My second open world has come to an end and I can look back with a good feeling. It was a great conference.
Open World is not all about getting your brain washed by Oracle PM's and sales reps. It's also about networking and catch up with partners or customers. I have to say, I had a great time doing both. My brain is now fully washed and I caught up with some lovely chaps.
Below you can find an overview of all the events and presentations I attended. Comments are more than welcome.
On the Friday before Open World we usually have a Partner Advisory Council for Fusion Middleware. Some partners are invited over at Oracle HQ to discuss and present. It is also a good opportunity for Oracle to meet-up with the partners and to hear about their problems and concerns.
The PAC is divided in separate areas. There was a room for WebCenter, SOA/BPM and BI. I was of course invited for the WebCenter PAC. This year the WebCenter one was organized by Andrew Palmer who took over from Hans Blaas. Andrew is now in charge for the full WebCenter stack which means that the PAC was about Content, Portal, Sites and Social Network.
Nothing new has been told during the PAC because all the good new stuff is announced on the real events during OOW.
We do had some great presentations. One that impressed me most was the presentation by HP. They presented their approach on big WebCenter projects. I have to admit, I tend to be quite negative to big consulting companies but I have to admit, HP deserved my respect. I did a review of one of their projects and it was really good. Now that I've seen their approach on how they tackle these projects I can understand why it is good. I believe other companies could definitely learn from them.
Stefan Andreasen, the CTO from Kapow Software also presented their migration tool. He showed how easy it is to migrate big sites from Site Studio to Fatwire or to anything. They have a migration browser that allows you to easily select content from one section to another and the software takes care of everything. It's a really great declarative way to migrate your site.
At InfoMENTUM we already work with Kapow for content integration into one of our projects. They really have some great tools! It's worth checking them out.
I also gave a small presentation about best practices in WebCenter Portal together with Stefan Krantz from the A-Team. He gave the biggest part of the presentation. Talked about navigation models, templates and so on. I talked about how these things are really important because otherwise you will mess up the project.
I have to admit, I also learned a few new tricks from Stefan during that session. I might blog about these in a separate post.
On Saturday Chris Muir organized a social event for the ADF EMG members. It was a great evening where we could meet all those people who are active at the ADF EMG. It was nice to finally put a face to some of those names.
Thanks a lot for Chris for organizing this. It's nice to see that even when he joined the dark side (his words, not mine...) he still looks after the community.
Sunday is the first day at Open World and it usually is reserved for user group sessions. Again, Chris has managed to get us a room with some nice presentations. All ADF related.
I first saw a session from Gert Poel and Pieter Gillis from iAdvise in Belgium. Iadvise is a company that falls in the same holding as the company I worked for before I moved to the UK so I already knew them. They are experts in Oracle Forms and they came to present a basic presentation about forms to ADF migration. They made an introduction into ADF for Oracle Forms developers.
I don't know anything about forms so that session was not that interesting for me. I can however imagine that people who are familiar with forms found it a very interesting presentation as it explained some basic concepts and differences between the way an Oracle Forms developer should think and develop their application.
The next session I saw was not part of the ADF EMG session. It was a presentation by Brian “Bex” Huff. I knew all about him when I first started with Oracle UCM a year of 5 ago. I read his book and blog and learned a lot from him.
I first met him during the ADF EMG Social night on Saturday. He is a really nice guy. I enjoyed talking to him.
I had great hopes about his presentation and he didn't let me down. This presentation was about the differences and overlapping features.
He gave a good overview on in which case you should use either Sites, Content or Portal.
I cannot recall if it was in that session but I recall something that it's not just about the features but also about the skills you have. You don't always have the skills for Content but you do have the skills for Sites so then you might go for Sites.
It was also clear that Portal is the only one that is really great for integrating back-end services and to build rich intranets.
The last session on Sunday was again an ADF EMG session. This was more a panel like session where Simon Haslam and Chris Muir interviewed one of the key architects for Fusion Applications. As most of you know, Fusion Applications are build with JDeveloper and ADF so it was all about how easy it was for the team to use JDeveloper.
They explained how each module in the Fusion Apps have their own workspace and each workspace generates a single EAR file which is a web application. Some of these workspaces have hundreds of projects in JDeveloper but they found a way how to configure JDeveloper to not all of these projects need to be compiled when someone wants to test a taskflow. This clearly reduces the compiling time.
It was also clear how big the impact of the development for the Fusion Apps was on ADF and JDeveloper. It often happens that the Fusion Apps team want additional features and they are partially responsible for some great features in JDeveloper.
