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I’m Graham Smith and this is how I work August 31, 2015

Posted by Duncan in How I work, TW.
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I’m genuinely delighted that Graham Smith has added his profile to our ‘How I Work‘ series. Not just because he’s one of the World’s best known PeopleSoft experts, or just because he’s recently joined Cedar’s family of PeopleSoft consultants, but mainly because I was sure he’d give some really interesting answers.

For those who don’t know Graham, he led the PeopleSoft Technical Team at Oxfam for longer than he’d want me to reveal, before his recent move to Cedar where many more customers can now benefit from his talents. He’s also an Oracle ACE Director, Chair of the UKOUG PeopleSoft Tech Committee, multi-occasion OOW speaker (including this year), runs a well-known PeopleSoft blog and is a thoroughly nice chap.

Graham Smith

Name: Graham Smith

Occupation: I work for Cedar Consulting specialising in PeopleSoft.  I get involved in design, development, infrastructure, integration, project management and dreaming up new ideas and solutions.
Location: I live and work in the wonderful, university city of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Current computer: Dell E5550 but a lot of my work is done on cloud based machines.
Current mobile devices: Samsung Galaxy S6 running Android Lollipop (5.0.2) and a Moto G – Android (5.0.2)
I work: Enthusiastically

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
1) ClipCache – This is my number 1 application and I’ve come to rely heavily on it. This simple PC tool remembers EVERYTHING I copy into the Windows clipboard. I can search and organise every clip that’s ever hit my clipboard.

2) Beyond Compare – One of the best folder and file compare tools around. Since v3, Beyond Compare has supported 3 way compare. Great for comparing old-demo with new-patched-demo alongside your customised code. Also indispensable for keeping web, app and batch server file systems in synch.

3) UltraEdit – Simply the best text editor I know. Has a PeopleCode and SQR syntax highlighter and can be easily programmed to be aware of app and batch server cfg files. There are free editors (like Notepad++) but none of them come close to this superbly engineered editor.

4) SQL formatter – For those monster SQL statements.

5) soapUI – Superb web service testing tool.

6) Fiddler – http proxy to help discover what your browser is sending and receiving.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
I don’t need gadgets… unless you include my glasses (can’t read without them).

What’s your workspace like?
When I’m working at home my office is an old converted shed at the bottom of my garden. This is my commute to work:

My desk is a £20 refurb from Emmaus and has on it the following items….. a toy train, a model of an ancient cedar tree from Lebanon, an old PeopleSoft clock, a ruler from the 1980’s that can measure dots-per-inch, a Hot-Wheels car, a copy of Jim Marion’s PeopleTools: Tips & Techniques, an OTN members badge, a signed copy of PeopleSoft for the Oracle DBA by Dave Kurtz, a photo of my wife and kids, 2 bags of Fair Trade coffee, a fan and a Netgear hub. I hear every train that passes by as the main line to London is only 20 metres away.

What do you listen to while you work?
Quite happy with silence…. but I often switch on Radio 2 or UCB Radio later in the day. When I worked at Oxfam I sat opposite my friend Steve who has an alarming 120db sneeze although the Class 43 diesels doing 125mph close to my home office are a good substitute.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
1) I write and debug a lot of SQL and find SQL Pretty Printer from Gudu Software very helpful. There’s a standalone version that works with SQL from most platforms and one that’s very nicely integrated into Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio. Essential for navigating long complex statements.

2) I also think the Google Chrome PS Utilities extension from Uffe Graakjae is a useful tool for developers and analysts.

3) The Application Designer Debugger is a very useful tool, often overlooked and underused. Don’t wait until you need this before you set up the infrastructure to support it.

4) TraceMagic from Oracle Support Team is very useful for navigating heavily nested code in trace files.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
My tip is more of an observation.  “All system failures are caused by the things that we put in place to protect us from system failures”.  Test this …. and you’ll find it’s true – most of the time.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
I find myself querying PeopleTools meta-data most often.  This is at the heart of what makes PeopleSoft applications so successful, agile and extensible.  Genius software engineering!

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Code completion for PeopleCode in Application Designer.  It’s partially there in 8.54 it just needs to support Application Package Classes and Methods. Also, how about adding a visual object explorer into Application Designer for delivered and custom objects and app packages.  At a glance, you could see what methods, properties, functions, variables were defined in a code window.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Oh my. Hard question. I can balance on one leg on an empty coke can.  Does that count?

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Love the Lord God with all your heart and soul and love your neighbour as yourself.

