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10 Tips for Working with xCP

April 9th, 2015 by Lee Grayson

 

Currently I am finishing up an EMC xCP project, and I would like to leave behind some tips I have had to discover the hard way. Hopefully this will save you some time during your xCP project.

Tip #1 – Have well defined Use Cases

I know it is usually a requirement for all projects, but for xCP you really need to know what the user experience is going to be before jumping into xCP configurations. Spend extra time on the planning, and you may keep yourself from having to undo/modify a lot of configurations.

Tip #2 – xCP is not Webtop or D2!

This has been the biggest issue thus far with the current project. The experience the users desired was not process oriented; rather they wanted a CMS front-end. For well-defined business processes, xCP works as expected. In fact we have a separate xCP project that is going well because it is process oriented. Trying to make a full featured CMS front-end using xCP, however, will reveal what will be many future enhancements for xCP. If you are simply looking for a CMS front-end, and you have limited time to get the job done, consider EMC’s other alternatives like Webtop or D2.

Armedia, in being a vendor neutral company, has also used Generis CARA to fit our client’s needs. CARA is a third party CMS front-end/business rules engine that integrates with Documentum, Oracle WebCenter, and Alfresco. So consider your alternatives carefully based on your use cases (hint rule#1), and your requirements.

Tip #3 – Make certain your Object Model definitions are complete before configuration begins.

You will save yourself a lot of aggravation if your model is set in stone. xCP does a great job helping you out upon page creation, however any time after creation modification of the model will require manual changes or recreation of pages. By the time you have created your custom pages you will not want to change your model. (You can change the model of course. You’ll simply wish you didn’t have to.)

Tip #4 – Work on the Import fragments before any other pages or fragments.

The Import Fragment page is called by the ‘Default Import Document’ Action Flow. If you happen to research the ‘Default Import Document’ Action Flow, you will see it looks for a fragment with a name ending in ‘_imp’. The Import Fragment of an object type will contain most, if not all, of your business logic for creating a document type. Once this page is complete, it can be duplicated for the ‘Default Import New Version’ Action Flow.

Tip #5 – There is a difference between, and need for, ‘_imp’ and ‘_chk’ pages.

I thought it would be a good idea to change the ‘Default Import New Version’ Action flow to use the ‘_imp’ pages instead of the ‘_chk’ pages. As soon as I did this I started to realize the ‘Import New Version’ really needed different business logic on the pages. When you perform an import your model is empty so you don’t have to deal with business rules until the user enters data. When you import a new version, your model and associated fields will contain prepopulated data. This, for me, required thinking about some of the events that are triggered. These events, of course, tended to conflict with the ones I had in place. So I had to go back and use the ‘_chk’ pages as intended. They were still duplicates of the ‘_imp’, but with minor changes as compared to making complex rule changes to the ‘_imp’ page.

Tip #6 – Take advantage of custom UI Events

With xCP 2.1, you can create custom UI Events. The additions of the events have been helpful. In my instance, I created a custom UI Event to keep track of the validation rules and populate a message to the users. For every show/focus/change event I published a custom UI Event called ‘Required Field Change’. The event contained a message string and a field name string. By having this Event published, and triggered, I could populate a value display field with the event’s message.

Tip #7 – Use the Process Debugger before pulling your hair out.

When you start working with processes, and you will, make certain your process is running properly before trying to launch it from a page. Here the developers of xCP provided a very nice debugging tool that allowing you to test the process without the need to deploy and call it from a page. By using this tool you ensure issues you encounter along the way are not blamed on the process itself.

Tip #8 – Use a hidden “Debug” column box to track complex validation rules.

I was given this tip, and I will share it with you. Like most Input screens, your business rules will require some complex validations. In order to track these rules I setup a “Debug” column box, which I keep hidden based on roles. Within the “Debug” box, I have a series of value display fields all set as a Boolean field. Each of these value display fields contains a rule by which I validate a particular field by. I then have one overall value display field that is set to true once all of the other boxes are set to true. These value display fields also helped me drive the ‘Required Field Change’ event in tip #6. As long as the display value fields were false then the warning message remained visible to let the user know what was wrong with the input given.

