Friday, September 05, 2014

OpenWorld 2014

OpenWorld is only a couple of weeks away. As always, this promises to be an outstanding conference. Whether your focus is functional or technical, OpenWorld has a lot of PeopleSoft sessions. The Focus on PeopleSoft OpenWorld document contains a good list of PeopleSoft focused sessions and events. I look forward to seeing you at OpenWorld this year. Here are some of the places and times where you can find me:

Monday

Demo Grounds: PeopleSoft User Experience from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Tuesday

Demo Grounds: PeopleSoft User Experience from 9:45 AM to 11:00 AM

Session ID: CON7568
Session Title: PeopleSoft PeopleTools Developer: Tips and Techniques
Venue / Room: Moscone West - 3004/3006
Date and Time: 9/30/14, 17:00 - 17:45

Wednesday

Demo Grounds: PeopleSoft User Experience from 9:45 AM to 12:00 PM

Thursday

Session ID: CON7537
Session Title: Connecting PeopleSoft HCM, Oracle Taleo, Oracle HCM Cloud, and More
Venue / Room: Palace - Twin Peaks South
Date and Time: 10/2/14, 9:30 - 10:15

Meet the Authors Book Signing at the OpenWorld Bookstore in Moscone South Upper Hall Lobby from 1:00 PM to 1:30 PM.

See you there!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Up and Running with HCM 9.2 on PT 8.54 via PUM "Demo Image"

Yes, you read that correctly. PUM is the new demo image. According to MOS Doc ID 1464619.1 "As of HCM 9.2.006, the PeopleSoft Image and PeopleSoft Demo Image have been combined into one PeopleSoft Update Image. You can use the PeopleSoft Update Image for both your patching and demonstration purposes." If you are current on your PUM images, you probably already knew that. If you are like me, however, and haven't downloaded a demo image for a while, then you may have been looking for demo images on the old MOS demo image page.

Since I use the image for prototyping and demonstrations, I turned off SES and reduced the memory requirements to 2048 MB. It is working great at this lower memory setting.

There are a lot of new and great features in the PT 8.54 PUM:

  • Attribute based branding,
  • Component Branding (add your own CSS and JavaScript to components without hacking a delivered HTML definition)
  • REST Query Access Service,
  • Mobile Application Platform (MAP), and
  • Fluid homepages

Tip: Access the fluid homepages by visiting the URL http://<yourserver>:8000/psc/ps/EMPLOYEE/HRMS/c/NUI_FRAMEWORK.PT_LANDINGPAGE.GBL. For example, if you have a hosts entry mapping your PUM image to the hostname hcmdb.example.com, then use the URL http://hcmdb.example.com:8000/psc/ps/EMPLOYEE/HRMS/c/NUI_FRAMEWORK.PT_LANDINGPAGE.GBL.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Accessing Database Photos from Query Access Service

I have been working with the PeopleTools 8.54 REST Query Access Services. I would absolutely LOVE them if they returned JSON instead of XML. With a little help from x2js I am able to work around this "shortcoming." One specific challenge I faced was accessing image data. For example, with PeopleSoft query I can see who has photos in PS_EMPL_PHOTO, but I can't see the actual uploaded photo. With a little help from Oracle and a query expression, however, I can convert the photo blob into base64:

SELECT UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO))
  FROM PS_EMPL_PHOTO
 WHERE EMPLID = 'KU0003'

The only problem with this approach is that Oracle database has a maximum size limit on data that can be encoded and most of the photos I have seen exceed that maximum. The way I chose to work around this limitation is to substring the blob and encode it in fragments. I create a separate column for each fragment, and then concatenate them together in the REST client. Here is some sample SQL from a PeopleSoft query. Each of the CASE statements is a query expression.