I’m Javier Delgado and this is how I work July 13, 2015

Posted by Duncan in How I work, TW.
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July’s entry in the ‘How I Work’ series is PeopleSoft Blogger Javier Delgado. Javier is a PeopleSoft consultant and manages the PeopleSoft Practice at BNB (Business Network Builders). Javier has been writing on his ‘Javier’s PeopleSoft blog‘ site since 2007, however it’s only in the last couple of years that he’s started posting really regularly. In fact his 24 posts in 2015 probably make him last year’s most prolific blogger. We often link to his posts from the PeopleSoft Weekly as he posts on great topics, including Cloud deployments, upgrading with zero downtime and doing cool things with Integration Broker. Javier can be followed on Twitter here: @javierdelgado


Name: Javier Delgado

Occupation: PeopleSoft Practice Manager at BNB
Location: Madrid, Spain
Current computer: MacBook Pro 13” (8GB RAM, 512GB SSD)
Current mobile devices: Samsung Galaxy S5, Apple iPad 2, Amazon Kindle
I work: as a consultant, or practice leader, or project manager. Whatever is needed within the circumstances. Although my main responsibility is being the leader of the PeopleSoft and Cloud practices at BNB, I still prefer the hands on work.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I use PeopleBooks as a constant reference source, in particular the API and Language Reference books. I also refer to them when learning a new module or functionality (lately I’ve been playing a bit with REST services and P-Card features in Purchasing).

For issue resolution on non open parts of PeopleSoft, Google search and My Oracle Support are always of great information.

Lately, I’ve been using Feedly and Twitter lists as a source for research. I save any item that interests me in Pocket and future actions to be taken in Trello boards. Virtualization, and VirtualBox in particular is a great way to practice in a controlled sandbox environment.

Finally, I extensively use Google Apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides and other plugin applications) to produce deliverables collaborating with the rest of the team. Earlier this year I uninstalled Microsoft Office from my machine. Will I survive?

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
It is not a gadget in all its forms, but I can’t live without books. When reading literature, I prefer printed books, while I normally read technical books using my Kindle. Don’t ask me why I make this distinction. It just happens.

What’s your workspace like?
Normally a mess. This has motivated me to get rid of paper as much as I can. In the last year or so, I always took notes using my Macbook Pro. This is the only way I can be sure of not losing my notes. On top of it, my workspace is much tidier.


What do you listen to while you work?
I very rarely listen to music while working, mostly when there is too much environmental noise. In such cases, I normally use a classical music playlist I have in Spotify.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
My preferred tool is tracing. I’ve always found PeopleSoft traces very information and normally use it almost for every issue I need to diagnose. More importantly, it is very reliable: if it is not in the trace, it didn’t happen.

Lately I have been playing around with some custom Javascript within PeopleSoft pages. Google Chrome seems to have the best debugging console for web applications. I guess I will be using it more and more with the advent of the new Fluid user interface.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
Inspecting the HTML pages is a great way to identify fields and then map them to record fields, but this was also shared by others in this same space.

One thing I found particularly useful lately are the Query Access Services than enable third party access to queries through web services. Once you got the integration done for one query, it is very easy to extend to further ones. The potential for quickly delivering web services to third party applications is great.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Definitely the Effective Date subquery. %EffDtCheck meta sql has helped a lot, but it still does not work as expected for the JOB table, as it would include EFFSEQ as a join in the subquery used to retrieve the maximum EFFDT.

On top of that, I use the database specific functionality to create working tables based on a query (CREATE TABLE AS in Oracle and SELECT INTO in SQL Server).

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Quite a few, mostly around Application Designer. From my point of view, this was a great IDE more than a decade ago, but it has not evolved as other IDEs used for Java and Javascript development. It is still a very productive tool, but there are a few features that would make it better.

One way would be to enable third party developers to produce plugins to complement Application Designer features. With thisability, it would not take too long before programming tools such as versioning, lint and refactoring were made available to the PeopleSoft community at no cost.

On the other hand, and although I think Fluid is a great step forward, it almost made the page design redundant. True, we still use pages with group boxes to set the responsive divs in our Fluid pages, but it seems to me a rather complex way of doing things. This is probably out of the bounds of this answer, but I see room for a new paradigm, pretty much a PeopleSoft 8 compared to previous versions. Unfortunately, I don’t think Oracle has the same plans in mind.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I have a quite broad knowledge of PeopleSoft architecture, development and functionality. This is purely based in that I always wanted to work with software. In other words, I love what I do, and I don’t think there is a better fuel than passion.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
From my literature teacher in my last year at high school. He was giving the grades of the previous exam to the final one. He first addressed the people who had passed the exam by inches, telling them to make a bigger effort for the final exam. Then, he told the ones having the best grades: “you should make an even bigger effort, as there is no shorter path for mediocrity than self complacency. Always believe in yourselves, but always doubt, as doubt will protect you from self complacency.” There is a bit lost in translation from Spanish, but I hope I made the idea clear.

