Jim Marion

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A blog containing development tips I have learned through the years as a PeopleSoft developer.Jim Marionhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12995110203807924786noreply@blogger.comBlogger217125
Updated: 2 hours 3 min ago

Security: The PeopleSoft Social Threat Vector

Tue, 2018-11-13 21:37

In the old Mission Impossible television series from the '60s and '70s, a team of expert agents socially engineer an incredible swindle to catch a bad guy, elicit a confession, release a hostage, etc. These deceptions often included room reconstructions, elaborate disguises, rerouted telephone calls, fake news broadcasts, etc. The con had to be so good the prey had no clue. If it weren't for the regular cut-aways to "reality," viewers wouldn't be able to tell fiction from truth. I remember one episode where the IMF (the Mission Impossible team) had to convince the "bad guy" that his plot succeeded (fake news broadcast). Another episode required making a person think his victim was still alive. Incredible social engineering. It is a lot of fun to watch this unfold when good guys are conning bad guys to preserve national security. But what about when the charade is run by a bad actor attempting to steal from our organization?

Imagine you are a manager, professor, grant owner, or someone else responsible for transactions in PeopleSoft. You receive a workflow notification e-mail requesting you to approve a PeopleSoft transaction. Since you receive these emails all the time, you don't think much of it. You click the link and see your usual login screen. You authenticate and continue processing the transaction. This is a regular, every day scenario, but let me tell you, IT SCARES THE DAYLIGHTS OUT OF ME! Why? Let's review:

  • I received an e-mail with a link.
  • I clicked the link.
  • I entered my PeopleSoft credentials into the page that appeared.

It may really have been PeopleSoft or it may have been a Mission Impossible-style bluff designed to make me think I was logging into PeopleSoft. If the latter, I just gave away the front door key to my ERP kingdom and there is no telling what a bad actor will do. Actually, I can give you a couple of ideas of what they will do:

  • Change your direct deposit to an off shore account,
  • Use query to download sensitive information and sell it,
  • Steal Accounts Payable information,
  • Setup fake employees to be paid through the regular payroll,
  • Setup fake vendors for payment, and
  • Change bank account information for vendors.

How do I know this? Because I've seen it happen! This is not a PeopleSoft security issue, it is all about social engineering. It is about bad actors targeting individuals through phishing, spear phishing, and whaling. Every day good people are tricked into giving their credentials to bad people.

The most common solution is to train employees to stop clicking links in e-mails. But what is a little awkward is that PeopleSoft comes preconfigured with workflow notifications that contain links. Doesn't it seem a little ironic that most of us have anti-phishing training and policies that tell our users not to click links and then our ERP system sends e-mails with links? To compound the situation, organizations create alerts, notifications, and scheduled processes that send e-mails with links. These links keep sensitive data out of e-mails and in controlled ERP systems. This was supposed to improve security. The problem is that bad people tempt good people into clicking fake links. So what can we do?

  1. Stop sending links or
  2. Protect PeopleSoft with multi-factor authentication.

I really don't like the first option. Removing links from all PeopleSoft notifications would be a significant modification. I know some customers that do this. It is manageable and I would rather do this than nothing at all. At least my PeopleSoft implementation would be in compliance with my standard corporate security policies.

But removing links from PeopleSoft e-mails doesn't fix the problem. Users may still receive phishing e-mails with links to pseudo-PeopleSoft signon screens and may still give away their credentials. This is where multi-factor authentication protects us, and is why I prefer option 2. Not only do we avoid customizations and improve the user experience through targeted e-mail links, we protect our Enterprise system in the event an unsuspecting user accidentally passes credentials to a bad actor. With multi-factor authentication, compromised credentials are useless. The bad actor still needs that extra factor to authenticate.

I have seen many different multi-factor authentication implementations using a variety of tools. Most of them are generic solutions retrofitted into PeopleSoft, and not built specifically for PeopleSoft. Occasionally I run into a multi-factor PeopleSoft retrofit written by someone that learned just enough about PeopleSoft to write a security "plugin" (Yikes!). If it were my system to protect, I would choose Appsian's Multi-factor Authentication. Appsian's product is deeply embedded in PeopleSoft, allowing us to protect sensitive information.

Social engineering is today's cyber crime threat vector. Strong password controls, secure networks, and education are critical to defending our systems, but can't protect against a well engineered social attack. It's time to do something about it.

Are you interested in learning more about PeopleTools and how you can protect your PeopleSoft implementation? Contact us to schedule your next PeopleTools training class.

PS: I really wanted to name this post PeopleSoft Social Security Attack Vector. You get it? PeopleSoft Social -- Security Attack Vector... oh never mind. You know what they say, "If you have to explain a joke..." ... and now you know why I titled it something different ;)

Canada Alliance 2018

Fri, 2018-10-05 10:02

Calling all Canadian Higher Education and Government customers! Canada Alliance is next month and boasts a great lineup of speakers and sessions. JSMPROS will host two pre-conference workshops Monday prior to the main conference. Please bring a laptop if you wish to participate. Please note: space is limited.

