Friday Apr 13, 2012

Q&A: Drive Online Engagement with Intuitive Portals and Websites

Drive Online Engagement with Intuitive Portals & Websites

We had a great webcast yesterday and wanted to recap the questions that were asked throughout.

Can ECM distribute contents to 3rd party sites?
ECM, which is now called WebCenter Content can distribute content to 3rd party sites via several means as well as SSXA - Site Studio for External Applications.

Will you be able to provide more information on these means and SSXA?
If you have an existing JSP application, you can add the SSXA libraries to your IDE where your application was built (JDeveloper for example).  You can now drop some code into your 3rd party site/application that can both create and pull dynamically contributable content out of the Content Server for inclusion in your pages.  

If the 3rd party site is not a JSP application, there is also the option of leveraging two Site Studio (not SSXA) specific custom WebCenter Content services to pull Site Studio XML content into a page.

More information on SSXA can be found here: http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E17904_01/doc.1111/e13650/toc.htm

Is there another way than a ”gadget” to integrate applications (like loan simulator) in WebCenter Sites?
There are some other ways such as leveraging the Pagelet Producer, which is a core component of WebCenter Portal. Oracle WebCenter Portal's Pagelet Producer (previously known as Oracle WebCenter Ensemble) provides a collection of useful tools and features that facilitate dynamic pagelet development. A pagelet is a reusable user interface component. Any HTML fragment can be a pagelet, but pagelet developers can also write pagelets that are parameterized and configurable, to dynamically interact with other pagelets, and respond to user input. Pagelets are similar to portlets, but while portlets were designed specifically for portals, pagelets can be run on any web page, including within a portal or other web application. Pagelets can be used to expose platform-specific portlets in other web environments. More on Page Producer can be found here:http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23943_01/webcenter.1111/e10148/jpsdg_pagelet.htm#CHDIAEHG

Can you describe the mechanism available to achieve the context transfer of content?
The primary goal of context transfer is to provide a uniform experience to customers as they transition from one channel to another, for instance in the use-case discussed in the webcast, it was around a customer moving from the .com marketing website to the self-service site where the customer wants to manage his account information. However if WebCenter Sites was able to identify and segment the customers  to a specific category where the customer is a potential target for some promotions, the same promotions should be targeted to the customer when he is in the self-service site, which is managed by WebCenter Portal. The context transfer can be achieved by calling out the WebCenter Sites Engage Server API’s, which will identify the segment that the customer has been bucketed into. Again through REST API’s., WebCenter Portal can then request WebCenter Sites for specific content that needs to be targeted for a customer for the identified segment. While this integration can be achieved through custom integration today, Oracle is looking into productizing this integration in future releases. 

How can context be transferred from WebCenter Sites (marketing site) to WebCenter Portal (Online services)?
WebCenter Portal Personalization server can call into WebCenter Sites Engage Server to identify the segment for the user and then through REST API’s request specific content that needs to be surfaced in the Portal.

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments section! And you can catch a replay of the webcast here.

Tuesday Mar 06, 2012

Oracle WebCenter Interaction: What’s New in 10gR4 (10.3.3) Release


Igor Polyakov, Sr. Principal Product Marketing Manager is here to share what's new in Oracle WebCenter Interaction. In December 2011 we released a new version of WebCenter Interaction – 10gR4 (10.3.3) release, which is also known as ‘Neo’. This is a significant feature-bearing release that is based on WCI/ALUI/Plumtree portal architecture. When planning WCI ‘Neo’ we had selected several feature themes for enhancing portal capabilities:

  • Social Computing
  • Collaboration Enhancements
  • Development Support
  • Content Management
  • Infrastructure and Platforms
  • Integration of WebCenter Services

In the Social Computing and Collaboration Enhancements area we added to WCI an embedded tagging engine that allowed us to make tagging available in the Knowledge Directory, Search Results pages and in all functional areas in Collaboration projects – users can now tag Collaboration documents, discussion messages, threads, blog posts and etc. Portal users can search for tagged content using a suite of Tagging portlets that we provide in WCI. We also enabled Tag Cloud on the Search Results pages so that now users can narrow down returned search results using available tags. Screenshot below shows Search results page – on this page you can see tagging widgets for each result as well as a cloud of relevant tags.