I’m Iouri Chadour and this is how I work May 20, 2015

Posted by Duncan in How I work, TW.
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May’s entry in the ‘How I Work’ series is PeopleSoft Blogger Iouri “Yury” Chadour. Yury has been sharing his knowledge on his Working Scripts blog for 7 years, so is a valuable and consistent member of our community. Yury’s site is full of tips, particularly new tools to try and techniques ‘around the edges’ of PeopleSoft.  Thanks, and keep up the good work Yury!


Name: Iouri Chadour

Occupation: Vice President at Lazard Freres
Location: In the office in midtown NYC
Current computer: At work I use either standard Lenovo laptop or my VM client, my own machine is Lenovo X1 Carbon
Current mobile devices: Samsung Galaxy S3, iPad Air 2, Kindle Fire (Original)
I work: best when I have a set goal in mind – I like being able to check off my achievements from the list (more on that below.) As many others fellow bloggers have mentioned – challenge and ability to learn new things on the job are very important as well.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I use all of these Software Development Tools:

Application Designer
Notepad++ with lots of plugins PeopleCode user Defined language, Compare, AutoSave, NppExport, Explorer to name a few
Firefox with Firebug, AdBlock and Hootsuite
Feedly – this my main tool for following all the blogs and keeping up to date on the news
LastPass – very convenient password management for desktop and phone
KeePass – open source password manager
Toad for Oracle 12
Oracle jDeveloper
Aptana Studio
PeopleSoft TraceMagic
Wunderlist – Android app and Desktop for Taks Management
Microsoft Project or Project Libre
MS Excel
Greenshot Screen Capture
Gimp – basic image editing

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
I like my original Kindle Fire – I use it for reading more than any other device.

What’s your workspace like?

What do you listen to while you work?
Listening really depends on the mood at time of the day. I mostly use Slacker Radio to listen to everything from contemporary and classic jazz, Classical to Parisian Electro and House music.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?

App Designer
PeopleSoft Query Client for writing queries
Toad 12
Notepad++ to write and examine code and logs
TraceMagic for more advanced log review
Firefox with Firebug for HTML and JavaScript issues
On occasion Aptana Studio for JavaScript and HTML

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
If I am stuck with a very difficult problem and can’t seem to find a good solution – I usually leave it and do something else – at some point the solution or a correct directions usually comes to my mind on it’s own.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Since I work with a lot of Financials Modules so everything related to those modules. I do also write some tools related SQLs when I need to examine Process Scheduler tables.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Code completion and Code/Project navigator – I use Notepad++ for now.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I do not think I do something in particular better than anyone else, but I believe that I can be more efficient about some things than some of the people.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My family and my friends provided me with a lot of advice and support and I am greatly thankful for them being present in my life. But I do like the following quote:
“The more things that you read , the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

I’m Mark Heppell and this is how I work April 20, 2015

Posted by Duncan in How I work, TW.
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Next up in the 2015 ‘How I work‘ series is Mark Heppell. Mark is one of Cedar’s longest serving employees having been with us for 16 years. As a consequence he’s been on almost all our client sites, so he’s one of our better known and most beloved consultants.

Mark is one of Cedar’s key PeopleSoft developers and is one of the first people that we all turn to when there’s something beyond our abilities. He’s currently waist deep in some great looking Fluid work (I’ve had a sneak peak).


Name: Mark Heppell

Occupation: Lead Technical Consultant
Location: Home office, Marlow, UK
Current computer: Dell Latitude E5520 laptop and Acer Aspire X3400 desktop
Current mobile devices: iPhone 4, iPad Air

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I love any home automation gadgets.  I’ve got solar panels automatically turning on immersion heaters and everything in the lounge is controlled from my iPad.  It’s kind of an insurance policy, because without me, my wife can’t turn on the TV and would be sitting in darkness.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
I’m not sure if it’s actually a gadget but if the broadband ever went down I think my teenage son’s world would end.

What’s your workspace like?
It’s good.  With Remote Desktop and Skype there’s very little need for me to leave my house.  If I get lonely I talk to the bonsai.


