Simplify Building Content-Rich Portals – A “Knockout” Cloud Journey with Oracle PaaS

Oracle Content and Experience Cloud service

Transform the customer engagement and digital experience using Oracle Content and Experience Cloud service with content workflow, collaboration using Oracle Process Cloud and seamlessly surface the data from various enterprise applications including SaaS, On-Premise ERP.


Introduction

Heather, as a marketing team lead, works daily on creating lot of collateral and content for upcoming campaigns, workshops. She would start with a draft version of all digital assets like images, view-lets, teasers (quick two minute videos), branding, slide decks etc. Day-to-day she makes lots of changes (edits/revisions) to the collateral and would like to share/review with her supervisor before she finalizes them. Additionally, she wants to be able check how those assets appear on various devices like mobile, tablets and web browsers.

Laura an HR executive would like to announce and quickly get word out to all internal employees about upcoming Holiday Party. With some examples from last year (images, videos etc.). Also as part of recruitment process, she would like to post the current openings (with referral bonus) on an internal portal/website.

The question is, is there a comprehensive, enterprise-wide digital content and experience management platform which can help both Heather and Laura to manage their day-to-day activities efficiently, with easy configurations, controlled access, integrated, and, of course, zero-coding. Can that system be accessed from anywhere through any channel with no disruption? Can that system be available on a need-based subscription model which is flexible enough to turn on/off?

There is. With the Oracle Content and Experience Cloud service, which provides omni-channel digital content management and creating engagement portals with one click of a button right from web browsers.

In this whitepaper we will take you deep into Oracle Content and Experience Cloud features and how easily we can integrate other PaaS offerings like Process Cloud Service (PCS), Integration Cloud Service (ICS) to surface the data from back-end systems and SaaS applications.

Oracle CONTENT and EXperience – a perfect combo

With the rapid increase of content generation across the enterprises, it’s important to understand, not only on how to store and manage the content, but also on how to surface it by creating engagement websites. How easily one can build a website by using relevant content and customize them without much IT help.

Oracle Content and Experience cloud is a perfect combination for any enterprise to achieve omni-channel digital content management and experiences. It’s a cloud-based content hub which can store and manage business documents, transactional content, marketing assets, digital media (photos and videos). Easily configurable share and sync capabilities with enterprise wide social collaboration on the content.

Omni-Channel Content Management helps with full content life-cycle including Custom Properties (Metadata), share, review, conversations, workflow and publishing. Omni-Channel experience supports in providing contextual content on various channels such as mobile devices, tablets and desktops. Oracle Content and Experience cloud provides build tools for anyone to build and customize the contextual websites with ease, while it supports developers with content APIs and SDKs to build and surface the websites on any channel.

OmniChannel Docs

This “Getting Started Oracle Content and Experience Cloud” video will provide a brief overview of all features including on how to use Content Cloud on various devices.

Oracle Experience Cloud, formerly called as Sites Cloud Service (SCS) provides pre-defined themes, templates and components which we can use to build rich engagement websites. We can simply drag-and-drop components, use sample page layouts, site themes to quickly build and publish a site from building blocks.

Site developers can easily wire various components as per their need and quickly preview the site to see how it will render on various screen sizes. The sites builder/editor is what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface and we can publish all changes with one button click.

Sites Cloud also provide various pre-defined components including basic text, title, button etc. and other useful components like media (photos, videos, YouTube etc.) which lets you surface the photos and favorite YouTube videos on the site.

One of the best advantage of having both content and experience together is that site developers can surface the content (documents, digital assets) stored in content cloud by using predefined components like “Folder List”, “File List”, “Document Viewer” and “Document Manager”. These components are very useful in managing the content right from the engagement website. This also helps to expose content to various departments in enterprise with proper access control.

Business Users, LOB owners, Marketing Heads, Sales Reps, Developers, anyone can start creating Sites using Experience cloud in four easy steps:

  1. Choose suitable Template from a list of commonly used (industry standard) templates
  2. We can also create our own templates and import them into Experience cloud, if we wish to.
  3. Provide a name to the site and Experience cloud will create a new site with the Theme (specified in Template), which contains the basic look and feel of the Site and the navigation.
  4. Modify the Site as per your needs i.e., change the color theme, adding more branding, adding Components (images, text, videos etc.)
  5. Experience cloud allow us to develop our own custom components and use them. This helps developers to code most of the Site functionality using KnockoutJS framework (we will discuss more about UI frameworks in next section)
  6. When ready, preview and publish the Site with one button click to make it available for public.