Another new feature in this area is addition of Wikis and Blogs to WCI Collaboration server. These new services are built to support a standard set of WCI features, i.e. they posts are secured, versioned and full text searchable. Also since Wiki and Blogs are part of Collaboration project, users can documents or discussion threads to any post. In WCI portal Wiki and Blogs are available as portlets in the extended suite of WCI Collaboration portlets (Calendar, Discussions, Documents, Tasks, and etc.). All portlets in this suite received a ‘facelift’. Screenshot below shows Wiki Portal and how a wiki post is being edited in-line in this portlet.

To allow portal users to follow portal content updates we added Activity Stream service and portlet, as well as various ‘social portlets’ – User Status, My Picture, Profile Viewers, etc. – that portal users can add to enhance their User Profile pages. If this is not ‘enough’, it is also possible to use the following WebCenter Services that we integrated into WCI via Pagelet Producer (aka Ensemble):

  • Document Manager 
  • Take Polls and Polls Manager 
  • Discussion Forums 
  • Lists 
  • Blogs 
  • Announcements 
  • Activity Stream and Tag Cloud for WebCenter Services 

In WCI 10gR4 Pagelet Producer became tighter integrated into the portal – we added a new Web Service – Remote Pagelet that supports pick & choose selection of available pagelets as well as mapping between WCI preferences and parameters that pagelet exposes.

WCI ‘old-timers’ probably remember good old Excel portlet that was very popular with business users who want to quickly create and publish data from their spreadsheet on the portal. Well, in ‘Neo’ we added support for displaying any Excel file uploaded to Collaboration project in a portlet as the following screenshot illustrates:


In the Development Support area we allowed use of Adaptive Page Layouts for more portal pages, such as Advanced Search Page, Error Page, my Account Page, and etc. which gives developers a very simple way for customizing these pages. In WCI 10gR4 we added new Adaptive Tags and to help developers with using the tags we introduced portlets that demonstrate tags functionality:


WCI developers reading this blog might be asking if there are any changes in IDK – yes, we added remote APIs for Wiki & Blogs as well as made IDK available for Java 1.6 and .NET 3.5. For .NET portlet developers we have a new tool – CSP Producer for .NET, which allows exposing ASP.NET applications as WCI portlets. In these applications you can use advanced ASP.NET 3.5 controls, ASP.NET Ajax, Silverlight, and etc. We are planning to release CSP Producer for .NET on OTN. CSP Producer is replacing Web Controls Consumer (WCC) and Application Accelerator for .NET that got deprecated.

There are a lot of changes in the Infrastructure and Platform Support area. WCI 10gR4 can natively run in 64bit mode on Intel 64 bit platforms running either Windows 2008 or Linux OS. We certified latest versions of Oracle and MS SQL databases and also updated Data Direct JDBC and ADO drivers in WCI to version 3.5. For the complete list of new platforms and software support I recommend to check Release Notes that are included into documentation library http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23010_01/index.htm for WCI 10gR4.

Tuesday Feb 28, 2012

What's New in WebLogic Portal?

In December 2011, we announced new releases of WebLogic Portal 10.3.4 and WebCenter Interaction 10.3.3. Eric Pollard, Sr. Principal Product Manager for Oracle WebCenter, is here today to provide some additional insights and detail on the latest release of WLP.


With the release of WebLogic Portal 10.3.4, customers can continue to use the product with a few important updates to the underlying stack.  Principal among these updates is the supported configuration of running WLP on WebLogic Server 10.3.4.  This release of WLS was the first to be certified on the Exalogic hardware.  This means that WLP can now run on Exalogic and enjoy the performance and scalability it offers.  In particular, WSRP will run better on Exalogic.  One of the performance pitfalls of WSRP is network latency.  With Exalogic and its inherent Infiniband network protocol, the network latency between WSRP consumer and producer domains will be greatly improved.  

The WLP 10.3.4 release also introduces supported compatibility with WebCenter Content 11g (UCM 11g). This means existing customers who were constrained by using UCM 10g with WLP can now upgrade their Content server.  Now both WLP and WebCenter Content will use the same WLS 10.3.4 container to run applications.

