folders through Desktop Integration Suite remain the same, the underlying architecture of the component has been completely rewritten.  One of the main goals of the new folders is to scale better at large volumes and remove the limitations of 1000 content items or sub-folders within a folder.  Along with the new architecture, it has a new look and a few additional features have been added.  One of those features are Query Folders.  These are folders that are populated simply by a query rather then literally putting items within the folders.  This is something that the Library has provided, but it always took an administrator to define them through the Web Layout Editor.  Now users can quickly define query folders anywhere within the standard folder hierarchy.  

Within these new Query Folders is the very handy ability to do metadata updates.  It's similar to the Propagate feature in Folders_g, but there are some key differences that make this very flexible and much more powerful.

  • It's used within regular folders and Query Folders.  So the content you're updating doesn't all have to be in the same folder...or a folder at all.  
  • The user decides what metadata to propagate.  In Folders_g, the system administrator controls which fields will be propagated using a single administration page.  In Framework Folders, the user decides at that time which fields they want to update.
  • You set the value you want on the propagation screen.  In Folders_g, it used the metadata defined on the parent folder to propagate.  With Framework Folders, you supply the new metadata value when you select the fields you want to update.  It does not have to be defined on the parent folder.

Because of these differences, I think the new propagate method is much more useful.  Instead of always having to rely on Archiver or a custom spreadsheet, you can quickly do mass metadata updates right within folders.  

Here are the basic steps to perform propagation.

  1. First create a folder for the propagation.  You can use a regular folder, but a Query Folder will work as well.

    CreateQueryFolder1

    CreateQueryFolder2

  2. Go into the folder to get the results.  

    Query Folder Result

  3. In the Edit menu, select 'Propagate'.

    Propagate Menu

  4. Select the check-box next to the field to update and enter the new value  Click the Propagate button.

    Propagate Window

  5. Once complete, a dialog will appear showing it is complete

    Confirmation

What's also nice is that the process happens asynchronously in the background which means you can browse to other pages and do other things while it is still working.  You aren't stuck on the page waiting for it to complete.  In addition, you can add a configuration flag to the server to turn on a status indicator icon.  Set 'FldEnableInProcessIndicator=1' and it will show a working icon as its doing the propagation.

Propagate Indicator

There is a caveat when using the propagation on a Query Folder.   While a propagation on a regular folder will update all of the items within that folder, a Query Folder propagation will only update the first 50 items.  So you may need to run it multiple times depending on the size...and have the query exclude the items as they get updated.

One extra note...Framework Folders is offered as the default folder architecture in the PS5 release of WebCenter Content.  But if you are using WebCenter Content integrated with another product that makes use of folders (WebCenter Portal/Spaces, Fusion Applications, Primavera, etc), you'll need to continue using Folders_g until they are updated to use the new folders.

Friday Sep 09, 2011

Adding your own alert messages

If you've installed WebCenter Content (UCM) or have made changes such as switching the search engine, you may have noticed an alert message at the top of the pages letting you know if there is a specific task that needs to be done such as a restart or rebuild of the search collection.

Well, these alerts are open for administrators to set as well.  So for instance, if you have a planned outage you can set a message letting users know the system is going to be down for a certain amount of time.  


Adding and managing alerts is very simple.  There are three primary services that are used:  SET_USER_ALERT, GET_USER_ALERTS, DELETE_USER_ALERT.   With SET_USER_ALERT, you simply need to pass in alertId (a unique identifier you give the alert) and alertMsg with the message you want to display.   And because it's just a service, you can simply call it in a URL to set it (as an administrator):  

http://myserver:16200/cs/idcplg?IdcService=SET_USER_ALERT&alertId=maint&alertMsg=My message.  

You can get fancy with the message by including HTML as well as Idoc Script.  That will be processed on the page as it's being rendered.  Optionally, you can pass in alertUrl which would be a URL that the message would lead to.  This value is appended to the "/cs/idcplg" path.  

To know what alerts are set, you can run the GET_USER_ALERTS service and pass in IsJava=1 to display the values back:  

http://myserver:16200/cs/idcplg?IdcService=GET_USER_ALERTS&IsJava=1.  

It will then display the alerts in the USER_ALERTS result set.

To remove the alert, simply run the DELETE_USER_ALERT service and pass in alertId to identify which alert to remove.  Optionally, you can pass in isTempAlert=1 when you first create the alert and it will be removed the next time the server restarts.

Wednesday Jan 26, 2011

Searching for null values in UCM

[Read More]

Thursday Dec 16, 2010

Creating metadata value relationships

[Read More]

Monday Nov 01, 2010

Document and Workflow History

[Read More]

Tuesday Oct 26, 2010

Batch load content into workflow

[Read More]

Monday Oct 11, 2010

WebDAV to UCM 11g on Windows 7

[Read More]

Thursday Oct 07, 2010

Doing check-ins without files in UCM

[Read More]

Tuesday Sep 14, 2010

Using dynamic data in dynamic PDF watermarks

[Read More]

Monday Aug 30, 2010

PDF Conversion on UNIX without OpenOffice

[Read More]

Monday Jun 21, 2010

What happened to Search Within?

[Read More]
About

Kyle Hatlestad is a Solution Architect in the WebCenter Architecture group (A-Team) who works with WebCenter Content and other products in the WebCenter & Fusion Middleware portfolios. The WebCenter A-Team blog can be found at: https://blogs.oracle.com/ ateam_webcenter/

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