Why Oscript solutions are not passé

Over the years in my work with OpenText Livelink 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 Moore  Ossie’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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 🙂

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Demise of communities.opentext.com

RIP communities.opentext.com

Years of developer activity retired…. Just like that

How would a developer who does not have access to KB find anything informative?

Is that intentional?

Why wouldn’t  OT give out a fair warning to migrate content for content owners?

Much of code I kept for public consumption was here

So if anybody is looking for that write me I will try to find from local copies

 

 

General Help Series 4- Workflow Maps/Instances

Livelink Workflows for the impatient

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-

  1. A WF Map.This is a dtree object identified by a dataid
  2. 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.
  3. 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 GREEN the step and useful info.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. WF Attributes– Helper attributes modelled after category metadata .It allows the business user to route the map.
  8. Forms-Optional Package see NEXT post.
  9. Loop Back– Be extremely careful about this as you can create a infinite wf instance.
  10. 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.

OT Workflow Design 1 and Design 2 is a must read if you are doing anything with workflows.it also has decent interface methods for web services  as well

Event Scripts Debugging

 

I LOST ALL CONTENT WHICH WAS STORED IN COMMUNITIES.OPENTEXT.COM.IF YOU ARE A STARTER READING THIS AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE ORIGINAL CONTENT DEPENDING ON TIME I HAVE I CAN SEND YOU SNIPPETS.LEAVE A COMMENT TO SUCH EFFECT.

Getting Old.One of the most productive ways one uses Oscript is to create Event scripts in livelink workflow.

Workflows in livelink are perhaps the most easy ways to impress your clients and a lot of partners and ecosystems are built on top of that.Event scripting is taught or learned by one who has been introduced in livelink.But in a nut shell if you know how to paint a livelink workflow and thought of somethings like,how I wish OT gave me code to do this small thing which I am trying to do in a “kludge”. You may have noticed the “kludge” with how one uses XML WF Extensions ,to get to a document in the attachments area and do something with it.So a XML WFExt map looks very weird there will be a Export step,modify step for anything/ everything you want with it kind of very silly when you look at at the map.Fortunately when I was learning this XMLWfExt was high priced so we did not get to use it,hence we had to do it via event scripting. Once you get hooked into it man are you gonna love it. WR getting to attachments is also another inefficient way to do your stuff but the standard by line is oscript can break your investment.But when anybody wants anything done they would go to OT or Vendors who would you guessed it use Oscript to provide the magic.There is nothing more untruthful than this . Oscript when learned and done the correct way will survive years.To basically make a point I am going to attempt to see if a eventscript I wrote on 9.1 Sp3(circa 2003) can be made to work in 9.7.1(2013).I will even try to make it work in CS10 ,but then I will have to spin up a 2008 VM and so on.

Task At Hand:WF is initiated with a custom title made up of attributes, strings etc. The WF has four forms loaded into them and the template has a label and a field called TITLE  My job is to take the title and replace it on the form fields. Seems pretty  easy to do.

See My Map-10-24-2013 4-26-10 PM

My template looks like this and I tried not to write code it does not work when initiating the workflow

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Ok so as most of developers do I put a break in that script with just a echo statement to start doing my work so that I can see the variables etc. so as most new people will face I get this

3

and more importantly the debugger my task info is an ERROR.Without which I cannot proceed.I say this after 10 years because now I know how to do this.I did not at that time and so many of you will also go thru this.

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So what do you do.After pondering for a while I resignedly said let me put it in another step and tell the user that it is a livelink limitation you will get an extra step in your workflow so click it to run the event script

so here’s my experience when I put the event script on the next step

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Now we still have a error but that is actually joyous because we can now start debugging

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But look at the TaskInfo variable now it has what we are looking for and trying to debug all the rest of the script

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I managed to figure out the rest with echos etc and finished the script

Now HERES WHAT THE UNBELIEVABLE PART WAS .I JUST EXPERIMENTED PUTTING IT BACK TO HOW I WANTED , TO THE START PLACE AND IT WORKED

Since the project was a go I was very overjoyed.Later as I started reading articles by Jeff Lang,a great guy,who incidentally wrote livelink workflow he kind of explained the C++ firing and so on.We are friends and he has helped me and many other people when we got into a bind.I loved a post where he kind of admonished the developers who wrote XMLWFEXT….:(

See his post in 2007 I wish I had asked him in 2003 or learned it the proper way 🙂

In continuation here’s what you will definitely succeed start small,take baby steps and try some of these best practices

  1. Event scripts can be debugged only if the work is committed in the database,means it has to initiate.What I mean is basically in WWORK the row is available.what looks as a “chicken & egg” situation may only be in development and really not in the real wf operation as I found by trial and error.Nowadays there is the IH step which you can put and assign it as a scheduled time.At the time I was doing this I did not have the liberty of such a step.
  2. Do not chain event scripts into the start step,milestone that kind it makes debugging difficult.Start to a milestone these are auto done steps.Milestones later in the map should not have problems.
  3. Do not have many things that a IH will do.Break it into manageable pieces.You will be grateful you did.

See where i posted this 

A really bad WF map made up of XMLWFEXT,WR,eSIGN etc the reason why the “kludge” is arrived is because of the designer not resorting to event script programming.Nor is the logic very sound.Stay away form those kinds.A business user should understand the wf map that is what the process is designed to support.Whenever I design a map I give the business user a standard swim lane diagram I find in the web.9 times out of 10 the map becomes much better that way.I also encourage my users to paint and change maps so it does not become a specialized livelink job.

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