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Excel as an OPA Data Connection #2

Excel as an OPA Data Connection #2

So, following on from the previous post in this ” Excel as an OPA Data Connection” series, we have been investigating using Excel as both the Metadata and Data storage for a prototype Connection. The goal being that if I want to quickly model something and show it to a prospect I can do everything in Excel, and do not need any other software.

The previous post laid out the architecture, and highlighted that we would be putting the Excel on a Web Server and using a Web Service to open and manipulate the Excel file. Once again, this is just a bit of an interesting concept and is not at all for real-life use, especially as Microsoft has explicitly stated that remote automation with Microsoft Office is not a good idea (nor is it supported).

Excel as an OPA Data Connection : Common Points

In our Web Service code, the three main endpoints (GetMetadata, Load and Save) have a great deal in common. They all manipulate either DataTables (Load and Save) or MetaTables (GetMetadata) and in the case of DataTables they have Row(s) and DataField(s) whilst the MetaTables have MetaFields.  Essentially your job is to build these into a hierarchy, and they form the response that is sent back to Oracle Policy Automation.

In the screenshot below, the Excel data range is being parsed into a series of Metafields for the GetMetadata response, and we are setting the different tags of our SOAP response. I took a shortcut in the prototype and no matter which metadata you ask for you get all the fields back in the response.

 Excel as an OPA Data Connection GetMetadata

Excel as an OPA Data Connection : Context

In the case of the Load and Save, they receive either loadrequest.context or saverequest.context which will contain any URL argument items you want to pass into the Service (for example, in a Load, you will pass an ID which will correspond to the row of data you want). You can pass in as many as you want.

In the screenshot below, you can see that both the Load and Save have the context object available. In the code, since it is a prototype, we assume the only context element is the one we are looking for.

 Excel as an OPA Data Connection Context

Excel as an OPA Data Connection : Load and Save

In the case of a Load request, you will send back the Tables and Row(s) and Fields for the Interview. In the case of a Save request, since we are only handling updates in our prototype,  we send back the Row and Fields as the response, marking them as “input” fields. We are not using Load after Submit in our case, so there are no “output” fields to send back. If we were to handle inserts, we would have to send back the Row and Fields in that case as well, plus the ID of the new record for example in a Load after Submit.

In the screenshot below I am testing the Load Response, hard coding some values into the fields. Note the “TEST” value at the top. In the finished version of course, these are replaced with Excel Cell contents.

 Excel as an OPA Data Connection Load Example

Since the entire Web Service is written in Visual Basic, it is a great learning opportunity to be able to dump the XML requests and responses to files, in order to better understand what Oracle Policy Automation is sending or receiving. In the screenshot below, a Save Request being sent to the Web Service.

 Excel as an OPA Data Connection XML Example

Excel as an OPA Data Connection : Attribute Types

One area where I got quite confused is the different ways to indicate what kind of attribute you are working with. In the request for a save, for example, there are field types for each attribute which are actually constants (0,1,2,3,4 and so on, one for each type). When building the save response I needed to then map that number to an AttributeTypeEnum (another constant value) and set the ItemElementName to get the “<date-val>” or “<text-val>” tags that you need. It took a while to work out the logic. Between MetaFields that say they are “STRING” and DataFields that say they are “text-val” it can get a bit boring!

Here’s the sort of thing I mean, checking the fieldtype and mapping to the AttributeEnumType:

Excel as an OPA Data Connection : Video

Rather than keep on writing, let’s have a video to put it all together and see the adventure in the flesh, doing what it is supposed to do!  This was great fun, and is definitely a cool way to learn more about the Connector API and what would be needed when building an integration. Of course, these days we have Integration Cloud and so many more managed tools and services but I am of the opinion that it is better to be over-informed than under-informed. Speaking of which, if you need to read the official Connector API Overview, you will find it here.

Of course there is more that could be done. As described above, the first thing will be to implement record creation. Then, perhaps, a child table or two using the same basic principle. Who knows, one day when I have more time I might come back to it.

If anyone wants the Visual Studio Project and code, then just leave a Comment. Have fun!

 

 

 

Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 #3

Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 #3

This the third post in this Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 series, following on from the first two which dealt with the “design time” or “metadata” related operations CheckAlive and GetMetadata. If you want to catch up here are the links to the previous parts.

Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 Workflow ProcessBoth of those operations are fundamental to allowing the Oracle Policy Automation Hub to understand the availability of your data source and the structure thereof.  Once they are operational, there are two main things to take into account. Firstly, the pattern of Workflow Process plus Inbound Web Service Operation is one that is maintained in every case, no matter what set of data you are retrieving. Secondly, the next stages of the Connection setup are common to many Siebel Integrations but there will be Oracle Policy Automation specifics : in the Load and Save operations you will handle getting data from Siebel to and Oracle Policy Automation Rulebase, and then returning any output to Siebel.

As in the previous cases the Oracle White Paper provides, in the associated Zip file, Workflow Processes and other objects that will be needed. As before, according to your business requirement and technical setup, you will need to edit those Objects in Siebel Tools and make further objects. Changes can be frustrating as you are likely going to be searching the Repository for variable names, or Object references, and sometimes you miss one or two.

In the examples shown in the video presentations and walk-through I have deliberately kept this Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 overview as simple as possible, for example by eliminating the processing of attachments, and by concentrating on the key steps in the Workflow Processes. So for today we will look at the Load operation. Because this operation will require testing, this post will look at setup and SOAP UI, and the following post will take that a step further and look at testing it with real Siebel data.

The Save (a.k.a Submit) operation is necessarily the most complex operation, dealing with the saving of data in Siebel but also the response back to Oracle Policy Automation – which means taking a request to deal with a response and responding with what feels like a request!

 

Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 Load And Submit Presentation

Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16  Load and Submit Testing in SOAP UI

Testing

In this topic, take your first steps to testing your Load and Submit in the SOAP UI utility.

 

Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 #2

Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 #2

Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 - Hub ConnectionFollowing on from the first post about Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16 a few days ago, this post continues with a series of (hopefully) useful videos about the next steps. Last time, you had just built your Connection in the Oracle Policy Automation Hub and had checked to see if the green light came  on. In the video sequence today, you will test both of the design time methods (CheckAlive and GetMetadata) in your SOAP UI testing tool to ensure that you get something like the correct response.

Testing in SOAP UI can be very frustrating at first. You take the time to download the WSDL from Siebel Enterprise and import it into SOAP UI, fully expecting to work with it immediately. But there are a few traps. Firstly, the need to (unless you have switched off the requirement in the Oracle Policy Automation Hub, which would be very unwise in most circumstances) add wsse tags to the Header and provide a user name and password. Secondly, you may (probably) need to remove some extraneous tags on the SOAP Request, and finally if your Siebel environment is not up and running and the relevant Workflow Processes are not active, you won’t get much in the way of feedback :).

Presentation

In this brief overview, we talk about the different big-picture steps to set up communication and how to go about it.

Setting Up a Connection for Oracle Policy Automation and Siebel Innovation Pack 16

In this part you walk through the practical steps to build a Connection, add or import the different Workflow Processes and Inbound Web Services to implement the first two operations and get ready to test them.

Build CheckAlive and GetMetaData Operations

This video walks through the technical steps in Oracle Policy Automation, Siebel CRM and SOAP UI to build these two operations according to the White Paper.

Next…

In the next few days, the Load and Submit operations, the core of the integration, will be worked through and examined in Siebel and Oracle Policy Automation terms.

Oracle Policy Automation 12 and Siebel IP 2016 – Installation and Configuration

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Mantis Solutions

Mantis Solutions OPA DB Connector : Part Two : Linked Tables, Bind URL variables and more

Mantis Solutions OPA DB Connector : Part Two : Linked Tables, Bind URL variables and more

Readers will recall that last week I provided a quick run-through of the capabilities of the Mantis Solutions OPA DB Connector. Simple to use and lightweight, I see it as a great way to open up legacy data sources easily to Oracle Policy Automation for rapid exploitation.

In this second short video, I wanted to keep going in the same direction as last time :

  • In the first part I decided to highlight a couple of neat features, the dashboard page which provides some neat and simple dynamic graphics for viewing calls to the connector
  • Secondly, the ability to quickly to create bindings to URL variables, for example a row_id (in my case) to load a set of data into the Web Interview. Although I didn’t look at it this time, there is also the ability to create bind mappings which I will investigate in the next video
  • Finally, the creation of a second, linked, table and how to add the necessary foreign key and so forth to be able to refresh the Connection in Oracle Policy Modeling and add a child entity and load that data. You’ll see it didn’t take me very long at all.

