Archive for September, 2008

Power of Personalisation

Monday, September 29th, 2008 by

No this isn’t a New Age post but it is a wake up call to all of us fuzzy duddies who think it’s just the techies that can change the look and feel of Oracle screens and forms.

Back in my day we compartmentalised people into funky and techies and never did the two mix except at project team meetings and nights out for bonding.

Quite recently I have been working with the new Oracle Sourcing and Contracts modules and have been impressed how the personalisations features in the self service type screens can be used to radically enhance business process and integration with core modules.

In Oracle Sourcing my current client has requested over 40 personalisations and about a dozen in the Contracts module.

The result is more rigorous adherence to procurement policies ensuring that the correct level of paper work and approvals have been obtained before undertaking costly procurement activity. 

They seems to be at the cutting edge in improving the integration of these modules. I would not be surprised if a lot of these changes are not integrated in later versions of the Oracle applications.

Oracle PIM Data Hub Update

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 by

Well I know it has been a bit too much time since my last update.

I will try to make up for my negligence.

First: I will be at the UKOUG speaking on Oracle in Birmingham, UK the first week of December 2008.  I am scheduled to speak on Thursday of that week in the afternoon.

Second: Please keep in mind that the actual product that I speak about is called Oracle Product Information Management (PIM) Data Hub.  Since Oracle has purchased Agile in the past year, I believe (my opinion) is the name changed due to Agile already having a name for their product of “PLM”.  PIM Data Hub is completely integrated to the Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) and requires no custom interfacing to the other modules.  However, if you are planning to integrate your current Agile PLM application to the Oracle EBS then you will have to build custom interfaces.  However, Oracle has supplied some nice functionality in the R12 version of Oracle PIM Data Hub to accomplish interfacing and synchronization of data to any third party product that you have.  PIM Data Hub with all it’s features is briefly described at the link below by Oracle:

Third: There is a new R14 rollup patch 7037537 for 11.5.10 users available on metalink.  Because of my tardiness is giving a blog update, there could be a rollup 15 in metalink by the time you check this out.

Oracle PIM Data Hub is part of the whole Oracle Master Data Management Suite.

I would strongly advise potential Oracle upgraders or implementing users to look at R12 since most EBS users have more than one design, manufacturing, and marketing location across multiple international regions and have existing systems that will or will not be replaced.

PIM Data Hub has so many features it is hard to describe all the benefits in a blog.  My bottom line has always been that if you have Oracle Order Management implemented then you need Oracle PIM Data Hub.  If aren’t using PIM Data Hub, you are not capturing all the data your Product Information system requires to make accurate operational decisions in all aspects of the EBS.  If you are planning an 11.5.10 or R12 rollout without PIM Data Hub then you are losing a lot of opportunity.

So far in my Oracle PIM career, I have used PIM for storing export/import compliancy data, settings for product data, synchronization of descriptive elements, configuration rules, default information for new products, labeling requirements, certification requirements, language differences, capacity and mfg rules for routing creation, color and material certifications, quality rules, costing rules based on product data, and a few confidential that are very innovative.

PIM doesn’t just store information for tangible finished goods.  PIM can store product data for services, equipment, product documentation, containers, etc.  Anything you buy, sell, build, store, ship, and even give away can take full advantage of PIM Data Hub.  It is so dynamic that what I described above was built without any customization.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

See you in December!!



Changing the Look, Feel and Colour Scheme in Oracle Apps

Sunday, September 21st, 2008 by

In this post I would like to discuss about some basic profile options that we used during our implementation to change the look, feel and colour of the application for different business users.

With E-Business Suite, Oracle Forms screens may be invoked by actions taken on the E-Business Suite Professional User Interface or other self-service screens. In order to run these screens, a URL is constructed using information in profiles ‘Java Look and Feel’ and ‘Java Color Scheme’.

  • To specify the look and feel, set profile ‘Java Look and Feel’ to either generic or oracle at either the user or the responsibility level.
  • If the oracle look and feel is used, the profile ‘Java Color Scheme’ can be specified as follows: teal, titanium, red, khaki, blue, olive, or purple.
  • The ‘Java Color Scheme’ profile has no effect if ‘Java Look and Feel’ is set to generic.

E-Business Suite by default renders:

  • required fields in yellow
  • queryable fields in a different colour while in enter-query mode
  • fields that cannot be entered (read-only fields) in gray

To turn off these features when running Oracle Forms through the E-Business Suite Professional User Interface, set profile ‘FND: Indicator Colors’ to No at either the responsibility or the user level.

Hope you’ll found this post useful.

1. JDeveloper: The Creation of XML Schemas

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 by

Along with regular Oracle DB development work, my current role for a large law enforcement agency involved a substantial amount of Oracle xmlDB work. This involved the usual xmlDB type tasks such as: 

  1. The Creation of XML Schemas.
  2. Create and Test XML documents against the schema.
  3. XSL Stylesheet Creation.
  4. Testing XSL transformations.
  5. XML data within the Database  

The fact that my role included all the above tasks along with a substantial amount of pl/sql development work, lead me to think about what was the best development tool to use. Previously other development tools have been used such as Altova xmlSpy and Toad, however I was really hoping to find a tool that was strong in both DB and xml development.
Therefore, I decided to have a look at the latest release of JDeveloper (11g TP4) and to see if it would provide any benefit for the xmlDB development tasks at hand.
Essentially this and the next few post looks at what I have found out about the above version of JDeveloper and how it caters for the Oracle xmldb development tasks described.

