New version of SCM rolled out -- MetaLink users everywhere cheer!

We've heard your feedback and your requests, and spent countless hours designing, building, and testing, and the result is now live: welcome to the latest release of Software Configuration Manager!

Like previous releases, this one takes features that you may have been used to using, and makes them easier to use and more integrated with your overall SCM experience.  The full functionality of both the Service Request and Knowledge sections of the "classic" MetaLink are now available as tabs in SCM -- but (hopefully!) with better usability, simpler, and more intuitive.  As an example, compare the "classic" method for creating a new SR to the new SR wizard now in SCM; I think you'll like what you see!

But that's not all that's new; user thoughts and reactions have been coming to us through the "Feedback" link in the top corner of the dashboard, and we've been paying attention.  For instance, the user community has asked for a print-friendly view of data tables, which is now available from the "gear" menu of dashboard regions.  You've asked for the ability to view historical snapshots of how your targets were configured, and compare between different time points -- that's now available for all targets (either by drilling into a configuration's components, or directly via the brand new Targets region) .  And more -- just explore around and see.

Please keep the feedback coming, both through SCM and through the blog.  And enjoy the newest SCM, which should make the support experience even that much better and easier to use.

Comments:

It used to work with your older release. Now I am getting "This content requires Adobe Flash Player 9" and of course I have no privilege to install it... Support should be available to the maximum number of customers, not only those with the latest technologies! Regards Laurent

Posted by Laurent Schneider on June 08, 2008 at 10:37 PM PDT #

Laurent, SCM has always required Flash Player 9 -- the problem may be in that we're now using a minimum minor version of 115 (the latest released by Adobe is 128, for what it's worth). If moving to that latest Flash 9 release doesn't solve the problem for you, we'd definitely be interested in following up to see what's going on. As for your comments about the latest technology -- it's always tough to decide where to draw the line between taking advantage of new technologies to enable a better experience, or simplifying to support the lowest common denominator on the client side. We think that using the Flash technology offers enough additional value, and is widespread enough among users, to warrant using it. But thanks for the feedback, and we'll work to keep these sorts of concerns in mind.

Posted by Joshua Solomin on June 09, 2008 at 08:54 AM PDT #

Hi Joshua, I have version 9,0,45,0 installed. I have no admin right to upgrade my flash player in internet explorer where I am currently working, so I cannot use CSM at work. Thanks, Laurent

Posted by Laurent Schneider on June 11, 2008 at 06:56 PM PDT #

SCM is slow and clunky. Oracle needs to have a faster interface which does not rely on any specific third party software. I also find the SCM interface confusing. Another thing I do not understand is why on earth Oracle has not released SCM collector for any 64-bit Windows? What is the point of releasing collector for 32-bit Vista? Who installs Oracle database server on 32-bit Vista? SCM has been out for more that one and half years now but still no collector for Windows Itanium/EM64T. I think Oracle needs to wake up to market realities.

Posted by Arun Gupta on July 22, 2008 at 05:30 AM PDT #

Arun, Sorry that you find SCM clunky -- I'd be interested in knowing more details about particular areas of the interface that you find to be confusing. As for the collector software on Windows 64-bit, we do actually have that available. I just noticed that it's not showing up on the collectors tab in SCM, which I'll try to get fixed as soon as possible; in the mean time, you can download it from MetaLink as patch number 5567658, which does have a Windows 64-bit option. thanks, Joshua

Posted by Joshua Solomin on July 22, 2008 at 07:58 AM PDT #

Not liking this at all I'm afraid. I have zero interest in the SCM tool, it's probably last on my list of "stuff I want from Metalink". I will never use the Config Manager - my site is highly secure and I have no interest in data-gathering / data-sharing tools of this type. Shiny, no doubt, but slower - more intrusive (a splash page? For heaven's sake? In this day and age??) The login boxes also assume an American keyboard (so for instance register a double quote when I type an @ sign on my UK keyboard). I have no clue what the "custom configuration attributes" are or what to fill in there... I can't see where just to pop in a quick search term any more (eg an ORA error code). Once I've clicked on Knowledge tab and waited an age for refresh, I have to go through FOUR levels of flashy menu to find "plain Database, please". I have to log in again to get to Patches & Updates. I realise as a plain database DBA (with minimal interest in any of your other 457,233 applications) I am a second class citizen but it's very annoying to have to wade through gallons of irrelevancy. The shiny interface means that the page will not scroll with the scroll wheel, and occasionally sticks to the mouse movement. In summary - all the stuff I wanted at my fingertips has now been buried even deeper in layers of dancing shiny. Very pretty, but in my opinion at the expense of usefulness. I do not feel Metalink is an appropriate place to do the Hard Sell fandango. It's supposed to be for support. I'm willing to update my profile with "products I care about" and would like to have my Metalink area tailored to that. Possible? Sorry to be a luddite.

