Monday, May 3, 2010

EnterpriseOne Tools Release 8.98.3 Notes Part 1

I just returned from a Net Change workshop in Denver on Tools Release 8.98.3 and wanted to discuss some items that I feel may be of interest to the E1 technology community.  Due to the amount of information, I will be publishing these articles in a multi-part series with what I consider the most important (and interesting) items first, followed by those I feel to be of lesser importance/interest.

Please be aware that my reviews are not a comprehensive accounting of all new features in 8.98.3,  that the information presented herein is my interpretation of what I heard, read and utilized, that Oracle can change anything prior to GA release and that, of course, only Redwood can speak for Oracle, they are the final authority on their software.


EnterpriseOne Tools Release 8.98.3

Tools Release 8.98.3, technically known as Update 3 to Tools 8.98, offers enhancements to current foundation code, further certification for, support of and integration with Fusion Middleware components plus improved usability and functionality of the EnterpriseOne product.  Of note are the end user experience improvements that Oracle is showing ongoing commitment to, and the system administration simplifications that seem to increasingly be included in updates.  Attention is being given to BI Publisher as a reporting tool of choice for certain use cases and to Oracle VM as an implementation accelerator.  As always, every Tools Release update includes additional platform support and this release is no different.  New to Update 3 is a focus on high availability (finally) that will prove to be useful to all organizations and especially 24 x  7 shops.  Overall, this is a very good update.


WebLogic Server 11gR1

It is my belief that the single most compelling item in 8.98.3 is expanded support for the newly acquired replacement for OAS - Oracle WebLogic Server (WLS).  Support for this Fusion Middleware product began in 8.98.2 but only on the Linux platform.  With Update 3 platform support is extended to all platforms but only on 64 bit, which makes sense given the near complete acceptance of that architecture.  WebLogic Server on Windows 2003 (even in 64 bit form) will not be supported due to Microsoft's ending of Mainstream Support for the product in July.

In addition to improved platform support, HTML server clustering is now fully supported and is actually easy to implement with Server Manager.  More importantly - You will no longer have to break a cluster to perform a TR update on the HTML servers, WebLogic or WebSphere.  Both vertical and horizontal clustering of WebLogic is possible and those familiar with WebSphere clustering will find that WebLogic clustering, like many things in the WebLogic product is remarkably similar to WebSphere.  Two new papers will be released with GA for 8.98.3 detailing the steps to do clustering for WLS and WAS. 

Related Server Manager enhancements include WLS 10.3.2 w/ 64 bit JDK support and new "Oracle WebLogic Server 11g" instance type.  Like WebSphere, WebLogic Server will require a portion of the installation be done in the product's console and a portion in Server Manager.

An important note regarding WebLogic Server licensing: Although WLS is considered to be a technical replacement for OAS, it is not included in Red Stack licensing and must be purchased separately. There will be no more releases of OAS and I wonder whether this policy will change as OAS is replaced by WLS.

Information about what's new in Oracle WebLogic Server is here: http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E15523_01/web.1111/e13852/toc.htm.

Oracle WebLogic Server 10.3.2 documentation can be found here: http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E15523_01/wls.htm.


Oracle VM Templates for EnterpriseOne

Everything (and everybody) is going virtual these days and EnterpriseOne is no different.  Oracle VM is a "bare-metal" type virtualization solution that requires no host operation system and allows a number of guest operating systems.  Oracle VM Templates for EnterpriseOne is an offering of pre-configured images that work with Oracle VM and is said to reduce the time, complexity and cost involved in an EnterpriseOne implementation.  The free templates, when combined with Oracle Business Accelerators, allow customers and partners to quickly bring up a functioning E1 system and begin configuration, prototyping and testing.

Smart partners will create their own templates, customized with their pre-configurations, to fulfill the promise of quicker, less expensive implementation.  Smart technologists will use Oracle VM and OVM Templates for E1 to create inexpensive labs quickly and to build new systems for installations or parallel upgrades.  You will also be able to copy customer systems already on Oracle VM to an Oracle VM'ed sandbox to remove risk from testing.  There are many possible uses for Oracle VM and the templates.

The templates for EnterpriseOne are only supported on 64 bit platforms.  There is no current support for the Deployment Server on Oracle VM due to Oracle's supposed inability (unwillingness?) to ship an image of a product they cannot ensure is/will be properly licensed.  Accordingly, there are no plans for Windows guests templates for enterprise, web and database servers although it is possible to run both Windows and Linux guests on Oracle VM.

The same official statement of support for E1 components on VMWare applies to OVM and OVM Templates for E1:

"Oracle will only provide support for issues that either are known to occur on the native OS, or can be demonstrated not to be as a result of running on VMware." (https://support.oracle.com/CSP/main/article?cmd=show&type=NOT&doctype=ANNOUNCEMENT&id=249212.1).

It is important to remember that there is a distinction between Oracle VM and Oracle VM Templates for EnterpriseOne.  The supported platforms differ as do the offerings for components on guest platforms.  Consult the following for more information:

http://www.oracle.com/applications/feature-jd-edwards-vm-templates.html for OVM Templates for E1 information

and

http://www.oracle.com/us/technologies/virtualization/oraclevm/index.html for Oracle VM info.


Improved User Experience

An ongoing effort to improve the end user experience is finally starting to pay off - users can now move grid columns just like they could in the fat client, copy/paste to and from grid rows (Dynamic Grids), export to and import from the clipboard (Enhanced Export/Import), and work with Media Objects without ActiveX, enabling the use of Media Objects on Firefox (Enhanced Support for Firefox).