  • Configure, Don't Customize! PeopleSoft Page and Field Configurator Monday, November 12 from 10:00 AM–12:30 PM in Coast Hotel: Acadia Room
  • Advanced Query Monday, November 12 from 1:30 PM–4:00 PM in Coast Hotel: Acadia Room

For further details, please visit the Canada Alliance 2018 Workshop page. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Alliance Down Under 2018 Workshops

Fri, 2018-10-05 08:15

Today marks the 30 day countdown to Alliance Down Under, an incredible opportunity for Oracle customers to network, share experiences, and learn more about Oracle products. On Monday and Tuesday, November 5 - 6, I am partnering with Presence of IT to deliver several pre-conference workshops at Alliance Down Under. For more details and to register, please visit the Alliance Down Under pre-conference workshop page. Workshops available:

  • Building better-than-breadcrumbs navigation
  • Configure, Don’t Customize! Event Mapping and Page and Field Configurator
  • Chatbot Workshop
  • Data Migration Framework: Deep Dive
  • App Designer for Functional Business Analysts (including building CIs for Excel to CI)
  • Advanced PeopleTools Tips & Techniques
  • Fluid Design/Configuration for Functional Business Analysts

We look forward to seeing you there!

Live Three-day Fluid Training Event in Seattle Dec 4

Mon, 2018-10-01 18:55

Are you interested in learning PeopleTools Fluid? Have you already taken a Fluid training course, but still don't feel comfortable with Fluid? Please join us in beautiful downtown Seattle from December 4th through the 6th to learn all about PeopleTools Fluid. Our curriculum starts with Fluid navigation, works its way into Fluid page construction, and finishes with advanced topics such as site-specific CSS3, JavaScript, and event mapping. This course is packed with best practices and tips.

Through the material in this course you will become comfortable with Fluid and proficient with Fluid development. You will learn the skills necessary to apply PeopleSoft-specific CSS and how to write your own custom CSS. You will learn several shortcuts for converting existing custom Classic pages to Fluid.

With most of HCM Employee Self Service Classic set to retire on December 31st of this year (MyOracle Support document 1348959.1), there is no better time to learn Fluid. Space is limited and the early bird discount expires soon so Register now to ensure a seat in the best Fluid class available!

OpenWorld 2018

Mon, 2018-09-10 20:46

With just over a month until OpenWorld, it is time to finalize travel reservations and surf the content catalog. As always, the session catalog is loaded with great sessions from all of our favorite presenters: psadmin.io, Presence of IT, SpearMC, Cedar UK (Graham Smith), Oracle, Smart ERP and so on. I am definitely looking forward to hearing from customers and partners at the panel sessions on this year's agenda. If you have room on your agenda, I would love to have you in my session, Getting the Most Out of PeopleSoft PeopleTools: Tips and Techniques, on Monday, Oct 22 at 3:45 PM in room 3016. I have spent this entire year investigating Fluid and Event Mapping and can't wait to share some new tips.

Are you presenting? If so, leave a note in the comments to help promote your session. This year's catalog is quite exhaustive. Help us find the best sessions of the conference by letting us know what you are presenting.

101 Ways to Process JSON with PeopleCode

Fri, 2018-06-29 17:53
... well... maybe not 101 ways, but there are several!

There is a lot of justified buzz around JSON. Many of us want to (or must) generate and parse JSON with PeopleSoft. Does PeopleSoft support JSON? Yes, actually. The Documents module can generate and parse JSON. Unfortunately, many of us find the Documents module's structure too restrictive. The following is a list of several alternatives available to PeopleSoft developers:

  • Documents module
  • Undocumented JSON objects delivered by PeopleTools
  • JSON.org Java implementation (now included with PeopleTools)
  • JavaScript via Java's ScriptEngineManager

We will skip the first two options as there are many examples and references available on the internet. In this post, we will focus on the last two options in the list: JSON.org and JavaScript. Our scenario involves generating a JSON object containing a role and a list of the role's permission lists.

PeopleCode can do a lot of things, but it can't do everything. When I find a task unfit for PeopleCode, I reach out to the Java API. PeopleCode has outstanding support for Java. I regularly scan the class and classes directories of PS_HOME, looking for new libraries I can leverage from PeopleCode. One of the files in my App Server's class path is json.jar. As a person interested in JSON, how could I resist inspecting the file's contents? Upon investigation, I realized that json.jar contains the json.org Java JSON implementation. This is good news as I used to have to add this library myself. So how might we use json.jar to generate a JSON file? Here is an example

JSON.org has this really cool fluent design class named JSONStringer. If the PeopleCode editor supported custom formatting, fluent design would be really, really cool. For now, it is just cool. Here is an example of creating the same JSON using the JSONStringer:

What about reading JSON using json.org? The following example starts from the JSON string generated by JSONStringer. It is a little ugly because it requires Java Reflection to invoke the JSONObject constructor. On the positive side, though, this example demonstrates Java Class casting in PeopleCode (hat tip to tslater2006 for helping me with Java Class casting in PeopleCode)

What is that you say? Your PeopleTools installation doesn't have the json.jar (or jsimple.jar) files? If you like this approach, then I suggest working with your system administrator to deploy the JSON.org jar file to your app and/or process scheduler's Java class path

But do we really need a special library to handle JSON? By definition, JSON describes a JavaScript object. Using Java's embedded JavaScript script engine, we have full access to JavaScript. Here is a sample JavaScript file that generates the exact same JSON as the prior two examples:

... and the PeopleCode to invoke this JavaScript:

Did you see something in this post that interests you? Are you ready to take your PeopleTools skills to the next level? We offer a full line of PeopleTools training courses. Learn more at jsmpros.com.