JDeveloper:  The Creation of XML Schemas
Like other tools JDeveloper has an XSD Visual Editor showing the hierarchical structure of the XSD. The XSD can also be viewed in source view; useful for logic that cannot be represented on the visual editor. 

Initially we need to create a basic JDeveloper Application and project. This will be used for this and subsequent posts to add components to:
1.    Create a new application and project to contain XSD. 
File-> new-> application.
In the dialogue box ‘new gallery’ select General - Applications and select applications from the items on the right. Click OK
2.    In the ‘Create Application’ dialogue, enter your application name and directory location.
3.    For this post select ‘No template’ in application template. Click OK
4.    This creates an empty application and corresponding project. 

The following is a brief overview of the steps needed to create a basic schema document with JDeveloper.
1.    Right click on the empty project ‘Model’ and select ‘New’.

2.    In the ‘New Gallery’ select general - XML as the category and ‘XML Schema’ as the item on the right. Click OK
3.    Enter the name and location of your XSD in the subsequent ‘Create XML Schema’ box. Click OK
4.    This creates an empty schema document

5.    You can now start adding content to your schema using the component pallet on the right. If you cannot see the component pallet, select view - Component Pallet.

In this example we will create a simple schema for the usual departments employees type hierarchy.

6.    Double click the ‘exampleElement’ and type in the element name ‘department’..
7.    Now in the component pallet select ‘Sequence’ and drag it onto department.
8.    Select Element from the component pallet and drag it onto the sequence to create new elements, name these name, dept_id and location.

9.    As above add another element to department called employee
10.  Now drag an additional sequence onto Employees
11.  Drag new elements onto this new sequence and name them firstname, lastname, Emp_ID and DOB
12.  The schema design should now look like this.
13.  Now have a look at the source for this schema by clicking source at the bottom of the editor, it should look something like the following:

 14.  Next we will quickly set some properties for some of the elements within the schema such as types etc. The easiest way to do this is to right click on the element in question and click Set Type. This gives you a drop down box of available types
Set Emp_id to xsd:string and DOB to xsd:date.
The final XSD should look like this:
Click File – Save to save the XSD.
These new properties and others can be viewed and edited in the property inspector. Something to note here is that you can set Oracle XDB properties here also. These are quite useful and enable you to add XDB attributes to the schema document.  These specify properties such as names and datatypes of the underlying database objects created when the XSD is registered with the database using DBMS_XMLSCHEMA.registerSchema. 

In the next post we will briefly look at how to create sample XML based on the schema just created setting some additional properties of the XSD and how to JDeveloper validates the XML against the given Schema.


Business requirements drive IT

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 by

Several of my submissions this year have referred to the implementation of third party Oracle applications chosen by Local Authorities to meet the government deadline for ESCR (Electronic Social Care Record) compliancy within ICS (Integrated Children’s System) by the end of September 2008. Happily, the Authority for whom I am working on my current contract has now gone live with their ‘Framework-i’ application and the employees are demonstrating the effectiveness of the training schedule, which is always very rewarding. Following the usual initial teething troubles the advantages of the system soon became apparent.

This project is a good example of how business needs can drive IT rather than the other way round as it was instigated by several tragic high-profile cases of child abuse which lead to a demand for applications which could enforce a workflow mechanism to tighten up the monitoring process and minimise the risk of similar cases happening again. The funding at a business level was  justified by purchasing applications which have the ability to provide statistical data and performance indicators, thus allowing streamlining and cost effectiveness. This in turn made better use of hardware already in place to encourage general IT competency in the workplace helped by projects such as ECDL training, governed by the British Computer Society.

Although the ESCR programme was instigated at a national level the choice of application was left to each Local Authority, recognising that inner city Boroughs and Councils might have different priorities to those in rural communities. It is significant that almost all Authorities chose applications which run on Oracle relational databases as these were considered to be the most flexible and also provide the facility for future data-sharing projects and data warehousing across boundaries (technical specifications were outlined in an earlier article - August 13).

Joining up business with IT was the topic of a BCS workshop style seminar in Oxford University which I attended earlier this week concerning the need for greater integration and alignment between these two often differing fields. The key speaker was an eminent academic who has spent many years researching this area. A common argument seems to be that any new technology will prompt the business world to find a use for it, yet technological innovation usually results from a business need, with useful spin-offs often being discovered during the process - the Apollo space programme is usually cited as a good example of this. My own interest in this stems from years spent in technical roles in the private sector where the business teams constantly demanded technical innovations that were able to give them the market edge and increase their customer base. During this time I worked closely with Oracle Corp as its policy was to work in partnership with its customers which is probably why Oracle applications seem to match business needs.

An illustration of this occurred during plans to introduce a country code feature in the Oracle Financials GL module by utilising an unused Attribute column in the RA_Customers table as a country identifier. This allowed SQL scripts to select data by country and meant we could have just one single database instance for all of Europe, thus simplifying things tremendously for the accounting department who could see the company finances either as a whole or by individual country, all within a single set of books. Oracle quickly recognised the usefulness of this feature and agreed to support the code. This was in version 9.4.2 and Oracle incorporated multi-country capability as standard in the next release (v10). This was an early example of how everyone benefits when the business and IT teams work together.

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