What do you listen to while you work?
At the minute I’m listening to Imagine Dragons, Hozier and AWOLNATION, or I just put on the radio.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
The usual PeopleSoft stuff, App Designer and SQL Developer.  Paint.net if I have to do any graphics, Notepad++ for html and trace files, FileZilla for Unix and ExamDiff for file comparisons.  With the advent of Fluid I seem to be spending more and more time looking at browser developer tools, generally Firebug for day to day stuff and Chrome for mobile device emulation.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
When creating javascript use something along the lines of
or your javascript won’t work when the user clicks the “New Window” link.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Working with HR,
Select * from PS_JOB J where J.EFFDT=(Select Max(J_ED.EFFDT) from ......,
will generally make an appearance a couple of times a week.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Better at than anyone else is a bit of a stretch, but I do seem to end up with the more complicated/abstract client requests.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’m sure my Dad gives me some wonderful advice, but he’s a Geordie and I can only understand 1 in 3 words he says.

I’m William Reynolds and this is How I Work March 3, 2015

Posted by Duncan in How I work, TW.
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William joined PeopleSoft in November of 1995 as a developer in the Inventory product. Since then he has worked in various roles within the FSCM pillar eventually landing in the Enterprise Architecture group where he straddles the world between PeopleTools and Applications. He currently works with other Architects in each of the pillars on various projects like security, accessibility and PUM.


Name: William Reynolds

Occupation: Senior Application Architect, Enterprise Architecture
Location: Home office, Chicago, IL
Current computer: ThinkPad W520 & T430
Current mobile devices: iPhone 6

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Probably the two pieces of software I’d be lost without are LastPass and Xmarks. Keeping track of hundreds of bookmarks along with hundreds of passwords between work and home would be nearly impossible without them. Lately I’ve also been leaning heavily on Notepad++ for various projects.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
When I’m not on my laptop I usually have my iPad handy for email, calendar and web access.

What’s your workspace like?
I’d like to say it’s a clean, modern, calm fortress of solitude but I work from home and have three kids under the age of 12 so its state of clutter really depends on the week. I built a treadmill desk a couple years ago but these days it’s more of a standing desk. Every week you read a new article about sitting versus standing so I try to stand as much as I can during the dozen or so conference calls throughout the week. Walking while working takes some getting used to. Email is pretty easy to get through while in motion but for something like SQL or coding I find I have to be at least standing still if not sitting to really concentrate.

My workspace

What do you listen to while you work?
My tastes run the gambit and usually it depends on what task I’m doing. For things that require some heads down concentration it’s either Brubeck or Sinatra. If I’m cranking through email or pulling together a slide deck then it’s something more peppy like top 40.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
It really just depends on what project I’m working on at the moment.  I prefer Firefox as my browser at work, Notepad++ for text work, and SQL Developer.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
At the moment, my ideal change would be to get rid the Windows dependency in all our client tools.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I would say I have a knack for looking at the big picture and being able to put myself in a customer’s shoes.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Not sure where it came from but “don’t build a Cadillac when what you need is a Honda.”

I’m Alex Lightstone and this is how I work February 16, 2015

Posted by Duncan in How I work, TW.
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First up in the ‘How I work‘ series for 2015 is Alex Lightstone. For those in the UK PeopleSoft marketplace Alex should need no introduction, for everyone else though here’s a brief bio:

Alex spent the 2000’s at Oracle, initially supporting, and then as Product Support Manager for PeopleSoft Global Payroll. When he left Oracle in 2010 there was a battle for his services and we’re very grateful that he selected Cedar where he forms part of our ‘trinity of UK-based GP gurus’ – alongside Bill and Gary. Alex can be frequently found sharing his knowledge at Cedar events, and UKOUG conferences and SIGS. His skills aren’t confined to GP however, and he’s already fixed a few bits of code that I’ve left half-completed (including the Field Watermarks).


Name: Alex Lightstone

Occupation: Lead Consultant at Cedar Consulting
Location: When not on client site, either home or the Cedar Office (Kings Cross, London)
Current computer: Dell Latitude E6430
Current mobile devices: HTC One (M7), Alcatel 4G USB Dongle
I work: best when I understand exactly what everyone else is doing so I can see the whole picture

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
As long as I have an internet connection I’m happy. I regularly change my browser but am reliant on Microsoft Office applications (yes, even Outlook). I’ve recently discovered Microsoft One Note and now wonder how I ever managed without it. Of course, App Designer, Data Mover and SQL Developer are a big part of my day to day work, as are Citrix, Remote Desktop and various flavours of VPN software when working remotely as needed to connect to client sites. Smartphones are useful but when space and battery power permit I’d rather be hooked up to my laptop with my 4G mobile broadband. Notepad and Paint are useful pieces of software in my opinion – I know there are alternatives but I like to keep it simple. And last but not least … Spotify.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Sat Nav is an absolute but is included with most smartphones these days. I’m happy with my phone and laptop. A smart-watch would be nice but I haven’t bought one yet.

