Thursday, April 24, 2014

April Repost: Requirements Analysis

Time for our monthly blast from the past. Below is a five year old article which I believe is timeless, especially in times of Siebel Open UI (scripting). Please enjoy...

(Note: Links have been slightly updated)
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This is a follow-up post (and the first in a semi-series) on the scriptless Siebel challenge.

Question: Why is so much script code written in Siebel projects?


Possible answers (not a complete list, add your own...):
  • Developers are used to write code (we have been coding since Siebel 99, haven't we?).
  • Workflow, Business Rules, etc are nice but they are difficult to learn/manage and we don't have time to evaluate solutions.
  • Architects and developers don't know that alternatives exist.
As we all agree, the best time to avoid writing custom code in standard enterprise applications is design time. So it's the responsibility of the business analyst or technical architect to design a code-free solution for a given requirement.


Back in the Siebel days (and also today in Oracle days) we spent a lot of time and effort to develop and deliver trainings for business analysts. During these trainings we teach a process based approach to gather and analyse requirements. A business analyst or technical architect involved in a Siebel CRM project needs many skills. Analytical thinking, process orientation and a strong knowledge of the product features is key to a successful design phase.

You might want to read more about business process analysis here and here.


Starting with the high-level process, the business analyst should collect the information and requirements for each step of the process. As the requirements become more detailed, they have to be analyzed whether the standard application ("vanilla", "out-of-the-box") meets those requirements.

We can depict a process for analyzing requirements as follows:



You can minimize the amount of script code dramatically when you apply this simple decision process to any functional requirement.
  1. Evaluate whether the requirement can be met by using out-of-the-box (OOB) functionality.
    Examples: Export data to Excel (List Applet), modify the tab layout (User Preferences), save records as a template for others (Quick Fill Templates), predefined queries to name but a few.

  2. If there is no OOB solution (a gap situation), there is a high probability that you will find an administrative way to modify the application behavior.
    Examples: Audit Trail, State Model, Activity Templates, Business Rules, Data Validation Manager, Personalization, Runtime Events and everything else you can manage using the administrative screens.

  3. There are still many requirements left which you can meet by declaratively configuring the application using Siebel Tools.
    Examples: Create/modify applets, views and screens; set default values; define user properties; create workflows, etc.

  4. The (possibly very small) remainder of the requirements can be met by adding the missing functionality by writing script code. The best possible place for your code are business services. Applying industry best practices and using standard business services wherever possible limits the amount of script code that you will have to manage.
have a nice day


@lex

Monday, April 21, 2014

RIP Siebel Management Server (and Agent)

It is with mixed feelings that I share with you Oracle Support document1640801.1. Titled "Siebel Management Server Support Statement of Direction - Siebel CRM Innovation Pack 2014" the short article announces the de-support of the Siebel Management Server and Siebel Management Agent as of IP 2014.

The typical answer I get when I talk to Siebel admins and developers is that they "installed it once" or "must use it for ADM". Overall, the management infrastructure - developed before the Oracle acquisition by Siebel Systems and first shipped with Siebel 8.0 by Oracle - did not get much love from the community.

Personally, I assisted some customers in setting it up, mainly for ADM (Application Deployment Manager) purposes, and I also dedicated a chapter of my first book to it. The configuration process was complex to say the least.

As some of you might remember, the management server also included the Siebel Diagnostic Tool which was soon to be sunsetted as of version 8.1.1. Here is a nostalgic screenshot:


Pulling SARM data through the management agents and aggregating it in a browser console was certainly a good idea but Oracle is promoting its own Enterprise Manager and Realtime User Experience Insight (RUEI) to be more up to the task of performance monitoring and diagnostics.

In the aforementioned article, Oracle also announces to provide a replacement for centralized migration of customizations with Enterprise Manager.

In the meantime, customers can still use the "light-weight" variants of ADM, that is using manual or workflow-backed processes to export and import the data.

have a nice day

@lex




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Little Helpers: Clear Cache Browser Extension

Among the uncountable browser extensions for Google Chrome, there are many which prove useful for the weary Siebel Open UI developer.

