BIP Revisited

Having started on a new programme of work, I’ve come face to face once again with my dreaded nemesis – Oracle BI Publisher.

Not to worry, I thought – we’re working with Siebel 8.1.1.9, surely all of the niggles have been addressed by now! How wrong I was.

BIPAdmin

Once again, Oracle have really made a shambles of the documentation around installing and configuring BIP for Siebel. I just don’t understand how hard it can be to get this stuff right.

Here are the problems that I found with the new process for 8.1.1.9:

  1. The Reports Guide now no longer contains installation instructions – you are instead pointed to an article on MOS (1501378.1)
  2. The article on MOS has an attachment that is error strewn, is unfinished and even contains internal review comments (for example, part way in you’ll see: user_name is **Q: Siebel administrator user name?)
  3. The MOS article guide points to the ‘Supported Platform’ document for the BIP version – this in turn pointed BACK to MOS for yet another article stating which BIP version to use (1172844.1). Why not just have ALL information in ONE place?
  4. The version of BIP required is NOT the one made available in the Siebel Pack area of eDelivery. You need 10.1.3.4.2, NOT 10.1.3.4.0 which is the version in the Siebel home of eDelivery

The ‘Integrating BI Publisher…’ guide is just hopeless:

  1. The process describing the WSDL import is incorrect and does not list the correct IO objects to delete
  2. The section with command line statements for importing seed data input is insanely wrong – I spent over an hour correcting the command lines and finding the real location of the seed data files
  3. The same section says to use ‘ORCL’ as the database type in the command line, when in fact you need to use ‘ORACLE’
  4. Why provide ‘seed’ data import files and commands and then immediately have manual steps to set up views and responsibilities? Why not include ALL seed data?

It’s just not good enough – Actuate disappeared a long time ago and Oracle have had years to get BIP in it’s place. However, once again the documentation is badly written, full of errors and has clearly not gone through any sort of QA process.

When can we expect a straight forward installation of BIP in Siebel? Not in the near future, it would seem.

ADDENDUM

Here’s the seed data script that I finally came up with for use in Siebel 8.1.1.9 HOR.

Siebel 8.1.1.7 – More BIP improvements

I noticed, via the new ADF based My Oracle Support portal, that Siebel 8.1.1.7 was released this week.

Downloading the readme, I can see some additional work that has gone into the BI Publisher integration:

  • Bug 13528720: The Duration field is missing from the Report business component.
  • Bug 13570979: Custom Name appears twice in the Report Output applet.
  • Bug 13603930: The My BI Publisher Reports menu label was incorrectly changed.
  • Bug 13528628: Unnecessary fields display in the Template applet.
  • Bug 13604628: The Schedule Report menu item was incorrectly changed

You’ll also find some specific ACRs documented further down the file, one of which strikes me as being of particular interest:

ACR 719B provides the following enhancements:

  • Improved upload functionality for multilingual reports
  • Mobile client synchronization of report templates
  • Ability to schedule parameterized reports
  • Allows the UI applet sort order to be preserved in report output
  • Report business service enhancements
  • Parameterized reporting enhancements

Not very specific I know – I’d like some detail around how the ‘Report business service’ has been ‘enhanced’ – but I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Expect a further update once I’ve downloaded and applied.

Siebel 8.1.1.x and BIP – JRE Version

More BIP fun today as I discovered yet another ‘gotcha’ while upgrading to Siebel 8.1.1.5.

I have been getting these errors while trying to upload report definitions:

SBL-EAI-05010: Class name incorrect or does not extend SiebelBusinessService

Okay, all very standard – just a typo in my CLASSPATH parameter for the Java Subsystem, right? Wrong! And here’s why:

Exception:java.lang.UnsupportedClassVersionError: com/siebel/data/SiebelPropertySet (Unsupported major.minor version 50.0)

A quick MOS search reveals a new article:

JRE version 1.6 required for all Siebel versions from Fix Pack 8.1.1.4 onward [ID 1285062.1]

Now, I saw no mention of this in the Siebel Reports Guide. I’ve always used the JRE that comes installed as part of BIP and most other configurators that I know do the same. Not so with 8.1.1.5! As usual, there is very little detail in the article other than ‘install JRE 6’.