SELECT
    CASE
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 1455 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, 1455, 1)))
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) <= 1455 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO))
    END AS C1,
    CASE
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 2910 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, 1455, 1456)))
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) <= 2910 AND DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 1455 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) - 1455, 1456)))
    END AS C2,
    CASE
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 4365 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, 1455, 2911)))
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) <= 4365 AND DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 2910 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) - 2910, 2911)))
    END AS C3,
    CASE
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 5820 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, 1455, 4366)))
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) <= 5820 AND DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 4365 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) - 4365, 4366)))
    END AS C4,
    CASE
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 7275 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, 1455, 5821)))
      WHEN DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) <= 7275 AND DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) > 5820 THEN UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2(UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE(DBMS_LOB.SUBSTR(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO, DBMS_LOB.GETLENGTH(EMPLOYEE_PHOTO) - 5820, 5821)))
    END AS C5
  FROM PS_EMPL_PHOTO
 WHERE EMPLID = 'KUL704'

On the client I use something like this:

var data = data:image/jpeg;base64," + columns.join("");

The end result is something like this (right-click to see base64 data):

Mikko,Jill's Photo

Friday, August 15, 2014

PeopleTools 8.54 Upgrade now Available

Today Matthew Haavisto of the PeopleTools strategy team announced that the PeopleTools 8.54 upgrade is now available. Visit the PeopleSoft Technology Blog to learn more.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Private" App Class Members

I was reading Lee Greffin's post More Fun with Application Packages -- Instances and stumbled across this quote from PeopleBooks:

A private instance variable is private to the class, not just to the object instance. For example, consider a linked-list class where one instance needs to update the pointer in another instance.

What exactly does that mean? I did some testing to try and figure it out. Here is what I came up with:

  1. It is still an instance variable which means each in-memory object created from the App Class blue print has its own memory placeholder for each instance member.
  2. Instances of other classes can't interact with private instance members.
  3. Instances of the exact same class CAN interact with private members of a different instance.
  4. Private instance members differ from static members in other languages because they don't all share the same pointer (pointer, reference, whatever).

I thought it was worth proving so here is my sample. It is based on the example suggested in PeopleBooks:

For example, consider a linked-list class where one instance needs to update the pointer in another instance.

The linked list is just an item with a pointer to the next item (forward only). A program using it keeps a pointer to the "head" and then calls next() to iterate over the list. It is a very common pattern so I will forgo further explanation. Here is a quick implementation (in the App Package JJM_COLLECTIONS):

class ListItem
   method ListItem(&data As any);
   method linkTo(&item As JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem);
   method next() Returns JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem;
   method getData() Returns any;
private
   instance JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &nextItem_;
   instance any &data_;
end-class;

method ListItem
   /+ &data as Any +/
   %This.data_ = &data;
end-method;

method linkTo
   /+ &item as JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem +/
   &item.nextItem_ = %This;
end-method;

method next
   /+ Returns JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem +/
   Return %This.nextItem_;
end-method;

method getData
   /+ Returns Any +/
   Return %This.data_;
end-method;

Notice the linkTo method sets the value of the private instance member of a remote instance (its parameter), NOT the local instance. This is what is meant by private to the class, not private to the instance. Each instance has its own &nextItem_ instance member and other instances of the exact same class can manipulate it. Here is the test case I used to test the remote manipulation implementation:

import TTS_UNITTEST:TestBase;
import JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem;

class TestListItem extends TTS_UNITTEST:TestBase
   method TestListItem();
   method Run();
end-class;

method TestListItem
   %Super = create TTS_UNITTEST:TestBase("TestListItem");
end-method;

method Run
   /+ Extends/implements TTS_UNITTEST:TestBase.Run +/
   Local JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &item1 =
      create JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem("Item 1");
   Local JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &item2 =
      create JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem("Item 2");
   
   &item2.linkTo(&item1);
   
   %This.AssertStringsEqual(&item1.next().getData(), "Item 2",
      "The next item is not Item 2");
   %This.Msg(&item1.next().getData());
end-method;

The way it is written requires you to create the second item and then call the second item's linkTo method to associate it with the head (or previous) element.