Because I got nominated for ACE in February I was also invited for the ACE Dinner on Sunday. It was a great dinner where I met some other ACE's and ACE Directors. I had nice chats with lots of other ACE's and Directors which was great! The venue was great so thanks to Lillian Buziak for making this possible!
Monday was all about WebCenter Strategy. I saw the session about the WebCenter Portal Strategy, WebCenter Content Strategy. I missed out on the Sites and Social strategy because you have to choose... I hate choices but sometimes some sessions fall at the same time and then you have to make difficult choices...
So the first strategy session was a global one. It was all about engaging your customers in any way you can imagine. It was cross product which means that it was about all of the WebCenter stack, not just one product.
I cannot remember anything special from that session which is kinda normal because the cool announcements would follow in the other sessions.
It was however nice to see how Oracle analysed the market and found some new visions. They noticed that mobile is really important which is a common feature you will see turning up in other sessions.
Empowering your business users seems to be another new buzz word. It's all about providing them with the tools to build the things they want without having the IT to help. Every product in the WebCenter stack has some cool new features to make this possible which I will explain in other parts.
Oracle also made it a habit to introduce a customer case in every session like this. In this session we got the story from KPN in the Netherlands. They build their new intranet with WebLogic Portal and Fatwire (WebCenter Sites). I found it a little strange because they are not using WebCenter Portal but WebLogic portal and an older version of Sites.
It was however cool to see their solution and how it worked for them. It showed that you now have to choose between either Portal or Sites but you can get best of both worlds. For their transactional intranet they are using portal and their public facing dot com site they implemented Fatwire. Sounds like a great case!
In this session we had a great overview on how to optimize performance of ADF Business Components. I haven't done much optimization on the business components so this session was great for me. We saw a nice overview of some parameters we can set in the application module and what exactly they mean and how they behave.
It was also clear that there is no one fit solution. It always depends on your application so therefore it is important to understand these parameters.
There were so many parameters I already forgot but good thing to know is that the presentations will be made available in a while. I will definitely reread the presentation and play around with some parameters and maybe create a post about it.
We also saw the architecture of Business Components. The relation between EO's, VO's, Row collections and query collections and why those objects behave like this.
It's nice to see that BC knows about rows which have been modified and which ones not so it will react accordingly. These things are really important to understand which rows are stored in the session and which ones are not. They use a concept of soft and hard linking for these. Changes rows have a hard link while not changed rows are soft linked and removed from the session when new rows are selected.
When you have a tree table the parent is hard linked which means that the rows are kept in session while the child table is always soft linked so if you open a new record, the table inside that record will replace the previous row set. This was nice to know and I finally understand why this is.
As you can tell, it was a very interesting session.
I already heard rumors that WebCenter Content would get a face-lift so I was really anxious to see if they would announce this during this session.
There were two big announcements that sound really nice.
The first one was all about mobile enabling the content server. They have build an iOS application to browse the content server. It also allows you to upload, check-in and do other basic functionalities. This is really great so you have access to your secure content wherever you are. Currently the Android app is not yet finished but development is in progress so that's also good news.
During the demo of the mobile app they took a picture from the audience and uploaded it to the content server which was nice to see.
The next big thing was the new user interface. It looked amazing. It really looks like a modern user-experience. It is completely build in ADF and should be deployed as a separate EAR file.
It is also good to know that this is just a skin on top of the original Content Server. This means that the old application is still available so if people are worried about the customizations they did for customers, they have nothing to fear because everything will still work. The new UI is just an add-on. Nice concept but I don't really think it provides some customization features like we have in WebCenter Portal. It would have been better if they also provides the same customization features as in WebCenter Portal but apparently they didn't... This was a little bit disappointing.
Overall Oracle is doing a great job with the Content Server but there is still a lot of room for improvement. They are taking the modern user experience to the next level but in that approach they sometimes don't leave enough wiggle room for customization which almost all of our customers require.
I had really high hopes for this session. I already saw a sneak peak of some of the new WebCenter Portal features so I was hoping they would make them public during this session.
The session started with the same slides from the other strategy and vision presentations which were all about how the landscape changed to mobile and empowering the business user.
Then they started to talk about new features and how they incorporated those new visions into the portal. It's important to know that they were talking about WebCenter PS7 which is due for somewhere in 2013 but they didn't exactly tell us when... Beginning, mid or end...
All I know is that I really want to get a hold of that new version because it looked great!!!
WebCenter Portal also got a new UI. The administration section looks different but has the same elements as today with additional ones. The UI looks much more like the new UI from WebCenter Content. You can clearly see that Oracle is aiming for a uniform look and feel and they are doing a good job in this.