So, now we know the major building blocks in developing a Site using Experience cloud are:

  • Templates
  • Themes
  • Components

Sites Components Dialogue

These are easily, with minimum knowledge on UI frameworks using technologies like HTML, JavaScript, Ajax and REST API’s.

 

B.Y.O.T (Bring Your Own UI Technology)

How can I build my own components? Which technologies do I need to master in? Should I undergo complete training on a single technology?
Answer is No, Oracle Experience cloud makes it simple and easy to develop custom components with almost any UI client-side technology out there. As we know there any many “Single Page Application (SPA) frameworks such as “Knockout JS”, “AngularJS”, “REQUIREJS” and so on so forth.

Out-Of-Box components in Oracle Experience cloud uses KnockoutJS and it is fully supported for any custom component development. It is easy for any UI developer to code custom components using KnockoutJS or any other SPAs.

Sites Components Designtime

A quick glance at the custom components in Oracle Experience Cloud. When we first “Create” a new custom component Sites builder will create all required folders/files.

Two important files in any custom component are:

  • File with “.html” extension (in this example dashboard.html), which contain all UI elements buttons, text fields, tables, charts etc.
  • “render.js”, which contains JavaScript code with data bindings and core logic of calling REST API’s, validations and refreshing UI components etc.

One of the major features of any application is the ability to configure “Trigger Actions”, to perform an action on a trigger (button-click, menu item selected etc.). Oracle Experience cloud caters this capability out-of-box under “Link” tab in component “Settings”.

The below image shows the trigger configuration for a custom component called “Dashboard Component”. Here we are passing “folder_Id” between two components “Dashboard Component” and “Metadata Component.”

Sites Components Triggers

Trigger configuration for a custom component called “Dashboard Component.”

You can get more information and details at KnokoutJS.

 

Give some REST to SOAP

Yes, that’s right! REST is not only just History but it is both current and future.

With so many articles on why we need to use REST over SOAP, we aren’t going to focus on those differences. REST API’s are the key element in communicating between various Oracle PaaS products.

Here are some common scenarios where we use REST API’s specifically in Oracle Content and Experience Cloud:

  • If you wish to programmatically create folders and upload files to Oracle Content Cloud from “Custom Components”
  • Submit / Call an approval process (with in Process Cloud Service(PCS)), on a button click in “Custom Component”
  • Retrieve and Surface the transactional data from your on-prem ERP systems and other cloud based SaaS applications
  • Store and Retrieve the data to and from Oracle DB (on-prem or DBCS) and many more….

The ease of developing and using REST API has taken over the complexity of SOAP. Also, REST allows various data formats (like application/JSON, application/text, application/XML etc.) in which we can send/receive the messages whereas SOAP only knows XML.

REST Arcitecture Diagram

“Custom Components” consume the REST API’s exposed by other services like PCS, ICS and DBCS. ICS has built-in, pre-configured Connectors / Adapters to integrate with down-stream applications like EBS, PeopleSoft (On-Premise) and SaaS apps like Oracle Sales Cloud, Service Cloud etc. With easily configurable mappings in ICS the data can be extracted and exposed as REST API’s out of ICS.

REST uses simple HTTP methods like GET, POST, PUT which are much simpler to understand and develop. REST API’s are light weight and can be parsed much faster compared to traditional XML.

Authentication and Authorization is made much simpler using HTTP Basic/OAuth token based authentication. All the Oracle PaaS cloud services support OAuth and same token can be shared across all cloud services if they are provisioned under same identity domain.

We will publish more details on how to generate OAuth tokens with in “Custom Components” in a future article.

