Earlier this month ImageSource hosted our annual ECM conference Nexus. I had the chance to meet with many of our customers and have some really great conversations. Many of these folks are running IPM 10g as a core component of their enterprise and since that product is being end of life’d they are taking a long hard look at their installations. Everyone wanted to know what options they had and to talk about the best way for them to move forward. The 11g version of IPM was frequently a core topic of conversation and everybody wanted to hear how to get from here to there.
A Look Back
Oracle IPM 11g is the latest version of the venerable Image and Process Management product but the product has a long history. IPM was developed by Optika in the late 90s with the name eMedia as a workflow enabled replacement for an imaging solution named FilePower. The eMedia brand was phased out at version 2.0 and replaced with the Acorde name. We still have some clients who are successfully running Acorde installations to this day.
Optika was bought out by a company called Stellent and the product went through another rebranding phase this time as Imaging and Business Process Management (IBPM). It was at this time the version was bumped up from Acorde 4.0 to Stellent IBPM 7.5 to bring the product in line with Stellent’s overall product versioning.
Finally Oracle buys Stellent and brings the Stellent Content Server and IBPM products under their umbrella. Content Server turns into Universal Content Management and IBPM turns into Oracle Image and Process Management 10gR3.
So we’ve finally arrived at IPM. A key thing to remember that during this period of development and rebranding is that the product remained essentially the same. It operated on the same principles and was architected in the same manner. Not to say there weren’t improvements between eMedia 1.0 and IPM 10gR3 but these improvements embodied natural evolution of the product.
This is true no longer; IPM 11g has changed the game.
Now I know that SiteStudio 10gR4 is hardly brand new but for my own work I’m really starting to dig into it. We’re running a version of Oracle UCM here at ImageSource that, well, not to put too fine a point on it, is getting a bit long in the tooth. So, in order for me to play around with it, I ended up installing Oracle UCM 10gR3 on a development system. I got to say that playing with all the new goodies is pushing getting our production system updated much higher up on my personal priority list!
There are so many new features that SiteStudio 10gR4 brings to the table that to go over them all in detail would take more time than I can spare. With that in mind I’m going to focus on a new feature that really excites me: External Application Integration.
Oracle has provided us two brand spanking new services in this latest release: the WCM_PLACEHOLDER service, and the WCM_BEGIN_EDIT_SESSION service. Now, with names like that I can forgive you if you are wondering where the sexiness is located. Let me assure you, it’s in there in spades.
WCM_PLACEHOLDER lets any external application you can think of, be it a custom thick-client, a web portal, or a mashup, get at any piece of content stored in UCM. Wow! Not only that but you can specify a rendering template (also stored in UCM) to format the data that’s returned. Double Wow! So let’s say that you are creating a web portal and want to pull out, say, a word document that happens to contain a press release so you can extol the new virtues of Product 2.0 on the portal page. With WCM_PLACEHOLDER you could load a link like the following using a standard HTTPRequest on the portal page:
And get a fully rendered HTML fragment returned to you. Even though it was a Word document, since we’re pulling it from UCM and using a region template that uses the DynamicConverter to convert that document into HTML, we don’t have to worry about it. Because this is all done over HTTP we can leverage all the powerful AJAX methods that really are what modern website programming is all about.
You might be saying at this point “Okay, getting HTML back is okay I guess, but man, I really wish I could just get it in some easier format to work with it just as data and let my custom application do what I want with it.” Luckily, WCM_PLACEHOLDER still has us covered. Continue reading