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05 May 2017

The Compleat Idiot's Guide to PBCS No. 21 -- Change is the only constant

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

I use a lot of Oracle EPM products:  Essbase (all the time), Planning (some of the time), Essbase Cloud (more and more of the time), PBCS (some of the time), FDMEE (never of the time but I need to do more (some?) of it), HFM (even looking at the export file gives me the hives) etc., etc., etc.  Does this make me an expert?  A generalist?  A dilettante?  Jack of all trades, master of none?  You decide as I certainly can’t.

That’s a lot of products, regardless.

Do I need to relearn them every six months?  Nope.  EAS is EAS is EAS world without end or at least since 2005-ish.  Good, bad, or indifferent (although you’d have to be willfully deaf not to know about the direction Oracle is taking wrt on-premises EPM), the UI has stayed the same.

If a static tool is a dead one, I fear that on-premises is at least in God’s waiting room.

Nothing’s Gonna Change

Don’t believe me?  Cast your eyes downwards.

9.3.1

Did I see this first in (I think) 2006?  Is that possible?  Probably.

11.1.1.3

It’s pretty much the same with that stupid ship’s wheel – Wheel of a ship = navigator which is not nearly as clever as someone in Hyperion’s product management group thought it was.  Can you even see it?  I just thought of it as a poor man’s Start menu.

11.1.2.3, 11.1.2.3.500, and 11.1.2.4

Now things are looking a bit more modern.  NB – This may actually have changed in 11.1.2.2 but I never implemented that release so I just don’t remember.  In any case, there is not much (none, actually) functionality change and just a tweak of the colors.

AFAIK, only the colors have changed.  And oh yeah, it works much better in Firefox than it does in IE, a 180 degree change.  Gah, I hate IE so that’s a good thing.

Same as it (n)Ever Was

In light of Oracle’s channeling of Patton channeling (mistakenly apparently) Frederick The Great (What, you come to this blog for just EPM geekiness?) when it comes to Cloud, Cloud, Cloud, Oracle’s motto is L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.   And what that means is that the UI (and quite a bit of the rest of the toolset) changes.  In the example I’m going to give below, I hadn’t seriously looked at PBCS’ UI in about seven months and upon return was…confused.

The first set of screenshots are from approximately a year ago (so early 2016) that I used for a Kscope presentation.  There’s no other way (well, I guess if you work at Oracle and can get someone to cough up an old VM) to see what PBCS used to look like other than someone else’s screenshots.  And no, I won’t be able to (and don’t want to) examine each and every change.  

Instead I’ll focus on three use cases:  application management, inbox/outbox, running a job

LCM

Old

Not just old, Workspace old.  Yes, big icons, but Workspace all the way after that.  Workspace was the to access Application Management aka LCM.

As noted, there was no way to do this in the Simplified User Interface or as Jason Jones noted, the Candy Crush UI.  What do we like:  SUI or CCUI?  You decide.

This is typical Workspace design:  it looks like Windows Explorer and there’s an awful lot of information that way.  I actually prefer this approach as busy as it looks.  It’s a PC/Mac paradigm, not an iPhone/iPad interface.

Yeah, it’s hard to read.

But, given that I like to keep my Windows 7 looking as close as I can to Windows NT 4.0 that shouldn’t be all that surprising.

And yes, a screenshot of my desktop while writing this post is a bit of an Infinity Mirror.

Things Change

Remember Workspace?  Note that Workspace is gone and it ain’t never coming back.

Now go either to the pretty buttons to get to Migration:

Or use the navigator.  Yes, it’s back.  That unnamed and unknown product manager has had his revenge.  What’s nice (I am capable of a very small amount of grace) about the new navigator is that I can access everything from anywhere.  Now I like the concept of a navigator.  I still don’t miss the graphic.

Once into Migration aka used-to-be-Application Management-aka-used-to-be-LCM the UI is a lot easier to read but has way less information per screen.

But oh yeah, prettier.

In-N-Out with the old inbox

What a difference a year makes

What about changes between versions of the SUI?  

Note again how this version of the Navigator (which doesn’t have a link to Application Management):

Differs from today’s Navigator:

Back to 2016:  Navigator?  Wassthat?  Nope, we go to the Console to get at the Inbox via the Application screen.  NB – Today PBCS doesn’t have a Console.

Now we’re at the Inbox/Outbox Explorer.

Upload that file from your local box.  Yes, I’d script the whole thing but I am reviewing the UI.

New Explorer Revue

That was then, but as noted there is no longer a Console.  How then do we get to the Inbox/Outbox Explorer?  

Either through the front page’s Overview…

Or via Navigator’s Application/Overview link.  Choice is good.

It isn’t much of a change, but the Overview, Cubes, Dimensions, and Activity Reports are no longer on the side but are now tabs on the top of the Application pane are written out instead of icons.  These are minor differences but can be a bit confusing after a long absence.

The Explorer looks much the same as before.

Get a job

The UI of the past

Here we back to the beginning of 2016.  Schedule the job with a run-it-right-now property via the sadly-no-longer-with-us Console.  Click on the calendar icon (second from the top) on the left hand side and then “Schedule Jobs”.

Run it now, now, now.

Pick the job.

Confirm that it’s to be run.

And here it is a-runnin’.

Meet the new boss, same as the old one.

In 2017, go to the Navigator and then pick Jobs.

Getting into the Scheduler is a bit of a different path.

But once in, the scheduler looks and acts the same.

So no real change for the rest of the process.

Yup, it’s the same.

Whew, so at least one bit that’s the same.  For now.

Planned obsolescence

Talk about perishable goods.  I’ve documented the change between a fraction of PBCS’s administrative UI in 2016 and 2017.  I like to pretend that while I’m not writing for the ages, at least my posts are good for a year or two.  Given what I’ve shown you, that isn’t likely.

My whining aside, why belabor all of this?  Simply that your skills, skills that could once be mastered and then left on the figurative shelf, are going to go stale.  Stale means obsolescent, and obsolescence  means unemployment.  It’s always been this way but we’ve had time to adjust during that gap from 11.1.1.3 to 11.1.2.4.  No longer.

And there are a lot of changes across far more than the UI.  A lot and something that you’re not all that likely to keep up.  

So what to do?  RTM.  

Oracle and their documentation team very kindly (perhaps they take pity upon us?) provide a complete (compleat?) list of all of the changes from 2015 through the present month by month.  A feature changes?  It’s there.  But wait, you get more:  readmes, documentation links, and even videos.  I know I write a lot about Oracle’s documentation (eh, I write this blog, such as it is, books, presentations, etc. so why wouldn’t I be in favor of documentation?) but my point here is that they spend lots of $,¥, €, and £ to make this all happen.  And they need to ‘cos the product changes all the time; the UI is a minor component of the constant change of the Cloud.

PBCS and EPM are but a subset of the other cloud products Oracle has on offer.  Gentle Reader, I encourage you in the strongest terms to explore.  It’s the only way we can survive.

Be seeing you.

1 comment:

Larry said...

When Oracle got rid of the traditional UI and went simplified only for new customers in PBCS, I thought it was a huge mistake. My first development in simplified only had me concerned until I realized that many of the elements of the traditional UI are still there, but hidden. Change for the sake of change.
That being said, I agree with your conclusion. Either keep up or get left behind.