Okay, so Siebel Tools didn’t eat my hamster and I guess I don’t hate Siebel Tools – I’ve used it for over a decade now to design and develop thousands of customisation’s and solutions for customers.
What I really don’t like is it’s lack of progress and this was emphasised today when I read @lex’s post about a Siebel Tools “enhancement” to display line numbers in the eScript editor. If it’s headline news that the eScript editor can now tell you what line you’re on, it’s a sad day for Siebel Tools.
I started work with Siebel when the release version was 99.5 (Siebel 5, I guess). I’ve worked with every other version since then from 6.0, 6.3 to 7.0, 7.5, 7.8, 8.0 and 8.1. All these releases brought something new, especially the 6.3 to 7.0 and 7.8 to 8.1 releases. One thing has remained a constant: Siebel Tools.
The version of Siebel Tools that shipped with 5.5, 6.0 and 6.3 is almost indistinguishable from the version shipped today. Sure, Oracle have wrapped it up in Oracle Universal Installer and added some tweaks but it’s almost identical. And it really hasn’t moved on in any useful way for the last 10 years.
I’m calling out to Oracle for the last time – give Siebel Tools some love! It’s an embarrassment – it’s a sad child locked in the cupboard since 1980 with no idea how the world looks or works now. It has a crap hair cut, is wearing a Red Dwarf T-shirt and can’t talk to girls. It needs revamping and here’s what I think we need:
- Cross Platform – effectively tying Siebel Tools to Windows XP is becoming a massive constraint. It doesn’t work well with 64-bit Windows and it does not work at all with any OS running anything other than Internet Explorer 8. Having to downgrade a Windows 7 IE installation makes other web development tasks a bore and means no developer can unit test and target IE10 or 11 for OpenUI. Not to mention a complete lack of Linux or Mac based support – IntelliJ (even JDeveloper) are laughing at you from above
- Version Control – do you remember Siebel 6.0? The check in / out process in those days was project level. That meant a single developer would have a whole raft of objects locked out while they tweaked an applet and it was a nightmare to run a large project with many developers. Later versions introduced object level locking but there is still no proper version control in place. Managing releases and multiple code streams is a nightmare in Siebel Tools. When will this nightmare end?
- Refactoring / Developer Tools – refactoring is such a fundamental tool in any IDE, to allow developers to tweak, tidy and optimise code and configuration with no functional effect. No wonder countless projects end up with unmanageable quantities of eScript and inconsistent configuration as Tools has no such function. There is very little in Siebel Tools to make the developers life better – look at Visual Studio 2013 for examples of how code completion, refactoring, optimisation hints, code checking, automatic comment header generation and so on, can make a developers life so much easier. Better yet, look at the ReSharper plugin for Visual Studio – brilliant tools to allow a developer to focus on a creative solution – not wrestling with the complexities of the development environment
- An Integrated Debugger – if Siebel is to offer cross functional solutions (eScript, custom class, configuration, Workflow) then a developer must be able to debug consistently across these technologies. If we’re to be encouraged to develop Workflow solutions, at least debug into sub-processes and eScript business services. It’s currently impossible to debug an entire functional area consistently and that is a massive drain on developer productivity.
- Ditch the SRF – a move to this has already been mentioned but this needs to happen sooner rather than later. Everything in the SRF is in the Repository, so this age old concept of “compiling” some binary representation of the database Repository seems archaic. I wince every time I have to tell the client that their production system is going to be down for 2 hours while I add a list column to an applet. Microsoft Dynamics and SalesForce have beautiful, Web Based IDEs with “Deploy to Live” functionality that I’d give my hind teeth for.
- Make Tools the IDE – the introduction of CSS, JS and other OpenUI technologies has opened up a world of customisation to Siebel. However, it’s all developed and managed outside of Siebel Tools. The disconnect between the IDE and code is a configuration and release management nightmare as well as a distraction to the developer. Everything needs to be brought back into the IDE with appropriate editors and debuggers. At the moment, it’s a hodgepodge of technologies where nothing is connected.
- Fix the Workflow Editor – have I mentioned before that I hate the Workflow Process Editor? I’m sure I have. If not, let me reiterate how much I hate the Siebel Workflow Process Editor: I really, really hate it. It’s buggy, old fashioned and no longer fit for purpose. There, I said it. Please fix it!
That’s just a small brain dump of what I think needs to happen to Siebel Tools and it’s the tip of the ice berg.
Come on Oracle, step up and sort Siebel Tools out!