The Composer also got a facelift. They took a close look at the edit mode from WebCenter Sites and remade it for Portal. This means that edit mode for Sites and Portal looks almost the same. This also means that the composer is a little bit more flexible and easy to use.
The next really big thing that got me excited was the Data Presenter and business mesh-ups. Anybody remembers the personalization engine? Anybody uses that feature? It's basically a modelling tool that allows you to create scenario's that generate a specific outcome based upon some business logic. It takes data from data providers so you can transform that data and let the scenario return that data.
Doesn't ring a bell? Well, I can't blame you. It sounded like a great idea but it does not provide anything you can't achieve with some development in Jdeveloper and because you still need Jdeveloper to model the scenario, nobody really uses that feature.
Oracle has taken that feedback and extended the personalization engine and created a web based tool to use the conductor and create scenario's using your browser. Again... it empowers business users to decide what content to put on their site without the involvement of IT.
So, what's exactly so cool about the new web based conductor or data presenter or business mesh-ups or whatever you want to call it. Oracle has added a very very cool feature to it. Instead of just presenting the outcome of a scenario to a managed bean and expression language, the conductor automatically generates a REST-API for that data source so you can use for whatever reason. You can use it in your native mobile app, ASP.NET app, PHP application or in the data Presenter which is basically something similar as the content presenter but to presenter data.
Another really cool thing about the conductor is that is also supports CRUD operations so it's not just about presenting data but also changing it... Great Stuff!
The conductor will also come with some data providers to connect to fusion app, ebusiness, Siebel and so on. The demo also showed a data provider for LinkedIn so you can extend the default profile with a profile from LinkedIn which is, let's say it, really awesome.
I realy enjoyed the content presenter so I can't wait to get my hands on the data presenter and the conductor.
I really enjoyed that session and I love how easy Oracle made integrating with back-end services.
You can also create your own data providers if you want to integrate with a custom application. The only bad thing is that they didn't change the process of creating your own data provider. I recall from the personalization engine that this is a really big job. It involves writing lots and lots of code and this is still the case.
They also talked about the transition from WebCenter Spaces to Portal. It seems that Spaces would still remain but it would be more like a template in WebCenter Portal which we can use from inside JDeveloper. So no stand-alone application anymore which is difficult to manage and customize. It looks like they made it easier to choose between Spaces and Portal because they look the same thing.
In addition to make life easier they also thought more about a true iterative development cycle. This means that when a business user creates a page, the developer will be able to edit that page from JDeveloper and upload the page back to the portal. This is something a lot of people have been asking for but currently does not exist. Currently all of the runtime pages cannot be changes in JDeveloper. This is something that will change in PS7. I definitely am anxious to see if this truly will work.
Another very nice feature is about mobile enabling your portal. Currently there is no such support but in PS7 you can create special renditions of your page targeted to a channel. First of all you can create channels in the admin section which can contain the name of an OS or type of channel like mobile phone, tablet or desktop.
When you create a new page you will be able to create another rendition for one of your channels and change the page accordingly. Sounds like a great feature!
In this session Chris Muir showed some different architectural approaches you can use for your ADF application. I was amazed about the presentation skills Chris showed. He's a great presenter and you never lose interest when he talks. I saw a lot of presenters who could learn a few tricks from Chris...
The subject was also great. The most important thing to remember is Chris is tag-line: “On Size doesn't fit all”. There is no one stop answer. It always depends on multiple factors: skills in your team, size of the project, timeline,...
He showed some great architectures for small project which is basically the Fusion web application template where everything is in a single project.
Then he started to split up the workspace and creating separate spaces to contain the taskflows and consume them in a master application.
In other applications it makes sense to also separate the Model into a single workspace. In other applications it makes more sense to create cylinders where each cylinder has the business components and the taskflows and each cylinder will generate an ADF Library.
In the last one you don't have a master workspace which contains the application but you have multiple EAR files which all contain a part of the application. This would of course require some sort of SSO to take care of passing credentials between applications. This is the way the Fusion Apps are using it.
Great session and I learned a lot out of it. I look forward to the presentation so I can get over the different approaches again because you cannot remember all of it during that session.
Another session about tips and tricks on how to build successful ADF projects. This one was presented by Sten Vesterli from Scott/Tiger. He had 10 tips for successful projects which includes building a proof of concept, organizing your team that includes a “nutcracker” who can take care of all the difficult stuff.
Sten also gave his view on a proper ADF architecture for your workspace which resembles one of the architectures presented by Chris in the previous session.
