Oracle WebCenter Sites 12c New Features at a Glance
The Early Adopter's Paradox
If you live under a rock or are a hermit and simply haven't heard ... Oracle WebCenter Sites 12c is out! Apologies, since that's a bit too enthusiastic considering it has been out for some time now. Maybe you have heard, but as an early adopter of the latest and greatest software in the past, you've been burned and have sworn off volunteering to be a guinea pig to push that big red upgrade button first. Now, as the seasoned technology professional and/or Technology Manager that you are, you have turned to the tried and true method of ... "let's let the other guy figure IT out first". Well, that other guy you speak of in this case happens to be Function1. Our WebCenter Sites practice has been engaged in several UPGRADE to 12c project(s) from various initial starting points (i.e., versions 7.6, 11gR1, 188.8.131.52.0) to customization levels (yes, let's not forget about those!). You can say that collectively we know a few things at this point and if you are toying with the idea of moving forward with an upgrade, then you should probably contact us via our website, email, a text (no, don't do this), or maybe just maybe even a good ole' fashion phone call (god forbid we make those anymore ... in a high pitched Jim Gaffigan-esque voice ... phone call? ... what's a phone call?)
As other people have done in the past, I'm not going to regurgitate the marketing speak and laundry list of new features put out by Oracle. Yeah, it's pretty darn good so...if you want that go ahead and download this ... it makes for some really good bed time reading IMO ==> X (p.s., this is no way reflects the thoughts and opinions of my boss or Function1 who have all read the document from "cover to cover" six times at least). The features your "real" users are going to give a "hoot" about are generally a focused subset of those found in the "What's New in WebCenter Sites 12c" document. A user is going to be a person that uses any aspect or has to support the product in any shape or form. A "real" user, is a user that's going to be a daily (or almost daily) user of some aspect of the product. This group will generally be fairly large, well-funded, and VERY loud. They're the ones that will tell you if they like or dislike something about WebCenter Sites in a VERY loud collective voice. Not that DBA or security expert stuffed away in a dark room somewhere (or like Milton in the basement with a red Swingline stapler on his desk).
New Features for Real-Life Business Users and/or Content Team Members
This feature is something that content authors have wished (and hoped) for. Admin(s) who want to continue to exercise tight control are going to loathe the beat of the war drum from content contributors to get assigned the "Publisher" role so that they can publish at will from within the Contributor UI. Some clients like to keep a tight publish schedule, in those cases I'm not so sure if the WCS Admins will be opening the flood gates with the new "Publisher" role. This is going to vary from organization to organization but hey, now you got options, eh?
This is the feature that makes Marketers swoon (and open their wallets ... as Oracle has so adeptly identified). In its current incarnation, "it ain't too shabby" BUT it's going to need a little work in my humble opinion. Based on my experience working in a marketing department I think the biggest areas for enhancement of this new feature include: better support for Analytics (other than the Google-y one), and Tag Management and Tokenized Tag Parameter Configuration for popular affiliate marketing vendors. Hey, you can make visual renditions of a Page asset and do the whole fancy splitting traffic-y thing now - OOTB. That's pretty good ... pretty good ... but you don't pay me to be YES man, right?
This is a neat, highly usable addition to the Contributor UI. Make your own free-form tags for Content Assets and they magically appear in the left Nav under "My Tags." The tags that appear there are clickable and clicking one triggers a nice little Lucene search for all assets tagged (with that tag!?!). Super! 'Nuff said.
New Features for Real-Life Nerds
Admin Tree Refresh
gets replaced by this ...
Please forgive me for my child-like enthusiasm (you know the smiley face wasn't engineered into the new UI refresh ... it's just an unintended side-effect). This is kinda great, right? That java applet thing-a-ma-bobber was once the bane of most WCS users existence (actually, it's all users ... I was just trying to be nice.) Now, we can all have a little smile just before logging into WCS instead of trembling in fear as to whether or not we will see the Java Security Update from HEEEELLLLLL (thing-y) ... not to mention the slightly more logical presentation!
Support for Newer Coding Paradigms (MVC/SPA)
Can't say much about this, other than there is now Out-of-the-Box Model View Controller support via wait for wait for it ... um Controllers? This "more modern" approach helps to provide separation of church and state in terms of logic and presentation. To be brutally honest, it's about time. You finally have a clear path to ridding your code base of Angle-hair (pasta) like JSP scriptlets and Site Entries that look like this ==> Common/GoAndFetchDataFromAttributesAndPutItIntoSomeVariablesSoThatIcanWriteSomeUglyLoopsWithABunchofHTMLAroundIt.com. If this element exists in your code base, please step away from the ledge and run ... don't walk ... to your nearest cell or satellite phone and contact us IMMEDIATELY. Help is only a phone call away! I joke, but you'd be surprised how many 11g and now 12c deployments look like 7.6 (under the hood i.e., the code base). The last bit I'm going to mention is that with 12c there is a nice update to the REST API allowing the latest Single Page Application(s) to be a much less painful reality for your organization.
Getting "Stuff" Off of the File System
With 12c, Oracle has does some nifty updates to help us nerds out. Most properties were JSON-ified and can be updated through the UI under the Property Management link in the Admin Tree in the Admin UI. This is pretty awesome though you may still need to bounce the server in some cases (but the UI will tell if you do need to bounce the server! No more guessing. Hoooray!) Lastly, you can now store the entire "shared" directory, which is usually reserved for an NFS, directly in a database via nioconversion.sh (a tool that ships with 12c). There are some trades-off(s) to consider, and if you want to understand if this is right for you ... did I mention already we might be able to help? I forgot; I did, I did.
A Really Prophetic Summary Goes Here
If ya'll wanna see the other new features, I do recommend a once over on the What's New in WCS 12c PDF but if you're like me and reading hurts your head ... click HERE now (and I'll read it to you for a small fee).
Until next time, my fine feathered friends!