Monday, September 19, 2016

Learner Series: Dynamically load XSL templates

I received a few requests from readers on how to dynamically load XSLT stylesheets in SOA 11g/12c.

This usecase finds importance when you have the following;

  • You have one input source (master data) and multiple destinations each of which receives the same data in different formats
  • Your destination requires minor changes on the data being sent and you don't want to redeploy the whole process causing downtime to other systems
  • You have dynamic partnerlinks to connect to multiple targets each of those targets expect data in a certain format

We will leverage SOA-MDS to store and retrieve our XSL stylesheets dynamically at runtime.

Step 1: Develop your XSLT mappings and test them before you persist them on MDS
Ref: learn how to use MDS in 11g/12c

Once you have your stylesheets in MDS, you can reference them from within your BPEL process using the oramds:/ protocol

Step 2: You don't need to use the "Transform" activity in your BPEL. Use either of the following BPEL XPath Extension Functions to load and process your XSL stylesheets within your "Assign" activity.


For example, ora:processXSLT('oramds:/apps/stylesheets/xformOrder.xsl', $inputVariable.payload)

You can further parameterize this expression by using a DVM to store the XSL references and use dvm:lookup to get the first parameter - XML template location.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Smart Connect Modern Enterprise Apps & SaaS w/ Oracle iPaaS

Modern enterprise systems stretch from ground to the cloud and everything in between.
With plethora of diverse SaaS applications combined with existing home grown/legacy on-premise applications - each promising to solve a specific business problem, the integration problem has just got complicated.

IDC predicts that by 2018, SaaS-based enterprise applications would generate over $50 billion in revenue resulting in more than 27% of enterprise apps running on cloud.

Enterprises must equip themselves to embrace this change to integrate, secure and manage their "extended" enterprise on cloud.

Most traditional integration solutions have 2 shortcomings;
One, they require considerable DevOps efforts - think development, deployment, maintenance etc..
Two, they aren't built ground-up for SaaS integrations - lack of SaaS adapters, network latencies, firewall pinholes for SaaS connectivity etc..

Hence the need for an iPaaS - Integration Platform as a Service. For any iPaaS solution to be successful, there are 3 important considerations that enterprise architects must account for;

  1. Ease of Use
  2. Time to Market &
  3. Deployment Choice

1. Ease of Use:

A cloud solution's first deliverable to business must be "Simplifying IT" and bringing IT closer to business. Oracle Integration Cloud Platform (ICS) is built for "citizen developers" and hence truly offers a "zero code" integration platform. This is a huge advantage for business and IT alike, as all technology complexities are hidden away. This means; there is no new technology to learn / ramp-up, no skill-gaps to fill, quicker turn-around times...

Oracle ICS also features a pattern-driven integration model with a bunch of common integration patterns to choose from, for a variety of integration needs including pub-sub, straight-on data mapping, orchestration etc.. all delivered just over a browser. No IDE, No installation & Zero Code.

2. Time to Market:

A huge impediment to any project plan is "TTM" delays that concerns the business.

Even for some of my customers who are on the bleeding edge of technology find it pragmatically difficult to staff, develop, administrate & manage their integration projects - partly owing to changing trends in technology but mostly because their DevOps can't scale to handle business demands. For instance, in the last 6-9 months, their sales department has bought into, HR moved to Fusion HCM cloud and Marketing is automating campaings on Eloqua. All of these are strategic initiatives driven by the line of business which offers feature-rich enterprise applications with lesser dependency on IT Ops at least to manage & maintain them.

However, care must be taken not to build silo'ed SaaS applications - there must be a robust integration platform to connect SaaS with On-prem systems without the complexities of a traditional middleware. Oracle ICS was architected ground-up with "Time to Market" as its principle goal. Integrations that typically take a few months can be up & running in a few days.

This is made possible with the ever-growing list of feature-rich SaaS, Apps and Technology adapters built for cloud, pre-built integrations and smart recommendations.

