The tenth installment in our series continues where the ninth left off and takes a comprehensive look into the new Customer Portal Framework. If you missed any of the previous installments in this series you can find them under the CX category at http://blog.evergegroup.com/?cat=56
Customer Portal Framework Version 3
What we will cover in this blog is from the release notes (for part 1 http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=685):
Widget changes—Changes to widgets in Framework Version 3.0 of the Customer Portal include the following.
||YAML information file—A new YAML information file provides information about a widget’s dependencies, requirements, attributes, and URL parameters.
||Widget version management—Widgets also use a versioning system in Framework Version 3.0 to let you adopt the widget features you want at your convenience without requiring you to replace all widgets on your customer portal
||Widget information page—The Customer Portal Administration site provides comprehensive information about each standard and custom widget. Each widget page includes a preview of the widget, including the available version, recent changes, and the pages and templates that use the widget. A documentation page for the widget includes default code, a list of its attributes and their values, the controller class that is used, path information, and URL parameters.
Widget builder—the new widget builder in Framework Version 3.0 helps you create a new widget by extending an existing widget. Then, when functionality or bug fixes are added to the standard widget used to extend the custom widget, the custom widget is also modified to incorporate the enhancement or fix. The widget builder generates custom widget code when you answer a series of questions about the widget you want to create, thereby reducing the amount of custom code you must write yourself.
Dreamweaver support—The Dreamweaver extension that was included in previous Customer Portal frameworks is not included in Framework Version 3.0, although it will continue to be supported if you are migrating from Framework Version 2 to Framework Version 3.0.
Widget Changes: Widget Version Management
Much like framework versioning this too is probably a huge relief to existing install base clients because you can upgrade to the latest and greatest version of individual widgets to take advantage of new features without breaking functionality of other customizations. To find out more about framework versioning read part 1: http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=685.
As with any major migration or changes I strongly suggest you backup your Customer portal widgets and read the migration guide supplied compliments of the Customer Portal development team: http://documentation.custhelp.com/euf/assets/docs/november2012/cp_resources/migration/migration_guide.pdf
Widget Changes: Widget Information Page
This page has been around for some time however it keeps getting more and more useful. Now there is left pane navigation, easier searching and a tab subset to provide information about available versions, widget usage and recent version changes. This is a nice extension of an existing feature for Customer Portal Administrators.
I absolutely love this. Why? Well, one of the most common things I have done with widgets is alter a standard one, sometimes where I was only altering one or two items. Now you can use this tool which I call “the widget wizard” and build an entirely custom widget or extend an existing one.
In this example I am going to extend the Open Login Widget.
Next, after I select the login/OpenLogin widget from the list that appeared as I began typing, I will decide on a name and pick the parent folder.
*Quick Tip: Do not use a hyphen in the name like I did above. It is apparently not an acceptable character for naming. I got stuck for about five minutes trying to figure out why the continue button was not appearing and that was the reason. I thought about removing the above screen shot and not saying anything but I felt like this is something others might do in error as well.
Once you hit the continue button, Section 3 will appear with a series of yes/no questions. Read through each question and depending on your answers some subsections may appear.
Section 4 will appear after hitting continues again and it will contain a long list of the attributes from the existing widget. Here you will be given the opportunity to change default values (change the type i.e. string or Boolean) and set it to required.
Once you have gone about the task of updating the existing attributes you can scroll to the bottom of the page to add a new attribute or continue.
If you choose to Add an Attribute you can choose the type, description, default value and whether it is required just like any of the existing attributes.
Once you are happy with the attributes clicking continue will allow you to add optional additional details like URL parameters or you can then create the widget.
Once you choose to create the last page comes up with a full summary about the widget and links to the generated files, the ability to view code and documentation. Now RightNow CX users with little or no PHP knowledge can make changes to widgets.
From what I understand based on to conversations I had at several developer conferences, it was becoming more and more difficult with each new release of Dreamweaver to keep changing the RightNow extension. Not to mention the fact that it was always slow and buggy. There are many options for editing customer portal and Dreamweaver is just one. I have used Aptana which is free, Visual Studio, CoffeeCup and others to name a few. I admittedly default back to Dreamweaver most of the time because it is what I am most comfortable with unless I want to be nostalgic and login to Linux box and use VI or emacs.
Although it is never good to see a feature depreciated with the changes made in the widget documentation and the widget builder I do not see a lot of tears being shed over this loss.
If you are interested in learning more or have questions about RightNow CX please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read more about this feature in the November 2012 documentation. https://documentation.custhelp.com/euf/assets/docs/november2012/olh/wwhelp/wwhimpl/js/html/wwhelp.htm
eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle RightNow CX and our other business solutions, contact us through our website: http://www.evergegroup.com/contact.php
About the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating RightNow solutions for over five years.