Oracle RightNow CX Feature Focus: Customer Portal Framework Version 3

The ninth and tenth installment in our series will take a comprehensive look into the new Customer Portal Framework. So much has been changed in version 3 that it earned two spots in the top ten features of 2012. This blog will focus on two of version 3’s major features. 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

From the release notes:

Although your customers may not notice significant changes, the November 2012 release of Oracle RightNow CX includes major changes to the framework of Oracle RightNow Customer Portal Cloud Service (Customer Portal). This new framework is called Framework Version 3.0 and was designed to support dynamic upgrades of your customer support site. The previous framework, referred to in earlier documentation as the November 09 framework, will now be identified as Framework Version 2, and the original Customer Portal released in August 2008 will be referred to as Framework Version 1.

Customer Portal Framework Version 3.0 sets the stage for simplified future migration and reduced impact on the customizations you make to your customer portal. It offers control and flexibility to let you decide what features you want to adopt and when you want to adopt them. The ability to extend standard widgets means that you need to write less custom code, and an updated Customer Portal Administration site clearly identifies the version of your framework and each widget and spells out what has changed from previous versions. Major new features include the following.

New file structure—Framework Version 3.0 offers an intuitive, easy-to-navigate file structure that lets you clearly identify the files you can edit. The main directory of Framework Version 3.0 is called “cp”, and it includes four main folders: core, customer, generated, and logs. Your development work will be done in the customer folder.

Connect PHP API—Framework Version 3.0 is built on Oracle RightNow Connect PHP API Cloud Service (Connect PHP API) and uses data objects from the Connect PHP API rather than internal APIs. Instead of accessing the database directly as in previous Customer Portal frameworks, Framework Version 3.0 provides a managed equivalent to meet your needs. You’ll still be able to access and leverage the Oracle RightNow CX platform to develop custom applications and integrations, including the ability to create, read, update, and delete data through Customer Portal functionality.

PHP namespacing—Framework Version 2 included JavaScript namespacing to prevent naming conflicts between Customer Portal reference implementation files and your custom files. This functionality has been added for PHP in Customer Portal Framework Version 3.0. The two core namespaces are Rightnow and Custom, and they are designated using a backslash (\) notation.

Framework versioning—The new versioning system of the Customer Portal framework lets you upgrade to newer versions of Oracle RightNow CX while leaving your customer portal site untouched because the Customer Portal is versioned independently of the product application. This gives you control to migrate to a new Customer Portal framework when it’s convenient for your schedule rather than being forced to migrate because of your organization’s upgrade to Oracle RightNow CX.

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.

 New File Structure

In reviewing the new file structure I decided that in order to both wrap my own head around it and speak intelligently to other about it, I would develop a matrix to serve as a proverbial cheat sheet until I was comfortable with navigating the new file structure. Now that I have retrained my brain, I find the new structure much more intuitive and cleaner from a usability perspective. It was a much needed revamp of the file structure. I have been using Customer Portal since it was first introduced and used both the old file manager (Classic) as well as the November 07 page set, so I can say with confidence that the evolution has been exponential.

  

Tip: Oracle recommends using Cyberduck for WebDAV access to Customer Portal files. Cyberduck is donationware, and Customer Portal developers appreciate its speed and robust performance on Mac and PC platforms. (I have tried to use Windows built in networking drive mapping to use WebDAV and it is painfully slow, therefore, I would have to agree with this recommendation.

 Framework versioning

This is probably a huge relief to existing install base clients because you can upgrade to the latest and greatest version of CX without having to migrate customer portal as well and worry about whether or not your custom widgets or other customizations will be compatible. Another great thing about this is versioning within the framework itself. What do I mean by this? Selective adoption of changes. Once you do decide you are ready to migrate you can review within the customer portal administrator pages what versions of widgets you are using and decide if you want to upgrade all or only specific ones.

Before you migrate I strongly suggest you 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

If you are interested in learning more or have questions about RightNow CX please contact me at cx@evergegroup.com

Useful Links:

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.

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