Recently I saw a post in OT Forum that caught my eye https://forums.opentext.com/forums/discussion/comment/935976#Comment_935976 What prompted me to write this is because the OT experts also advised using some other mechanisms (XML WF Extensions and use of WR). Now, normally I like to code as well as any other user in Livelink a.k.a Content Server so why this post is because I remember when OT announced the Item Handler and Item Reference(yes they are different) several years ago I believe when Tammy Jakubowski(now GCI) was the WF Product Manager at OpenText.It was downright confusing but did it work in complicated situation boy it did. So I also asked the same questions why would you need WF Attributes and Form attributes in the workflow because they both do the same thing. But this user kept telling me that Business Workspaces apparently has a WF Step that creates BWS’s and it would only work with WF Attributes and they didn’t want their users to see the WF Interface
I replied with a simple OOB implementation where I used a simple throwaway hardcoded documents inside my WF Attachments map and using two Item Handlers Copied what a user entered in a Form Value to a Category to the throwaway Object and using a second step copied that Category Values onto a WF Attribute.
Over the years in my work with OpenTextLivelink I am fortunate to associate myself with like minds and who like me share their code,goodwill and advice selflessly .I cherish and hold their friendship above all professional accolades I have ever got.Recently I had lunch with Ossie MooreOssie’s LinkedIn it was very short and I would have loved it to last longer as we could talk shop endlessly.Most of what I write in this has bearing to our lunch and he did steer this post. Ossie for people who do not know him is quite a character.Let’s say you had a requirement,most of us would probably settle for a pretty decent code either in oscript,lapi as that was the predominant development methods one had at the time.Not Ossie he would probably write our kind of code and before releasing it would have at least two more better implementations,he would have thought about the user coming through the web,the other interfaces LL explorer and so on.That is the difference.
Let’s look at ECM deployments in major organizations.
X Organization has identified a massive unstructured data problem.X has a new manager on the block who has had experience with a technology vendor.Insert <vendorname> here. This is how most ECM deployments happen a lot of people passionate in some technology who would solutionize the deployment to suit the vendor.Most of them are assisted by Gartner, Forrester those kinds .I started working in OT technology before these rating companies came up with a barometer of wants so I am going to continue with my cynicism.
So after X Organization will roll out a OOB approach ,people are brought in.Naturally if the product is user friendly and easy its use will grow.Simple things like user activity,data growth etc are good ways to identify its usefulness.Now most people would want to send the link of the objects hoping that it won’t break on re-organizing the structure or re parenting as most of document work revolves around.So you may want to invest on something that people have put thought on like a GUID based system(Livelink, DCTM).Frankly I know only Livelink and DCTM very little. I hate Sharepoint (we call it $carepoint) with a passion because the smallest of things are so difficult to get done.Good UI all the world has gone for it anything complex you have to buy or build with an array of .net developers different frameworks the works.It also could be that I have only been programming in that and spending time in LL so over the years the idiosyncracies of builder,CSIDE none of these matter to me now because Oscript really has not changed every much.Oscript is just a huge possibilities language. One of my mentors very famous in OT circles John Simon would joke like this.You have a problem you try solving in Oscript.You will spend about 3 to 4 days on it later to find out that what you need is totally available,no need to kludge just poor documentation that is all.
So if you were eager to get into using livelink to its full extent do these things
Challenge a OT person or a OT solution marketer to what they are offering you. Challenge them extremely hard if it is offered at $$$ a user or so.That is how they make their money on licenses.
Challenge if the pitch is towards Oscript is bad that spoils your chances of upgrade.There’s an element of truth in that.I have seen people hacking their way into core code,weblingo such no nos that shows inexperience and desperation. Oscript is not understanding the creation of a request handler,webnodeaction or eventscripting it is an all round knowledge of the product the passion about the product.You can immediately tell if the programmer knows anything because if they start saying about new subtypes you may want to ask them what prompted them to create a subtype, because many times those people have access to the oscript tutorials and the “Hello World” of oscript introduces them to that.You really want a Oscripter who will follow what OT advises them of doing in that case it is very rarely a bad fit.