One of these extensions should stand representative for them all, and I really use it a lot.

The extension is simply called "Clear Cache", and this is exactly what it does. What I particularly like are the options which allow total control over what part of the browser cache is wiped out and whether to reload the active tab right away.


I also configured a keyboard shortcut, so I can tell you, I am saving a lot of clicks while working on my Open UI scripts.

What is your favorite extension for Open UI related work? Drop it in the comments.

have a nice day

@lex

Monday, April 14, 2014

Google Chrome Developer Tool Goodness: Watch Expressions

The following post does not go without a hat-tip to fellow Siebelian Slava who found an easy way to introspect variables, call functions etc, while debugging a Siebel Open UI application in Google Chrome.

If you are familiar with the Chrome developer tools and Open UI, especially in Siebel version 8.1.1.11 or higher, you might deeply miss the ability to simply type some code into the console. This has been disabled - quite understandably so - for security reasons.

So I leave you with this screenshot and you will understand:


If you want to learn more about the Watch Expressions area and the Chrome developer tools in general, follow this link.

have a nice day

@lex

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Siebel Open UI: Enabling Drag & Drop in Calendar Views

If you have applied the monthly patch set 8.1.1.11.4 or later, you would expect to be able to manage activities in the Calendar views by dragging and dropping them onto the calendar applet.


However, to achieve this state of bliss there are a view steps to take in the Siebel repository which is not modified by the patchset.

As the attentive Open UI geek you are, you should know that drag and drop functionality is driven by the presence of two applet user properties, namely

ClientPMUserProp = EnableDragAndDropInList
EnableDragAndDropInList = TRUE

Note that the ClientPMUserProp value could be a comma separated list, so we would have to add "EnableDragAndDropInList" at the end, but this is not the case for today's example.

Basically, all we have to do is to add the above two user properties to the list applets in our calendar views (e.g. the LS Pharma HI Activity Calendar View). If there are toggle applets registered for the base applet, we also must edit each toggle applet's user properties list.

In case of our example view, the base applet is the Pharma Calendar Activity List Applet and its toggle siblings Pharma Calendar Account List Applet, Pharma Calendar Affiliated Professionals List Applet and Pharma Calendar Professional List Applet

Using Siebel Tools (of course), we edit these applets and add the aforementioned user properties. After compiling the applets, we can test the functionality in the calendar view (see screenshot above).

Drag and drop an activity (or account/contact from the toggle applets) onto the calendar and (after watching the drag placeholder magically move back to the list) witness the appearance of a new calendar entry. This works in the daily, weekly and monthly calendar mode, as my tests have confirmed.

have a nice day

@lex

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Statement of Direction for Siebel Open UI IP 2014

Earlier this month, Oracle has published a statement of direction (SOD) document for Siebel Open UI on the My Oracle Support portal. The document with the Id 1643468.1 lays out the features planned for release with Siebel CRM Innovation Pack 2014 which is intended to be shipped in late fall this year.


The document is especially important for customers and developers who are planning or already implementing features which are not yet available in the current IP 2013 version. 

For information on features like barcode scanning or iHelp and the planned roadmap, please refer the the Open UI Statement of Direction for IP 2014 (and beyond). 

Everyone involved in Siebel Open UI projects is strongly advised to access this document and visit the Open UI Information Center on My Oracle Support frequently in order to stay up to date.

have a nice day

@lex

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

New Oracle University Course: Siebel Open UI Advanced JavaScript API

Oracle University and this humble writer are proud to announce the availability of a new course which extends the existing Siebel Open UI Foundations offering (which is a prerequisite for the new course).

The new three day course is titled Siebel Open UI Advanced JavaScript API.

Siebel Open UI Advanced JavaScript API course description.
The course will be available as in-class training and live virtual class (LVC) formats and yours truly would be delighted to welcome you to class soon.

