Wednesday Jun 03, 2009

Hands-On with Oracle's iPhone Apps

The last time Steven covered the iPhone was November 2008, which is roughly 1948 in Internet time. Heck, the App Store had less than 9,000 apps in it back then and it's now just around 40,000 apps. Oracle has been enabling our enterprise solutions for that platform and many of them impact EBS administrators, so we'll summarize them here.

E-Business Suite Specific Applications

Screenshot of Oracle iPhone Expenses app Steven noted that Oracle Business Approvals for Managers is now Available for the iPhone. That really is a cool solution. Using Oracle Workflow for expense reports, purchase order requisitions, human resources vacancies, and HR job offers, Release 12 end-users can perform approvals on the fly in a native iPhone app, including drilling to detail on each notification.

Our SOA technologies allow us to add on new user experiences like the iPhone UI, but architecturally it's just like a Rich Internet Application. Because of this, we can use the same infrastructure to support Oracle Business Approvals for Sales Managers for the Siebel CRM platform with all the same advantages. The E-Business Suite version had been downloaded through the App Store over 12,000 times as of March 2009, so this must be old hat for some of you.

Also, integrated to Approvals or standalone, Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition users can now access reports and alerts through Oracle Business Indicators. Indicators will be increasingly useful to E-Business Suite shops as they take up the Oracle Business Intelligence Applications.

The BI Apps deliver ETL, integrated security, schema and metadata, reports, dashboards and more for E-Business Suite 11i10 and R12 instances, as well as the other Applications Unlimited stacks and even third-party applications. The Indicators app has seen over 43,000 downloads in its first 7 months!

Screenshot of Oracle iPhone app Business Intelligence Indicators

A New App: Maintenance Workbench for Oracle Enterprise Asset Management

New with E-Business Suite Release 12.1 is the Maintenance Workbench application for Oracle Enterprise Asset Management. The Workbench app allows a field user to pull up nearby assets using the iPhone's GPS, integrating Google Maps information for navigation, and then allowing the execution of work orders on the phone. Manage your asset-intense operations? There's an app for that!

Accessing EBS Self-Service with Safari

You know -- because E-Business Suite has been an Internet-only solution since, well, since shortly after there was an Internet -- I forget sometimes to mention that all of the Self-service or Oracle Applications Framework/JTF user interfaces function pretty well on Mobile Safari.

Quick tip - remember to enable pop-up windows, which is off by default in Mobile Safari. We use them for LOV lookups.

In testing Managers, I created that expense report in iExpenses on the fly, and when I needed to turn off the Personalization profile option for OPERATIONS user, I did that right from the iPhone. You get a lot for free around here, huh? Here’s iSupplier because I thought it was more interesting…

Screenshot of iSupplier running on iPhone Mobile Safari

Oracle CRM iPhone Apps

Screenshot of Oracle iphone app CRM On Demand Mobile Sales Assistant

Oracle's Application Integration Architecture provides prebuilt integrations for the Apps Unlimited products, built on a standards-based Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) platform. One interesting product here is a Process Integration Pack that integrates Oracle's hosted multi-tenant Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform with Oracle E-Business Suite. Oracle CRM On Demand Integration Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite (Opportunity to Quote) allows E-Business Suite shops to adopt CRM for their field sales forces, and we're supporting that through several iPhone user interfaces.

I've had a chance to play with Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant against our test CRM On Demand instance, and it's great. The replication of data is near real-time. You can seamlessly switch between local iPhone contacts and CRM On Demand contact information. You can even update tasks offline when you should be sleeping on the airplane - all big wins.

The CRM On Demand apps are rounded out by a dedicated application for managing Sales Forecast information. You can get more info on that here.

And lest we forget, the CRM On Demand folks also support the BlackBerry - but that's a different blog entry.

Related Articles

Tuesday Jul 18, 2006

Forms Personalization - Get It While It's Hot!

 So, it's all about J2EE, right?