Lastly, the WLP 10.3.4 release comes bundled with the Helios version of Eclipse.  Developers will be able to use this version of Eclipse with their WLP 10.3.4 projects. The WebLogic Portal team is now planning to release WLP 10.3.5 in the first half of this year.  This release will again be a compatibility release to align with WLS 10.3.5.

If you are interested in the future releases of WLP, please contact me directly at eric.pollard@oracle.com.

Wednesday Feb 22, 2012

New Release of WebCenter Portal Available

Today Oracle released 11g Release 1 (11.1.1.6) for WebCenter Portal.  In addition to a number of bug fixes, we've included several new capabilities and certifications.  

The following is a brief overview of what's new:

New Capabilities

  • Dynamic Roles / Oracle Entitlement Server integration: leverage dynamic or conditionally assigned roles which can be assigned on an as needed basis depending on the action initiated by a user.  
  • Presence/IM Server support: Certified integration with Microsoft Lync 2010
  • Usability enhancements.  Examples include:
    • Discussions - added support for pagination.
    • Document upload - select multiple files, drag and drop into document library, and progress/status indicator.  
    • Event calendar - categorize events and display events by category.
  • Search - improved control over what services are searched and shown in the results page.  
  • Pagelet Producer 
    • Inject Portlets into WebCenter Sites
    • Auto-login for Kerberos protected web applications
    • OpenSocial 1.1 gadget support
    • Multi region clipping into single pagelet
New Certifications
  • IBM WebSphere Application Server V7 
  • Microsoft Office Integration – Support for Windows 7 and Office 2010 
  • Editions Based Revisions Support (Oracle Database) 
  • Gridlink Driver Support (WebLogic Server) 
  • Various Browser Certifications
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 (IE9)
  • Firefox 5 and above (FF5+)
  • Chrome 12 and above (12+)

Watch the Oracle WebCenter Portal blog for ensuing detailed blog posts on these WebCenter Portal features.  

Monday Dec 12, 2011

New WebCenter Portal Releases Now Available

As part of our continued commitment to support existing portal customers, we are pleased to announce that Oracle WebCenter Interaction 10gR4 (10.3.3) and  Oracle WebLogic Portal 10.3.4 are now generally available.

Oracle WebCenter Interaction 10.3.3 is a full feature-bearing release of WebCenter Interaction that contains significant enhancements to social networking, tagging and other social and collaboration features. WCI 10.3.3 further expands the list of supported platforms and 3rd party software to include both 32bit and 64bit Intel platforms and latest releases of Oracle and Microsoft databases. WebCenter Interaction 10gR4 is now available on OTN and Documentation for this release can be found here.

Oracle WebLogic Portal 10.3.4 release adds certification against Oracle WebLogic Server 10.3.4 and Oracle WebCenter Content 11g. At this time, the release is now only available on OTN and Documentation for the release can be found here.

For more information, please visit OTN. If you have specific questions regarding these releases, please contact Oracle Support or your Oracle account team.

Tuesday Aug 23, 2011

Webcast: Land O'Lakes Improves Online Experiences with Self-Service Portal

Reduce Bottlenecks, Order Delays, and Customer Frustration

Are you able to provide your customers and partners with an easy-to-use, online self-service experience? Are you processing high-volume transactions and struggling with call-center bottlenecks or back-end systems that won’t integrate, causing order delays and customer frustration?

Join us for this Webcast on September 14, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET as Land O’Lakes shares strategies and best practices for transforming your business by providing an intuitive user experience that allows you to:

  • Easily create and capture orders for improved product reservation, price visibility, and up-sell/cross-sell opportunities
  • Allocate products based on business rules and improved tracking
  • Provide an intuitive user interface for ordering, invoice information, bill presentation, and support issue tracking

Register online for Land O'Lakes Improves Online Experiences with Self-Service Portal.