He also explained that building custom classes which extends the normal EntityImpl and ViewImpl. Even if you can't find any use of such a custom class it's a good practice to create empty ones so when you have to overwrite some basic features, you don't have to refactor all of your classes.
According to Sten it's almost impossible to have a successful version control out of Jdeveloper. If you want to be successful, you have to use the team productivity extension in Jdeveloper and not use turtoiseSVN or another tool.
It was a quite useful session and I got a few useful tips I will try to adapt in our projects.
This session was all about integrating BPM into WebCenter. The new BPM features also look great. With BPM they also used their favourite tag-line which was all about empowering the user to do what they like. The tools the business user has are great. They can model the business process from within the browser. They even can import Visio schema's or schema's from other tools. It can also transform BPEL processes into BPM processes.
We saw a demo on how the integration with WebCenter works. We all know Spaces comes with an out of the box template for BPM processes. The PM's told us that there a lot of customers who use these templates to build their own templates on so they use the OOTB ones as a starting point.
After a few WebCenter related sessions you already start to know what the Oracle guys have to say before the customer start to talk. This was nothing different. The first few slides were already presented in different sessions except in order words because another PM presented them. More brainwashing and I think I can give the same presentation by now :)
The best part was the customer. This time it was up to Aramark who explained how they build their new intranet on WebCenter. It was nice to see that not everything went fine from the beginning. Aramark is a company that not easily take changes so it was quite difficult to convince the business but once it was done, they are really pleased about it.
Later phases of the project would be introducing a public facing extranet with some self service aspects.
Because this session was about Self-Service the starting part from Oracle was more focussed on the self-service part which was nice for a change.
The customer case was the city of LA Department of Buildings and Safety. They explained how they improved self-service for their customers by using WebCenter Portal and Content. Before the transition they didn't even had a forgotten password feature on the site which results in high load for the support department. The current site has a forgotten password feature as well as dozens of other feature to improve the services for their customers.
It was also nice to see that they did a usability study to see what the most important features of the site would be and that they build the site with usability in the mind. Most common features are only a click a away while more specific and lesser used features are accessible with a few clicks.
This was one of my favourite sessions of the conference. I already talked about the new data presenter which will be introduced in WebCenter Portal PS7 and this session was all about that component. A few demo's to demonstrate how easy it is to integrate data from the Ebusiness suite or other back-end services.
We also saw a demonstration on how the user profile could be extended by the profile on LinkedIn by using a data provider and creating a scenario in the conductor that aggregates different data sources. The complete profile would then be exposed as a REST-API which you can use in any application and of course also in the data presenter by creating a template.
It looked really great.
Session presented by Andrejus Baranovskis about pitfalls he has seen in ADF implementations. He also gave some nice ideas on how to make a proper estimation for ADF projects.
It was interesting to see how much of the effort went into building a proper UI. Most of the time got spent into building a proper UI.
About 50% spend in building a UI, 40% building business components and 10% building task flows.
When looking at the effort for business components he noticed that 50% of the time spend for business components goes into building view objects and view links. Only 20% in EO links and 30% in Application Module implementation.
You can also view the slides from this session here.
My last session at OOW 12 was all about WebCenter Security. I was hoping to see some best practices but I was mistaken. This session was all about using the Oracle Access manager and Entitlement Server and how it could improve WebCenter Security.
I also found this session really useful because I didn't know much about OAM or OES but I noticed how it could be an added value for WebCenter.
First of all you have the Access Manager which can take care of all of your access and single sign on issues. I already knew most of these features but one thing that really caught my eye was the new feature in 11gR2 for OAM which was the OAUTH integration. OAM provides out of the box integration with authenticators like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo,.. so people don't have to register anymore and just could use their profile. OAM will then pass the credentials to WebCenter and you are logged in. No coding what so ever. Everything out of the box.
This is really impressive and I want to find out more about it so stay tuned…
Then they showed the power of the entitlement server. The same story about empowering your business users… They can be in charge of creating and managing policies. All from a web based tool.
The only thing the developer has to do is call the policy by using a special managed bean exposed by the OES. If the business changes the policy, the developer does not have to change his code so we don't have to redeploy.
These policies can be simple to really complex with some business logic. In theory you can do the same thing from within validations in business components but I can clearly see the added value by referencing the policy by name so when the rule changes, you don't have to redeploy and no IT is required to implement those changes.
It was a great Open World. I learned a lot about future releases and I can't wait to see them in action and to play around with them.
I also met a lot of very interesting people and was able to catch up with people I already knew.
It was a tiring week but it was well worth it!