Posts Tagged ‘#Oracle’

Oracle/Fatwire CSDT (Content Server Developer Tools) : Part 2

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Content Server Developer Tools are the latest and the first ever supported tools from Oracle (Fatwire) which provides plugin to eclipse and command line utility to help manage Fatwire artefacts in a file system. Once the artefacts are in file system, it opens a whole new doors to managing them. I covered about CSDT in my previous post and this is extention to the original post.

CSDT has been designed keeping in my the new development as the priority with not much thought around the projects upgrading to CS 761. But in my view the focus should have been other way around as there will be lot more upgrades than new implementations as the initial use case for CSDT.

    If you are planning to use CSDT across developers setup, here are some pointers to be aware:

  • CSDT V1 has a limitation that it expects the work space name to be cs_workspace at the location /export/envision. So, one option to make csdt work is to create a project with the same name at expected location.
  • CSDT expects the same folder structure within workspace, src/_metadata and src/jsp. So it is important that if you are trying to manage CSDT export within CVS, setup the same project structure
  • When you have all the artefacts you want to manage within CVS, make sure everyone sync their local instances with the CVS export so that everyone are at the same code level before starting any development
  • Word ‘Exception’ causes CSDT import to fail. Make sure that during development, do not specify name/ description fields with it. Or use Excaption :)
    If you are upgrading to CS761, there are number of issues which you need to be aware of:

  • Fw_uids need to be same across all the upgraded environments otherwise csdt deployments will fail
  • As part of best practice, if you have extracted element as cselement to make code go through the publishing process, make sure that all such dependencies are changed manually in Meta information. (.main.XML) file else the import will fail
    General CSDT issues:

  • Workflows can not be exported and imported through CSDT so there is need to either mirror to server the workflows or use catalog mover to move them
  • Categories can not be exported using CSDT
  • If Treetabs or start menus or any other artefact is enabled for any site, it is not exported out when we export artefacts for specific site, though they are part of the at site
  • modified date command line parameter doesn’t work as expected
  • Not applicable for no asset tables. A classic example is usage of SystemLocateString.
  • Incremental deployments are tough to achieve and its more manual work to arrive at the dependency set. Full deployment is the easiest way to achieve code drop.
  • CSDT doesn’t check if the asset has actually modified and updates all the assets which are part of workspace. So, if you carry out full deployment everytime, one drawback is that it will invalidate whole of the cache.
  • Etc..etc.

Even though there are number of issues with the current version of CSDT, it is a good to start using it as it will provide a platform which is going to improve over time. And hopefully version 2 of CSDT is not far which will definitely address some of the above issues, it not all.

Happy CSDTing !

Oracle Web Centre (Fatwire) : Is it an old generation CMS?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Recently Oracle acquired Fatwire, which has been one of the leaders in the WCM/WEM space. I have been tracking its progress through various releases and recently got a chance to work with Content Server 761. I had great expectation and always wanted it to do well ( may be because it was the first cms product I ever used and also worked for them during Divine days). Here are some of my ever good and no so good list which I try based on my product experience.

Good

  • Follow,to the dot, the separation of content assets from presentation templates which has been in question recently with the more newer Cms’s like Adobe Day CQ
  • Publishing mechanisms available out of the box are one of the strengths with recent addition of Real Time Publishing
  • Enhanced caching and seperating the cache to each individual nodes has been one of the great improvements to its performance questions
  • Availability of system tools in a supported version is always a nice thing to have
  • Finally that there is some respect towards developers by coming up with initial version of Content Server Developer Tools (CSDT), though there are number of shortcoming with it
  • Introduction of Central Authentication Service (CAS) is a welcome change to the stack which provides much more flexibility around development and extending it beyond stereotype implementations
  • etc. etc.

Not so good

  • Some of the basic changes within the implementation requires quite a lot of work. A good example is vanity URLs. Most of the clients now a days have this basic requirement especially around blobs but there is none out of the box URL assembler available
  • Deployment is one of the most painful area. Even with CSDT, which is just the recent addition to product, there are many area’s which it lacks. The basic use cases are not covered by CSDT
  • With CS 761, there are headless installs which is welcome change through if you are upgrading to CS 761 from version below CS 75 there is no other way apart from GUI based installers
  • Product customisation is one of the pain area’s. There is no concept of extending the existing elements into your project elements and apply changes. Which means each time you run an upgrade, there is an activity to reapply all the changes again which makes upgrades sooo much error prone and time consuming
  • CS Engage, for providing personalised content, has never been an easy product to work with and get your head around it
  • There are number of modules on top of core content server but its been utilised scarcely across the globe and tough to find a single case study when in need
  • Rollbacks are still is old 90’s fashion way of taking file system and database dump and restoring them back. Cold dumps needs to be taken to get an exact snapshot of the system at that point in time
  • Lots of documentation is there but they cover basic information and for anything beyond basic changes require folow-up on yahoo groups or through support
  • Support centre has not been supportive. It sometimes feel, just to meet their SLA’s, there are responses which doesn’t even relate back to the actual query
  • etc. etc.