What’s your workspace like?
They say “small is beautiful”, which is just as well in my case. Since the birth of my second child, my workspace has been relegated to a corner of my bedroom.


What do you listen to while you work?
I have somewhat eclectic tastes when it comes to music. I often listen to music via Google Music or Spotify. Anything goes … rock, classical, dance – it’s all on my playlists.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
I use App Designer, SQL Developer and Notepad (for SQR and COBOL). I occasionally use Firebug or the Chrome Developer Tools to resolve HTML issues. PeopleBooks are useful for reference.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
Global Payroll is just a programming language where you don’t write code. Approach it as a programmer and it will make a lot more sense.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Working in the world of payroll, I spend a lot of time querying the payroll results tables (GP_RSLT_XXXX).

SELECT PIN_NUM FROM PS_GP_PIN WHERE PIN_NM=<Element Name> is SQL that I use a lot.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Better error handling – there are too many generic error messages where your only option is to delve into the code to determine the reason for the error.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Teaching myself – it’s how I learnt most of what I know.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“The PeopleSoft world is a small place, don’t upset people, you will have to work with them again” – Anonymous

I’m Jim Marion and this is how I work March 25, 2014

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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Next up in the ‘How I work‘ series is Jim Marion. I suspect that for most reading this Jim will need no introduction, however as I’ve given everyone else a mini-biog I shall do the same for Jim.

Jim is Oracle’s most publicly-facing techie, and I suspect one of it’s most senior technical brains. Jim’s blog – Jim’s PeopleSoft Journal – is one of the (if not ‘the’) most useful and forward thinking PeopleSoft blog(s), and probably the one that gets the most traffic. Jim is a frequent speaker on the US conference circuit where his ‘PeopleTools Tips & Techniques’ sessions are the first ones in many peoples’ agenda planners. Jim is also a published author, with both PeopleTools Tips & Techniques and PeopleTools Data Management and Upgrade Handbook to his name. To top it off, Jim is also a wonderful mix of unfailingly helpful and pretty much always correct.


Name: Jim Marion

Occupation: PeopleSoft Technology Consultant
Location: Home office, Washington State, USA
Current computer: Dell E6420 (OEL 6.4, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
Current mobile devices: HTC Incredible 2, iPad 2, Verizon Fivespot Wireless Hotspot
I work: even when I’m not working

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
My phone and some sort of internet connection are both very important. As a remote worker, if I have internet and a dial tone, I can work from just about anywhere. When traveling, I really enjoy having a few books in my Safari Books Online iPad book bag. As far as productivity apps, here is a list of what I use daily: vim, gedit, VirtualBox, KRDC (remote desktop), jEdit, SQLDeveloper, AppDesigner, JDeveloper, Eclipse, Fiddler, Wireshark, Pidgin, Thunderbird, Skype, Vonage, and most of all: Google search.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
My phone and laptop are the two most important. My iPad really helps me keep up with book reading. My Verizon 4g hotspot keeps me connected when hotel or airport WIFI are not very good.

What’s your workspace like?
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time working from Marriott hotel desks that look very much like this:


What do you listen to while you work?
Very occasionally I listen to a playlist on GrooveShark (Toby Mac, Matt Redman, Switchfoot), a message from Andy Stanley, or some instructional presentation by John Resig or another JavaScript icon. Most of the time, however, I find that attempting to listen to something while working is a waste of bandwidth because I am so focused on my work that I don’t seem to hear anything around me.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
For development, I use Application Designer, SQLDeveloper, jEdit, and JSLint. I also spend a lot of time in discovery and analysis. For this portion of my work, I use Fiddler, Firebug, and SoapUI.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
If you use the PeopleSoft database cache option instead of file system cache, you may already know that you can strategically clear segments of the cache. Unfortunately, with database cache, performing a full database cache purge with psadmin can take a very, very long time. Here is the tip: truncate psobjcache before clearing cache with psadmin.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
I write a lot of SQL against the portal registry and security tables.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Code assistance in AppDesigner’s PeopleCode editor: auto fill, auto complete, auto… I spend a lot of time in the PeopleCode Language and API reference verifying syntax. It would be really, really beneficial if App Designer just displayed that information like other integrated suites.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Problem identity and resolution. I have an eye for things that are out of place.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25.

I’m Anton de Weger and this is how I work March 4, 2014

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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Next up in the ‘How I work‘ series is Anton de Weger, my first boss in the PeopleSoft world. Anton ran Congruent UK, the consultancy I worked at for 7 great years and I owe much of what I’ve learnt to him. Congruent was – for it’s no longer in existence – full of great consultants, not only in their technical or functional ability, but in a desire to behave ethically for the client – something that came from Anton at the top.

