Javascript escape() and C#

Recently, I needed to transmute a Web form into Windows form for a client. There was a subtle issue involving parameters to a SQL stored proc; the stored proc returned matches and near matches to the input values. The return values were missing special characters like ampersand (&).

I kept looking at the output routine trying to figure out where the data was getting cooked. I walked back up the execution chain, checking the inputs until I found a call to escape() in the JavaScript on the original web form.
The solution was to import the Microsoft.JScript assembly and call the Microsoft.JScript.GlobalObject.escape() method.

Another good day at ImageSource, Inc.

Adventures with IPM 11g continued (Part 2)

I thought it would be simple. Take the very first example from the Oracle examples for IPM 11g, compile it, and start adding my own code. This is my standard way to learn a new API (and probably yours, too). Start with the examples and keep adding functions to exercise features.

Well, I followed the instructions provided with the example programs (basically copy down some Jar files and put them on your classpath), and while the program compiles fine, I get a NoClassDefFoundError, which is common enough in Java when you use dynamic loading (Class.forName was something I used quite a bit in the old days).

However, the class it can;t find is weblogic.xml.jaxp.RegistryParser which should be in one of the Weblogic jar files; but I cannot find it. Oracle tech support also can’t locate it. I am waiting to hear back from their 2nd line support. Is it really that hard?

Anybody else out there used the examples?



Adventures with Oracle IPM 11g (part 1)

Part 1

Oracle starting shipping its latest IPM product, 11g earlier this quarter. As a company, ImageSource has been working as a partner with Oracle on this next step in their ECM evolution. I, personally, am a little late to the 11g game, so I will be sharing with you my impressions as a relative newcomer to the 11g world.

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LiquidOffice and Printing PDFs Using JavaScript

I recently helped a client work through a particularly tricky issue with a Liquid Office PDF form.  Normally a form is completed by an end user, possibly processed through a workflow and  finally released into an EDMS system with the help of a Connect Agent (for instance, ImageSource’s ILINX Connect for eForms product).  However in this case, the form is simply used for printing.

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Distributed Capture & Document Capture

Distributed Capture & Document Capture

Capture is only a part of the ECM universe, but a crucial part nonetheless. Once a document is captured into an Enterprise Content Management system, it must be stored, perhaps put into a workflow process, archived, and made available for retrieval. Retrieval is in many ways the main thrust of an ECM system (no point putting it in there if you can’t ever see it again); retrieval is dependent on the index values associated it with it, which brings us back to capture.

Capture is the process of getting documents (and their data) into the system. Distributed Capture is the mechanism by which documents from a variety of locations (near and far) enter the system. The easiest way to do this is to utilize the file system. When different offices (or locations — work from home, anyone?) of a company are on the same network, specific locations on the shared file system can be designated for various purposes. Different directories can be used to input different kinds of documents.

I thought we were going to be paperless by now

This type of taxonomy works okay for existing electronic documents (Word files, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc); but what about hard-copy? The seemingly ubiquitous paper which exists in our so-called paperless office? Well, it needs to be scanned in. You want documents classified in a consistent manner, and the metadata (index values and other interesting info about the document) as accurate and as consistent as possible.

Consistency is key. When setting up a company-wide ECM system, it is a a key success indicator that everybody to follow the same set of procedures and guidelines involved in getting documents into the system. This can be accomplished by having a distributed capture system available.

The company I work for makes and sells a distributed capture system today. As we go through our roadmap discussions for where we want to take the product to solve customers’ future problems, we developers have have to grapple with some fundamental issues, mainly, what is the best technology to use as a platform.

It’s easy to imagine using the web to provide distributed document capture throughout your enterprise. You have centrally managed web servers. Everyone has a web browser on their computer (and cell phone, for that matter). In fact, anyone who’s ever attached a document using an html-based email program has already exercised the base technology necessary for a distributed capture system. One key advantage of Distributed Capture is that you get rid of paper at the source; take a moment to think about the implications of that. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

What else is needed…
There are two main improvements to simply uploading a document by way of a web page. One is the acquisition of the paper document, the other is the user-experience and business process to build into the hosting program. I’ll go into the physical acquisition in a later post, but the user-experience of a distributed capture system has to provide two things to be successful. It must be Dead Simple to Use and it must provide the functionality necessary to get good data into the system.

Our checking with users shows again and again that a single button is an attractive interface, with more functionality exposed as needed. One key question developers raise is what technology to build the interface in?

Technology Pros Cons
HTML Standards compliant, supported by all browsers. Primarily a static user interface. AJAX can add some Zing to the interface, but is problematical in certain situations (back-button, anybody?)
Flash Ubiquitous; Flash player in something like 90% of all browsers. Began life as an animation scripting language, although ActionScript 3.0 is more sophisticated. IDE support is poor. Hard to get my head wrapped around the timeline model.
Silverlight Microsoft integration and toolset. Microsoft has an army of developers working on tools and technologies; big changes in how Microsoft handles internet computing are emerging. Current market adoption is a little slow. Microsoft talks the big talk about cross-platform now, but has a history of embracing, extending, then co-opting technology (in my opinion)
JavaFX Ubiquitous. Many very good VM’s out there. Java itself is well suited to backend, server-side development. UI is not Java’s strong-suit; AWT ring a bell?
Platform Specific Code Leverage native functionality, look and feel. Lots of code bases to implement and maintain. Cross-platform toolkits and libraries tend to dumb-down the functionality to the lowest-common denominator.

I’m sure anybody reading this has ideas of their own about the pros and cons of the platforms listed out, and perhaps other ideas to add to the list. I welcome your comments.

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A Good UI Goes a Long Way

From the model, view, control architecture of programming, the model and control aspects are the undoubtedly the most important.   Without a solid back-end code base, an application might as well not exist.  However, from an end user perspective, the view can make  all of the difference.  After all, that is always their first impression of the application.

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One API To Rule Them All!

I have spent the last six years customizing, integrating and extending a menagerie of different ECM systems.   Each system has it’s own features, drawbacks, pitfalls and of course, APIs.  The APIs for the systems I work with come in all sorts of flavors; COM, .NET, Java and Web Services to name a few.  Every once in a while I ask myself, would it be possible to write a single library that encompasses all of these ECM systems, or at least, the most common ones?

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