Your One-Stop Shop For All of the New
Features in Oracle WebCenter Sites 12c
WebCenter Sites 12c has just shipped with plenty of new features making it worth the wait. Long awaited changes like A/B Testing and an MVC framework have been included in this release. Oracle has also included a new analytics engine replacing the previous implementation adding improved features and reporting. Visitor Services have been extended adding support for additional external sources, implementing customer sources, and the ability to merge data from multiple sources to build user profiles. This update has provided numerous new features to make the new WebCenter Sites experience easier than ever.
Looking to get A/B Marketing Test Data out of WebCenter Sites in the past has generally resulted in homegrown or custom solutions which need constant updates as FatWire/WebCenter Sites has grown. In the 12.2.1 release, Sites now includes an in-context A/B Testing extension which allows marketers to both author tests directly within the application as well as apply full controls to those tests – including starting and stopping the tests, and standards for qualification of success.
Insights is a new analytics tool that integrates with Endeca Information Discovery (EID) Studio to provide near real-time analytics about your pages and specific assets. This new system replaces the original analytics system which was custom made for the product.
Using Insights allows developers to more easily set up and customize reports about each website. The system comes with several options for configuring and organizing the data. Analytics data can then be queried later and viewed in real time in the Contributor Interface. Insights also provides the capability of integrating with existing analytics providers such as Omniture or Google.
WebCenter Sites now ships with new easy to set up authentication methods. The system provides a small wizard for properly configuring WebCenter Sites to read from the external source. Administrators have the ability to set up multiple authentication sources if required. The following data sources are available in this release:
- Oracle Access Manager
- Oracle Access Manager Mobile & Social
- Active Directory
Oracle has provided tools to allow clients to better integrate with external sources to more quickly build a targeted user experience. A user can create an aggregation template to pull and map different information from different sources. This data can later be used by Engage.
This predominantly works via REST calls between the visitor services and WebCenter Sites. A user needs to set up the aggregation profile to read from the system of their choice.
The following are the currently supported applications for profile aggregation:
- Oracle Access Manager
- Active Directory
Content Targeting with Engage
Engage can work with OAM, LDAP and Custom tools to read existing user profiles and map them to segments so that the system can quickly start dispensing targeted information to its users. This is accomplished through aggregation templates. The templates are used by the system to read through specific data provided by OAM or LDAP to learn about the user.
This information can also be stored in managed cookies so a profile does not have to be rebuilt each time a user returns to a website.
Mobility Image Optimization
This is a new filter for WebCenter Sites. It allows users to specify a target image size, the image dimensions, and a target file size for mobile devices. Users can also create their own custom image optimization classes based off the WCS implementation.
For years WebCenter Sites has relied on tag libraries and scriptlets to code templates to display assets. This has made coding templates the most difficult part of using WebCenter Sites. Implementing all of the business logic as well as the display code would have to be written into every template. This made writing and maintaining the templates a nightmare. However, with the release of WebCenter Sites 12c Oracle has provided two new options for displaying your assets.
A brand new MVC Framework has been written to help organize and clean up all those tags and scriptlets required in prior version of the application. Like most standard MVC frameworks all of the business logic has been moved off the template and into a back end controller implemented using Groovy. This allows the Sites Template JSP to be used to rendering the display logic using the data provided by the controller. This new framework has also been written to work with JSTL and EL, which reduces the learning curve for new developers
WebCenter Sites 12c also comes with and updated REST API. This API has been designed to return JSON for the assets in the system. This will allow businesses to use client-side rendering instead of the built in server side rendering. The REST API can gather and aggregate just as much data as the server-side API. While there appears to be a bit of a learning curve for figuring out the new API, it does allow for building external applications just as well as the Java API.
Data Access APIs
Oracle has also gone the extra mile to make coding your controllers as easy as possible. The BaseController class, which every controller extends, has a large set of tools already built into the class. This way writing a simple controller to look up an asset does not take up a lot of time or code. Even complicated functions like looking up the site navigation or returning the results of a search have been simplified to keep your controller code clean. The new Java API will look up the asset data and generate links to each of the assets which can then be added to an easy to read map. The map is easily accessible within the Template JSP, making it easy to access the data provided by the controller. This will leave more time for developers to build the business logic for the website.
Developer Tools Eclipse Plug-in
Oracle has updated the Eclipse Plug-in adding two new views. A view for templates which will list out all the templates based on how they are viewed ( desktop, mobile, etc). There is also a view for controllers that will tap into the controller view in the Admin Interface. Oracle has also updated the wizard buttons to be more unique and distinct, making the functionality easier to use.
Developer Sample Site
The developer sample sites have been updated in this release and contain examples for using both the MVC framework and the REST API.
A few changes have been made to the Sites Admin Interface to improve the user experience and provide some new tools.
Admin Tree Updates
Oracle has revamped the left side Admin tree replacing the Java Applet with a web based solution to improve user usability. This approach should eliminate the web browser security issues that were encountered in previous versions when using the Admin Interface.
Property Management Tool
A new property management tool has been added to the Admin tree, allowing an administrator to manage the configuration properties from the web interface. The configuration files are now stored in JSON format instead of the previous properties file format.