Not only is Anton a great leader, but he’s brilliant technically too. He possesses a ‘Steve Jobs like’ reality distortion field, where all technical tasks somehow seem easier when he’s around. He’s still the only person I’ve ever seen – when there was a network outage – fire up a blank notepad session and write an SQR from scratch.

Anton has since returned to Australia where he’s currently working on a 9.2 upgrade.


Name: Anton de Weger

Occupation: PeopleSoft Consultant / Project Manager
Location: Melbourne Australia
Current computer: Metabox (Win7, 16GB RAM, SSD, Radeon 6900M) third in a line of luggable powerhouses that can warm my lunch as well as run a PeopleSoft VM or two.
Current mobile devices: iPhone 5s
I work: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with PeopleSoft these days.  I’ve been trying to get away from the application for a while, but it still keeps pulling me back in.  I dislike the lack of development and focus on PeopleSoft from Oracle, and I feel this is limiting the potential for new blood and enthusiasm in the market.  Also, is it just me or are PeopleSoft implementations getting harder? My personal view is that the off-shoring and out-sourcing of the project teams are counteracting the benefits and efficiency of projects. However, in the end I love PeopleTools as a corporate computing platform and I think its flexibility and structure are underappreciated.  I’m driven by solving problems and feeling like I’m making a difference to my customers and if I can link that up with an occasional good technical challenge and a good team then I’m happy.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Snag-It: There is always a need for screen shots, whether you are doing Technical, Functional or Project Management work.
Podcasts: For the commute into work, either educational or humorous.
Notepad++: moving to this as a general text editor from previous preferences for UltraEdit and TextPad.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Now that I’m getting a bit older, I’m not as tied to having the latest gadget and I am quite enjoying challenging myself outside the technology field. This Christmas I was disappointed when I was able to get mobile coverage at our remote hobby farm (home to 13 beef cattle and 220 acres of grass and trees), where I like to go to escape the world.

What’s your workspace like?
Wherever the client wants me, which being a consultant is normally in the corner, or wherever they can find space. At home it looks like this.


What do you listen to while you work?
It depends on my mood, but industrial/gothic is high on the list, as is a bit of Electronica to help speed things along.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
Notepad++, Toad, PeopleBooks, Google Search and 20 years of previous projects, documents and notes pretty much covers me for most eventualities. The Oracle Virtual Machine PeopleSoft installs are also pretty cool, but only rarely used when onsite.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
PeopleSoft Directory, allows you to connect to Active Directory and the PeopleCode behind the Test page can be used to build an Active Directory interface using the Business Interlink.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Always the effective date/effective sequence joins to JOB.  I really need to sort out a macro for that.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
A bit better vision from Oracle, so that customers didn’t have to beg to get PeopleSoft sold to them.  Preconfigured Global Payroll templates for countries.  OK, that’s two items, but the first is just a gripe.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
At one stage I think I had the largest SQR delivered by PeopleSoft…  I knew it was the largest, as to add an extra line of code, you had to remove one from somewhere else.  I’d probably say I’m reasonably good at working between tech teams, functional teams and the business.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I.T. is not about the software, it’s about the people.  If projects were about the software, you would press a button and it would be done.

I’m Simon Wilson and this is how I work February 26, 2014

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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Next up in the ‘How I work‘ series is Simon Wilson, one of my colleagues here at Succeed Consultancy. Simon is an experienced hybrid Technical and Functional Consultant across HCM, Financials, CRM and Portal. As well as sterling on-site consultancy, Simon is the Technical Practice Lead here at Succeed so he looks after all of our Techs. Simon can be found on Twitter here and regularly contributes to the Succeed blog (as well as curating all the other entries).

Simon Wilson 2

Name: Simon Wilson

Occupation: Senior Consultant and Technical Practice Lead at Succeed Consultancy
Location: I live in the historic city of St Albans in the UK, a short drive from Succeed’s Office.
Current computer: I do most of my work on a standard Lenovo laptop supplied by Succeed. For my home computer I recently got tired of the fan noise from my self-built Shuttle-based machine and replaced it with a passively cooled system from Quiet PC. It’s blissfully silent and quite powerful too. Oh yes, and I also have a Raspberry Pi that I play with occasionally.
Current mobile devices: iPhone 5 and 3rd generation iPad.
I work: most happily when I’m learning something new

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I’m becoming very dependent on Dropbox for files that I need to access across different locations and devices. This is a good example of the use of “the Cloud”, which is something that I probably couldn’t live without nowadays. From accessing my files on Dropbox, to using one of the many PeopleSoft environments that Succeed hosts, to viewing my Google calendar, I’m using the Cloud for many hours of every day.