3. Deployment Choice:

Another integration decision is the "Integration Center of Gravity" which defines where the integration can be run for best performance. Let's say we want to connect 2 SaaS applications - does it make sense to run the integration on-prem behind your enterprise firewall? probably not. On the contrary, if you want to integrate 2 on-prem systems but still like to leverage the advantages that Oracle ICS offers, you have the flexibility to run ICS on-prem within your datacenter.

Oracle ICS is a truly hybrid iPaaS providing full deployment choice whether you want to run your integration platform on cloud or on ground.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Learner Series: SOA 12c Share Resources easily using MDS

SOA 12c has simplified the way developers leverage the MDS capabilities.

Developers still have the 11g way of deploying "SOA Bundle" archives to MDS described here.
But if you are on SOA 12c, you get a simpler option.

Once you install SOA 12c quickstart, you get a file-based SOA DesignTime MDS Repository by default. You can choose where to host your MDS root.

Under the Resources window in JDeveloper, expand SOA-MDS IDE connection. You must have a default SOA_DesignTimeRepository. Go to properties and set your MDS root folder.

You can copy your resources that you want to reuse/share to your MDS root folder and reference them within your SOA composite by using the oramds:/ protocol. eg., oramds:/apps/xsd/employee.xsd

Now to create a runtime MDS repository, first create a DB MDS connection to your SOA instance using your prefix_MDS schema [prefix is what you specified during RCU config].

From the Resources window -> IDE connection panel, right click SOA-MDS and create a new SOA-MDS connection. Provide a unique connection name, choose Connection type as "DB Based MDS", select the MDS connection created above and choose the "soa-infra" partition.

Note: SOA quickstart by default uses Java derby database (no DB MDS capabilities). You must either have a compact domain installation or a full-fledged SOA installation (your staging / test / production server).

To deploy the design time MDS (file-based) resources to DB based runtime MDS repository, right click on the design time repository and choose Transfer. The wizard will prompt you for the runtime MDS to which the resources must be transferred to. Choose the resources you need to transfer and your DB MDS connection and click on Transfer.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Learner Series: Handling Dynamic Arrays in SOA 12c (BPEL 2.0)

Dynamic arrays are always tricky to handle within a BPEL process. Every now and then we encounter XML schemas that have generic name-value pair arrays that are unbounded. The challenge is assigning data to and from these dynamic arrays as there are no concrete XML target elements at runtime. Hence, the XML elements must be generated first before assigning values to them.

There are multiple ways this problem can be solved.

For one, you can choose XSLT over a simple assign. XSLT wields more granular control over how the XML elements are handled. You can instruct the XSL processor to loop over dynamic array list and assign values. This of course requires some level of XSLT skill (Although JDeveloper presents an easy XSL mapper, I prefer fiddling with the source) and in certain cases, you may have to pass some BPEL variables (properties) to XSLT in additions to the source and target variables.

Second option would be to use an XML literal (called XML fragment in BPEL 1.1) within your assign activity. Here you can pre-form the XML literal, assign it to the target and then map the values. Not so sophisticated and if you are not careful with namespaces, this could cause a lot of mapping troubles.

Thirdly, with BPEL 2.0 you can simply add an attribute to your copy action in your assign activity to achieve the same. Most simplest of all.

Since this is a learner series, let's get into some details on how to go about this;

Let's first understand the root-cause of the error;

The problem with assigning dynamic arrays within BPEL is that, for the first element in the array, since the XML element is always "available", the copy happens successfully.
However, starting with the second element, all copy rules within assign would fail due to a "selection failure" with the following error because the dynamic array XML elements are still not formed or is empty.

"Exception is thrown because the to-spec at line 140 is evaluated to be empty"
"Exception is thrown because the from-spec at line 160 is evaluated to be empty"

depending on whether you are trying to copy to a target or copy from a source.

Your XML schema containing dynamic array may look something like this;

Your typical assign would like the following - you will have to manually let BPEL know which element the values must be mapped - [1], [2], [3] .... [n]. Just append this to your root XML element which contains the dynamic array. In this case;

Now, starting with the second copy rule within your assign, right-click on the rule item and select "ignoreMissingFromData" or "insertMissingToData" depending on whether your dynamic array is being read or written to respectively.