Challenge if the pitched solution ends up working only in the webgui what about EC,what about SOAP,what about REST,what about Search
Oscript has years to go if the LL solution is still being used by customers.It can be learned to work wonders for you.The other aspect and full credit to Ossie here is LL software is the most open product much more open than opensource a oscripter can see the entire internals of it so people like me,John,Ossie all have found bugs and we all engage the good OT developers on our finds.Most senior and passionate oscripters continue to do so.There ‘s so much openness and welcoming in the OT programming community,people like David Templeton ,Kyle Swidrowich and a countless amount of good people who have been striving to keep this open and getting communities to try it out for a better product.They have helped me and a lot of others and you can also get in into the action.
You just need the drive and passion to master LL that is all it takes.Well that maybe true for any technology 🙂
BTW this is kind of a cookery show kind where they put the main course in the oven and take another finished one .I did not accomplish any of this in one day it took a lot of homework and trial runs.I read the case studies by the great Rob Coutts many times over.
For sanity we decided to use a new box for CS10.5
Created a CS10.5 system added all the modules that we needed and connected to a dummy database and dummy EFS. Just for kicks we added some that did not exist in 971 like classifications and recman(forward thinking).Rudimentary checks to ascertain base functionality.Note all hot fixes ,patches relevant were also put.
Cloned this server to 3 others for Front Ends and Agents.Just architectural things as after the LL installer creates the services just copy the OTHOME over ,give it distinct names etc.Sometimes if your copies are done with IIS and or any of livelink services running sometime corrupt dll copies end up so make sure you follow proper protocol.In most cases you do not need to run the optional modules installer on your 2nd to n CS servers.Most livelink needed dll’s oscript code will try to push it to windows systems folders on startup every time.
Saved this and copied it as backups.
It is worth verifying the DB type requirements for 10.5 for e,g your 971 DB might have been 11.2.0,2 but Cs10.5 need 126.96.36.199.these are database chores that your DBA should know. Always give lots of oracle memory like SGA etc .OT has a tech article on how it is to be done.
Connected the binary to the prepped up 971 database.one of the first screens was the 971 box for Admin server,changed it to the new box .
Wanted re-starts it is a good sign.One thing I do is since I know the DB Upgrade is done by a single thread I made the threads 8 on it.If you have lots of threads they indirectly add to the Oracle load.I also do my upgrades with debug=2 and wantlogs=true.It is almost impossible to live without BareTail or a good ASCII Editor.
The other threads on it will just produce a warning message that the “upgrade is in progress”.
Once the upgrade starts you should see the thread<nn>.out file issue oscript commands and its corresponding connect<nn>.out doing DB work.Your heart will rejoice if you have them on baretail 🙂 In my case a core upgrade will move my 971 schema(6.0.8) to CS10.5 (6.2.58).If it does that it is a successful upgrade. Times will vary depending on data and content and horsepower of your DB.Do not try to run arithmetic on the numbers does not mean continuous although looking at the db upgrade log one can see the steps.The places it breaks clues OT and even if you know Oscript you can chase a lot f them.In my case it was let’s say a very smooth upgrade.
Since we had optional modules after the core upgrade all optional module schemas were introduced or upgraded.You should see it in bold letters in the pre upgrade page. “Your Content Server schema will Upgrade from <nn> to <nn>”.Classifications module will be introduced,Recman would be introduced(New things), ADN will upgrade from <nn> to <nn> .BTW I had to downgrade A D N to a lower one because the latest and greatest won’t cleanly co operate with the upgrade.You will not notice the difficulty if your database is new.
The reason why OT says to upgrade OPT modules after core upgrade is it is easier for them to pinpoint the failure.
The way livelink code works every time you re-start is it will read Opentext.ini and one of the first modules that loads is the DBWIZAPI .It will first try to ascertain whether core schema is what the binary says its is otherwise it will force a DB Upgrade.Before releasing the software to listen to request on 2099(suggested default),it will enumerate the module section ini to the schema section INI. So if one box had a schema aware module such as form and its INI said 2.0.4 and this box’s form module said 2.0.3 it will trigger the familiar error “You have blah blah in database but blah blah module is lower/higher”.That is the whole reason why experienced people and nowadays OT says get one server(Anchor) done correctly and clone that on other boxes.So whether you install opt modules after or before livelink code always checks this every time you re-start.
The Admin Service left running on any box is no problem.It contains java code to talk to the search server.Also memcached is dependent on Admin Service.I don’t really know what cluster agent does but it is OT’s answer to smart patching.Once you resister a Admin server to the database that is when the box can be used for certain things like augmenting search.