Using PeopleCode to Read (and process) Binary Excel Files

Thu, 2018-06-28 23:10

At HIUG Interact last week, a member asked one of my favorite questions:

"Does anyone know how to read binary Microsoft Excel files from PeopleSoft?"

Nearly 15 years ago my AP manager asked me the same question, but phrased it a little differently:

"We receive invoices as Excel spreadsheets. Can you convert them into AP vouchers in PeopleSoft?"

Of course my answer was "YES!" How? Well... that was the challenge. I started down the typical CSV/FileLayout path, but that seems to be a temporary band aid, and challenging for the best users. I wanted to read real binary Excel files directly through the Process Scheduler, or basically, with PeopleCode. But here is the reality: PeopleCode is really good with data and text manipulation, but stops short of binary operations. Using PeopleCode's Java interface, however, anything is possible. After a little research, I stumbled upon Apache POI, a Java library that can read and write binary Excel files. With a little extra Java code to interface between PeopleCode and POI's Java classes, I had a solution. Keep in mind this was nearly 15 years ago. PeopleSoft and Java were both a little different back then and today's solution is slightly simpler. Here is a summary of PeopleSoft and Java changes that simplify this solution:

  • As of PeopleTools 8.54, PeopleSoft now includes POI in the App and Process Scheduler server Java class path. This means I no longer have to manage POI as a custom Java library.
  • The standard JRE added support for script engines and included the JavaScript script engine with every deployment. This means I no longer have to write custom Java to interface between POI and PeopleCode, but can leverage the dynamic nature of JavaScript.

How does a solution like this work? The ultimate goal is to process spreadsheet rows through a Component Interface. First we need to get data rows into a format we can process. Each language and operating environment has its strengths:

  • PeopleCode can handle simple Java method invocations,
  • JavaScript can handle complex Java method invocation without compilation,
  • Java is really good at working with binary files, and
  • PeopleCode and Component Interfaces play nicely together.

My preference is to capitalize on these strengths. With this in mind, I put together the following flow:

  1. Use PeopleCode to create an instance of a JavaScript script interpeter,
  2. Use JavaScript to invoke POI and iterate over spreadsheet rows, inserting row data into a temporary table, and
  3. Use PeopleCode to process those rows through a component interface.

The code for this solution is in two parts: JavaScript and PeopleCode. Here is the JavaScript:

Next hurdle: where do we store JavaScript definitions so we can process them with PeopleCode? Normally we place JavaScript in HTML definitions. This works great for online JavaScript as we can use GetHTMLText to access our script content. App Engines, however, are not allowed to use that function. An alternative is to use Message Catalog entries for scripts. The following PeopleCode listing uses an HTML definition, but accesses the JavaScript content directly from the HTML definition Metadata table:

To summarize this PeopleCode listing, it first creates a JavaScript script engine manager, it then evaluates the above JavaScript, and finishes by processing rows through a CI (the CI part identified as a TODO segment).

This example is fully encapsulated in as few technologies as possible: PeopleCode and JavaScript, with a little SQL to fetch the JavaScript. The code will work online as well as from an App Engine. If this were in an App Engine, however, I would likely replace the JavaScript GUID section with the AE's PROCESS_INSTANCE. Likewise, I would probably use an App Engine Do-Select instead of a PeopleCode SQL cursor.

Did you see something on this blog that interests you? Are you ready to take your PeopleTools skills to the next level? We offer a full line of PeopleTools training courses. Learn more at jsmpros.com.

Live Virtual Fluid Training in July

Sun, 2018-06-10 21:46

In the Northern hemisphere, with days getting longer, and temperatures rising, many of us seek wet forms of recreation to keep cool. With the heat of summer upon us, I can't think of a better topic to study than the cool topic of PeopleSoft Fluid. That is why we are offering a remote live virtual Fluid training class during the hottest week of July. Additional details and registration links are available on our live virtual training schedule page. I look forward to having you in our virtual class!

Fluid in Seattle! Special Fluid Training Event

Wed, 2018-04-11 14:07
May 23, 2018
PeopleTools Fluid UI Training
8.54 through 8.56
Led by Jim Marion

SpearMC and jsmpros are co-hosting a PeopleTools Fluid training event in Redmond, Washington immediately following the Spring PeopleSoft Northwest Regional User Group meeting. Through this event I will cover the exact same material I regularly teach online, but in person for a 40% discount off the online price. The event runs from Wednesday May 23 to Friday May 25 at the exact same venue as the Northwest Regional User Group meeting, the Seattle Marriott Redmond 7401 164th Avenue Northeast, Redmond, WA 98052. Additional details and registration information are available on the Registration Website.