It’s not an understatement to say that using a password manager has changed my working life. I no longer have to remember the usernames, passwords or indeed the URLs that I need in order to access all the different applications and environments I use. I can get the program to generate strong passwords that I don’t ever have to know or even see. All I need to do is remember one strong password and I can ensure I have strong and secure access to everything else I use.

Finally, I think PeopleBooks are an excellent resource, and I find myself referring to them repeatedly every working day.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Phones and tablets are so powerful nowadays that additional gadgets are increasingly being rendered redundant. However, I’m very fond of my new Sonos music system.

What’s your workspace like?
When I’m not on a client’s site or at the Succeed office I’m lucky enough to have a study where I can shut myself away from the rest of the family.


It’s not usually as tidy as shown in the photo. There’s no standing desk, but I tend to find myself on a lot of conference calls, during which I try to stand.

What do you listen to while you work?
I’ve never found it easy to concentrate when there’s music playing, so I tend to work in silence. Sometimes, however, I need to block out a noisy office, in which case I will go for guitar-based instrumental music that I know quite well and will therefore not demand too much of my attention. Examples are the hypnotic rhythms of Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate, Ry Cooder’s large catalogue of film soundtracks or the Django-esque virtuosity of Joscho Stephan.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Interaction Hub lately and have found browser developer tools to be fantastically productive for debugging JavaScript and iScript-generated HTML. I prefer to use Chrome, but on some clients’ sites I’m limited to using IE’s usable but inferior alternative. Other than that I don’t need much more than a good text editor such as Notepad++ with a PeopleCode plugin for text highlighting.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
Migrating Pagelet-Wizard pages and Pivot Grids between environments is easy – PeopleSoft provides pages that generate the Export and Import DMS files for you under PeopleTools > Pagelet Wizard > Export/Import Pagelets and Reporting Tools > Pivot Grids > Pivot Grid Admininstration respectively. Admittedly, the pages’ usability could be better, but they do save a lot of time.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
It has to be effective date sub-selects. The %EffDtCheck meta-sql has saved me a lot of time in this regard.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
One that springs to mind is the ability to open more than one class in an Application Package at a time, or at least a better way to navigate the Application Class hierarchy. When investigating errors I’ve lost count of the number times I’ve dived into a class’ parent’s parent only to lose my bearings and have to start back at the original call.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Before joining Succeed I was an independent consultant and during the early part of my PeopleSoft career I spent several years as the only technical resource at one particular client. With nobody else to bounce ideas off I had to become good at coming up with solutions to problems independently. They may not have been the most efficient or elegant ways of doing things, but they generally worked. When you’re close to a deadline and the whole team is working flat out, I have found this ability to be self-sufficient invaluable.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I can still remember being told by my boss during the mid-1990s that I ought to get myself trained on “this new thing called PeopleSoft”.

It’s more of an aphorism than a piece of advice, but I think it’s true that you should embrace change because in the IT industry it’s the only thing that’s constant.
Finally, we have a saying within Succeed that “SQL is your friend”, meaning that you can save yourself a lot of time and get quality answers to your questions if you know the data model and can write SQL to extract the information you want. Increasingly nowadays this is being morphed to “Google is your friend”, because someone somewhere in the world is likely to have experienced a similar issue to you and have blogged or raised a question about it.

I’m Chris Malek and this is how I work February 13, 2013

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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Next up in the ‘How I work‘ series is Chris Malek of Cedar Hills Group. Chris is a Technical Consultant and President/Founder of Cedar Hills Group. He has 12 years experience working on PeopleSoft and is a former PeopleSoft employee. Although some of you may know him from this time, most will have heard his name from the blog he runs – his articles are often featured in the PeopleSoft Weekly.


Name: Chris Malek

Occupation: Independent PeopleSoft Technical Consultant @ Cedar Hills Group, Inc.
Location: San Diego County, CA, USA
Current computer: My main computer is an Apple MacBook Pro with 15 inch Retina display (16 GB RAM, SSD Drive), 24in Apple iMac (4GB RAM) – I use this iMac as a ‘thin’ client mostly and its large screen.
Current mobile devices: Iphone4 and an Ipad 1st Gen (upgrading to an iPad Mini soon)
I work: to learn something everyday and be mentally challenged.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Snagit – I have been using snagit for years. It makes communication and documentation so much faster. It is super easy to grab a screen-shot, then use the simple but powerful editor to mark it up with text, arrows, call-outs and even pull in other screen-shots. It is worth every penny.