 

Build anywhere – Stitch & Surface on Oracle Sites

So far, we have seen how easily we can develop custom components using Single Page Application (SPA) frameworks. Any Custom Component we create using Oracle Experience Cloud is called “Local Component”.
What if you already have some components developed elsewhere which has piece of functionality that is relevant to surface on Oracle Sites? For example, a simple service request submission form, a student admission application form developed using HTML5 (or other UI frameworks)? Can we use those components and surface them on Oracle Sites without much coding involved?
Yes. Absolutely! Oracle Experience Cloud allows us to configure “Remote Components”, which are developed remotely using supported UI technologies in easily configurable steps. All we need is the URL to access the component and settings URL for any custom display settings.

Register Remote Components

Oracle also offers Application Builder Cloud Service (ABCS), which helps citizen developers, LOB owners, Business Analysts to quickly develop functionally rich UI’s. ABCS is also part of Oracle PaaS offering which is based on JET (JavaScript Extension Toolkit) technology. You can develop any application using ABCS and surface them on Oracle Sites.

Oracle Experience Cloud also has several OOB components to surface the functionality from Content Cloud (File List, Document Manager etc.,) and the functionality from Process Cloud Service (PCS). Any web forms we develop within PCS can be surfaced in Oracle Sites. More on this will be covered in next section.

So, there you go! Choose to build your components anywhere be it with Oracle PaaS or outside we can stitch and surface them on Oracle Experience Cloud.

 

Collaboration and Approvals – You got it!

  • I have created some new collateral, which I want to share and collaborate with my team. How can I do that?
  • I have a service contract in Draft status which need to be reviewed and approved by my manager, how easily I can get it done?
  • I need to review some architecture diagrams and provide my feedback on the document itself. Can this back and forth conversations be automated and tracked?

Sounds like familiar and common requirements of various departments within an enterprise don’t they? Yes. All these are built-in features of Oracle Content Cloud.

Oracle Content Cloud provides “Share” capability for each folder we create. All files and sub-folders created/uploaded under parent folder will inherit the same “Shared” access, just like Windows folder share. We can either add our teammates (with in Org, Cloud users) as “Members” to the folders which we would like to share with them. If we need to share the document with outside parties like vendors, who are not part of the system, Oracle Content cloud allows us to create “Public Links” using which the recipients can view / download the files based on the configured permissions.

Docs Roles

High-level summary of various levels of access control can be configured at each folder level.

Sharing Public Links

Snapshot of sharing and access control with Members, Member Links and Public Links.

For Collaboration on a single document, inline review, annotation requirements, Oracle Content Cloud provides Conversations, which allows different users to review the same document and mark their review comments with visible annotations. This is as easy as posting a Facebook and replying to your friend’s comment.

Conversations

The image shows how social conversions can be effective in content review lifecycle.

The best thing is we can surface all these features on websites we build using Oracle Experience Cloud by using out-of-box components like Document Manager.

For workflow and approval needs, Oracle Process Cloud (PCS) can be leveraged to easily layout simple role based routing and approval steps. Based on real-time requirements the PCS process can be as simple as one step approval or it can be complex, multi-step workflow process. One of the biggest advantages of using PCS is, during approval all the additional attachments can be captured and stored in Oracle Content Cloud, all in one single repository.

In addition, Oracle will be releasing out-of-box components to launch/view web-forms (developed as part of PCS) to kick-start the process right from the websites created and published on Oracle Experience Cloud. Users doesn’t need to switch browser tabs between PCS and Sites.

PCS Components

PCS components within Oracle Experience Cloud (these are still beta – yet to be released by Oracle).

So, it’s a priceless option to have this seamless integration between various PaaS products and wire them all together using Oracle Experience Cloud.

 

Digital Signatures never been this easy

Capturing eSignatures (Digital Signatures) is a very common scenario in content lifecycle especially with legal documents, Contracts etc. There are vendors like HelloSign, DocuSign which are popular in this area for requesting, capturing eSignatures. How about building an interface which can integrate these vendor specific processes with Oracle Content and Experience cloud and make it all a single fabric?

Bingo! That makes life lot easier for capturing digital signatures by embedding vendor-specific UI’s with in our site instead of writing lot of code for integration using REST API’s. All we need is active account with specific vendor which gives us “API Key” to access vendor specific UI’s from Oracle Content and Experience Cloud.