Registration and More Information!

Alliance Event Mapping Stop and Share

Mon, 2018-02-12 11:31

Dave Sexton and I will be hosting a Stop and Share at Alliance 2018. Our primary subject is Event Mapping and Page and Field Configurator. We will be discussing:

  • Use cases,
  • Configurations,
  • Potential concerns, and
  • Lifecycle management

Please stop by Tuesday from 9:15 AM to 9:45 AM and share your experiences with Event Mapping and Page and Field Configurator or listen to experiences from others. I will bring a demo along with several use cases to spark discussion.

Collaborate 2018 Workshops

Fri, 2018-02-09 13:16

I will be delivering two workshops at Collaborate 2018:

  • Creating Fluid Pages // Sunday, April 22, 2018 // 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM // Through hands-on activities, students will gain experience and confidence building Fluid pages. Activities include building a Fluid page using the standard and two-column layouts, using delivered class names for layout, using PeopleCode to initialize the layout, and much more. Because this is a hands-on training class, bring your laptop to participate in exercises. This course is designed for Functional Business Analysts as well as Developers.
  • Using Fluid to Build Better-than-breadcrumb Navigation // Thursday, April 26, 2018 // 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM // The most common reason organizations retain Classic instead of migrating to Fluid is navigation. Users love their Classic breadcrumbs and do not appreciate the Navbar. Through hands-on activities, students will learn how to build next-generation navigation that rivals breadcrumbs. This is a hands-on training session, so bring your laptop to participate in exercises. This course is for subject matter experts, functional business analysts, developers, and administrators.

These are hands-on workshops. Please be sure to add these workshops to your registration when you register for Collaborate. If you are already registered, you may want to revisit your registration to add these workshops. A full list of workshops and workshop details is available on the Quest PeopleSoft Workshop page.

I look forward to seeing you in April!

Disable or Hide a Radio Button Instance

Tue, 2018-01-16 23:35

I ran across a few blogs and forum posts from people either asking or sharing how to hide or disable radio buttons. The answers I saw appeared to address only part of the story so I thought I would share a solution. PeopleCode includes functions, properties, and methods for disabling and hiding fields. As you would imagine, A field property such as Visible will show or hide a field. What makes a radio button challenging is that a radio button represents several values of the same field. The Visible property applied to a radio button's field would hide the entire radio set, not just a single radio button. Likewise, disabling a radio button's field would disable the entire radio set. What we require is a reference to one instance of a fieldset, not the base field itself.

PeopleCode includes two functions that return a reference to a field: GetField and GetPageField. The first, GetField, returns the same field reference as a standard Record.Field reference or Rowset.GetRecord.GetField. The GetPageField function, on the other hand, returns a pointer to a single instance. While this might seem like the answer, it is only part of the story. The GetPageField function does return a single instance and setting some of the properties of this single instance only manipulates the single instance. Other methods and properties, however, appear to be tied to the base field. Unfortunately, the Visible and DisplayOnly properties are two properties bound to the underlying field. Changing either of these on a GetPageField reference will hide or disable the entire radio set, not just a single instance.

The solutions I have seen, and the one I recommend, is to use CSS and/or JavaScript to hide or disable a radio button. Here is an example in Fluid:



Local Field &compBtn = GetPageField(Page.HR_DIRTEAM_FLU, "COMPENSATION_BTN");

rem ** hide a radio button instance;
&compBtn.AddFFClass("psc_force-hidden");

rem ** or disable a radio button instance;
&compBtn.AddFFClass("psc_disabled");

From a visual perspective, you are done. You have successfully completed your mission. Unfortunately, however, this is only part of the answer. An important part, but only part. Hidden or disabled HTML still exists. That means I can use a standard browser tool, such as Chrome inspector or IE Developer Tools to show or enable this HTML. In fact, even if the HTML elements didn't exist, I could still invoke JavaScript to make the app server think I had selected the radio button.

The only way to ensure the server never receives the value identified by the hidden or disabled radio button is to either use FieldEdit PeopleCode or Event Mapping FieldChange Pre Processing to change the value before delivered PeopleCode ever sees that value. This is part two. This is the part that seems to be missing from other solutions I have seen.

What got me thinking about this? The Fluid My Team page contains a button bar that allows a manager to switch between alternate views. One of the radio buttons in the button bar is Compensation. Some organizations do not want managers to see compensation. My challenge was to remove the compensation radio button in a secure manner without customizing delivered definitions. Using Event Mapping on PageActivate I was able to hide the Compensation button. Event Mapping FieldChange PeopleCode ensures PeopleSoft never triggers FieldChange for the compensation button.

Presenting at HEUG Alliance 2018

Fri, 2018-01-12 14:22

HEUG Alliance is just a few months away and I can't wait for another opportunity to network with peers, customers, and vendors! Likewise, I am excited to hear about real-life experiences from PeopleSoft customers. As always, this year's agenda is packed with worth-while content and impressive speakers.