Tip #9 – Don’t start deleting the buttons xCP gives you.

When creating a new View/Edit/Import Page or Fragment, xCP will setup an array of buttons you may or may not desire the users to have access to. Instead of deleting the button, however, simply set the ‘Hidden’ attribute to ‘true’. You may find the button a pain to rebuild later if you decide you needed it. Once everything is working like you want it, and you want to improve performance/size, then you can consider removing the button. (However, a button and process definition on a page really isn’t doing anything to hinder performance, and doesn’t take up much space. Check to see if the process is triggered ‘On Load’ so it doesn’t execute unnecessarily, but that is all you need for performance.)

Tip #10 – Be willing to use Plug-Ins.

Remember, xCP is first a framework to build a custom Documentum Web Application with. Therefore the core functionality within xCP is basic. You will find yourself writing custom widgets to perform a particular task or you can look into the list of plugins to help solve a particular problem for you. The plugins found on EMC’s support site have many features already created that you may be looking for.

NEW VIDEO: ArkCase – Customizing Your Dashboard

April 2nd, 2015 by Allison Cotney

In this blog, we wanted to show you another great video from the team at ArkCase! In this video blog, you will see how easily ArkCase allows you to customize your dashboard. This intuitive feature allows for increased user experience through delivering the users the information the need, where they want to receive it within their dashboard.

NEW VIDEO: ArkCase – Updating User Profiles

March 31st, 2015 by Allison Cotney

We are excited to show another video blog from the team at ArkCase! ArkCase allows users to update their profile based on groups or departments that the end user has been added to. This allows for the user to be able to control the information they receive based upon their needs and requirements.

NEW VIDEO: ArkCase- An Overview

March 25th, 2015 by Allison Cotney

ArkCase intuitive case management solution allows for better management of your electronic case files. Allowing you to track cases throughout the entire lifecycle, ArkCase provides enhanced investigative case management through Collaboration, Automation, and Security, giving you a truly Enjoyable case management experience.

NEW VIDEO: ArkCase – How to Search for Information

March 5th, 2015 by Allison Cotney

New video blog from ArkCase!!

In this video you will see how easily ArkCase allows you to search for information. By just quickly clicking a button, you can access any information you are looking for.

 

NEW VIDEO: ArkCase- Quick Access to a Case

March 3rd, 2015 by Allison Cotney

New blog from the experts at ArkCase!!

Quick access to your case files is essential when you are on-the-go and in need of rapid application response. ArkCase provides that! Check out the new video to see how this is accomplished.

How to Upgrade Windows Server 2008 R2 Core Domain Controller to Windows Server 2012 Core

March 2nd, 2015 by Paul Combs

The upgrade path should be as simple as upgrading Windows Server 2008 R2 Server-Core Domain Controller to Windows Server 2012 Core.  However, this is not the case. Most Internet solutions will write of this upgrade path without Active Directory services. This is an important distinction as this upgrade path will fail with a black screen with cursor and then a rollback. On a development virtual machine an upgrade path that worked was Windows Server 2008 R2 Core Domain Controller to Windows Server 2012 R2 Core. As this is NOT the desired path, a work-a-round had to be determined as well as determining the reason why the Windows Server 2012 R2 Core path worked where the Windows Server 2012 Core path failed.

While researching this problem, a Microsoft KB 2843034 article was found to describe the problem accurately and offer a “solution”. Microsoft summarizes the problem as “… specific to server-core enabled domain controllers that are in-place upgraded to Windows Server 2012 server core. This condition does not occur on GUI or Full-DCs that are in-place upgraded to Windows Server 2012.” The problem is narrowed to “[t]he DirectoryServices-DomainController role [which] is disabled by default and is not enabled because there is no role with that name on the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. Since there is nothing to match up among the available Windows Server 2012 manifests, the upgrade hangs.”

Now for the Microsoft “solution”. To make an in-place upgrade succeed add a “Replacement Manifest”, DirectoryServices-DomainController-ServerCoreUpg-Replacement.man, to the setup source files. “Please contact Microsoft Customer Technical Support to retrieve the manifest. Ensure to reference this article so the agent can provide you with the manifest file free of charge.”

