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New JavaScript Extensions Book – Win!

New JavaScript Extensions Book – Win!

We’re pleased to say that our new Oracle Policy Automation JavaScript Extensions book is almost finished. Designed to be useful for anyone looking to understand how to extend their interviews with JavaScript Extensions. It comes with 50 worked examples and Zip Archives to download. It was written to help non-programming Oracle Policy Automation professionals understand what is possible. Professional Programmers can use the examples and extend them / adapt them according to their needs.

Win a Free Copy!

The new book is part of our program of providing useful resources and assistance to the community. Help the OPA Hub Website by filling in the survey below and enter to win a copy of the book and the free goodies we mentioned. We’re attempting to broaden our offerings to include various forms of training and assistance, and your feedback helps us a great deal. We want to serve the community in the best way possible and this is part of that process, learning about your needs.

If you enter the very short survey below and complete the last question, you will be entered into the draw – one person will be drawn at random and will win a copy of the book as soon as it is published (in the New Year 2020) and a bunch of other goodies – a baseball cap, a tee-shirt, a pen and a mug! So what are you waiting for? If for whatever reason, the embedded survey below does not work, you can also access it here.

Enter the Survey to win!

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Back to Basics : Extensions #2

Back to Basics : Extensions #2

Following on from the previous post, we delve more deeply into the JavaScript Extensions world.

Interview Execution in a Browser

So how does an Interview Extension work? Let’s begin with some basic information about how your Oracle Policy Automation Interview runs in your Browser. If you happened to be viewing an Interview right now, and you were to open the Console (F12 in Google Chrome, or Microsoft Edge. Check your Browser documentation for the equivalent key or menu option), you might be able to view something like the following screenshot. Check the steps under the image as you may need to refer to them in your own case.

Extensions

In this screenshot I have launched a Project using the Debugger. Remember that if you hold down F5 while clicking the Debug button, you will open the Interview in the Debugger and in your default Browser.

  1. Your web server may of course be a different address.
  2. The web-determinations folder will not have the same numeric suffix as in this screenshot, indeed will most likely not have a suffix at all. This is a feature of the Debugging session.
  3. The js file is most likely in the staticresource folder, however if you are in a more integrated environment it may be in a different subfolder, or a different folder altogether. But it will be present.
  4. The contents of the js file can be read more easily by selecting (in Google Chrome in this case) the option to pretty print the code.

Interviews.js

This file is the foundation of the Interview experience provided by Oracle Policy Automation. It contains all the code necessary to make the user experience function correctly. Inside this file, however, there is a built-in capacity to accept extensions that change the behaviour of the Interview.

In your Console, search in the file for the following text – “customLabel:” (without the quotation marks, but with the colon). You should find one instance of that text, as shown in the screenshot below.

Extensions

  1. Search for the text
  2. Find the text in the file.

Take a moment to perform a second search in the same file, for the text shown below. Use the screenshot as your guide.

  1. Ensure you are looking at interviews.js
  2. Search for this text
  3. View the style definition for textInputStyle.

Accepted Extension Types

Notice in the first example, that customLabel is only one of a series of items in the first list. These are the recognized types of Control extension that we, as Oracle Policy Automation Project workers, are permitted to develop.

In the second search you found that there was a style defined for controls called textInputs. Although not quite as obvious perhaps as the first example, an Oracle Policy Automation Project might want to override the Style(s) used in a Project, in order to comply with corporate guidelines for example: and this system will help us do just that. Style Extensions use keywords in the same way to indicate which elements you wish to style.

About Extensions

It is not important at this stage to understand how these extensions are created or used. It is, however fundamentally important to understand that you will be extending Oracle Policy Automation Interviews by adding one or more of these acceptable extensions, and that they will be run in the browser in the same way as the standard JavaScript is already. These interviews can then be better adapted to your IT environment. As an example, read how Styling Extensions enable integration visually with Oracle Content & Experience Cloud.

More on this subject, with some worked examples, shortly.

Back to Basics – What are Extensions?

Back to Basics – What are Extensions?

Styling Extensions

Introduced in Oracle Policy Automation November 2016 release, a styling extension allows a designer to create styling rules and logic using JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets. These files are contained within the deployed Oracle Policy Automation project, and should be used only if you have exhausted all of the built in Styling possibilities offered as standard in the Interview tab, Styles dialog.

Control Extensions

A Control represents a single item placed on a Screen during the design of an Interview. Typically these controls might be used by the user to enter data (for example, a Control with a Calendar attached to enter the date of birth of the applicant) or to organize data on the Screen (for example, a Container that allows for a better layout of several other items). At run-time, each Control is translated into HTML and associated JavaScript code. Introduced initially at the same time as the styling extensions mentioned in the previous paragraph, although they have grown more numerous over time.