Posted by Tiff on July 30, 2008 at 07:22 PM PDT #

What gives Joshua? Support had the whole Apex world happy that their technology had been picked for Metalink, then you go picking Flex for SCM. Meanwhile the whole JDev/ADF crowd are scratching their head wondering why Oracle didn't use their technology either? You've gone for a solution written in an Adobe product, which is just the latest buzz in the RIA world, looks pretty, but shows Oracle doesn't eat their own dog food. Talk about mixed messages. What next? Front ends in .Net? Silverlight? It's probably unfair to heap this criticism on yourself Joshua, but being the one to announce the new interface, I think a discussion on why your team chose this technology is warranted and why you've justified moving outside the Oracle solutions. I have a lot of core-tech Oracle developers sitting here not understanding where Oracle expects them to go (if at all) beyond Forms, and now you guys do this! Regards, CM.

Posted by Chris Muir on July 30, 2008 at 09:29 PM PDT #

Tiff Just so you know what is going on. The splash screen is just happening while we load the application. Just to pass the time. Rather than having to reload heavy javascript/DHTML pages every time you go to a site and click on each link, we load a bulk of the stuff up front. But we hear your pain and are working to make the front loading more lightweight. The current release does not have "all" of the features that you are looking for , like error code searching. So doing that task would be annoying in this release. We have something coming to make it as easy as possible (on the toolbar, always available from any page). Search patches, Knowledge, etc... Hopefully that will work well for you. And we are working really hard on making the Knowledge page perform MUCH better. I find it annoying myself and I worked on the design of the darn thing. We are also adding a quick find function on the knowledge page. Just type in a piece of a name of a product (any of the 900 oracle products) and go right to results for that product. That might help you. Please do post more. We don't mind the complaints. We really do want to fix the stuff you care about. And "Products I care about" did you read my spec? ;-> We have that exactly in a feature request. Tell us more about what this means to you. Right now, we have a few features which do "sort of" this kind of work (like the PowerView, available only to folks who run collections) I will write a blog entry on Custom Attributes. They are pretty cool. The scroll wheel. This means you are probably on Firefox or Safari. And I hate to say this bug has been around for 2 years with the Mozilla team. We are working with Adobe to see if we can solve it another way. In IE the scroll wheel works fine. But I won't ask you to change browsers. ;-> And we hope, when you see and use the whole product all of the pieces of the puzzle should make it MUCH easier for you to get your job done.

Posted by Richard Miller on July 31, 2008 at 04:13 AM PDT #

Personally, I could care less if you are using Apex, Adobe or what have you. I like that it looks shiny, but it is slow; it is a hard balance to achieve. However, I do have to give you guys huge kudos for getting a blog on this going an your persevering attitude in the midst of criticisms. =) Keep it up. Could you guys publish a "to do" list that also keeps track of things accomplished/done? Just curious. Richard Miller, you mentioned something about feature requests in "my spec". Where is your spec? Call me blind. In the feedback session I did with Meadow Consulting, I also talked about the following things: - would be nice if the layout items in "Customize Page" were more flexible; for instance, I cannot grow panes horizontally at all. - the right-hand pane that serves as an overview/map for searches in the knowledge browser is not very clear. If I do a search and then try to drill down in the topics at the right, they do not really do much. What is their purpose in life? - I added another "Articles and Documentation" pane in my Knowledge tab customization, but cannot delete it. Now I have a total of three. - thanks for fixing the "bug" that prohibited configurations from being disabled. - How does one track or mark bugs as favorites? Curious, why is the website "csm.oracle.com", but the title is SCM? *grin* I really appreciate that you guys are opening yourselves up in this way and listening. Keep it up!

Posted by Charles Schultz on August 01, 2008 at 12:57 AM PDT #

Hi, I couldn't imagine Microsoft (or any other vendor) snubbing its core web frameworks to use another software companies technology front end. This decision makes no sense on so many levels and in my mind really brings into question how Oracle views its own products and technologies. Granted ADF Faces RC (direct competitor to Flex) is not production yet, but neither is Metalink SCM. It *would have* been a fantastic opportunity to showcase what ADF Faces RC can do as well as add value its closing development cycle as it goes into production. I know this response is more about technology than functionality, but I just can't see how all Metalink users using Flex can be a positive thing from a strategic point of view. Truly bizarre decision that must have the JDev ADF and APEX product development teams wondering what all their effort has come to. Brenden

Posted by Brenden Anstey on August 03, 2008 at 01:59 PM PDT #

I've noticed a few problems. One of them is that either during SR creation, files uploaded arn't getting uploaded or SR agents just arn't seeing them/don't read the SR. Now I expect the odd few to not read the SR, but all of them is pushing it a bit much. The knowledge base new layout is a pain. It was nice and easy within metalink to get to eTRM but now, goodness knows where those docs are. An easy link back into metalink would help at the moment too. The collection via OCM is not too bad but SCM reports incompatiites over platforms that don't exist (raised an SR about this). When creating an SR for an eBusiness instance its a bit silly that you still end up having to punch in the database version when the data has already been collected.

