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PeopleTools 8.50 and 8.51; the new technical features

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Where my last blog post (PeopleTools 8.51: user experience on the road to a Fusion paradigm) discussed the new tools version from a user experience point of view, this new experience is enabled by some technical changes in PeopleTools. This blog post will discus three technical area's: related content, the Integration Broker and connected queries. First of all there is related content. Related content is extra data shown in a re-sizable frame at the bottom of a component. It is linked to a component or page, based on level 0 key fields. At component level this means that only search keys can be used, but at page level you can use all keys and in PT8.51 you also can use level 1 and 2 fields, or even hidden fields. The fields are linked to a service. This can be another PeopleSoft component where the key fields will be mapped to the keys of the other component. But it can also by the output of a query, OBIEE or even an external web service. The only requirements to relate content is that fields have to be on the page and the content is able to handle those keys. However, there are some things to consider.

  1. Showing external information as related content exposes your keys which are sent with the service call to the external service provider. So you should take care when you are publishing sensitive data.
  2. Content that requires authentication that cannot be solved by the (PeopleSoft) single-sign-on will prompt for credentials or show a login page (based on the way the service is handling authentication). Some services will have trouble to process the keys parsed initially when you are directed to a login page. A refresh of the content will do the trick in most cases.
  3. HTTP request are initiated by the browser of the user, so a user will have to have access to this HTTP source. Alternatively you could build an iScript or a proxy web service to get the data.
  4. All the setup is done without application designer, intended to be configurable by a business analyst. Related content isn't yet a managed object, so migrating related content across environments is done by data mover scripts. This will probably be an improvement for tools 8.52.
I'm curious what uses Oracle will come up with in apps 9.2 for related contend, actually the development team is also curious in which ways related content is put to use and asked to share innovative uses. The next area where there have been some changes is the Integration Broker (IB). The IB has been extended with documents. This looks like a mayor overhaul of XmlDoc, but actually is a totally new managed object for consuming web services. Because it can cope with complex types, simple types, namespaces and attributes, third party integration has become a whole lot simpler. Documents are PIA (PeopleSoft Internet Architecture) managed objects, but can be migrated using the Application Designer. They look like a hierarchical tree and support straight forward structures, but also contain complex structures with nested schema's and different namespaces. Under the hood of the IB there have also been some changes. In PT8.51 the options for load balancing and fail over have improved, so the IB now can be load balanced in three ways.
  1. Gateway load balancing This option has been around since PT8.48, but an option for a remote gateway has been added to share a gateway between multiple instances even when they run on different servers and have different tools versions.
  2. Application server domain load balancing (or jolt load balancing)
 In PT8.50 jolt failover was introduced. This is extended in PT8.51 with load balancing. These options are most of all to support synchronous messaging, since this is processed by the application server. To improve security an application server domain now needs a password, which has to be entered in the gateway configuration page to connect a gateway to a domain.
  3. Pub/sub load balancing 
 The number of [pub/sub handlers] can be increased in PT8.51. By using a construction of master, slave and dynamic slaves, load balancing and failover are combined to get the best of both worlds between performance and guaranteed processing. Pub/sub handlers are only used in asynchronous messaging, so if you have a lot of batch messaging, multiple pub/sub handlers can the solution to an overflowing queue. Keep in mind however, that PeopleSoft ensures ordered processing, so parallel processing only works when there are different queues, or a queue is split up in sub queues.
The last new feature of the Integration Broker worth to mention is an improvement for the FTP handler. It now supports passive mode. In passive mode FTP the client initiates both connections to the server, solving the problem of firewalls filtering the incoming data port connection to the client from the server. The last part with changes in PT8.51 I will mention are the connected queries. This feature is available since PT8.50 to enable reporting over hierarchical data via XML Publisher. The new tools version improved performance by eliminating the dependency on XmlDoc and skipping the temp storage of a csv file for child queries. Also a two new query properties are available. The property ShowFormattedXML can disable the XML formatting of the query output. Most tools don't need the XML indentations to process XML properly, so why use extra CPU and storage to show extra spaces? The property IgnoreRelFldOutput tels if the query should retrieve all related fields over and over again. If you don't need related fields to show up in every child row, this option can also increase performance. All three area's; related content, the new IB features and connected query improvements enable a future with more integration between PeopleSoft and other applications, sharing more live data faster and more efficient. So either PeopleSoft becomes your multi functional, mashed up application gathering all relevant information to do your job, or the PeopleSoft data is published to create such smashups in (for instance) Fusion Applications. Ares Kralendonk, PeopleTools Consultant

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Léon Smiers

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