Control Extensions Example

They are generally referred to by a name such as customLabel or customContainer which identifies the type. In a later post you will learn the origin of these names.

Evolution

Interview behavior Extensions have gradually gained in functionality, and also in terms of which Control types are available for customization. There are different kinds of extension for different needs.

Scope

If Controls represent items grouped on a Screen (and therefore on a page, as far as most Interview users are concerned), with Extensions you can also customize the real estate around the pages – whether it be the navigation styling, of a custom footer or header, or even a completely new navigation system. So extensions can be for a single Control, or for a complete Navigation system.

Naming Convention

Technically speaking, all of the examples mentioned above are called Interview Extensions in the official documentation, and they are divided into styling extensions and control extensions as you will discover. You can find the reference material at the following URL at the time of writing .

Architecture

Before looking at the different types available to us, it pays to review the architecture of the Interview and gain understanding as to how they function within it. Coming next…

Showing a Loading Image During Entity Creation

Showing a Loading Image During Entity Creation

When a user is entering some information into Entity attributes, it is entirely possible that one of those entity attributes may take its information from a Search extension. For example, you are entering instances of the Person entity and each Person has a location, so you want to select the location using a Search extension.

The Search, given that it is perhaps an Ajax call, could take some time. So you want to signal to the user that there is nothing to worry about, but they need to wait. Typically this is done through some sort of icon or image being displayed, much in the style of the Windows egg-timer or similar. This probably will also need a CSS style rule or two, in order to make it a bit funky.

We want to make sure that this is displayed in the right place, even if the user is creating several instances of the same entity. I mean that the icon should be displayed in the correct area of the screen, especially if you have instances whose screen layout takes up some space.

Anyway as always a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is the instance collection form:

Showing a Loading Image During Entity CreationWhen you have several on the screen, it might look like this:

Showing a Loading Image During Entity Creation

The Destination attribute is a Search extension that helps the user search for a Train Station in the United Kingdom. It take a few seconds for the search to happen.

So our timer needs to be shown in the right place whenever the user is searching. It needs to be instance A or B for example, depending on the instance the user is working on.

Showing a Loading Image During Entity Creation

In the example above the user has typed the Search criteria. The loader is shown in the centre of the instance while the search is happening. So we are Showing a Loading Image During Entity Creation.

Showing a Loading Image During Entity Creation

When the search data is returned, as in the example above, the user should no longer see the loader and the operation can continue as normal.

If the user moves to another instance, then the process should start again but the loader should be instance-aware and show in the correct place so as not to confuse.

Showing a Loading Image During Entity CreationTo do this we can use the Search extension, and add a little bit of extra code to

  • Check to see if we have already displayed the special icon
  •  If we have not, create it, center it on the instance we are working on, show it and make the Search
  • If the icon already exists, move it to the correct instance and show it then make the Search
  • When the search data is returned, hide the icon until the next time.

This example will work with non-tabular forms. I’ll be back with a second post investigating them in a couple of days.

You can find this simple example (with all the usual caveats and reminders that this is just for fun) in the OPA Hub Shop.  The official documentation is here, as always. Thanks to Shankar for the great example of Showing a Loading Image During Entity Creation!

Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation

Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation

The other day someone came to me with a curious and interesting problem. They had a number of entity instances, inferred in an Excel spreadsheet. These had to be displayed in the usual way with an Entity Container in a Screen of Oracle Policy Modeller. So far so good, I hear you say.

Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation 1

The inferred attributes (which in the end would probably be coming from a data source, but for now come from Excel as inferred instances) included a Text attribute that was frankly far too large to display correctly in the Screen, given that there might be a few rows of instances in the final result.

We experimented with lots of different layouts, dynamically hiding and showing items based on various criteria in order to make room, but in the end we came to the conclusion that we needed some sort of Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation – something that could be called upon by the user as and when they needed it, but ignored (and invisible) when not needed.

Here is the starting point for our adventure.

The Screen above is populated with all the instances of the student’s scholarship. On the left is a set of information that we need to display on request. Normally we will only display the name of the Scholarship. You will see in the list of attributes there is an overview ( a text attribute), a deduction ( a currency attribute) and a renewable status (a boolean attribute). There are a few others, including the contact details (a text attribute, which is a URL).