I will be presenting my signature session Getting the Most Out of PeopleSoft PeopleTools: Tips and Techniques on March 27, 2018 (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM). Each year I search for new nuggets to share with the PeopleSoft community. This session will be mostly demo, with very little (if any) PowerPoint. Here is the session description:

With Fluid UI and selective adoption, it is more important than ever for developers to learn the latest PeopleTools features and design patterns. Fluid isn't just a new rendering engine for PeopleSoft. Fluid brings a new way of thinking about transactions. Likewise, selective adoption means keeping current. But, considering the number, value, and cost of customizations, who can afford to keep current? In this session, you will learn Fluid UX design patterns, how to style fluid UI pages using open source CSS frameworks, build interactive fluid UI tiles using app classes, and avoid life-cycle management conflicts through Event Mapping.

I am constantly impressed by the flexibility of Fluid and look forward to sharing new ideas and concepts in March. If you have an idea or question and you see me at the conference, please stop me for a chat. I live and breath PeopleTools. PeopleTools is my passion, which is why I spend every day studying and talking about it.

Are you presenting at the March, 2018 Alliance Conference? Please share your session title and time in the comments below. Because there are so many valuable, but overlapping sessions at the conference, we won't be able to attend all sessions (although I wish we could). We will certainly do our best!

See you in Utah in March!

January PeopleTools Training Courses Posted

Fri, 2017-12-29 13:56

We posted our January PeopleTools training agenda. This month includes our extremely popular Fluid course as well as our new PeopleTools Delta course. Register online at www.jsmpros.com/training-live-virtual/. Our First course is January 8th, which is coming up quickly.

Besides our regular mid-week agenda, we added weekend courses for those that are committed mid-week and can't take time away for training.

The time zone for these courses is designed to catch as many US attendees as possible. If you would prefer another time zone, let me know and we will consider scheduling a future course in a more favorable time zone.

Why Fluid and why PeopleTools Delta? Fluid first: Any PeopleSoft 2017 Year in review post must include Fluid Campus Solutions. Oracle's Campus Solutions team made significant progress in Fluid student self-service. Honestly, I am extremely impressed with Fluid student self-service. Because of this progress, many of our customers are currently implementing Fluid student self-service. Likewise, PeopleSoft HCM has published retirement dates for key manager and employee self-service components. Support for most Classic manager self-service components, for example, retires in just a couple of days. Classic employee self-service retires one year later, on December 31, 2018 (for more details on Classic retirement dates, see MyOracle Support document 1348959.1). If there was ever a time to think about Fluid, that time has come. Now is a great time to learn Fluid so that you are ready for those change requests and implementation details. While there are obvious similarities between Classic and Fluid development, they are very different.

As customers implement Fluid, they will undoubtedly revisit existing customizations. This is where a PeopleTools Delta course becomes important. You could continue down the same path, customizing delivered definitions or you could investigate new PeopleTools features that allow you to configure (instead of customize) business logic and tailor the user experience. I could recount story after story of customers saving 10's to 100's of thousands of dollars in implementation, customization, and lifecycle management costs because they learned new PeopleTools features.

Does your organization have 8 or more people interested in a training course? If not, do you know 8 or more people from various organizations you can get together for a class (with virtual training, all users can be remote)? If so, we have group rates available. Besides significant savings (quantity discounts), large groups have flexibility and control over the training agenda. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Event Mapping Lifecycle Management (LCM) Tools

Wed, 2017-12-27 11:00

I am a big fan of Event Mapping. Without question, if presented with a modification opportunity, my first choice is Event Mapping. In a nutshell, the goal of Event Mapping is a clean compare report. Event Mapping allows us to move PeopleCode modifications out of delivered PeopleCode and into custom Application Classes. We then use the Event Mapping framework to configure our PeopleCode into delivered events. Since our custom PeopleCode is not part of delivered event PeopleCode, it won't show in a compare report. At first, this might seem like a great idea. But let me tell you a story. The story you are about to hear is true. I didn't even change the names to protect the innocent.

I previously wrote about Event Mapping: Extending "Personal Details" in HCM. In that blog post, I showed how to use Event Mapping to add links to the left-side panel of the Personal Details component, the panel containing navigation. Several months later I applied PUM 24. Sometime between my release of HCM and PUM 24, Oracle updated the code behind the Personal Details components. Because my compare report was clean, I falsely believe there would be no issues. Post update, I noticed that my Travel Preferences link, the link added by my prior blog post, appeared twice. Obviously something was broken. But what? Why didn't my LCM tools catch this? I followed all of the best practices, including using Event Mapping. My compare report was clean.

After some investigation, I found that Oracle changed the component buffer and PeopleCode. In fact, while digging through the code, I found a reference to bug 25989079 with the resolution: Menus In Employee Self Service Fluid BUTTONS/LINKS WITH IMAGE AND TEXT GET READ TWICE (Doc ID 2253113.1). After a minor copy/paste exercise and some cleanup, my configuration is working again. No modifications to delivered objects.

This incident causes me to pause and ask some questions:

  • Is Event Mapping a Best Practice?
  • Would a compare report have identified the issue and changed code much faster?

