Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Keep the Last Visited Homepage Tab Active

If you have used PeopleSoft's Enterprise Portal, then you may have noticed that the active homepage tab is only active when you are viewing that specific homepage tab and that none of the homepage tabs are active when you navigate away from a homepage. As a new PeopleSoft user, I didn't understand why none of the tabs were active once I navigated away from a homepage. To me, it seemed that keeping the last visited homepage tab visibly differentiated as the active tab helped me know what portion of the application I was using after I left a homepage. For example, if I was creating a purchase requisition, then I wanted the Procurement tab to stay active. Likewise, if I was modifying a branding header, then I wanted the Administration tab to stay active. As I continued to work with the PeopleSoft applications, however, I realized that my active tab navigation paradigm didn't make sense given the fact that all the pages inside my PeopleSoft Enterprise Portal displayed the same Enterprise Menu. Because the Enterprise Menu exists on every page, it would be possible for someone to start on a Manager Self Service tab, initiate an employee transfer, and then use the Enterprise Menu to navigate to the purchase requisition component, a business process better aligned with the Procurement tab. In this scenario, the active tab would still be Manager Self Service even though the user is entering a purchase requisition.

At Collaborate '08, a customer asked me, "How do you keep the active tab active after you navigate away from a homepage?" Since I had been through this thought process myself, I answered him with the explanation above. Nevertheless, because PeopleSoft is so flexible, it is possible for you to implement your Enterprise Portal in a manner that separates Procurement content from Manager Self Service content. For example, you could change the default content reference template from DEFAULT_TEMPLATE to MY_CUSTOM_MENU_TEMPLATE and use a custom menu implementation that shows content targeted to the active tab. If you implemented PeopleSoft's Enterprise portal in this manner or if keeping the last visited tab active just makes sense to you, then here is the code to help you keep that last visited tab active. You will need to add this code to the HTMLProcess method of the HTMLProcess class contained in the EPPBR_BRANDING Application Package (the constructor of the EPPBR_BRANDING:HTMLProcess application class). I included seven lines above the modification and seven lines below the modification to help you find the correct place to add this code (14 lines of context). The code you need to add is the 6 lines in bold below between the 7 lines of delivered code.

&strRefreshHomePage = "";
&strContentHref = "";
&strLayoutHref = "";
&dEffdt = %Date;
/* override effdt is for editing only, the value should be set when called from configuring site overrides */
&OverrideEffdt = &dEffdt;
&strActiveTab = &Request.GetParameter("tab");

REM ** BEGIN ABC_123456;; 14-MAY-2008; keep last active tab active;
Local string &tempActiveTab = &strActiveTab;
If (None(&tempActiveTab)) Then
&strActiveTab = %HPTabName;
REM ** END ABC_123456;; 14-MAY-2008; keep last active tab active;

If &strLocation = "M" Then
&strHdrFtrType = "P";
&strHdrFtrType = &strLocation;

If &strLocation = "P" And

As you can see from the 7 lines preceding the modification, the delivered behavior is to determine the active tab from the tab query string parameter that exists on homepage URL's. The reason the active tab doesn't stay active when you navigate to content surfaced through your Enterprise Portal is because the tab query string parameter doesn't exist on those other pieces of content. To work around this, we can use the %HPTabName system variable to determine the most recently active tab.

If you make this change, you will be modifying code delivered by Oracle. If you document your modification, then you should be able to carry this modification through bundles and upgrades with little impact. The key to a successful modification is documentation. By documentation I mean, you include this modified PeopleCode in a project and you document the PeopleCode change within the PeopleCode object. At bundle/upgrade time, your compare reports will show the PeopleCode changes line by line. If you documented the start and end of your modification with a PeopleCode comment and include a site specific identifier in that comment, then it should be easy for you to find that modification and reapply it. For example, in the code above, I use ABC_123456 as my site specific identifier. The ABC portion identifies the code as created by my company, not Oracle, and the 123456 portion is the modification specific identifier used by me to track this specific modification.

%HPTabName uses a cookie to determine the active tab if the URL does not contain a tab query string parameter. If a user enters the PeopleSoft application through a link from a workflow e-mail, then that user will see an active tab matching the last tab visited, which may or may not be relevant for the URL specified in the workflow e-mail. Likewise, if the user cleared his or her cookies, then that user would not have an active tab. You could work around this limitation by creating your own method for tracking and setting the active tab. For example, if the target is not a homepage (no tab query string parameter and/or the presence of /h/ in the URL), then, using PeopleCode functions and system variables, you could determine the node that provides the target content and change the active tab accordingly. Another idea would be to set a default tab attribute on every relevant content reference and use that attribute to determine which tab should be the active tab for the target URL.