We had to create a search as advised by OT so that items would come out indexed faster.I am always amazed at the search code but unfortunately one cannot see it completely as Oscript just talks to the java code.Perhaps if I had time and code was de compilable( I seriously doubt it,I have a feeling java is talking to C++ compiled code internally,how else would it scale so well).To have people always complain about search ….
I installed all our custom modules created clones of this and called it many different roles and we were pleasantly done
The rest was mainly releasing it to customers to test have their suggestions and voila…
Livelink comes up with a extremely powerful Workflow Engine .At the minimum if you have only installed Livelink OOB you get a decent workflow features.This involves a “business user” to design a logical map that may involve “players” or “roles”.The only criterion is the process needs to be repeatable or it can be plotted in visio or such like.Note Livelink WF came before the wf consortium came up with open standards but it will have almost everything one sees in the standard.
Some key terms-
A WF Map.This is a dtree object identified by a dataid
WF Manager-By default the person who created the original map.Best practices dictate that you assign a proper livelink group as the ‘Master Manager‘.Not to be confused as the livelink team’s manager or a organizational manager.In theory this manager can re-assign steps and repaint the map.One of the few places where the sysadmin profile or the ‘admin’ user won’t cut it so due diligence thinking that at some point a higher up user may be asked to assist.Please do not run maps with <Initiator /> as the Master Manager.It is quite possible these users know only to click and when something breaks nobody can intervene.You can make them do only the “See Details” which is more than enough in many cases.
WF Instance- The process logic that is set in motion when a WF Map is set in motion a.k.a initiated .This is easily identifiable by a clickable link in the WF managers assignments and it will show in GREENthe step and useful info.
Steps-The series of steps that can be assigned to processes and users.This is what apparently the business user can be trained to paint..there are a myriad of steps that OT puts on the palette.
Role Based or Map Based-If you create a map OOB then livelink gives you a map where the forward steps can be done by business programming,like if WF attribute is green then my user is this group.If you change the map to “ROLE” based before initiation the Initiator will have to fill all the people in the workflow.People who use the Transmittals product of livelink can see this in action very clearly.
Attachments Volume- By default the attachments package is permissioned Full Control to“Public Access”very bad idea as when a casual user does search he will see unwanted or secretive results..Always put a good permission bit there.If you do not give participants Add Items up to Delete in that volume you will get crude messages from livelink . Note that the Truth Table implementation is observed by livelink on any kind of Object Creation so to get around problems in workflow OT assigns default full control to PA. Just observe what OT gives and change that to a good group and add all the people in the workflow to that group.
WF Attributes– Helper attributes modelled after category metadata .It allows the business user to route the map.
Forms-Optional Package see NEXT post.
Loop Back– Be extremely careful about this as you can create a infinite wf instance.
Item Reference– You can point to existing object subtypes in livelink like folders /documents etc so in conjunction with Item Handlers you can perform “auto magic”
It is quite possible that a good business user or a livelink user can be trained over a day to understand the process flow/swim lanes.I usually design my maps on a paper.I have a cheat sheet of sorts I maintain and many of the things in this article is based on that. Always check “Verify Map Definition” to understand any problems this may have.
The Item Handler is a predictive step modeled by some placeholder logic( Design Book 3) although which it appear useful it could look frustrating as very little process automation can be done just by it.The workarounds or “auto magic” is usually a human at a prior step.If you use it with XML WF Extensions a lot of “auto magic” can be done with it.
The “XML WF EXtensions” is a optional module that uses the capability of livelink objects to have a XML representation(everybody probably has heard of XML Export/XML Import)
the XML WF Ext uses XML representations of livelink objects and manipulation of those objects by a SAX(or DOM not sure I know LL has both in it ) parser. Usually people get bitten by load balancers and file system permissions.
Like wise -XML Work Flow Interchange.Can send /call Web Services of other systems.
ESign – A specialized workflow that can do electronic signatures prevalent in 21 CFR11 operations.
Perfectly suited for livelink organizations who will not invest in Oscript coding /scared by OT sales/marketing in not writing Oscript understanding of this remarkable product.It was very expensive when I started livelink programming so it is a personal bias as well since I like to look at the map and many times I can get a 1-1 representation to the process.