Friendly URLs in WebCenter Sites

March 4, 2015

By: Darek Blankenbuhler – Application Consultant

Having friendlier, cleaner looking URLs has always been a challenge in WCS. In the past it would require a developer to write a Java class. Once the class had been written it would need to be configured and deployed on every instance of WebCenter Sites in your setup. If you wanted a second assembler for another asset type or blobs that would require even more configuration and coding to work properly. Suffice it to say that in the past making a friendlier URL was a difficult task especially if friendly URLs were not set up during the initial build. This has all changed with the advent of WebCenter Sites 11.1.1.8. Friendly URLs have been built right into the Advanced Interface and no longer require as much specialized knowledge. An administrator can find this new feature in the Admin tab under Asset Types inside the Asset that is being configured.

Fr1

Today I want to set up a new pattern for the Page Asset type. As you can see there are no URL patterns set for pages yet. So, I will go ahead and click Add New, and I will be brought to the following page:

Fr2

Now I am ready to start creating my first URL pattern. As you can see I can be as generic or as specific as I want to be. No longer do I have to worry about writing my templates and URL assembler to work together to render the final product. The system will go ahead and take care of that for me. The URL is comprised of the different attribute values available to the asset. In the case that the Subtype is set to “Any” I will only have access to the default basic attributes that come along with every asset type that is created. By selecting a subtype I can now use attributes that are a part of that asset type in the URL.

Fr3

The primary downside to this is the fact that now the “Standard” subtype will have its own pattern. If I only set up the “Standard Page” URL only page assets with the subtype “Standard” will have a friendly URL. It is a good idea to set up a pattern for “Any” type as before going live. Last we will put it all together with the pattern itself. The pattern uses the Java Expression Language to build the URL. As you can see I can put as much or as little information in the URL as I want too. When I have finished configuring the URL, at the bottom of the page I can get a preview URL for existing pages.

fr4

This way I can test to make sure my URLs are going to come out clean looking before I implement the new URLs. Then I can save and I have completed building the URLs. URL Patterns are stored as a part of the asset type. Which means that all I have to do is publish the asset type to get the URL pattern to be pushed between systems – this tool is kept as simple as possible.

All in all, the new URL pattern tool is a powerful and easy to use tool and a welcome addition to WebCenter Sites. Whether it is the ability to generate URLs using any information in the asset or the ability to make the URL assembler as specific as we want. URL assemblers are now much easier to make and implement.

Want to meet us at Collaborate 15 in Vegas to talk about your WebCenter needs? Fill out the contact form and we will work with you to arrange a meeting!


Handling Differences Between XML and JSP Tags in WebCenter Sites

September 12, 2013

By: Darek Blankenbuhler – Application Consultant

sites boxIn WebCenter Sites there is a common issue of using JSP tags that function differently than their XML counterparts, even though the tags share documentation.  This can become a major issue when a developer is required to use JSP, for example when using a custom Java class in the element code.

To counter this issue there is a function in the ics class called RunTag.  This function will run any tag as an XML tag and create all the necessary objects inside the JSP.  The tag is very simple to use.  First the developer needs to identify all of the XML attributes the tag will need.  Keep in mind that some of these attributes will have different names.  Then the developer needs to create an instance of FTValList (found at COM.FutureTense.Interfaces.FTValList).  The FTValList will allow the developer to create a name/value map.  In this case, the developer will want to create the map using the pattern attribute name/attribute value.  Once the FTValList has been created, the developer can run the RunTag function.

Here is an example for running the RunTag function on the proprety:get tag.

FTValList attrs = new FTTValList();

attrs.setValString(“PARAM”,”xcelerate.batchpass”);

attrs.setValString(“INIFILE”,”futuretense_xcel.ini”);

attrs.setValString(“VARNAME”,”batchPassword”);

String tagReturns = ics.RunTag(“PROPERTY.GET”, attrs);

The example code is retrieving the property xcelerate.batchpass.  I chose this specific example because this is one of the places where JSP and XML differ.  The JSP version of the PROPERTY.GET tag will not unhash the password, whereas the XML version will.