My apologies for the very croaky and quiet voice-over on this video, since the last one was recorded I have changed timezone which meant I brought back a cold as a souvenir of Canada. Hopefully by the next video in the series I will be back to full strength. Once again, many thanks to the Mantis Solutions team for putting the environment at my disposal. If you would like to reach out to them (and they would be delighted to chat with you I am quite sure!) then just head on over to their website at Mantis Solutions.com.au.

Guest Post : Using Oracle Policy Automation Public Cloud with Oracle Service Cloud (RightNow): Part 4

We are continuing our Lazy Expert series of posts, with an explanation of how Oracle Policy Automation Public Cloud, and the rulebases deployed there, can be used within the Oracle Service Cloud application. In case you have missed out on the original post of this series, you can find it here . With the right Nudge, our Lazy Expert is not so lazy after all.

Part 1  looked at exploring, deploying and verifying the “RightNowSimple” rulebase to work with the Service Cloud Connection. The rulebase was launched directly using the Interview Session URL.

Part 2  looked at embedding this Interview into the Consumer Portal of Service Cloud so that anonymous visitors to the portal can use this same interview in self-service mode. This is accomplished by publishing an “Answer” in the knowledgebase, with the Interview Session URL embedded in an IFRAME, to the Consumer Portal. Optionally you can add some logic to your PHP and conditionally display the Interview.

Part 3 looked at embedding another sample Oracle Policy Automation Rulebase into the Service Cloud Consumer Portal so that “known” (logged-in) contacts can use the Interview Session for an appropriate determination to be provided by the Oracle Policy Automation rulebase. The Interview session will be launched in the context of a known user/contact and hence it is possible to pre-seed the Interview with the data from Service Cloud and, once the determination is completed in Oracle Policy Automation, save the data back into Service Cloud using the Service Cloud Connector.

This article will look at embedding the same Oracle Policy Automation interview that we saw in Part 3, StudentBenefits, and how this can be invoked from within the Agent Desktop. This is an example of using Oracle Policy Automation Cloud for providing assisted services to customers, by Agents, through the Agent Desktop UI.

Pre-requisites:

  • The StudentBenefits sample Rulebase is deployed and the Service Cloud Connector is verified to be working as advertised.
  • Most of the configuration is performed in the Agent Desktop and hence an appropriate credential with sufficient permissions in the Service Cloud is also needed.

Create a Custom Workspace (UI) in Service Cloud, for the Contact record

  1. If you do not already have a custom Workspace in Service Cloud, for the Contact record, you should create one from Configuration -> Application Appearance -> Workspaces / Workflows

In our example, we create a custom workspace named “CustomContact” using the steps listed below.

  • Copy the Standard Contact Workspace as CustomContact into the Custom Folder.
  • Open this new CustomContact Workspace and add a new tab labelled “Student Benefits”

  • Drag and Drop the “OPA” control onto this new tab and specify the control properties that point to the deployed StudentBenefits rulebase, the chosen locale for the UI and the refresh behavior.

  • You should then configure the control, setting the Policy Model, Locale and the Refresh behavior, so that when a new record is created and saved in the Agent Desktop, the Interview shows correctly. When you have done that, save the Custom Workspace.

Assign the new CustomContact Workspace to a relevant user assignable Profile (if required)

If you added the Oracle Policy Automation Control to a new Workspace, then you will need to assign it to somebody, so that you can test it. If you added it to an existing Workspace you can skip this step and proceed to verify the results.

  • Open the “Profile” which should provide access to our CustomContact workspace, from Configuration -> Staff Management -> Profiles, and assign the new Workspace to the Contact record by clicking the Magnifying Glass icon to display the popup window.

Verify the results in Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop UI

  1. Login to the Agent Desktop as a user who is assigned the above Profile.
  2. Search / Navigate to a known Contact record and navigate to the Student Benefits sub-tab that you added

You can now work through the Oracle Policy Automation wizard and examine the results in the Service Cloud database.

This explains how the benefits of an Oracle Policy Automation rulebase and the designed Interview sessions can be made available for known Contacts / Users using the Service Cloud Agent Desktop.

This article also concludes my 4 part series of using Oracle Policy Automation Cloud and the provided Service Cloud Connector.

I’ll be starting a new series of articles soon. In the meantime, any comments and/or suggestions on improving these articles are most welcome…

Guest Post : Using Oracle Policy Automation Public Cloud with Oracle Service Cloud : Part 3

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