Not quite the solution that was sought. However, there was something to that solution that led to the next course of action. How did the Windows Server 2012 R2 succeed where the Windows Server 2012 had failed? It must have had the manifest necessary to succeed. To determine if the Windows Server 2012 R2 had the DirectoryServices-DomainController-ServerCoreUpg-Replacement.man file, the ISO image was opened and then navigated to the sources\replacementmanifests\ folder. The manifest is there. It is not on the Windows Server 2012 ISO.

Armed with this knowledge, the solution is to extract the sources\replacementmanifests\DomainController-ServerCoreUpg-Replacement.man file from the Windows Server 2012 R2 DVD or ISO and copy it to the same location to the Windows Server 2012 DVD or ISO. Perform the upgrade and watch in amazement and bewilderment as the upgrade process not only continues past the black screen, however completes successfully.

Documentum Webtop Musings

February 3rd, 2015 by Scott Roth

Webtop has been Documentum’s flagship user interface (UI) since its introduction in Documentum v5 (circa 2003), and has an enormous world-wide install base. It’s built upon solid (though dated) technology, methodology, and standards. It’s also built upon/with a solid API (the WDK), which allows developers to do ANYTHING with Webtop — including replace it completely with a custom UI. One of my favorite features of Webtop is that it does EVERYTHING. In fact, this is often the reason many end users (i.e., customers) don’t like Webtop — it’s overwhelming. More often than not, we disable and hide capabilities and features in Webtop to make it more palatable for end users.

So, with all of this capability and installed user-base, you’d think EMC would enhance/upgrade/extend their flagship UI, right? Instead, they end-of-life it (Support for v6.7 SP2 ends April 2015. This was recently extend to Dec 2018 with the release of Webtop v6.8.) and are replacing it with one of two new clients: D2 or xCP. Worse, they provide no clear technical migration path from Webtop to either D2 or xCP, and provide no clear criteria to choose one client over the other. I know, I’ve heard the same guidelines that you have: if the application is “document-centric” it should move to D2; if the application is “process-centric” it should move to xCP. Well, it’s never that easy. Many of our customers have applications they target for development in D2 (or xCP) because it meets one of these guidelines. However, once it is deployed, they started looking at the next (and the next) application to convert/rewrite/develop. Often these next applications contain elements better suited for the other platform. Now they have a problem: they want to build all of their applications on the same platform to minimize maintenance and maximize their investment, but they are stuck trying to force-fit an application’s requirements into a platform’s mis-aligned capabilities (or lack of capabilities). If they had remained with Webtop, they could achieve both types of applications (i.e., document-centric and process-centric) on a single platform. Of course, you lose the “no code” configurability of D2 and xCP and trade it in for full-blown Java development with Webtop.

As I mentioned before, out-of-the-box, Webtop does EVERYTHING. The thing that gripes me the most about xCP and D2 is that out-of-the-box they do NOTHING. Nothing! After installing the client you still have a long road ahead of you just to see your cabinets and folders, and create a few objects in the Docbase. Out-of-the-box, Webtop works. Why doesn’t EMC invest in “Web 2.0-ifying” Webtop? They could rebuild it on Spring, using jSON and Ajax, DFS, REST, or whatever the framework de jour is.   And, provide a migration path from the “classic” Webtop to this new creation.   Many of these technologies provide the “configuration” conveniences they are striving for in D2 and xCP. For example, look at what Armedia is doing with it’s ArkCase Management System. ArkCase is repository neutral and offers a UI that is elegant, responsive, and highly configurable while using current Web 2.0 technologies to achieve the highest level of re-usability and abstraction. Or take a look at CARA by Generis. CARA is a Webtop/D2 alternative and is gaining rapid acceptance for it’s elegance, flexibility, ease of use, and adaptability. Are these examples of what Webtop should be, could be?

Come on EMC, revive Webtop and restore it to its flagship status.  Don’t just limp it along with periodic maintenance releases and force your user base onto D2 or xCP when they don’t need to or want to.

 

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