The course covers the following areas of Siebel Open UI scripting:
  • The architecture and files used in customizations
  • Administering customizations
  • Writing code to use the Siebel Open UI JSAPI to implement common form and list applet customizations
  • Debugging
  • Implementing application-wide customizations
  • Calling external libraries
  • Using Siebel Tools in conjunction with Open UI
  • Using the JSAPI with Mobile applications
  • Migrating customizations.
See you in class soon ;-)

@lex

Monday, April 07, 2014

Siebel CRM News of the Day

While sifting through the latest alerts, SODs etc on My Oracle Support, I found some interesting news for Siebel folks. While I usually peruse twitter for quick messaging, I believe it is worthwhile to summarize my Sunday evening tweets so that more people get this important pieces of information.


First, all good things come to an end, and even more so for Siebel Management Server, its ADM functionality and the Siebel Management Agent.


Second, the good people at Oracle have composed a new Statement of Direction for planned Open UI related enhancements in Siebel CRM Innovation Pack 2014 which is expected for late fall this year.

And third, there is a new monthly patchset for IP 2013 - rather early - for April available. But I posted this already.

Oh, I nearly forgot there is a new Siebel Open UI Advanced JavaScript API class available on Oracle University.

Stay tuned for more details.

have a nice day

@lex

Siebel CRM Patchset April 2014

As of Friday last week, Oracle has made the latest monthly patchset - April 2014 - for Siebel CRM Innovation Pack 2013 (IP 2013) available for download on the My Oracle Support portal.

The version numbers are 8.1.1.11.6 and 8.2.2.4.6 respectively.

List of Siebel 8.1.1 patches on My Oracle Support
As is customary for monthly patchsets, the newest one is cumulative and includes all bugfixes and enhancements from previous monthly patchsets.

The installation process if facilitated by Oracle opatch as usual.

To see if you benefit from this patchset, please refer to the installation guide / readme document which lists all the issues addressed - a lot of which are related to Siebel Open UI.

have a nice day

@lex

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Siebel Marketing: Campaign Execution Options

One of my favorite Siebel CRM classes is Siebel Marketing Manager. It is a three day course which I have co-designed. Despite the fact it should be upgraded to the latest Siebel version, it is a solid foundation training.

In a recent instance of this class, students inquired about the execution options for campaigns. There are a lot of settings which control the load, launch and delivery behavior of a campaign. You find them when you go to the Design tab for a campaign and navigate to the Execution Options - Advanced view (the technical view name is Campaign Admin Customer Management View).


Now it is not really an established tradition on Siebel Essentials to plagiarize on the Siebel bookshelf but the Siebel Marketing User Guide does a nice job on explaining all these settings.

But I decided to pick some settings which might be of interest to the greater public:

Assignment Options: These settings allow you to control manual or automatic (!) assignment of campaign members using Assignment Managers. The assignment rules must be in one assignment group.

Collaboration Options: Controls whether agents are able to edit certain fields of the campaign members such as the Done flag. In addition, you can control which follow-up buttons are enabled for this campaign.

Delivery Options: When the Use Pregenerated Files flag is set to true, the launch process will use the most recent delivery file (in the List Distribution view), which you probably have pre-generated manually to save time. The Route Contacts and Route Prospects flag control whether to synchronize campaign members to mobile databases. As an older bookshelf version states, Expert Services must be engaged for this.

Load Options: The campaign load process can be controlled through these options. You can choose for example to purge the "Campaign History" (which is the campaign members list) for each new load or create a new wave or use the "most recent good wave". In addition, you can specify which Source Code Format to use and select custom workflow processes to execute before or after the load process or after the launch process. These custom workflow processes must be in the Marketing Custom Workflows group to appear in the pick list.

Email Campaign: These options are only available in version 8.1.1.11 or higher and are visible in the "simple" execution options view (without "Advanced" in the name). They allow using a new feature in the Email Sending Daemon to save copies of all emails to a specified directory.

have a nice day

@lex