Monday, 8 June 2015

Windows Drive Mappings

Recently, TheSmartPanda blogged on a common problem found when trying to use drive mappings from a command window running in elevated/admin mode.

Just wanted to share another way of dealing with this.  This Microsoft article explains why this problem occurs and documents are more permanent workaround.

Class 43 Diesel at London Paddington

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

What is a modern software solution?

Oracle’s vision for the future of PeopleSoft.  Recent conversation between Marc Weintraub (Senior Director of PeopleSoft Product Strategy) and Jo Randles (Cedar’s Head of HR Optimisation).

Jo: What would you say to those individuals that might think that PeopleSoft is considered a bit old-school?

Mark: "I turn that around and ask customers... you're looking for a modern solution. ... I consider a modern solution is 
  • intuitive and simple user experience
  • available on mobile devices
  • has incredible amounts of functionality
  • can be deployed and provisioned rapidly
  • can get new updates without disruptions
That's what PeopleSoft does now.  I would say PeopleSoft is a modern solution"

Watch the video here 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Fluid Landing Page or Classic Portal Homepage ?

For PeopleSoft 9.2 customers that are thinking about Fluid there are many questions to answer.  I don't think it's as simple as "should I use Fluid or not".

Fluid is the name of a new user interface in PeopleSoft which is designed for self service, casual and executive users.  It's important to be aware that this new user interface is experienced at both a component (application) level and at a landing page (first page visible) level.

Throw the classic PeopleSoft Portal into the mix and it starts to get interesting.

Here are just a few of the questions and implications if you decide to "use Fluid".  There are no easy answers to these questions so a I simply offer some discussion.  Feel free to comment.  I'll be blogging a few suggestions over the next few weeks.

Q1) What do your users see when they first signin?  The Fluid landing page or the Classic Portal Homepage?  They look, behave and function very differently but essentially they both represent the initial view from which users will navigate to applications and/or view key business information (eg pagelet charts, queries, etc).  It potentially gets confusing for users if you give them both.  For example a user may log into PeopleSoft on their desktop PC and see the Classic Portal Homepage but then on their mobile device they see Fluid Landing page.

Fluid Landing Page

Classic Portal Homepage

Q2) Should I use the Fluid component or Classic component?  (for example in HR self service there is both a Fluid and Classic version of Absence Request).  Not all components have a Fluid equivalent and not all will because Fluid is primarily targeted at self service users.  The reality is that if you choose to use Fluid where it exists and Classic for all other components then some users will inevitably be switching between Fluid and Classic.  Potential for more UI confusion.  It's nice and tidy for the user who has 100% self service - give them access to the Fluid component only and all they will experience is Fluid.  However, if a user has both self service and access to the more complex classic components, then by using Fluid for the self service part this user will experience both user interfaces.

Q3) If I adopt Fluid then do I show the Fluid component on all devices my users might log in with or do I just restrict Fluid to truly mobile devices?  For example:  If a user logs in on a cell phone at home they may see the Fluid Landing page and Fluid components but back at the office, on a desktop do you show the Fluid Landing page and the Fluid component or the Classic Homepage and Fluid component or (more confusing still) the Classic Homepage and Classic component.  More potential confusion at the UI level if you determine the user interface (Classic or Fluid) based on what device they're using.

I'll be blogging some suggestions in time but please feel free to comment below.

Friday, 15 May 2015

My last day at Oxfam

Today is my last day at Oxfam. After over 18 years I figured it was time to move on and gain some new experiences.

Oxfam has been using PeopleSoft applications since 2000 and I joined the team in 1997 on a 1 year contract to help with supplier selection and implementation.  I loved it so much I stayed another 16 years.  Oxfam now has over 4,000 users in around 75 countries using PeopleSoft FSCM and HR to manage their global finances, logistics, project management and HR functions.


It's been a thrilling place to work - the challenges have been many and great but the people and Oxfam's mission have made it all more than worthwhile.  We have, together as a team, produced a system that has made a real difference to Oxfam's work worldwide.  I'm immensely proud to have been part of that and count it a real privilege to have worked with some truly wonderful people.

But the future holds some new challenges and experiences.  I'm looking forward to joining the team at Cedar Consulting and will, of course, still be part of the Oracle PeopleSoft community.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

PeopleSoft Ping

I've often wondered if the PeopleSoft community can learn anything about optimising or validating our PeopleSoft infrastructure environments by gathering PeopleSoft Ping data from other users.  So, I figured let's gather some data and start a discussion.  I've created a Google Form to gather some basic and anonymous data.  The data gathered is anonymous and will only be used for the purposes of community discussion around optimising infrastructure.

Submit a PSPing Response

PeopleSoft Ping Responses  (view spreadsheet)

Please post questions, ideas and general infrastructure performance and optimisation comments against this blog post.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

UKOUG PeopleSoft Roadshow 31 March 2015

The UKOUG PeopleSoft Roadshow will be returning to London on Tuesday 31 March 2015.  The event is an ideal opportunity to not only gain valuable updates on PeopleSoft but to come face-to-face with other users and see how they use the software. Make sure you're there by booking today!