This action would add a flag (attribute) to the copy rule instructing BPEL to handle the dynamic XML element - either ignore or insert.

<copy bpelx:insertMissingToData="yes">
<copy bpelx:ignoreMissingFromData="yes">

Happy BPELing...

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Java Node.JS Microservices Hackathon, Boston

Let's Hack !! 

Join us for the Boston microservices hackathon and learn about latest Java 8, JET and Node.JS.

We will also go cloud native to create, build, deploy and manage microservices on Oracle Public Cloud. 

Space is limited. Register early @

Or post your contact in the comments and I will register you.

See you there !! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

SOA 12c Compact Domain DB Based MDS

With the release of SOA 12c, developers can now have full-fledged SOA 12c running on their desktops/laptops on the integrated WebLogic server. This is a great news for development community - as one can download the SOA/BPM 12c quickstart which comes pre-configured with JDeveloper and integrated WLS running SOA/BPM.

Some developer productivity benefits include;
1) You don't need a license for quickstart installs (for development & evaluation purposes)
2) Single jar that will install & configure WebLogic domain, SOA, JDev and everything you need to get going

However, there are some limitations with the default quickstart install. For one, the quickstart installation runs on top of Java Derby DB; and the SOA MDS is a file-based repository by default. Although for normal development purposes this may not be a big challenge, it could be an issue if you want to leverage some features such as;

1) Run-time modification of business rules
2) B2B, MFT & ESS
3) SOA Composer
4) BAM
5) BPM Composer etc.. which require a Oracle database to run.

However, there are other ways to configure your development environment to run on top of Oracle database - therefore you can have a DB based SOA MDS.

In this post, I will illustrate how to install and configure a SOA 12c compact domain for development purposes.


1) Download Java 7. According to the certification matrix jdk 1.7.0u55+ is supported - here
2) Download Oracle XE 11g Database - here
3) Download SOA 12.1.3 quickstart distribution - here
4) Optional components such as B2B, MFT, can be downloaded if required
Download MFT - here
Download B2B - here

Install java 7 on your environment. Note: By default on windows jdk will choose a location under "Program Files". In certain cases, I have seen the space in folder location cause unknown issues. Ensure java is installed on a location without space in the folder name eg., C:\Java

SOA 12c Quickstart Installation:

Unzip the

Open terminal (command prompt) as administrator
Ensure JAVA_HOME and PATH environment variables are set and points to the jdk installed
set JAVA_HOME=C:\Java\jdk1.7.0_71
set PATH=%PATH%;C:\Java\jdk1.7.0_71\bin

Step 1:
Execute the following command to install the SOA 12c quickstart
java -D64 -jar fmw_12.
Step 2: Provide a oracle home where SOA 12c must be installed
Step 3: Ensure the validations are okay
Step 4: Review the installation summary - provides the list of features/components installed as part of the quickstart distribution
Step 5: Review the installation progress
Step 6: Once the installation succeeds, click Finish.
At this stage, quickstart can be used if you are not looking for features such as mentioned above. Just open the JDeveloper, right click on the IntegratedWeblogicServer to create and start domain. JDeveloper takes care of creating a WLS domain and configuring it automatically.

Follow through for a compact domain installation.

If you need additional components such as B2B, BPM or MFT now is the time to install them. Let's install B2B.

Installing Oracle B2B:

Step 1:
Unzip and execute the following command to install B2B
java -D64 -jar fmw_12.
Step 2: Choose the same Oracle home that was used to install the SOA 12c quickstart
Step 3: Choose B2B or Healthcare profiles depending on requirement. Let's choose B2B
Step 4: Follow the instructions and click Finish to close the B2B installation wizard

I haven't detailed the MFT installation. However, should you need, it is a very straightforward installation.

Installing XE 11g Database:

Unzip the and follow the instructions to install XE database.

