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Microsoft Edge and PeopleSoft August 4, 2015

Posted by Duncan in Browsers, Look and Feel, PeopleSoft 9.2, PeopleTools 8.54, TW.
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edgeThe Windows 10 upgrade was released late last week, and with it came a new web browser – Microsoft Edge. Formerly codenamed Project Spartan, Edge is the default web browser in Windows 10. Internet Explorer 11 is also be included with the new OS, but is basically unchanged from the version of IE11 found in Windows 7 and 8.1.

Although it might be a while until Windows 10 gains widespread enterprise adoption, it’ll likely have reasonably swift uptake in the home so Edge will start becoming an important browser for externally exposed PeopleSoft systems within 6 months or so.

First Impressions of Edge

It’s actually pretty nice. It’s clean, unobtrusive (unlike those Firefox skins) and snappy to use. It doesn’t work for all websites however – some sites give the following:

IE is needed

 

This is controlled by a ‘blacklist’ of sites however, so there’s no need to worry about your PeopleSoft implementation giving this message.

Edge and PeopleSoft

So, does it work with PeopleSoft? The answer is Yes, it certainly seems to. I’ve spent a fair amount of time noodling through some ‘difficult’ pages and they look OK to me. I compared with HCM 92 Image 13 – the latest at time of writing – and both Fluid and Classic UIs look great.

fluid in edge

Two Changes in PeopleTools Requirements January 13, 2015

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools, PeopleTools 8.53, PeopleTools 8.54, TW.
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Oracle have just announced two changes to what they require customers to be running on.

PeopleTools 8.53 Patch 10 or above for PUM Patches

If you’re on PeopleSoft v9.2 and using the Update Images to select the patches to apply then Oracle ‘strongly advises’ customers to be on the .10 patch of PeopleTools 8.53 or higher.

From Oracle:

FSCM Update Image 9.2.010 and higher, HCM Update Image 9.2.009 and higher, and ELM Update 9.2.006 and higher all need PeopleTools 8.53.10 for many of the updates and fixes to be applied. Failure to update your PeopleTools patch level to PeopleTools 8.53.10 or higher will result in the inability to take these updates and fixes. It may also inhibit you from applying critical maintenance in the future.

New PeopleTools Requirements for PeopleSoft Interaction Hub

Oracle also announced that they’re changing the support policy for Interaction Hub and PeopleTools. Basically, if you use Interaction Hub you must upgrade to a PeopleTools release no later than 24 months after that PeopleTools release becomes generally available.

It was originally a little confusingly worded, but there’s now an example that made it clearer for me:
For example, PeopleTools 8.53 was released in February 2013. Therefore, customers who use Interaction Hub will be required to upgrade to PeopleTools 8.53 (or newer, such as PeopleTools 8.54) no later than February 2015 (24 months after the General Availability date of PeopleTools 8.53). As of February 2015, product maintenance and new features may require PeopleTools 8.53.
I suspect that this is going to impact quite a few of customers.
Full details here:

PeopleSoft and Web Browsers – The Guide September 22, 2014

Posted by Duncan in Browsers, PeopleTools 8.53, PeopleTools 8.54, TW.
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browsersThe topic of PeopleSoft/PeopleTools versions and web browsers is often a complicated one, yet it’s an issue that every client will face when they either upgrade PeopleTools or move to a new Application version that contains a Tools increase.

Cedar have recently been asked by a client for some assistance to get a definitive answer to the important questions and we thought it would be useful to share this information. We’ve put together a white paper that shows you the relevant browser versions for PeopleTools 8.54 and PeopleTools 8.53 (i.e. the versions that customers are likely to be upgrading to over the next year or so):

Cedar Consulting White Paper – PeopleSoft and Web Browsers

We hope that it saves you some time during your next upgrade.

 

An Introduction to PeopleTools 8.54 (part 2) July 31, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools 8.54.
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1. Introduction

The recently launched version of PeopleTools 8.54 contains a broad range of enhancements. Although we’ve had the GA (General Availability) release we can’t upgrade existing environments until the 8.54.02 patch, so now is a good time to perform a fresh sandbox install to investigate the details and highlight the areas that are of most interest.

As in the first part of this series, there is a lot of content to cover so I’ve spread it over several entries. This first part looked at the back-end, infrastructure and System Admin changes, whereas this post moves up the software stack with integration and reporting, and the final entry will finish with the Fluid UI.