I'm going to start with the second question first. When we are talking about the simple, event-based PeopleCode of the 20th Century, yes, a compare report would have located the differences among a few thousand lines in a single event. Today, however, a self-service component consists of thousands of lines of PeopleCode spread over several dozen App Classes. In this environment, your code change may be in one method whereas the bug fix is in another, related method or App Class. That was exactly the case for me. The code that inserts rows into the left-hand list is quite separated from the row that hides the extra hyperlink. A compare report would have found my modifications, but would not have shown Oracle's changes.

Is Event Mapping a best practice? YES! ABSOLUTELY! Without Event Mapping, our code is overwritten and we have to figure out how to merge it back into the delivered code base. With Event Mapping, it is more like an overlay, where our code still exists and lays over the top of Oracle's code. No reapplication necessary. When it works, it works great!

As noted, Event Mapping doesn't eliminate Lifecycle Management issue, but reduces them. What we are lacking today is tools to help us manage this new LCM "wrinkle." I'm hopeful that Oracle will deliver targeted tools in the future. But why wait? If PeopleSoft is metadata driven, why not create our own tools? The following is an SQL statement I put together to help me identify components that use Event Mapping. Here is how it works... Let's say you have components with Event Mapping. Let's also say you are about to apply a change project generated from a PUM image. That change project may contain components. The SQL below will tell you if any of the components in your project contain Event Mapping configurations including which components, events, and App Classes.

Caveats:

  • This SQL was written for PeopleTools 8.56, and therefore may contain fields that don't exist in other PeopleTools releases (such as 8.55).
  • The SQL contains SYSDATE, which is Oracle specific.

The following is a screenshot of my Personal Details "component" (component in air quotes, because Personal Details is really a collection of components). In that screenshot, you will see the following changes:

  • Page title changed to reflect the active component
  • Navigation list contains additional elements
  • Address group headers contain icons

Inserting a row into the left-hand navigation required RowInit PeopleCode. Clicking a link in the left-hand navigation invokes FieldChange. Changing the title and adding icons involved PageActivate PeopleCode. These are 3 distinct events at 3 different levels. I added the Personal Details Addresses component as well as several other Event Mapping configurations to a project. The following is a screenshot of that project:

When I run this SQL, I see the following output:

In the SQL results, did you see the EOCC_POSTBUILD Service ID? That is event mapping inserted by Page Field Configurator. Page Field Configurator is a tool on top of Event Mapping, and therefore suffers from the same LCM concerns.

Do you want to learn more about Event Mapping? Event Mapping is a PeopleTools 8.55 new feature that is extended in PeopleTools 8.56. At JSMPROS, we regularly lead PeopleTools delta courses covering new features, including Event Mapping. Visit us at jsmpros.com/training-live-virtual to find a course that fits your schedule.

P.S. I will be sharing this example and many more in an HIUG webinar on February 16, 2018. If you are a member of the Healthcare Industry User Group, you won't want to miss this webinar!

Weekend Fluid Classes

Fri, 2017-12-22 12:00

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw. We all know we must sharpen our mental saw. The challenge is fitting saw sharpening into our schedule. If you are a billable consultant dedicated to a project, then you are often bound by contract to be onsite during regular business hours. If you find yourself in this situation, sharpening your technical skills can be challenging because most training courses happen during your committed working hours. We understand the struggle and want to do what we can to help. With that in mind, we are offering our popular Fluid training series over two consultant weekends (Friday and Saturday) of January:

  • Fluid 1: Jan 12-13, 2018
  • Fluid 2: Jan 26-27, 2018

Further details and registration information are available on our website

Using CSS Frameworks with PeopleSoft Fluid

Wed, 2017-12-20 15:20

Fluid is Oracle's strategic direction. If you have experience with Fluid development, you know that dragging, dropping, and aligning fields on a canvas isn't enough to develop a multi-form factor Fluid user interface. With Fluid comes an emphasis on CSS3 for multi-form factor support. This means you must add CSS class names to page fields to support different screen sizes. PeopleTools comes with an extensive list of predefined CSS class names. The challenge is identifying which CSS class to use. Fortunately, Oracle published two extremely helpful documents:

If you learn the style classes in these two documents, you will do quite well with Fluid layout (actually, just learn a few dozen of these classes and you will do quite well). But what if you want to use features of CSS that don't exist in Fluid-delivered CSS classes? Flexbox, for example, is one of the most powerful features of CSS3. When I find myself terribly annoyed with Fluid layout, I throw a Flexbox at my layout issue and the problem is solved. If we want to apply styling using CSS attributes that PeopleSoft hasn't already defined, we have two options:

  • Define our own CSS classes by creating a free-formed stylesheet or
  • Borrow someone else's CSS class names from a CSS framework.

Writing your own CSS can be a rewarding experience. I can often solve layout problems with just a few lines of CSS. My concern, however, is maintenance. What starts as a one-time CSS "fix" (or hack) for a layout often turns into a copy/paste exercise replicated at least a dozen times, with each page using some of the same CSS and some different CSS. Then what? Do we create a separate CSS file for each Fluid page? Do we refactor common CSS, moving similar code into a shared library?