Sublime text 2 – The best text editor I have found. Once you spend the time to learn the subtleties of it and install some plugins (there are hundreds) it is a powerful editor.

PeopleCode PeopleBooks – I write a lot of Peoplecode and I am constantly referencing the PeopleCode API documentation.

Balsamiq – I create a lot of PeopleSoft bolt-ons. I have found that creating low fidelity / pencil drawn UI sketches helps clients understand the proposed application and helps me flush out requirements faster. In general, people do not know what they want until they can see it. So quickly sketching out some UI options in something like Balsamiq helps get better requirements and helps create better applications.

Aperture – I have a large photo library and enjoy photography. Aperture is a great application that is powerful and integrates nicely with the many Apple devices my family has.

Google Reader – I have been a heavy Google Reader user for years. It is a great web app and it allows me to stay up to date on various tech blogs and niche topics I am interested in.

JungleDisk and Amazon S3 – I don’t keep paper and scan all business records to PDF. I backup all my computers to Amazon S3 using JungleDisk. I have piece of mind that if my computer fails or my house catches fire that I can get my records without a problem. It also allows me to do secure syncing with my family computers and I hold the encryption keys which is unlike something like DropBox where they control the encryption keys.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
I don’t know if you can call it a gadget but I can’t live without my surfboards. I started surfing when I moved to Southern California about 8 years ago and it has become a passion. It is really fun, keeps me in shape and is a great stress reliever. Staying in shape is a top priority for me and my TRX Trainer is another favorite non-tech gadget. It is light, portable, and versatile. It gives you an exercise combination between Pilates, Yoga, and weight training.

I also love my Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner. As I stated above, I don’t keep any paper records. This little scanner is amazing and it was pivotal in allowing me to go completely paperless about 5 years ago.

What’s your workspace like?
In my home office, I have a desk that can be adjusted for standing. I don’t always stand while working and actually prefer sitting most of the time. However, it is nice to have the options to change postures. I have a white-board on the wall where I can sketch ideas and jot down my daily to do list which helps me stay focused.


What do you listen to while you work?
I love Pandora. Lately, I have been listening to the “Jazz Essentials” station. Another popular station for work hours is my Massive Attack pandora channel which has a bunch of down-tempo type music. I am also a big fan of anything by Yo-Yo Ma  especially the album titled “The Cello Suites.”

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
1.) Chrome Developer tools to find field names of PeopleSoft fields by inspecting the HMTL.
2.) HTTPFox FireFox plugin and Fiddler to troubleshoot cookie issues, dig into weblibs and spy on javascript Ajax calls.
3.) My DataDumper application class to quickly view buffer states and debug code because I hate looking at trace files. You can view an introduction here.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
If you are viewing any PeopleSoft page in any web browser (except IE), right click on a field and choose “inspect element”.  That will bring up the developer tools and will display the HTML source of the field that you had highlighted. The “id” attribute will have the record and field name in the form of {Record Name}_{Field Name}. This is really useful for dynamic pages where opening up the application designer page definition may not be obvious especially if there are nested sub-pages. This is a good trick to teach analysts that create tech specs as they can easily find the technical names and communicate in the language of the technical staff.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
I create and support a lot of electronic signature / approval type customizations. This requires me to log in as many different users throughout the day for testing purposes. Therefore, I do a lot of password resets from the back end. Here is a script I use against my base account where I know the password and reset some target user’s password to match mine so I can login as them.


There are some caveats to this trick. This will not trigger an integration broker message since you are updating from the back end. Therefore, this will not sync to other PeopleSoft databases. I have also seen in the 8.53 pre-release notes that the password hashes may be stored with a salt soon so this will probably not work after 8.53 is released.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
If I could not get version control then I would focus some of the following areas of Application Designer:

* Code completion
* Better support for navigating complex Application Class hierarchies
* An option to force PeopleCode variable declarations
* Support for message catalogs on compare reports
* Support for exporting message catalogs to a file with the project

I could go on for hours.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I think I am a very quick learner and have the ability to understand complex problems and break the problem into smaller manageable chunks. I owe this to the Engineering program that I completed in college. The program taught amazing problem solving skills and transformed the way I think.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I was in training at PeopleSoft, a veteran consultant told me “Never learn COBOL or you will be stuck as the COBOL guy on a big project and never learn any new technology.” This stuck with me because I love learning new technologies. I took the advice and stayed clear of COBOL and I don’t regret it.

I also recently heard a quote the resonated with me: “It is OK to make mistakes as long as they are new ones.”


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