 Presented by:
Sachin Agarwal
Sachin Agarwal
Director, Product Management, Oracle WebCenter Portal, Oracle
 
Mervyn Lally
Mervyn Lally
Architecture, Innovation, and Integration Lead, Winfield Solutions, Land O’Lakes
 
Kristen L. McConnell
Kristen L. McConnell
Systems Applications Manager, Winfield Solutions, Land O’Lakes

Monday Aug 22, 2011

Oracle WebCenter: Composite Applications & Mashups

Today, it’s pretty apparent that IT and the business work in different cycles. IT focuses on long-term stability, predictability, and cost reduction. Businesses tend to respond to short-term opportunities and market shifts even as they plan for long-term growth and profitability. Businesses like to respond; change, therefore, is constant in business and it has often been difficult for IT to change at the speed of business. What is needed is a business-oriented approach for building solutions. One that is flexible enough to change in near real-time as business and IT needs evolve.

One way to approach this is through composite applications and mashups. By adding a flexible mashup layer on top of existing systems and applications, the business is able to drive change. Processes and user interfaces can be mashed-up on the fly by using readily available business services, making it easy to quickly change these composite applications and mashups within hours rather than days or weeks.

As you know a mashup is a combination of information (internal or external) that is brought together to provide a valuable service. Many simple examples include combining mapping information like home locations with list prices and sellers. In this way, I can get a quick view of all the homes for sale in a specific neighborhood in which I want to live. I want the same service as a sales rep when I go to decide how I will plan my week. I want to see all my prospective customers within a certain area so that I can plan accordingly. Or I want to combine my current prospect s with a list of all the product issues they registered over the last year so that I can make sure they are addressed before I arrive. A mashup allows the business user to quickly assemble this view from the different parts or sources supplied from IT.

This week we want to focus on Composite Applications and Mashups and I recently spoke with Sachin Agarwal, Director of Product Management for WebCenter Portal at Oracle around this topic. Here’s a summary of the insight Sachin provided.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Oracle WebCenter provides a rich set of tools and capabilities for pulling in content, applications and collaboration functionality from various different sources and weaving them together into what we call Mashups. Mashups that also consists of transactional applications from multiple sources are specifically called Composite Applications.

With Oracle WebCenter, one can develop highly productive tasked based interfaces that aggregate a related set of applications that are part of a business process and provide in context collaboration tools so that users don’t have to navigate away to different tabs to achieve these tasks. For instance, a call center representative (CSR), not only needs to be able to pull customer information from a CRM application like Siebel, but also related information from Oracle E-Business Suite about whether a specific order has shipped. The CSR will be far more efficient if he or she does not have to open different tabs to login into multiple applications while the customer is waiting, but can access all this information in one mashup.


Oracle WebCenter provides a comprehensive set of tooling that enables a business user to quickly aggregate together a mashup and wire-in different backend applications to create a custom dashboard. Not only does Oracle WebCenter supports a wide set of standards (WSRP 1.0, 2.0, JSR 168, JSR 286) that allow portlets from other applications to be surfaced within WebCenter, but it also provides tools to bring in other web applications such as .Net Applications as well as SharePoint webparts. The new Business Mash-up editor allows business users to take any Oracle Application or 3rd party application and wire the backend data sources or APIs to a rich set of visualizations and reuse them in mashups. Moreover, Business users can customize or personalize any page using Oracle WebCenter Composer’s on-the-fly visual page editing features. Users access and select different resource components available in Oracle WebCenter’s Business Dictionary in order to add new content to the page. The Business Dictionary provides a role-based view of available components or resources, and these components can include information from a variety of enterprise resources such as enterprise applications, managed content, rich media, business processes, or business intelligence systems. Together, Oracle WebCenter’s Composer and Business Dictionary give users access to a powerful, yet easy to use, set of tools to personalize and extend their Oracle WebCenter portals and applications without involving IT.

Looking for more information on Composite Applications and Mashups? Check out these resources:

Wednesday Aug 03, 2011

Oracle WebCenter: Build Composite Applications

You've heard about the rebrand of WebCenter, now it's time to see it in action! View this demo to see how you can build engaging and intuitive interfaces for your Enterprise Applications with Oracle WebCenter. 