This integration can be done easily with below 3 steps:

  1. Contact the Vendor and get pre-configured “.JSON” file for Oracle Content Cloud Integration along with API Key, Admin Username and Password.
  2. Navigate to “Administration Applications” and click “Add” under “Custom Applications” to upload “.JSON” file from above step.
  3. Provide User Name, Password and API Key in application tenant preferences. Refer to below image for detailed steps.
Hellosign Administration

“HelloSign” integration.

 

HelloSign Options

After completing above steps, navigate to any file uploaded to Oracle Content Cloud, select the file and click on “More”.

“Gather Approval Signatures” will launch “HelloSign” UI in a popup, which lets you add names, emails of the person who needs to provide eSignature.
After a recipient completes the digital signatures within HelloSign Portal, we can click on “Get Signed File”, which retrieves the latest copy of the document with eSignatures from HelloSign and creates it as a new version with in Oracle Content Cloud

Similar process will be applicable for DocuSign as well. Again, all these features will be automatically available and surfaced on the sites/portals created using Oracle Experience Cloud.

 

Conclusion

In a nutshell, we can rapidly build, publish, and manage content-rich portals by leveraging built-in core features of omni-channel content management within Oracle Content and Experience Cloud Service.

Anyone, be it business users, department heads, marketing managers or IT developers can build, configure and customize the websites which can render in any device.

UI developers can choose any Single-Page Application JavaScript frameworks to build their own “Custom Components”. They can also configure “Remote Components”, which are built elsewhere to surface critical functionality.
With REST API capabilities, we can wire it all together and achieve seamless integration between Oracle PaaS products (DOCs, PCS, ICS etc.). Oracle Experience cloud users (site visitors) will see everything together in one site without necessarily knowing the data is pulled from various sources.
Content Collaboration features like “Social Conversations” are very handy to quickly share, review and annotate within the document itself. Conversations matches the look and feel of today’s well known social networking portals like Facebook, Twitter etc.

While we can build content approval workflows with in Process Cloud (simple one-level or complex multi-level routing), Oracle Content and Experience Cloud can also be integrated with “Digital Signature” vendors like HelloSign and DocuSign.

Best of all, Oracle also provides “Desktop Sync” utility to manage digital assets stored in cloud right from local desktops/laptops. This utility also creates plug-ins to most commonly used office tools like MS Outlook, MS Word, MS PowerPoint etc., to pull & push the content to / from the cloud.
Refer to the Oracle’s Getting and installing Desktop and Mobile Apps for Oracle Content and Experience Cloud  video for more information on “Desktop Sync” utility.
Overall, Oracle helps enterprises to transform their business using Oracle Digital Experience cloud products, especially Content and Experience Cloud.

 

About Sofbang

Founded in 2000, Sofbang is a leader in Oracle Fusion Middleware, Mobile & Cloud solutions with clients in the Public, Education, Healthcare and Utilities sectors, as well as the growing enterprise & mid-market commercial space. As an Oracle Platinum partner and former BEA Systems, Inc. partner, Sofbang has over a decade of Oracle Fusion Middleware experience. Sofbang specializes in providing enterprise customers with dynamic middleware solutions, enabling them to create, integrate and run agile, intelligent business applications leveraging the Oracle Fusion Middleware platform. We design solutions with Scalability, Flexibility and Extendibility in mind. We call this concept Designed for Change. Our solutions help organizations reduce costs, increase revenue, enhance end-customer experience, promote accountability and transparency, and improve productivity. Our company was founded with the passion that comes from seeing clients achieve strategic success. Sofbang is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and is minority owned.

 

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Subba Bhamidipati

Experienced professional in Application Development, Middleware, Integrations. As a Solutions Architect at Sofbang, Subba leads the technical development team in both on-prem and Cloud technologies specially Oracle Fusion Middleware and PaaS. Proven expertise in Oracle Digital Experience (DX), Content and Experience Cloud, Process Cloud Service(PCS) along with Integration Cloud Service(ICS) & SOACS. Subba also bagged good product development background as part of Oracle Fusion Applications (SCM) rewrite using OFMW.

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