You may notice that the tag returns a string.  This string will contain any output the tag itself might generate.  Most tags in the system do not generate any output, so most of the time this string will be null.  However, if the tag does output anything, that data will be available in the string.

All in all, it is important to remember to check the Java API section of the tag reference.  WebCenter Sites tags have a great deal of functionality, the RunTag method is just one example.  There are plenty of other methods in the Java API (more specifically the COM.FutureTense.Interfaces package included on each JSP) that will allow for even more control and functionality within any template that is written.

If you are ready to get started with WebCenter Sites, or perhaps need some help on your current project. Feel free to Contact us!


Reblog: How the New Release of Oracle WebCenter Sites Keeps Marketers in Step with Digital Experience Trends

August 29, 2013

By: Joshua Duhl, Senior Principal Product Manager for Oracle WebCenter Sites.

Original Article – https://blogs.oracle.com/webcenter/entry/how_the_new_release_of

Over the past few years, Digital Experience has tended to be a fast moving market. Driven by changing online consumer behavior, and fueled by key trends which include the demand for engaging mobile experiences that maximize efficiencies, simplification of multi-channel content management that support the reemergence of the brand site, and the personalization of individual digital experiences, it presents a challenge to marketers attempting to keep pace.

Web Experience Management or WEM, the product category focused on the creation and management of digital experiences, is rapidly changing as well. WEM has grown out of simple web site management or web content management, to include personalization, social engagement, mobile engagement and support for multi-channel marketing experiences. Now more than ever before, marketers are increasingly and actively seeking WEM solutions that enable them to keep pace with the rapid evolution of digital marketing, and the relentless demand for engaging, and cross-channel digital experiences.

Oracle’s WebCenter Sites has long been a market leading WEM solution. With the release of WebCenter Sites 11.1.1.8, Oracle continues to expand the power and impact of WEM solutions, and keeps marketers in step with these key trends. Let’s take a look at how WebCenter Sites addresses them.

The ability to manage and deliver engaging mobile experiences is currently the most pressing need we hear from our customers. Mobile site management is now seen as an integral part of managing their overall online experience, yet it comes with a distinct set of requirements that may need to be met separately, depending upon specific objectives.

WebCenter Sites 11.1.1.8 new mobile site management option offers marketers the ability to manage their mobile sites with the same ease as managing their traditional online experience, while providing flexibility to deliver device-optimized sites as needed. By allowing content reuse, the utilization of the same tools and experience for site authoring and publishing processes across web and mobile, and by leveraging responsive design to reduce site development and speed time to market, marketing can maximize efficiencies for mobile site development, and deliver a consistent cross-device brand experience. In addition WebCenter Sites allows marketers to meet mobile-specific requirements when needed, providing mobile template and site plan customization, device management, and in-context preview and editing of mobile sites. It also enables full mobile content targeting, to drive personalized mobile experiences across any mobile device.

 

mobbile

Mobile sites can be edited using drag-and-drop tools and previewed within the same business user interface as the traditional web presence.  

Over the past few years, consumers have turned the tables on brands, dictating how, when and where they want to experience the brand. As more online channels have emerged to meet this demand – from brand sites, to micro and multilingual sites, to email campaigns, through to mobile and social – the more complex content management has become for online marketers. What we’re seeing now is the reassertion of the importance of the brand site; the idea of the corporate .com as a center point of digital experience. The content that drives activity on other online touch points (email offers, social promotions, microsite landing pages) ultimately points back to the brand site, where all of these channels converge.

In response to this trend, WebCenter Sites now enables marketers to search and access content originating from other channels such as YouTube, Brightcove and other cloud-based stores, or from enterprise content management systems, like WebCenter Content – in other words regardless of where it is stored – from within the WebCenter Sites authoring environment, and incorporate it within brand sites to produce a more unified, cross-channel experience.