Monday Aug 01, 2011

Oracle WebCenter: Delivering Intuitive Experiences for Enterprise Applications

We recently announced the new Oracle WebCenter, the user engagement platform for social business, connecting people and information. With this announcement the WebCenter brand covers portal, web experience management, content, and social and collaboration technologies into a single product suite that can be easily integrated with enterprise applications.  You can see the announcement webcast now on-demand. Last week we talked about the connect pillar of WebCenter, and this week will we focus on the portal pillar.

I had the opportunity to speak with Sachin Agarwal, Director of product management for Oracle WebCenter portal. Here is a recap of our conversation. 

Q: What are the portal capabilities within Oracle WebCenter?
A: Oracle WebCenter’s portal capabilities deliver intuitive user experiences for enterprise applications. This complete, open and integrated enterprise portal and composite applications solution enables the development and deployment of internal and external portals and websites, composite applications and mash-ups with integrated social and collaboration services and enterprise content management capabilities.  Oracle WebCenter delivers social and collaborative services to help optimize connections between people, information and applications, provides business activity streams so users can navigate, discover and access content in context, and offers dynamic personalization of applications, portals and sites so users have a customized experience. Oracle WebCenter builds on the best user experience capabilities from a significant portfolio of leading portal products and related technologies and provides the foundation for delivering the next-generation user experience for Oracle Fusion Middleware as well as Oracle Fusion Applications.


Figure 1: WebCenter portal provides a single point of access for both internal and external constituents to support collaborative, analytical and social processes critical to your business.

Q: How is Oracle WebCenter different from other portal offerings out there?
A: Oracle WebCenter allows users to easily create dynamic enterprise portals such as intranets and extranets. With Oracle WebCenter you can create out-of-the-box communities, allowing you to create individual, team and organizational work environments to connect people and content. Personalized dashboards let users monitor performance and minimize the page transitions by integrating information and keeping it in the context of the activity, action, or task that they are attempting to complete.

I think the biggest key here is that you are able to access content and applications from the portal in context of whatever business process or activity you are working on. This is a huge benefit for users, as they don’t have to jump from system to system and are able to work more efficiently.

Figure 2: Seamlessly manage and expose content, images and video from across your enterprise directly in the context of WebCenter portal.

Q: Can you build composite applications with Oracle WebCenter?
A: With Oracle WebCenter, you can easily assemble composite applications and mashups with Oracle’s common user experience architecture. This includes best practices and design patterns for developing next generation user experiences and is based on Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), the common development framework for all Oracle Fusion Middleware user interfaces and Oracle Fusion Applications. In this way, you can easily extend existing applications and Oracle Fusion Applications with reusable, standards-based components.

Figure 3: Easily mashup information from various internal and external sources without writing code.

Q: Is WebCenter Spaces part of Oracle WebCenter portal or Oracle WebCenter connect?
A: WebCenter Spaces is now a feature offered as part of Oracle WebCenter portal, along with Framework and Services. Oracle WebCenter connect provides contextual social and collaboration capabilities.

Q: If someone is an existing Oracle WebCenter Suite customer, what does the rebrand to Oracle WebCenter mean to them for their short-term (3-9 months) deployment plans?
A: With the rebrand, we are making it easier to maximize the value of your investment by making it clearer how all our products fit together into a larger portfolio. This will also lay the grounds for tighter integrations within the products in the larger portfolio, ie much more integrated Content, and Collaboration services along with the capability to leverage a common architecture for search, mobile, application integration and other shared services across the portfolio.

Q: What does the rebrand to Oracle WebCenter mean for customers who are currently on WebLogic Portal, WebCenter Interaction, Oracle Portal or Sun Portal?
A: The rebranded Oracle WebCenter portal along with the larger portfolio provides a more compelling solution for these customers. As we have mentioned in the past, there are new releases of the existing products and Oracle has committed to extended support through 2017. This will give customers plenty of time to consider the most cost effective and productive path forward. We continue to enhance the existing products with new customer enhancements all the time. While they apply these new releases to their existing deployments, they should take advantage of some of the new Oracle WebCenter features directly. Customers can rest assured that their investment in Oracle solutions is safe.

Learn more about Oracle WebCenter portal.
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Oracle WebCenter portal is a portal and composite applications solution that delivers intuitive user experiences for the enterprise that are seamlessly integrated with your enterprise applications.

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