Posted by Richard Halford on August 07, 2008 at 01:07 AM PDT #

hi Richard, We continue to invest heavily in educating our support delivery organization to leverage SCM configurations while resolving SRs so we expect the situation you describe above to be the exception rather than the rule as time goes by. Regarding the new knowledge base layout we accept it takes some getting used to and are interested in getting your detailed feedback in how we can improve its layout and overall usability -- let us know if you'd be interested in participating in a short conference call where we can listen, capture and act on your feedback. We hope to have the issue of having to manually specify the database version during SR creation resolved in the near future, as it is indeed something SCM should be auto-populating for you. thanks for your feedback

Posted by Garry Cronin on August 14, 2008 at 01:51 AM PDT #

The new interface looks nice. But the behavior isn't the way I prefer to use it. When I am doing research on a particular issue or browsing articles it's easier to open up the articles in a separate tab (Firefox) using Middle-Click rather right-click then "Open in new window". Then I can quickly switch between the different articles at my leisure. The SR interface doesn't even allow opening items in multiple windows/tabs forcing you to one window where you have to go back and forth (really annoying especially if tracking multiple issues). I'll stick with Classic since this meets my needs until this is improved. V/R

Posted by Nathan on September 25, 2008 at 03:02 AM PDT #

I am an Oracle On Demand customer and need to fill out SR's for the work that the OOD team performs for my company. When I open an SR either in the old or new version of MetaLink there is a timeout issue that occurs that makes either version nearly unusable. I frequently have multiple MetaLink sessions open at once. I copy and paste from one to another, usually when scheduling refreshes or putting in detail on a recurring issue, where I am searching for SR's with an error in common. By the time I get all the detail in there that I need and hit next, the screen times out and I get brought back to the authentication screen and lose all my work. I don't want to have to copy everything to a word document and then have to paste it quickly back in the SR before it times out again. It feels like a 5 minute (or less) timeout and makes working with MetaLink nearly impossible, it has doubled the time it takes me to create a SR.

Posted by Tracey on October 01, 2008 at 12:34 AM PDT #

The old site was archaic. The new site is not really an improvement. The dependency on Flash is "interesting" choice. As in may you live in interesting times... I suspect If you did not have a captive audience you would see a massive decline in usage. I use Metalink for solving problems. Typically this involves researching bug, functionality or how tos. The old search engine was terribly to use, and often took effort to find the right key words to get what I needed. The new search seems to wrap that same clunky engine with a lot of fluff that makes it even more frustrating. The www.oracle.com site is not using flash and is easier to use than Metalink. I would be nice if it was consistent across all aspects of Oracle. I can not log into "classic" with out Flash now. I'm less than impressed. What is next dark Grey text on a Black background for "enhanced" printing?

Posted by Mal on October 13, 2008 at 12:50 AM PDT #

Well, now I can't use firefox (3.0.3) anymore. You have now sent me back to a Microsoft-only solution, right when I have been in the process of divorcing myself from all Microsoft products. I have been re-imaging my boxes and going Linux-only. Now I am stuck. Please post a solution.

Posted by Dan Phillips on October 20, 2008 at 08:38 PM PDT #

Hi The continual timeouts on the new my oracle support are very frustrating for an everyday user, even just opening new tabs requires me to log in each time. This is currently causing continuous headaches for myself and the rest of our support team that rely heavily on this tool for support, frequently moving from servers to my oracle support for research. The timeout option has been touched upon on this formum but there seems to have been little response regarding this issue. I have also raised this as a metalink SR but again the repsonse has been slow and dissapointing. Regards Mark

Posted by Mark Doughty on October 28, 2008 at 01:28 AM PDT #

I'd like to talk with the folks "cheering". I tried to log an SR last night and just about came unglued. 1. The interface is SO FAT and SLOW. 2. Dropdown slidebars work sometimes. 3. Dropdown disappears when I click away from the entry bar. 4. My browser's ctrl-T (new tab) is being disabled when I use the site. It comes back when I leave the site. 5. My Draft SR got stuck in SR purgatory. I called in and they couldn't figure it out, so I deleted it with the old system and created a new one in the old system. After plugging all the krap again. I had to go home and kick the dog. 6. I'm very surprised more of these show-stoppers didn't come out in ALPHA testing. Good luck with this, but I'd suggest you take a couple tips from the Google gang. Make it simple, light and fast. Google would be a great partner for searching metalink IMHO. Half the time I use Google's search engine when I can't find it on Metalink anyways. SuSE, GNome, Firefox 2.0.0.16 -Ken ken@gallup.com

Posted by Ken on November 07, 2008 at 04:08 AM PST #

The "My Oracle Support" site simply makes a busy DBA's job even harder and more difficult. No benefit at all. Horrible waste of money on oracle's part. Terminate the entire project team and start over again with some staff that have actually used metalink as a user before and understand what it is there for. Metalink isn't there to show off new fancy technology, or to give oracle another headline in the news. It is there for people that pay the high support fees to find and fix problems with their products, with or without help from one of the support staff at oracle. I won't even bother talking about configuration manager - I don't think I could comment on that without swearing.

Posted by Jeremy on February 27, 2009 at 04:13 AM PST #

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