Since EnterpriseOne first became web-enabled users have been asking for the web client to behave more like the fat client (and every other Windows application) and to be able to work easier with grid data instead of having to use the clunky Export and Import Assistants.  Those changes have been delivered with 8.98.3, creating a much easier to use web client.

Users can now copy/paste an entire row by selecting that row's checkbox and executing the hotkey combination:















Copy/paste multiple rows by selecting the rows' checkboxes and executing the hotkey combination:

















Copy/paste a contiguous area by dragging across desired area/cells and executing the hotkey combination:



















The clipboard data can be pasted in a tab-delimited format into any application including Excel but column headers are not included.

In addition to copy from the grid, pasting to the grid is now allowed.  The method is simply the reverse of copying - tab delimited with matching fields. Partial pasting is a possibility.  It is my opinion that the paste functionality is best reserved for the Import Assistant except for very simple data sets.

Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V are the hotkey controls to execute the copy/paste functionality although a mouse-based method was strongly suggested.  Pasting a large number of records, while possible, is not recommended and is not warned on.  A suggestion to have E1 warn end users attempting to paste a large amount of data into a grid was made to developers.

Closely connected with copy/paste is the improved Export and Import Assistants.  Both assistants now have the new option "Export to Clipboard" or "Import from Clipboard" to get data out of and into the grid easier.  Unlike copy/paste the assistants will include column headers.

I expect E1 customers will welcome this change, begin utilizing it right away and will quickly develop end user training to take advantage of Grid Copy and Paste.  It is essential to study your use cases to ensure that the proper method is utilized for getting data out of and into grids in the safest, most efficient manner.

Another improvement in the end user area is the ability to easily move columns to suit a user's grid layout.  The columns are moved fat client-style, drag-n-drop and do not create a User Override record until the grid is saved.  The state kept in machine memory unless/until "Save Grid Format" is clicked, eliminating the creation of a User Override if all a user wishes to do is temporarily view the columns in a different order.

Shown below is a column movement in progress and the column in the new location.  Note that the change does not take effect until the new format is saved, shown in the second figure.





























The last of the Improved User Experience items is Media Objects on Firefox, heretofore not possible.  Oracle's distaste for Microsoft's ActiveX controls is no secret but until now ActiveX was the only software that allowed rich formatting experience in text media objects.  EnterpriseOne now allows the enabling of an ADF-based text editor to achieve parity across browsers with regards to text media objects.  This functionality is enabled by unchecking the ini setting "Use ActiveX Controls" in an HTML server's WebRuntime .  It is important to note that Oracle's approach is one that does not allow a text media object, once converted, to be viewed using anything other than the ADF-based editor.  In other words, once the "Use ActiveX Controls" setting is disabled and users (yes users) start converting the objects, that is where they stay - converted.

On the subject of conversion - it is my belief that something of the magnitude of text media objects format is an organizational-level decision to be approached with trepidation and with much forethought and planning.  Oracle's current method of implementation involves changing a server-side (and only at the server, not organization-wide) setting and then the users are prompted with a scary message asking them if they wish to convert the object.  It is my opinion that such decisions should not be in the end user's hands and that Oracle should either provide a batch conversion UBE or an on-the-fly conversion without prompts be developed.

Do you suppose confronting end users with this screen will generate a few help desk calls?
















Great idea, poor execution.

Overall, the Improved End User enhancements are a welcome addition to a user interface that is fast becoming the envy of the industry.  Oracle's commitment to a standardized, highly usable interface for all of it's web products is apparent.  The ability of Denver to execute this vision, with the exception of the hiccups on the ActiveX conversion, is an example of what happens when a vendor listens to customers and implements changes in a thoughtful, intelligent way.  More of this please.


We will continue the series on Tools Release 8.98.3 with information on UBE Quick Deployment, Related Information Application Framework and Kernel Resource Management.
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7 comments:

Boris Goldenberg said...

Jeff,

What a great article! Thanks for making it easy to understand. I am particularly excited about all the user experience enhancements. Did Oracle mention what JDE versions will support this tools release? Is it 9.0 and later, or 8.11/8.12 also eligible?

Jeff Stevenson said...

In general, Tools Release 8.98 is compatible with applications release 8.10 and up. I cannot imagine 8.98.3 will change this.

Different features within Tools Releases and TR Updates require different application release levels however. For example, Data Masking, introduced in 8.98 base is supported all the way back to 8.10 while UBE Introspection requires 8.11 SP1 and above. Other features such as XML ESU's and Oracle Local Database aren't available with 8.98 unless you are on 9.0.

So the answer is - In general, this Update will support 8.10 and up but some features in this Update (and earlier Updates) will still require later apps releases.

The release notes, which are available for earlier Tools Releases and will be for this one upon GA, detail the specific app release required for certain features.

altquark said...

awesome stuff, Jeff - looking forward to seeing the batch process changes....

ale said...

the Improved User Experience, works in the DEMO?

Jeff Stevenson said...

I honestly have no idea, I don't do any work with DEMO. Perhaps someone else can answer?

Office Glen said...

I'm confused as to why WebLogic wouldn't be included in the Red Stack.

If you look at this page: http://www.oracle.com/profit/features/062609_jderedstack.html Oracle refers to Oracle Fusion Middleware as being a key benefit of the red stack.

Looking online it Oracle WebLogic is under the branding of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Where do I go to find out what is officially include in the red stack?

jstooge said...

So Jeff...are you saying in answer to the first question...it "depends"?? LOL Jim