 

 CI

The Oracle WebCenter Sites visual contributor interface provides web marketers with an easy-to-use site authoring experience, aggregating content that can originate from a wide variety of sources .

The trend to drive personalized digital experiences has finally reached the tipping point, where every organization we engage with has some sort of personalization initiative on their short list of digital experience priorities. In this new release, WebCenter Sites addresses a broad range of personalization capabilities including:

  • Targeting content and experiences to different customer segments
  • Making online search more relevant and intuitive through incorporation of Endeca guided navigation
  • Providing tools that enable site visitors to tailor their own online experience
  • Targeting specific content to mobile sites and devices
  • Integration with a fully automated predictive system
  • Advanced vanity URL management to enable better SEO targeting and campaign landing page management

Of these, the latter two are of greatest interest to our customers. The ability to deliver engaging mobile experiences is in part dependent on delivering personalized, targeted content to specific mobile site visitors. Lastly, our customers are beginning to see the power of connecting WebCenter Sites native targeting engine to a predictive solution. It can offset the labor associated with managing segmenting and targeting through automation, while delivering higher success rates for metrics like click-throughs andconversions, or driving bottom line results like recommending higher margin items. We expect to see the most interest and growth in fully automated predictive system integrations in the coming year.

Lastly, this release also supports the broader trend of social interaction. Building on the prior 11gR1 release, WebCenter sites provides expanded social capabilities for faster and easier development of social pages, and customer login from social sites. These features include:

  • Drag and drop of social components (polls, ratings, rankings, comments) directly into pages, with no coding required
  • Expanded social login support enabling login to WebCenter Sites using credentials from over 30+ social sites
  • Support for Oracle Access Management (OAM) platform for web single sign-on and access management
  • Publishing directly to Google+ from WebCenter Sites

The demands of digital experience continue to deepen and expand. Marketers need WEM solutions, like Oracle WebCenter Sites, that enable them to address the changing needs of their visitors, keep up with the rapid evolution of digital marketing, and meet the relentless demand for engaging, and cross-channel digital experiences.

If you would like to see what Sites can do for your marketing team and customer experience, contact us today!


WebCenter Content & WebCenter Sites: A Matched Pair

June 11, 2013

By: Jon Chartrand – Solution Architect

In 1966 the psychologist Abraham Maslow is quoted as saying, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” You wouldn’t pound a screw into a beam nor would you use a screwdriver on a nail. The right tool for the job, right? When it comes to the Content Management space, while it is important for us to identify not just the nails and the screws, that is, the business needs that must be met, we must also forge the right tools to accomplish the goal.

Today we’re talking about the various needs represented by Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Web Content Management (WCM) and how these similar-but-now-different spheres can be addressed by a unification of Oracle products – WebCenter Content and WebCenter Sites. Clients might be thinking in terms of either/or and while that’s a nice idea in theory they’ll be so busy forcing an octagonal peg into a round hole (so close!) they’ll probably miss out on a solution better suited to answering their needs – a solution which may be closer and easier to forge than they think.

ECM and WCM: Nails and Screws

Too often the term “content management” is used without context. The space has evolved and refined to the point where that phrase alone doesn’t have enough meaning most of the time. We’ve moved into an era where Document Management (DM), Web Content Management (WCM), Records Management (RM), and Digital Asset Management (DAM) are just some of faces of the same CM beast and yet each one has uniquely rigorous demands and requirements. So when someone says, “content management” I find myself asking, “What kind?”

From my perspective the simplest way to think of this is to put ECM at the top of the pyramid. Enterprise Content Management encompasses all the other subsets of CM and when you think ECM you should be thinking of WebCenter Content (WCC). The WCC product was built to handle the various demands of each CM subset and has done so exceedingly well for the past decade. In fact, it continues to be one of the world leaders in document management, records management, and digital asset management – basically an overall ECM juggernaut. However while WCC has matured and maintained its position as a top contender, the Web Content Management (WCM) space has evolved far more dramatically.