Here is what I did to resolve. Now, I’m not sure all of this is required but I’m so fed up of messing around with BIP that I’ve just gone ahead and done the lot. Feel free to experiment:

  1. Download JRE 6
  2. Install on the Siebel Server – I put the JDK in D:\Java\ and the JRE in the same location
  3. Update your Java Subsystem with the path to the JVM. (For example, if you’ve install Java in D:\Java\jdk1.6.0_27)
  4. change param DLL=D:\Java\jdk1.6.0_27\jre\bin\client\jvm.dll for named subsystem XMLPJvmSubsys

  5. (For Windows) Set the JAVA_HOME environment variable (For example: D:\Java\jdk1.6.0_27)
  6. (For *NIX) export JAVA_HOME (For example: export JAVA_HOME=/usr/java/jdk1.6.0_27/
  7. For good measure, I added JAVA_HOME\bin to my PATH

Rumour is that Siebel 8.1.1.6 is out and about – here’s hoping that some stability will be introduced into the BIP integration, not yet more problems!

Troubleshooting Siebel Reports

Very quick post! I noticed recently that the new Siebel Reports Guide (Revision E) has an extensive ‘Troubleshooting’ section. This contains a large number of common errors and issues along with details for investigating and resolving them.

Well worth a look if you, like many others, are having problems with the Siebel and BI Publisher integration in Siebel 8.1.x.x

You can find the relevant chapter here.

It’s great that Oracle are taking developers concerns seriously and are really making an effort now to tighten up the integration with BI Publisher. I had a chat recently with the Product Manager and he outlined really quite extensive and positive plans for the future. I’m certainly hopeful for 8.2.2 and 8.1.1.7 that the underlying issues will be resolved and we can re-focus our efforts on developing really great Siebel implementations.

BIP and Siebel 8.1.1.5

I’m still in upgrade mode and have recently been revisiting Actuate to BIP migration in an 8.1.1.5 environment. Much to my annoyance, but not great surprise, 8.1.1.5 has introduced further headaches (in addition to a smattering of improvements) to the whole Siebel and BIP integration process.

First up, 8.1.1.5 introduces some SIF and seed data files for you to import. Prepare yourself for some creative thinking as you try to work out what the Release Note author meant to write and not what he or she wrote – the documentation is appalling. Notably:

  1. The SIF file referenced doesn’t exist. You’ll have to locate a ZIP file, extract it then hunt around for a similarly named file to import into Tools
  2. The ‘commands’ given to import the seed data are completely wrong. You’ll need to refer to MOS for correct instructions on importing the seed data
  3. Application view records have been missed from the seed data files. Reports Guide revision D has instructions for their manual creation while revision E sees the instructions vanish into thin air
  4. When you do get round to assigning the views to responsibilities, be prepared for misspelled view names – hey, it’s only a computer program, who needs accuracy?

Finally, those who used Doc ID 823360.1 to implement functionality to generate reports through Workflow may find it no longer works after upgrading to 8.1.1.5. It would appear that some bodge has been introduced that breaks the ‘Bookmark’ argument to the XMLP Driver Service BS. Spooling the SQL shows Siebel creating a temporary PDQ, executing it then deleting it, in order to retrieve the data for the report request. I can’t quite believe this but I have the SQL spool to prove it. You’ll need to replace all of your Bookmark arguments with hefty PDQ friendly expressions.

You may get the impression that I’m not very happy with this latest release and you’d be right. The Siebel and BIP integration has been so hastily thrown together that it’s us, as developers and customers, who have to wade through lines of debug output and SQL and come up with workarounds to these irritations.

Let us know of your experiences with 8.1.1.5 or BIP integration in general.