Given the age and history of the internet, most web layout problems have already been solved. Since PeopleSoft is just another web application, we can leverage the work of the world wide web's pioneers. The solutions to most of our layout problems exist in today's common CSS frameworks, Boostrap being the most popular. There are many PeopleSoft consultants happily using Bootstrap to enhance PeopleSoft Fluid pages. Here is how they do it:

  1. Import Bootstrap into a Freeform Stylesheet
  2. Use AddStylesheet to insert Bootstrap into a Peoplesoft page
  3. Apply Bootstrap style classes to Fluid page elements
  4. Create a "reset stylesheet" to fix everything Bootstrap broke.

Yes, you read that last line correctly, "... fix everything Bootstrap broke." Please don't misread this. There are many developers successfully using Bootstrap with PeopleSoft. But here is the problem: Most CSS frameworks directly style HTML elements. This is actually good. Developers call this a "reset" stylesheet. What makes this a problem for PeopleSoft is that PeopleTools ALSO applies CSS directly to HTML elements. PeopleTools includes its own reset stylesheet. In a sense, we could say that Fluid is a CSS framework itself. The end result is a mixture of styles applied to HTML elements by two competing and complementing CSS frameworks. I call this "Fluid-strap." Consultants work around this problem by creating a reset for the competing reset stylesheets — a reset for the reset.

Here is another alternative: Use a CSS framework that does NOT style HTML elements, but instead relies on class names. This type of CSS framework was designed for compatibility. This type of framework understands that another CSS framework is in charge. My personal favorite CSS compatibility library is Oracle JET. In Oracle JET's GitHub repository, you will find oj-alta-notag.css, a CSS file containing a lot of CSS class names and no element declarations. To use this library, follow the first three steps described above, skipping the final step:

  1. Import oj-alta-notag.css into a Freeform Stylesheet
  2. Use AddStylesheet to insert the Oracle JET Stylesheet into a Peoplesoft page
  3. Apply Oracle JET style classes to Fluid page elements

The key difference is we don't have to create a reset for the reset. The Oracle JET stylesheet silently loads into a PeopleSoft page without changing any styling unless specifically asked to style an element through the element's Default Style Name (Style Classes on 8.56) property.

Consider a PeopleSoft page built with 4 group boxes aligned horizontally as demonstrated in the following screenshot.

In Classic, what you see is mostly what you get, so the online rendering would look nearly the same as the Application Designer screenshot. In Fluid when viewed online, however, each group box will render vertically as follows:

We can fix this by applying a CSS Flexbox to the 4 group boxes. With Flexbox, the 4 group boxes will align horizontally as long as the device has enough horizontal real estate. If the display is too small, any group boxes that don't fit horizontally will move to the next row. For this example, we will use Oracle Jet's Flex Layout.Here are the steps

  1. Add a Layout only Group Box around the 4 horizontal group boxes and mark the container group box as Layout Only
  2. While still setting container group box properties, set the group box's style class to oj-flex oj-sm-flex-items-1
  3. Likewise, to each of the 4 horizontal group boxes, add the Style Class oj-flex-item
  4. Create a Freeform stylesheet definition containing oj-alta-notag-min.css
  5. Use the AddStylesheet PeopleCode function in PageActivate to insert the Stylesheet into your page

The end result will look something like this:

Several years ago, I read the book Test Driven Development by Kent Beck. In that book, Kent identifies the first step of each project as the hardest step. Why? Because each new project contains significant uncertainty. Software development seems to involve a lot of unknowns (if the solution was known, someone would have created it, automated it, and published it). His advice? Start with what you know. You start with what you know and work torwards what you don't know. This is how we teach Fluid at JSMPros. Your developers understand Classic development and we use that knowledge to springboard students into a higher level of Fluid understanding. If you are ready to take the Fluid challenge, I encourage you to register for one of our monthly Fluid classes at www.jsmpros.com/training-live-virtual. Have a group of eight or more developers? Contact us to schedule your own personalized Fluid training event.

Is Your Fluid Custom Action Menu Page-based or Component-based?

Mon, 2017-12-18 12:00

In the upper right corner of the Fluid header you will find the "Hamburger" (or hamburger-light) menu. This 3-bar (or 3-dot) icon displays a list of component-specific actions. For the most part these actions are rather generic, allowing a user to add a tile to a homepage or view preferences. Occassionaly we see a component that has its own custom actions. The HCM My Team and Company Directory components are great examples of components with custom action menu items. In fact, the Fluid homepage itself is an example, with its Personalize Homepage custom action.

As developers, we can add custom component-specific actions to the header menu of a component by adding a special group box (Custom Action Menu) to one of the component's pages. When PeopleSoft loads a page with a Custom Action Menu group box, it moves the contents of that group box into the header action menu. Any actions loaded from a page stay resident in the menu as long as the component is in scope. So, technically, all Custom Action Menus are component-based. Here is my struggle:

Actions inserted into the header menu have component scope, not page scope, but are defined at the page level.