In the last five years it became clear that the demands of developing, organizing, contributing, and managing website content have in many regards outpaced the ever-evolving abilities of a tool designed to handle everything under the ECM umbrella. Oracle recognized early that the WCM subset was becoming highly specialized, evolving its own unique requirements and flexibility demands – not to mention being regularly tied to revenue. With WebCenter Sites (WCS) they released a tool designed from the ground up to address the demands of the WCM subset with a forward-looking approach to the functionality you might not even know you needed.

Forging a Proper Tool

Now we find ourselves in the position of having two applications – both of which solve problems beneath the ECM umbrella. Obviously WebCenter Content could hold all your WCM content. Its very capable Site Studio module has been a stalwart companion for many clients over the years but WCM has evolved into more than just content – it’s now about managing an experience. Similarly, WebCenter Sites could hold your DM content.  The core content server within Sites is strong and flexible but it was built from the first line of code with dynamic content in mind, not static, and its nature can work against the demands of a document management model. These would be prime examples of octagonal pegs and round holes. Some may feel it’s a choice that must be made between the two applications but the truth is we don’t need to choose, nor should we. The answer lies in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each and carefully crafting a strategy that unifies them to address together the needs they could only mostly meet individually.

I’m betting your business doesn’t just produce documents. Nor does it just produce web content. Your business probably produces a cornucopia of digital assets all of which need proper categorization, searchability, security, workflow, and publishing. Your documents and images are likely needed by mostly internal resources but only marginally by external ones. Your web content, needed internally for an intranet and externally for your public site, is probably managed by a whole different team of people and has different editorial requirements, publishing demands, targeting needs, and release schedules.

Unifying both WebCenter Content and WebCenter Sites into your architecture allows you to meet the rigid demands and requirements of your ECM/DM processes while fostering the flexibility necessary for your WCM processes. Even better, if you already have an installation of WebCenter Content, bringing Sites into the mix is easier than ever – both in terms of generating web-viewable documents and even migrating legacy website content. In one fell swoop you provide top-tier applications to meet both ECM and WCM necessities.

Process Harmony

In a previous post I discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the WebCenter Content WCM solution, Site Studio, as compared to WebCenter Sites on a feature-by-feature basis. The final summary table showed two products which really have strengths where the other is weaker and so it’s in the marriage of these two applications that we’ll attempt to meet every feature request with a point of strength.

Imagine the flow as working something like this: Both applications are installed on the WebLogic Server platform. This creates harmony of administration, monitoring, and resource allocation. Documents and various digital assets (imagery, videos) are managed in WebCenter Content. The installation is matched to desktop client software which provides Windows-level access to the repository. Folders break out content by type or function and centrally-managed security provided through LDAP/AD ensures people only see the content they have access to. WCC also captures full revision histories for everything, ensuring accountability from the first revision to the last.

Items intended to be used on a website (internally or externally) are dynamically converted to non-editable versions (Word into PDF) or renditioned for the web (EPS into GIF) and after being released from workflow are funneled automatically to the Sites repository by the TEAM Sites Connector. In Sites your editors make in-context edits to pages, link to documents, control targeting, and manage the user-generated content. Editorial workflows are in place to ensure consistent quality and content is published live as often as you need it to be. The sites even display content tailored to the visitor based on metrics with short load times thanks to remote caching and proper mobile delivery.

Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

This is the holistic approach to ECM – WebCenter Content to handle the heavy lifting and stringent requirements of enterprise document management, the TEAM Sites Connector to manage the flow of media between systems, and WebCenter Sites to handle the flexibility demands and wide functionality of quality web content management. At TEAM, we have a vision of how the pieces fit together both in terms of business processes and technical necessities. We’ve even invested in building the TEAM Sites Connector product to facilitate these integrations and overcome challenging migrations because we believe so thoroughly in this vision.

Unification is what makes for real process harmony. Then we’ll have the right tool for the job.

TEAM Informatics WebCenter Sites Demo with WebCenter Sites Connector

Site Studio to WebCenter Sites/Content Migration Demo by TEAM Informatics