More information here

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Change Assistant Upgrade Documentation

Two tips from the application upgrade coalface....

 Put the documentation for your upgrade job on the local drive of your upgrade PC.  This may speed up navigating around the upgrade job in Change Assistant.  NOTE: Poor performance may be caused by my anti-virus software and/or remote server speed where the documentation is stored so this may or may not speed things up for everyone.

If you're struggling to read the documentation because the text is too small then just make the following edit to the content.css file located in the documenation folder.  There are a few other edits you could make to the styles in this file but this one is a quick win.

Easier to read after changing the P font size to 16pt 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Tangerine Stylesheet Bug

Swan Style - High Contrast Blue/White Labels
Many of my users have complained about the poor contrast of colours in the 8.53 Tangerine style. The old Swan style had high contrasting white text on blue background and our useability tests and feedback of PeopleSoft 9.2 applications showed that users didn't like the pale "tangerine" text on the pale blue background.

Good news is that this is a bug and is easily fixed.

It wasn't until just before we went live on FSCM 9.2 on tools 8.53 that we discovered there's a bug in the stylesheet classes that controls label font weight in group box, grid and scroll headers.

The scroll, group box and frame headers are all supposed to be BOLD.  You can see the difference in the image above.  On a busy page the bold font gives a much better contrast and makes the page much easier to read and navigate.

Tangerine style in 8.53 alongside 8.54 - Note the BOLD higher contrasting headers

Seems like this is fixed in 8.54 tools but not in any 8.53 patch I know of.  (checked in 8.53.19 but still not fixed).

It's really easy to fix yourself and well worth it.

There are at least 9 style classes that need to be modified (or overriden using a sub-stylesheet if you prefer not to edit the delivered PTSTYLDEF_TANGERINE). These are the ones I've identified but there are almost certainly more (for example pagelet header labels).

For each class set the Font Weight attribute = Bold.


Wednesday, 31 December 2014

PeopleSoft Portal: Introduction to XSL

At the UKOUG Apps 2014 conference in Liverpool I presented on the subject of "PeopleSoft Portal: Things you can do."....  I ran out of time and some of my live demo didn't work...  sorry folks.

One of the subjects we touched on was using XSL (eXtensible StyleSheet Language)  to tranform Pagelet content.  XSL may be a bit of a mystery to some..... so I wanted try and shed a bit of light on it.  I hope you find this helpful.

In the Pagelet Wizard - if you choose Custom as the Display Format then you can edit the XSL used to transform the data source XML (Query, Navigation Collection, etc).

One of the most frequent questions I get asked about this is "are there any tools for creating and editing XSL?".  The short answer to this is "Yes" but, at the end of the day XSL is a programming language and there's only so far tools will take you before you need to start learning the details of the language.

This blog (and maybe others to come) will hopefully get people started on the basics.

Let's first take a look at the XML produced by an example data source.  In this example I'm using a PS Query that's delivered with every PeopleSoft installation - XRFWIN.

  1. Use the Pagelet Wizard to create a new Pagelet with data source type of Query using XRFWIN and select Custom at the Display Format step.
  2. Depending on your PeopleTools release you will have a number of XSL Templates to choose from.  You can create your own in PeopleTools > Portal > Pagelet Wizard > Define XSL.
  3. Copy and past the XML text into a file and save it.
  4. Let's take a look at the structure of this data.  There are 3 main sections to this XML document:
    • HEADER - a single header in
    • DEFINITION - a collection of containing an element for each field in the Query definition.  In our example XRFWIN has only one fieldname.
    • DATA - a collection of elements containing the actual Query results.

  5. Now let's look at the XSL structure.  This is helpfully annotated by PeopleSoft with some useful comments.  I used the XSLtemplate called "Bullet List".  XSL is a mix of HTML and XSL instructions found in tags prefixed with
    • a main XSL template calls three other templates
      • a header template - /queryresult/queryfields
      • a detail rows template - /queryresult/queryrows
      • a footer template - /queryresult/queryproperties
      Bullet List XSL Template (sections have been collapsed in this views)

In working with XML and XSL it's useful to use a good, purpose built editor.  I use Altova Spy but there are other tools available (StylusStudio is the only other one I have some experience of).  If you're serious about working with XSL then it's worth investing in good tools.  Altova Spy has a very useful step through debugger.  Watch the video below for walk through the XRFWIN example.  It really is a great way to learn about XSL.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Forgotten Password Bug

Discovered an issue today in the Forgotten Password functionality in PeopleTools (8.52, 8.53 and 8.54 and probably 8.50)

Symbol characters are used in the random password that is generated and emailand to the end user.  Unfortunately, the open and close chevron ( < and > ) symbols are two of the characters used.

Forgotten Password Email Text is stored in HTML and the new password is merged into this text using a variable name of <<%PASSWORD>>.  So, as you can imagine, any password that contains one of these 2 chevron symbols causes the email text to get corrupted and will either show no password or a shortened password in the delivered email.

The fix to this is as simple as removing these symbols from the array &Array_Special in FUNCLIB_PTSEC.OPRPSWD.FieldFormula SetPasswordArrays() function.