Most of the not so good issues has already been addressed by the newer CMS products and what is taken for granted with a product,Fatwire has not been able to address them. It will be good to see how Oracle take them on board and how WebCentre integration brings in to overcome some of the obvious issues.

Choosing a CMS: Have you considered upgrade process?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

There are lots of sites/advisory papers which talk about how to choose a right WCM for your needs. And I am not going to re-invent the wheel here. But there is one aspect which is always given less importance and usually neglected during CMS selection and that is the upgrade process.

Usually upgrades shouldn’t be too tricky as most of the upgrade does is change some schema definition and update existing product code base. So why it needs to be considered at CMS selection process? Read on !

Most of the big WCM Implementations need customisation of some sort and so upgrade projects become more tricky when product overwrite these customisations. A lot of it depends on the under lying architecture of the product. Lets consider two well known products: Oracle WebCentre (previously Fatwire) and Adobe Day CQ. Adobe Day CQ provides facility to overwrite the default components and configurations by simply extending them within your own project. Customisations are achieved without modifying any of the system files, provided its implemented based on CQ recommendations. So, upgrade path for CQ is pretty straight forward and shouldn’t cause sleepless nights.

On the other hand, consider Oracle webcentre where customisation could be achieved only by modifying the underlying system elements. Even your implementation follows the Fatwire recommended approach for customisations, it will lead to changes to system elements. What that means is that upgrade is not straight forward and upgrade itself becomes a project in its own where time lines vary with the number of such customisations.

In a short period product A might satisfy your requirements more than product B, but its important to look at the longer picture because something which looks cool and easy to implement and run might not get you the expected returns in future. And considering the way technology is changing, no one can move away from not upgrading their products for long.

assetload name=Fatwire to assetsave name=Oracle

Friday, July 15th, 2011

In the recent move by Oracle to acquire Fatwire has kept people guessing around Fatwire’s future. It is interesting to see how some people favour the deal while others thinks an end of another product . Some of the interesting readings are:

Here are my thoughts based on various Fatwire modules, though it comes a little late in the day :):

Content Server: Content Server is the heart of Fatwire product suite. Content Server provides content creation, management and delivery platform, providing basic and flex asset models to design content types. Basic, in a simple term is a row in database table while Flex is managed across various tables, thus providing complexity as well as flexibility. I think the core CS will remain though we need to look out which development and improvement model Oracle adopts: basic (rigid) or flexible. One area to watch out for cs is its integration with Oracle’s Enterprise search engine.

Engage: provides personalization and merchandising features, enabling organizations to gather information about site visitors and customers, evaluate it and provide personalized promotions, offerings. Could Fatwire’s Engage will engage Oracle not to use Oracle CRM on demand? My guess is that we will see more of rules and promotional offerings being evaluated through Oracle CRM on demand with Engage becoming more of gathering engine.

Community Server: Community server is the social offering from Fatwire which includes setting up Blogs, commenting and rating system. This is the biggest area of threat as Oracle already have social collaboration platform in the form of WebCentre. And as I understand, Oracle always wanted to push WebCentre and likely scenario could be tight integration with Webcentre which will become the social collaboration platform for Oracle’s WEM.

Gadget Server: Fatwire’s Gadget server helps organizations to expand their capabilities for delivering a personalized, interactive, web 2.0-style online experience to engage customers, partners and prospects. Not sure what’s going to happen with it. But I think Oracle will try to do everything around web 2.0 through WebCentre.

Content Integration Platform: Offers powerful capabilities for accessing content of all types from EMC Documentum, Microsoft SharePoint, and Windows and Unix file systems, for fast and efficient publishing online. EMC bit will be cut off with Oracle plugging in UCM to manage documents and we can see more of integration modules evolving in the long run.

Satellite Server: Remote caching engine which brings site near to users. Do not see much change happening with it as it complements core content server.

Content Optimizer: Is the measuring tool which helps business users and marketers to measure the effectiveness of online content and campaigns. FatWire Content Optimizer works with FatWire Content Server and FatWire Engage to enable real-time tracking and optimization. It will be interesting to see if Oracle’s Content Analysis tool : Oracle Hyperion Web analytics gradually gets pulgged in Fatwire.

Digital Asset Management: Digital Asset Management (DAM) Solution is provided by EMC Documentum to manage DAM assets. With Oracle, we can see DAM solution integration with UCM and Fatwire-EMC solution and will gradually die off.