Now, just because you CAN manipulate a private instance member from a remote instance doesn't mean you SHOULD. Doing so seems to violate encapsulation. You could accomplish the same thing by reversing the linkTo method. What if we flipped this around so you created the second item, but called the first item's linkTo? It is really the first item we want to manipulate in a forward only list (now, if it were a multi-direction list perhaps we would want to manipulate the &prevItem_ member?). Here is what the linkTo method would look like:

method linkTo
   /+ &item as JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem +/
   %This.nextItem_ = &item;
end-method;

Now what if we wanted a forward AND reverse linked list? Here is where maybe the ability to manipulate siblings starts to seem a little more reasonable (I still think there is a better way, but humor me):

class ListItem
   method ListItem(&data As any);
   method linkTo(&item As JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem);
   method next() Returns JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem;
   method prev() Returns JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem;
   method remove() Returns JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem;
   method getData() Returns any;
private
   instance JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &nextItem_;
   instance JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &prevItem_;
   instance any &data_;
end-class;

method ListItem
   /+ &data as Any +/
   %This.data_ = &data;
end-method;

method linkTo
   /+ &item as JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem +/
   REM ** manipulate previous sibling;
   &item.nextItem_ = %This;
   %This.prevItem_ = &item;
end-method;

method next
   /+ Returns JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem +/
   Return %This.nextItem_;
end-method;

method prev
   /+ Returns JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem +/
   Return %This.prevItem_;
end-method;

method remove
   /+ Returns JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem +/
   %This.nextItem_.linkTo(%This.prevItem_);
   REM ** Or manipulate both siblings;
   REM %This.prevItem_.nextItem_ = %This.nextItem_;
   REM %This.nextItem_.prevItem_ = %This.prevItem_;
   Return %This.prevItem_;
end-method;

method getData
   /+ Returns Any +/
   Return %This.data_;
end-method;

And here is the final test case

import TTS_UNITTEST:TestBase;
import JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem;

class TestListItem extends TTS_UNITTEST:TestBase
   method TestListItem();
   method Run();
end-class;

method TestListItem
   %Super = create TTS_UNITTEST:TestBase("TestListItem");
end-method;

method Run
   /+ Extends/implements TTS_UNITTEST:TestBase.Run +/
   Local JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &item1 =
      create JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem("Item 1");
   Local JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &item2 =
      create JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem("Item 2");
   Local JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &item3 =
      create JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem("Item 3");
   
   &item2.linkTo(&item1);
   
   %This.AssertStringsEqual(&item1.next().getData(), "Item 2",
      "Test 1 failed. The next item is not Item 2");
   %This.AssertStringsEqual(&item2.prev().getData(), "Item 1",
      "Test 2 failed. The prev item is not Item 1");
   
   &item3.linkTo(&item2);
   %This.AssertStringsEqual(&item1.next().next().getData(), "Item 3",
      "Test 3 failed. The next.next item is not Item 3");
   %This.AssertStringsEqual(&item1.next().next().prev().getData(), "Item 2",
      "Test 4 failed. The prev item is not Item 2");
   
   Local JJM_COLLECTIONS:ListItem &temp = &item2.remove();
   %This.AssertStringsEqual(&item1.next().getData(), "Item 3",
      "Test 5 failed. The next item is not Item 3");
   %This.AssertStringsEqual(&item1.next().prev().getData(), "Item 1",
      "Test 6 failed. The prev item is not Item 1");
   
end-method;

I hope that helps clear up some of the confusion around the term "private" as it relates to Application Classes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

List of PeopleSoft Blogs

It has been amazing to watch the exponential growth in the number of PeopleSoft community bloggers. It seems that most of them have links to other PeopleSoft blogs, but where is the master list of PeopleSoft blogs? Here is my attempt to create one. Don't see your blog on the list? Add a comment and I'll review your blog. If your blog is education oriented, then I will put it in the list... and probably delete your comment (that way you don't have to feel awkward about self promotion). There are some PeopleSoft related blogs that I really wanted to include, but they just weren't educational (more marketing than education). I suppose some could say that the Oracle blogs I included were primarily marketing focused. That is true. I included them, however, because those product release announcements are so valuable.
I have not read all of these blogs. I can't, don't, and won't attest to the quality of the content in those blogs. Each reader should evaluate the content of these blog posts before implementing suggestions identified in these blogs and their corresponding comments.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Unlimited Session Timeout

There are a lot of security admins out there that are going to hate me for this post. There are a lot of system administrators, developers, and users, however, that will LOVE me for this post. The code I'm about to share with you will keep the logged in PeopleSoft user's session active as long as the user has a browser window open that points to a PeopleSoft instance. Why would you do this? I can think of two reasons:

  • Your users have several PeopleSoft browser windows open. If one of them times out because of inactivity at the browser window level, then it will kill the session for ALL open windows. That just seems wrong.
  • Your users have long running tasks, such as completing performance reviews, that may require more time to complete than is available at a single sitting. For example, imagine you are preparing a performance review and you have to leave for a meeting. You don't have enough information in the transaction to save, but you can't be late for the meeting either. You know if you leave, your session will time out while you are gone and you will lose your work. This also seems wrong.