Custom action menu items are not visible (in fact, don't exist) until the page defining these menu items is loaded into the user's browser. If a component may have multiple pages, into which page would you insert the custom action menu? Logically, I might say, "The first page, of course." But here is the problem: there really is no "first page." There is a page that the component will load by default. We might call that the front door. PeopleSoft, however, lets users enter through the side door, back door, and all windows as well. By adding ?Page=... to a component URL, I can enter that component from any page within the component. For example, if I want to open the User Profile component to the User Queries page, I add PAGE=USER_QUERY to the end of the URL. If I enter a component through the wrong starting page, then I won't see the component's custom actions in my header menu.

You don't think your users will enter a page name in the URL? Probably not. Why worry about a scenario that will never happen? Actually, it isn't my users that concern me. It is system generated messages and processes with URLs. It is workflow notifications that attempt to simplify workflow by taking me to the next step in a business process.

If a user can enter a component through any page and component specific actions must be defined on a page, then into which page should I enter component-specific actions? While teaching a Fluid class and challenging students to find a solution to this problem, one of my students asked me, "What if you put the menu definition in a Footer page?" Wow! What a great idea! If you have component-scoped actions, why not define them in a component-scoped page? This page will load as soon as the component loads, regardless of the entry point. If you already have a footer page in your component, perfect! Just add the Custom Action Menu group box to your existing footer page. If you don't have a footer page, should you add one? I say, "Yes." Properly built, a footer page may be entirely invisible, used just for component-specific banner (also known as the header) changes (including Custom header left, right, and bottom sections). Seems ironic doesn't it? If you want to change the header, add content to the footer. Here is a sample footer page built specifically to hold a menu. By clearing the CSS class name from the outer container Group Box, the footer becomes invisible.

The following screenshot shows how the menu will appear when PeopleSoft reparents the menu's HTML from the footer into the header component action menu.

Interested in learning more about Fluid? I offer at least one virtual Fluid training class per month. You can learn more about our current offerings on our Live Virtual Training page. If your organization has more than 8 employees, you may derive cost savings by hosting your own training event. Learn more at www.jsmpros.com/training.

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November/December Online Class Offerings Posted

Wed, 2017-11-01 16:40

We posted our online class offerings for November and December, 2017. You can find details on our website. Our Fluid classes have been extremely popular, so we will continue offering those at least once per month. Our Fluid 1 class is designed to get a developer up and running with Fluid as fast as possible. Through hands-on activities, you will use familiar tools and existsing skills to build Fluid components. No web development experience necessary. If you are a PeopleSoft developer, then Fluid 1 will teach you what you need to know to build Fluid pages. But there is more to Fluid than just dragging and dropping fields on a page. Fluid 2 takes your Fluid game to the next level by teaching you Fluid design patterns and Fluid techniques to build Fluid pages the way Oracle builds Fluid pages.

November, 2017 Course Title Date Start Time End Time Duration   AWE Nov. 7, 2017 9:00 AM PDT 4:00 PM PDT 2 days Register Fluid 1 Nov. 27, 2017 9:00 AM PDT 4:00 PM PDT 2 days Register Fluid 2 Nov. 29, 2017 9:00 AM PDT 4:00 PM PDT 2 days Register


December, 2017 Course Title Date Start Time End Time Duration   Fluid 1 December 11, 2017 9:00 AM PDT 4:00 PM PDT 2 days Register Fluid 2 December 13, 2017 9:00 AM PDT 4:00 PM PDT 2 days Register PeopleTools
8.55/8.56 Delta December 19, 2017 9:00 AM PDT 4:00 PM PDT 2 days Register

Identifying Conditional Navigation Content References

Thu, 2017-10-12 15:30

As PeopleSoft customers upgrade to Fluid-enabled applications, it is quite common to start with Fluid disabled, and then implement Fluid behavior post go-live. It is all about change management and an organization's ability to digest change. Even though Oracle has set retirement dates for certain Classic components, with the first wave retiring December 31, 2017, all Classic functionality is still supposed to be present and available. But if you have opened a recent PeopleSoft image or are in the middle of updating to a recent HCM build, you may be asking, "Where are those delivered and supported Classic components?" If you investigate the portal registry, you will see they exist, they just don't appear in any menus. Many of these menu items, such as the Personal Details menu items, use a feature named Conditional Navigation. PeopleSoft uses Conditional Navigation to conditionally replace Classic menu items with their Fluid counterparts. You can read more about Conditional Navigation in PeopleBooks at PeopleTools PeopleBooks entry Products > Development Tools > Portal Technology > Understanding Conditional Navigation. A question I hear regularly is, "How do I temporarily enable Classic components in my PeopleTools 8.55+ environment?" The first step is to disable Conditional Navigation and the MyOracle Support document 2215964.1 describes how. Armed with this information, you now know what it is, how to configure it, and how to disable it, but how do you find it? I mean, what components are preconfigured for conditional navigation? Since conditional navigation uses CREF attributes, CREF identification requires a small SQL statement:

That is nice, but the portal registry isn't structured that way. Next question: How do I find those CREFs in the portal registry? Here is the longer form SQL statement. Results contain complete paths to conditionally configured items. Those of you that follow my blog may recognize this SQL as a derivative of Query for Component and/or CREF Navigation Take II

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