An Introduction to PeopleTools 8.54 (part 1) June 10, 2014Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools 8.54.
The next version of PeopleTools is expected to be released in a couple months’ time. Oracle have now made available both the Release Value Proposition and the Pre-Release Notes for PeopleTools 8.54. As no more official documents are expected before the release hits GA (General Availability) now is a good time to pick through the details and highlight the areas that are of most interest.
There is a lot of content to cover so – to prevent this entry becoming too big to read in one sitting – I’ll spread it over several parts. This first part will look at the back-end, infrastructure and System Admin changes, whereas subsequent posts will move up the software stack with integration and reporting, and finishing with the new UI.
2. Supported Platforms
Each new release of PeopleTools adds new supported platforms and retires older versions. PeopleTools 8.54 introduces support for new versions of Oracle Weblogic (12.1.2) and Oracle Tuxedo (12.1.1), and deprecates WebLogic 10.x and Tuxedo 11.x. The version 12 releases are the only supported versions of these technologies.
Also added are some new server OS versions: Windows 2012 and 2012 R2, plus Oracle Linux v6. Deprecated OSes are Windows 2008 R1 (although 2008 R2 should still be supported) and zOS 1.11.
On the database side Oracle 12c is added and 10.2.0.5 and 184.108.40.206 removed (so 220.127.116.11 should still be supported). SQL Server sees MSSQL 2014 added and MSSQL 2008 removed, leaving 2012 and 2014 as the supported versions.
Without doubt the most difficult items to adhere to will be the client browser and OS certifications. Firefox and Chrome are straightforward as they typically auto-update to the latest versions, however for enterprises where the mandated corporate standard is Internet Explorer it gets a little trickier. Support for IE11 has been added and IE8 deprecated with PeopleTools 8.54, leaving IE9, 10 and 11 as the supported versions. If you wish to use the new Fluid UI however, you need to get your users to IE11. Users on IE9 and 10 will get the ‘classic’ UI, which means the look and feel from PeopleTools 8.53.
Finally, you’ll also need to ensure that your clients are on Windows 7 (64-bit) or Windows 8.x. The 32-bit version of Windows 7 is not supported. As with all PeopleTools versions, it is possible to run using an un-certified browser and client OS combination, however there may be some workarounds required for edge-case functionality.
3. Oracle Database Specific Enhancements
This release brings some enhancements specifically for the Oracle RDBMS.
a. Global Temporary Tables
PeopleTools already has temporary tables built-in to the toolset (i.e. if you wish to enable multiple copies of an App Engine to run concurrently you need to build that many instances of the Temporary Tables). With Tools 8.54 you can take advantage of Oracle Global Temporary Tables within the database itself (but only for batch processes, not online page operations). GTTs are working tables that are process specific, so each concurrent process doesn’t have access to the working data from the tables from another version of the same process, and they’re lighter-weight on the database (specifically, they don’t generate redo) so they are more efficient to use.
Some clients have already made use of this, including one major retailer here in the UK – with the assistance of a DB tuning guru – however now it’ll be built into the PeopleTools toolset rather than requiring customisation.
b. Materialised Views
For the uninitiated, a materialised view is a special database object where the results of the view SQL is stored as a data table. They’re especially useful for migrations, integration, reporting and data warehouses as they save repeated queries against the same data. Complex SQL can be used in a Materialised View so that it is performed once, and then any subsequent queries for the same data can use the data stored as the view output rather than running the query again.
c. Multi-tenant Database Support
Oracle’s 12c database comes with the ability to store ‘pluggable databases’ within a ‘container database’. This reduces overheads by saving on disk space, CPU and memory, but also by enabling database patching to be performed once. PeopleTools 8.54 includes support for the pluggable databases within the Oracle 12c database platform.
d. Partitioning Support
Many clients use partitioning on their tables, particularly with PeopleSoft Global Payroll and large numbers of employees. It was possible to partially configure this from Tools 8.51, however partitioning can now be completed entirely within App Designer with Tools 8.54.
4. Developer Tools
What functionality has changed for developers in Tools 8.54? For a start, the developer tools are now 64-bit, which – aside from the performance benefit – will make developer client machine administration easier. This includes not only App Designer, but Data Mover, Change Assistant, App Engine etc.
The other major improvement – and it’ll be a much welcomed one – is code completion in App Designer. Many other IDEs have had this functionality for a while so I’m grateful that we’re going to be seeing this in PeopleTools. App Designer will auto-complete after the developer uses a ‘.’ for constants, system variables, functions and app classes – not just showing the method but the parameter details also.
5. Automated Configuration Manager
An intriguing item in both of the Oracle documents is the ‘Automated Configuration Manager’. Neither document gives a great amount of detail, but it sounds like an improvement or twist to the Automated Environment Configuration tool that Hakan Biroglu blogged about. As a sys-admin this is particularly exciting as it’s moving PeopleSoft towards the ‘dev-ops’ holy grail of automated configuration management popularised by tools such as Chef and Puppet. Any tool that makes the creation of new environments quicker, or reduces the changes of configuration getting out of sync will be very welcome.
The next version of PeopleTools is bringing many improvements. Much is being made of the new User Interface – and rightly so – however there are other improvements that we will improve our workflow by making it both simpler and more efficient.