Before I show you how to keep the logged in user's session active, let's talk about security... Session timeouts exist for two reasons (at least two):

  • Security: no one is home, so lock the door
  • Server side resource cleanup: PeopleSoft components require web server state. Each logged in user session (and browser window) consumes resources on the web server. If the user is dormant for a specific period of time, reclaim those resources by killing the user's session.

We can "lock the door" without timing out the server side session with strong policies on the workstation: password protected screen savers, etc.

So here is how it works. Add the following JavaScript to the end of the HTML definition PT_COMMON (or PT_COPYURL if using an older version of PeopleTools) (or even better, if you are on PeopleTools 8.54+, use component and/or role based branding to activate this script). Next, turn down your web profile's timeout warning and timeout to something like 3 and 5 minutes or 5 and 10 minutes. On the timeout warning interval, the user's browser will place an Ajax request to keep the session active. When the user closes all browser windows, the reset won't happen so the user's server side session state will terminate.

What values should you use for the warning and timeout? As low as possible, but not so low you create too much network chatter. If the browser makes an ajax request on the warning interval and a user has 10 windows open, then that means the user will trigger up to 10 Ajax requests within the warning interval window. Now multiply that by the number of logged in users at any given moment. See how this could add up?

Here is the JavaScript:

(function (root) {
    // xhr adapted from http://toddmotto.com/writing-a-standalone-ajax-xhr-javascript-micro-library/
    var xhr = function (type, url, data) {
        var methods = {
            success: function () {
            },
            error: function () {
            }
        };

        var parse = function (req) {
            var result;
            try {
                result = JSON.parse(req.responseText);
            } catch (e) {
                result = req.responseText;
            }
            return [result, req];
        };

        var XHR = root.XMLHttpRequest || ActiveXObject;
        var request = new XHR('MSXML2.XMLHTTP.3.0');
        request.open(type, url, true);
        request.setRequestHeader('Content-type', 'application/x-www-form-urlencoded');
        request.onreadystatechange = function () {
            if (request.readyState === 4) {
                if (request.status === 200) {
                    methods.success.apply(methods, parse(request));
                } else {
                    methods.error.apply(methods, parse(request));
                }
            }
        };
        
        request.send(data);
        return {
            success: function (callback) {
                methods.success = callback;
                return methods;
            },
            error: function (callback) {
                methods.error = callback;
                return methods;
            }
        };
    }; // END xhr


    var timeoutIntervalId;
    var resetUrl;

    /* replace warning message timeout with Ajax call
     * 
     * clear old timeout after 30 seconds
     * macs don't set timeout until 1000 ms
     */
    root.setTimeout(function () {
        /* some pages don't have timeouts defined */
        if (typeof (timeOutURL) !== "undefined") {
            if (timeOutURL.length > 0) {
                resetUrl = timeOutURL.replace(/expire$/, "resettimeout");
                if (totalTimeoutMilliseconds !== null) {
                    root.clearTimeout(timeoutWarningID);
                    root.clearTimeout(timeoutID);
                    
                    timeoutIntervalId =
                            root.setInterval(resetTimeout /* defined below */,
                                    root.warningTimeoutMilliseconds);
                }
            }
        }
    }, 30000);

    var resetTimeout = function () {
        xhr("GET", resetUrl)
                .success(function (msg) {
                    /* do nothing */
                })
                .error(function (xhr, errMsg, exception) {
                    alert("failed to reset timeout");
                    /* error; fallback to delivered method */
                    (root.setupTimeout || root.setTimeout2)();
                });
    };
}(window));

A special "shout out" to Todd Motto for his Standalone Ajax/XHR JavaScript micro-library which is embedded (albeit modified) in the JavaScript above.