So we are going to customise the label control I have just described. It is “inside” the Entity instance loop : so in reality there will be one per instance. We need our label to contain, as you would expect, the correct information. We wish to avoid pop-ups (nasty!) and dialogs (too complex for a simple window) and tool-tips are too small and simple for the data we have. The label shown will have a custom property called “name” and will be used as a hook for our JavaScript Extension.

We experimented with all sort of things before we went for this option : JavaScript is a last resort. We were frustrated by the behaviour of hidden items that appeared slowly (we could see “uncertain” appearing before the out of the box JavaScript populated the bound controls). So it was going to be JavaScript.

So,  our Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation needs to meet these challenges. We are going, as a simple demonstration, to use a CSS toggle to show or hide the relevant data for our instances. We can set the scene as follows:

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.area {
position:relative;
color:#0645AD;
font-weight:400;
}
 
.area:hover {
text-decoration:underline;
text-decoration-color:blue;
cursor: pointer;
}
 
.fixed {
position:absolute;
top:190px;
left:465px;
border:0;
z-index:9999;
background-color:#FFF;
display:none;
height:300px;
width:420px;
float:right;
text-decoration:none;
text-decoration-color:#000;
text-color:#000;
padding:5px;
}

The above CSS file sets up two main classes and a pseudo-class for a mouse hovering over our row. The area is the area we will normally show – with just the name – and the fixed area is a fixed DIV which will display (or not) when we decide we want to visualise the information. Now for the main content of our customLabel extension. Here is the mount key with as usual, my simplistic attempts at coding : for the umpteenth time I’m not a professional – but my job is to show something can be done, and let other’s get on with making it happen.

 

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{
 
if (control.getProperty("name") == "xLabel") {
return {
mount: function (el) {
var maindiv = document.createElement("div");
maindiv.style.visibility = 'visible';
maindiv.innerHTML = interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance);
maindiv.classList.add("area");
maindiv.setAttribute("id", interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance));
el.appendChild(maindiv);
 
var tooltipdiv = document.createElement("div");
tooltipdiv.style.visibility = 'visible';
tooltipdiv.classList.add("fixed");
tooltipdiv.innerHTML = control.getCaption();
tooltipdiv.setAttribute("id", interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance));
el.appendChild(tooltipdiv);
 
$("div [id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").click(function () {
$(".fixed").hide();
$(".fixed[id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").html("<h6>Name : " + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "</h6>");
$(".fixed[id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").append("<h6>Overview : " + interview.getValue("scholarship_overview", "scholarship", control.instance) + "</h6>");
$(".fixed[id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").append("<h6><b>Renewable</b>: " + interview.getValue("scholarship_renewable", "scholarship", control.instance) + "</h6>");
$(".fixed[id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").append("<h6><b>Maximum Value</b>: " + interview.getValue("scholarship_deduction", "scholarship", control.instance) + "</h6>");
$(".fixed[id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").append("<h6><b>Eligibility</b>: " + interview.getValue("scholarship_eligibility", "scholarship", control.instance) + "</h6>");
$(".fixed[id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").append("<h6><b>Minimum Grade</b>: " + interview.getValue("scholarship_min_grade", "scholarship", control.instance) + "</h6>");
$(".fixed[id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").append("<h6><b>Contact</b>: <a href='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_contact", "scholarship", control.instance) + "' target='_blank'>SFAS Office</a></h6>");
$(".fixed[id='" + interview.getValue("scholarship_award", "scholarship", control.instance) + "']").toggle();
});
 
}

Here is the review of the Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation code shown above, starting with the usual check to make sure we are only working with our label and not any other label on the Screen. In lines 6 to 11 we add a new DIV (to replace the one that contained all those %substitution%s , and we populate it with only one attribute. Since that attribute is also unique, we use it as a handy way to populate the HTML id attribute.

In lines 13 to 18 we create a second, hidden DIV that uses the fixed class shown above.

In lines 20 to 29 we set up the click event so that the user can click on the label and the hidden text will be revealed. The code preview (I notice) has eaten the ending part of the line, so use the PDF version instead. Notice the use of getValue, with the entity name and the instance, to ensure that we create a DIV with a unique name and unique content. The content will be toggled (hidden or shown) when you click on it.

Finally the unmount is very standard, cleaning up our various pieces by removing them.

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if (control.getProperty("name") == "xLabel") {
$(".area").remove();
$(".fixed").remove();
}

The end result looks like this, before the click:

Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation 3And after the click:

Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation 4

Our Detail Pop-up in Oracle Policy Automation prototype gives the user the information they need when they need it. Of course it can be extended and transformed into something much less ugly, but this is a good start. You can find the PDF in the Shop, it’s free!