2. Developer UI Enhancements

There have been a number of improvements to the User Interface – we’re not talking about Fluid, this is in the Classic UI too although these changes may also benefit Fluid pages).

a. Charting Enhancements

The development team have introduced some new charting types to the toolset. We were already able to select from quite a few options, however we’ve now got Gauges, the LED lights, Status Meters and Funnel charts.

1-charts

b. Long Edit Box Character Counter

Previously people (myself included) have accomplished similar functionality – with varying levels of success – by inserting JavaScript onto the page. Now it’s natively built in to PeopleTools. A character counter can be activated on the properties on the Long Edit box control:

2-long edit setup

The result on-screen is like this:

3-long edit result

Note: this functionality doesn’t actually limit the text entry and if the user exceeds the limit it will show a negative number.

c. Pivot Grids

Pivot Grids have been enhanced in a lot of ways – there are almost 30 improvements listed in the Release Notes. Just picking a few, they now include the ability to restrict the number of rows shown in a Pivot Grid, PS Query drilling URLs and Bubble and Scatter charts are now available as Pivot Chart types.

4-pivots

3. Reporting

a. BI Publisher

As of PeopleTools 8.54, BI Publisher now includes support for PCL (Printer Control Language) code in RTF templates. This allows for printing PDF with Secure Fonts, essential for the secure printing of cheques.

Also newly supported are digital signatures – which can be used to verify the sender and to ensure that it the output hasn’t been amended in transit, and updatable PDFs.

b. PS Query

PS Query now supports defaults for prompts:

5-query

There have been workarounds to achieve a similar result before, but it’s now built into the configuration pages so we don’t need to search online for the workaround each time we want to use it.

Also new with PS Query is the option to include image fields in your output. There are a number of display alternatives with image fields, either Image Data (in which case PS Query will display the image inline with the rest of the HTML result set), or a Base64 encoded data string representing the image with any output other than HTML, or – when the property is set to Image Hyperlink – a URL to the image will be returned instead of the image itself. When the URL is clicked, the image will be displayed in a new browser window.

6-query images

Additionally, all PS Queries can be exposed as REST services, and Microsoft Excel 2007 and above is supported thereby increasing the amount of rows you can download from a Query result set into Excel above the previous limit of 64 thousand.

Finally, PeopleTools 8.54 introduces a new Query type, the Composite Query. Composite Queries are a superset of Connected Queries (which have been in PeopleTools for a couple of releases). Composite Queries allow users to connect queries together and have the output presented as a flat result set (instead of the hierarchical data sets which were output from Connected Queries).

4. Batch Processing

One very visible improvement to the Process Scheduler is a new status window that slides in from the lower right corner to give updates on processing progress. This is a nice touch that I’m sure end-users will appreciate:

7-batch window

Secondly, Activity Guides can improve batch processes as steps – which is important if there’s something a bit more process intensive that’s needed as part of a sequence of steps.

Finally, App Engine program trace allows you to specify which sections to appear in the trace, rather than having to wade through the trace for an entire program. This needs to be enabled in the Process Scheduler config, in Configuration Manager, and then in the App Engine itself:

8-trace

5. Other Enhancements

Other enhancements included in this version of PeopleTools are:

– There’s a WorkCenter to make the setting up of new Activity Guides easier, plus a cloning function which will be useful when similar – but slightly different – guides are needed.

SES facets now include numerical and date ranges. Results can include images and report repository content.

Change Assistant has now been decoupled from the PeopleSoft Image, enabling packages to be moved to subsequent environments without also needing to connect to the PeopleSoft Image (this was quite restricting in Tools 8.53). It also has a fresh new UI and can be scripting/configured via the command line

Data Migration Workbench has received improvements to Application Data Sets (and define relationships between groups), plus merging, support for managed objects and an improved UI.

PeopleSoft Test Framework now allows you to perform mass updates (updating a set of tests in one change), interaction with App Designer projects and some usability enhancements.

6. Conclusion

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.

PeopleTools 8.54 Sandbox July 14, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools 8.54, TW.
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Following the announcement on Friday that Tools 8.54 was available, we dived straight in (whilst cursing under our breath that it was released at 6pm on Friday night on the weekend of the World Cup final!). (more…)

An Introduction to PeopleTools 8.54 (part 1) June 10, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools 8.54.
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1. Introduction

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 11.2.0.3 removed (so 11.2.0.4 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.

6. Conclusion

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.