Command line tools have been provided to allow the configuration properties to be imported or exported in a properties file format. A big advantage for this tool is exporting the configuration, editing the properties file and then importing the changes back into WCS, allowing multiple configuration properties to be updated at once.
Enterprise Manager Support
Oracle has added support for administrating and monitoring WebCenter Sites, Insights, and Visitor Services within Enterprise Manager. You can now perform the following from Enterprise Manager for WebCenter Sites and components.
- Start / Stop Instances
- View the following status information:
- Current State
- Configure and View Logs
- Monitoring Performance Metrics
NIO Based File System
The WebCenter Sites shared files can now be stored on either a disk based file system (default) or in an Oracle Database. Storing the shared files within a database is new for 12c. Using a database to store the shared files will help when setting up high availability environments because all servers within the environment can access the shared files from a common database. Backups and restorations are simplified also because the database is the only system that needs to be backed up. Previously, the database and the disk based file system had to be backed up at the same time, which could lead to data integrity issues.
Oracle has added WebCenter Sites to the Universal Installer to simplify the installation process. Using the Universal Installer automates many steps that had to be manually performed before, therefore improving the installation process and eliminating issues that could crop up with multiple manual steps. Once installation as completed, a web-based configuration tool is now used to perform the post-installation tasks.
Oracle has added support for the Oracle Platform Security Services (OPSS) credential store. The credential store provides the ability for programs to create, maintain and retrieve encryption keys from a centralized repository. This simplifies sharing encryption keys across servers within an environment (e.g., clustered servers) or for applications that communicate with each other and need the ability to encrypt / decrypt that information for security reasons.
Within WebCenter Sites, the encryptions keys are used for encrypting passwords and sharing of data across the network with other applications. Using OPSS with WCS would simplify maintaining the encryption keys going forward.
WebCenter Sites now uses Oracle Diagnostic Logging (ODL) by default for logging within the application, replacing the previous Log4j implementation. Moving to ODL provides a common logging format that conforms to an Oracle standard that is shared across multiple Oracle applications. By using a common format, log files can be merged together from multiple applications to help diagnose issues within an environment.
Within WCS (or EM), an administrator has the ability to view the ODL configuration, modify the logging levels and add additional loggers at runtime. Any changes made at runtime will not be maintained across server restarts, but can be added to the logging configuration if they should be retained going forward.
Regular contributors can now be assigned the role “Publisher”. This will enable them to publish assets and view the publishing console via the Contributor interface. In the past only people who had access to the admin interface could run publishes.
Inherited Attributes Tab
Oracle has added a new tab to the contributor interface that displays all the values that have been inherited from a parent asset. In the past it was assumed that people knew what was being inherited from the parents.
Right-to-Left (RTL) Support
Administrators now have the option to configure the interface to support a Right-to-Left interface style for languages that are displayed that manner.
In the contributor interface users now have the option to organize their assets with “tags”. A user can create a tag and apply it to an asset. From there it will be saved to their “My Work” tree and they will be able to search for assets by tag.
Oracle has added multiple accessibility features based on the Oracle Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. The new features can be configured for the Contributor Interface in this release. The following features are available:
- Screen Reader Support
- Customizable Keyboard Shortcuts including Seamless Keyboard-Based Navigation
- High-Contrast Mode
Upgrades are not currently supported from 11g to 12c. The next bundle patch for WebCenter Sites will include an upgrade path.
XMLPost CLI Support
XMLPost can now accept user credentials from the command-line instead of having to read them from the ini file. This makes the use of XMLPost more secure by removing the need to store plain text usernames and passwords in a configuration file.
WebCenter Sites can now support IPv6. It can also perform hybrid IPv6/IPv4 operations.
The following features have been removed from WebCenter Sites 12c
- WebCenter Sites Gadgets and Gadget Server
- WebCenter Sites Native Authentication in Community/Gadgets
Allowed Sites to use the native authentication for gadgets and community server
- WebCenter Sites Analytics 2.5
A home grown Java based analytics solution for WebCenter Sites. This has been replaced with the new Insights Analytics implementation.
- WebCenter Sites Content Integration Platform – EMC Documentum
Allowed content to be published from File Systems to WebCenter Sites
- WebCenter Sites Content Integration Platform – File Systems
Allowed content to be published from File Systems to WebCenter Sites
- WebCenter Sites Content Integration Platform – Sharepoint
Allowed content to be published from SharePoint to WebCenter Sites
- WebCenter Sites Janrain Integration
Janrain provided social integration functionality
- WebCenter Sites Netomat Mobility Server
Previous WebCenter Sites Mobility Server implementation that has been replaced with the new mobility functionality
- SOAP-based web services
Web Services based implementation for accessing the Java APIs that has been replaced by the new REST services
- Page Debugger
Debug Servlet that was used to assist in debugging XML code.
- Sites Desktop
A Microsoft Word plugin that allowed contributors to contribute assets solely through Word.
- Sites DocLink
A tool that allowed Windows users to connect to WebCenter Sites through Windows Explorer and mass upload assets through dragging and dropping them into folders that were representative of the parent child asset model.