Well, it will be - and we're all excited by the move to the Fusion Applications platform, and its early form, Oracle Applications Framework.


But we still live in a world with Oracle Forms, and we will continue to do so for  Release 12. Importantly, you can stay on these releases as long as they provide you business value, so you can move to Fusion Applications on your timeframe, not ours. (Close your eyes and say 'Applications Unlimited' . Feels good, doesn't it?)


So it's important for us to let you change your business practices at the lowest cost of ownership on the Forms stack, and Forms Personalization lets you do that. It's a feature that's been out just under 2 years, but this is a great venue to highlight it to make sure you're taking maximum advantage of it.


What now?


Forms Personalization takes the Custom Library (CUSTOM.PLL) concepts and makes them much easier to implement. Like much easier. Like going from your VCR to a Tivo easier. CUSTOM.PLL coding is all hand-tooled PL/SQL which is controlled in a single source file, by default. It allows implementers to trap various Forms triggers and take actions based on them.


All Forms Personalizations, on the other hand, are stored as metadata, and so they are all seamlessly upgraded without needing to be re-applied or addressed - just like Flexfields or Folder definitions! Forms Personalization provides tools to perform the same configurations, in the form of a Form. (Say that fast, huh?)


Open any Form in 11i10, and go to Help->Diagnostics->Custom Code-> Personalize. This brings up the Personalization Form in the context of the Form and Function that you were in. This is where you build the Personalizations specific to that Form or Function.


The page has two major tabs: Conditions and Actions. Forms Personalization is basically a big set of if-then statements that can execute because of various events that take place on that Form.


If...


Conditions determine IF a personalization executes after a specific event or Forms trigger (including MENU or SPECIAL triggers). Triggers (WHEN-NEW-ITEM-INSTANCE, WHEN-VALIDATE, etc.) can be attached to objects, such as this example - when the user tabs out of the Purchase Order Type field into the Supplier Name field. Note that Conditions include conditional logic (only if the PO Type is 'Planned Purchase Order', e.g.), and scopes (only for Purchasing Superuser responsibility or Vision Operations organization or Joe the useless intern).


Conditions:


Then...


Actions are the list of specific things that you want to have happen. The major actions are:



  • Builtin: Form or PL/SQL built-ins like executing a procedure, mimicking a key stroke, navigating to another function, opening a URL, etc. Very powerful indeed.


  • Property: Set the Forms property value of a form item (If it's a Planned Purchase Order, set the Required property of the Description item in the PO_Header block to TRUE, e.g.)


  • Message: put up a prompt warning like an OK box (cool because you can populate the message with data from screen variables, lookups, or calculations)


  • Menu: Enables a special menu entry, defining its label, icon name and blocks to which it applies.

Actions:


How now? (.... 'brown cow?')


Those are the basics, and I think you can see how much more accessible this power is now. It's easily managed, as well. For example, there are delivered FNDLOAD scripts for migrating these personalizations between instances (DEV > TEST > PROD), as well as entering them in version control systems.


Also, there is a central form for identifying the personalizations and turning them off! Pretty good if you completely hose up the WHEN-NEW-FORM-INSTANCE event... (Not that I've done that. Not that I would tell you, anyway.)


Couple of last notes


Forms Personalization receives events before CUSTOM.PLL does but then passes them normally to CUSTOM.PLL... Your existing CUSTOM.PLL logic will continue to work, but you can introduce these Personalizations first.


Forms Personalization was tested for performance and has been found to have very low impact. So don't worry about using this on heavily trafficked forms.


You need FND 11.5.10 minipack (FND.H), patch 3262159; alternately, it's included in ATG Family Pack H with additional niceties.


In all, it's great stuff, and while many folks have already done a bunch of CUSTOM.PLL library work, some may have shied away from it, or might have other small tasks that can now be trivially done. Of course, if you're just implementing, you'll find this very valuable.


References




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