Step 1: Execute setup.exe
 Step 2: Accept the license agreement
Step 3: Choose the destination folder where XE must be installed
Step 4: Enter the SYS password
Step 5: Review and click Install
Step 6: Click Finish to finish the database installation

Creating RCU schemas for compact domain:

Step 1: Execute rcu.bat from the following location - $ORACLE_HOME\oracle_common\bin

Step 2: Leave the default selection on Create Repository and click Next
Step 3: Provide the database connect information and click next
Step 4: Ignore the warning. XE is not a "certified" database but will work fine in development environments.
Step 5: Default prefix is DEV. You can change this if you need. Select the SOA Infrastructure schema from the list which will select the required schemas
Step 6: Provide a password that will be used for all the RCU schemas
Step 7: Here you can select the size for the database profile. Default is small and should be fine for development environments. Optionally you can choose to enable/disable healthcare integration
Step 8: Follow the instructions and proceed with creation of database schemas for our compact FMW domain. Click close in the final summary screen.

Create and Configure Compact SOA Domain:

In this section let's create and configure a compact SOA domain.

To enable compact domain option, set the following environment variable before executing the config.cmd script

> set
> cd $ORACLE_HOME\oracle_common\common\bin
> config.cmd

Step 1: Choose the "Create a new compact domain" option and provide a domain name/location
Step 2: This is an important step where you must choose the templates with which the compact domain will be created. Choose all the required components. Note that the templates would show up based on the installations in the current domain.
Step 3: Choose a folder location where applications would reside
Step 4: Provide a administrator username and password.
Step 5: Choose Development mode / Production Mode (basically if you choose production mode, you will be prompted for the administrator username and password every time you start the weblogic server). Choose the JDK that we installed earlier which will be picked up by default.
Step 6:Provide the database details and click Get RCU Configuration. Once you get a success message proceed to next step.
Step 7: In the JDBC component schema page, select all the schema components and click next
Step 8: A test would run against the database for the schema connectivity. Once you get a success for all the components proceed further.
Step 9: For a compact domain with a "Admin" only server which will host all the middleware services leave the defaults on step 9 and click next. If you have a need to update the configuration such as adding managed servers, update default ports you can check the appropriate configuration and update.
Step 10: Click Create to create a compact SOA domain
Step 11: Ensure the domain creation succeeds and click Finish to close the config wizard.

That completes the creation of a SOA compact domain.

Now, if you start the weblogic server by issuing startWebLogic.cmd command, you will notice that the Java DB instance would start automatically. Since this is a compact domain and it will run off the Oracle XE database instance, we don't need the Java DB.

Start the weblogic with the noderby flag to prevent the Java DB from starting up.

> cd $ORACLE_HOME\user_projects\domains\compact_domain\bin
> startWebLogic.cmd noderby

Once the server starts up, establish connectivity to all the services to test the installation;

WLS Console: http://localhost:7001/console
EM Console: http://localhost:7001/em
SOA Composer: http://localhost:7001/soa/composer
B2B Console (if installed): http://localhost:7001/b2bconsole
BAM Console: http://localhost:7001/bam/console

One advantage with compact domain is that you can also create a integrated weblogic domain from JDeveloper which could be handy for a lot of development activities.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Are we ready for the cloud leap?

Cloud computing has come a long way from just being a buzz word. With the burgeoning of cloud companies and service providers across the planet, are we ready for the cloud leap yet?
Let’s reflect on a life-changing innovation that happened in the last decade – the evolution of smart phones. One can monitor health, pay utility bills, transfer funds, call a taxi and post an fb update on-the-go and in seconds. From just being a consumer focused platform that brought everything to our palms, it has matured into a first-class citizen of most enterprises today. It is hard to imagine appliction architectures today without a mobile strategy. Almost all customers I work with has a mobile strategy – at least in principle – and are getting their key end-user focused functions on mobile to keep pace with competition, if not outpace them. For instance, it is impossible for a bank to thrive in today’s aggressive environment without a mobile app that supports ‘Check Deposits’. Trendsetters like Uber, Instagram, Myntra, Hotel Tonight went mobile only strategizing their business model to consumer demand. That was the revolution of the last decade.
Is cloud the next big thing? ......