Custom Templates: Using user exits

One of the features of Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.1 is the ability to use templates and user exits to extend the base configuration files. The configuration files used by the product are based upon a set of templates shipped with the product.

When the configureEnv utility asks for configuration settings they are stored in a configuration file ENVIRON.INI which outlines the environment settings. These settings are then used by the initialSetup utility to populate the various configuration files used by the product using templates located in the templates directory of the installation.

Now, whilst the majority of the installations at any site are non-production and the templates provided are generally adequate for that need, there are circumstances where extension of templates are needed to take advantage of more advanced facilities (such as advanced security and environment settings). The issue then becomes that if you alter the configuration files manually (directly or indirectly) then you may lose all your custom settings the next time you run initialSetup.

To counter this we allow customers to either override templates with their own template or we now provide user exits in the templates to add fragments of configuration unique to that part of the configuration file. The latter means that the base template is still used but additions are included to provide the extensions.

The provision of custom templates is supported but as soon as you use a custom template you are then responsible for reflecting any changes we put in the base template over time. Not a big task but annoying if you have to do it for multiple copies of the product.

I prefer to use user exits as they seem to represent the least effort solution. The way to find the user exits available is to either read the Server Administration Guide that comes with your product or look at individual templates and look for the lines:

#ouaf_user_exit <user exit name>

Where <user exit name> is the name of the user exit.

User exits are not always present but are in places that we feel are the most likely to be changed. If a user exit does not exist the you can always use a custom template instead.

Now lets show an example. By default, the product generates a config.xml file to be used with Oracle WebLogic. This configuration file has the basic setting contained in it to manage the product. If you want to take advantage of the Oracle WebLogic advanced settings, you can use the console to make those changes and it will be reflected in the config.xml automatically. To retain those changes across invocations of initialSetup, you need to alter the template that generates the config.xml or use user exits.

The technique is this. Make the change in the console and when you save the change, WebLogic will reflect it in the config.xml for you. Compare the old version and new version of the config.xml and determine what to add and then find the user exit to put it in by examining the base template.

For example, by default, the console is not automatically deployed (it is deployed on demand) in the base config.xml. To make the console deploy, you can add the following line to the templates/CM_config.xml.win.exit_3.include file (for windows) or templates/CM_config.xml.exit_3.include file (for linux/unix):

<internal-apps-deploy-on-demand-enabled>false</internal-apps-deploy-on-demand-enabled>

Now run initialSetup to reflect the change and if you check the splapp/config/config.xml file you will see the change applied for you. Now how did I know which include file? I check the template for config.xml and found there was an user exit at the right place.

I prefixed my include filename with "CM_" to denote it as a custom user exit. This will tell the upgrade tools to leave that file alone whenever you decide to upgrade (or even apply fixes).

User exits can be powerful and allow customizations to be added for advanced configuration. You will see products using Oracle Utilities Application Framework use this exits themselves (usually prefixed with the product code). You are also taking advantage of them.

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About

Anthony Shorten
Hi, I am Anthony Shorten, I am the Principal Product Manager for the Oracle Utilities Application Framework. I have been working for over 20+ years in the IT Business and am the author of many a technical whitepaper, manual and training material. I am one of the product managers working on strategy and designs for the next generation of the technology used for the Utilities and Tax markets. This blog is provided to announce new features, document tips and techniques and also outline features of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products. These products include Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing, Oracle Utilities Meter Data Management, Oracle Utilities Mobile Workforce Management and Oracle Public Service Revenue Management. I am the product manager for the Management Pack for these products.

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