Gameification of Siebel – Elizabot

Okay, so the title is misleading and pinched from Richard Napier’s recent series on his On Demand Education blog. However, finding an ‘Eliza’ business service ‘game’ in Siebel Tools did make me chuckle and I thought I’d share, along with a little community challenge.

Many of you will remember Eliza – you might have written an implementation of her or remember the ‘Pangolins’ type in game from the ZX Spectrum user manual. There is even a JavaScript implementation that you can play with below:

Check out this site for some background and source code.

What you may not know is that there is a rudimentary implementation of Eliza built into Siebel!


When I say “rudimentary”, I really mean it – the Business Service method simply does some string concatenation. It’s a useful demonstration of how to use and call a Business Service but doesn’t go far in implementing the ‘natural language interpreter’ that Eliza was geared up to become.

So the challenge is:

  • Can you think of some useful real world use cases for an ‘Eliza’ like solution in Siebel? How about a self diagnostic portal in eClinical?
  • Do you think you can convert the Elizabot JavaScript implementation into eScript? Dare you try?

It’s good to know that the busy developers over at Oracle still have a sense of humour – I wonder what would happen if I raised a Service Request complaining about the lack of functionality in the ‘Eliza’ business service? Would they see the funny side? 😉

Siebel Code as a Commodity – Siebel Marketplace?

I really enjoy writing code and customising Siebel to do neat things. I do it for a living but I also mess around with stuff in my own time – much to the disgust of my wife and daughter! 🙂

For me, it’s a bit of fun and I get a sense of satisfaction that others might benefit from my work and use my stuff to help themselves solve some problem or other.

Having spent quite a lot of my own time developing a connector for the dotMailer email service, I got to thinking: is there a demand for commoditised Siebel coding products? If we created the Siebel Marketplace ™ or the Siebel Store ™, we could buy and sell neat customisations, clever Business Services and all sorts of functionality to expand the Siebel platform. You could offer your wares for free or charge a fee. The developer community would own it and the whole Siebel community would benefit from it. Everyone’s a winner.


Based on the discussions that have been going on within the community, questioning the life span and relevance of Siebel in today’s tough market, I’m not so sure it would work:

  • Is Siebel, as a platform, so mature that there’s little left to build – apart from writing Angry Birds in eScript, of course
  • Is there really enough demand for Siebel solutions?
  • Is there a will in the community to share knowledge and skill or save it for that killer contract that may be hiding around the corner?
  • Is there enough skill out there to produce truly elegant and re-usable solutions that people would be willing to buy?

It works for AppExchange, the marketplace, so why not for Siebel?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please use the voting buttons on the survey below and let me know!

[poll id=”5″]

Merry Christmas!

Now, I know it’s been a very quiet quarter for posts on the old blog. It’s been a funny old year and I haven’t been able to find the time or inspiration to post much. I apologise and hope that next year will bring many more informative posts for your viewing pleasure.

As it is, Ollerenshaw IT are shutting down for the festive season, which means all I have left to post this year is:


All the very best to you all over the festive period and I look forward to adding further to the blog in 2013.

With kindest regards,


Ain’t no rest for the wicked…

After moving off a customer engagement, some of the guys there made me a brilliant leaving card – it says it all, really! How did they know of my feelings for Siebel Workflow?!

For those not in the know, check out ‘Borderlands‘ for the Xbox 360.

How old are you really?

Sometimes I come across something in Siebel that just blows my mind: often it’s some awesome, supercool functionality. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s something so mind bogglingly stupid that I have to look again, just to make sure I read it right!

Today, I found out that the vanilla ‘Age’ field, on the Contact BC, uses the following calculated expression:

Now, this isn’t even worthy of my Code Challenge! Since when was there ever exactly 365 days in a year? How could one of the worlds largest technology organisations consider this to be a good solution to a simple requirement? What’s best is the response to the bug report that this calculation doesn’t consider leap years and so would actually return the wrong result:

The Age Calculated Field is Not Working with Standard (or Vanilla) Configuration. [ID 1385094.1]

The scenario mentioned here is expected (as per the vanilla logic used)… This formula does not take into account “Leap Year” in the calculation..  As a workaround, create a custom calculated field with custom logic (examples are available with google searches) that will calculate the age of the person considering the leap year…

I’ve highlighted my favourite words: as one of my colleagues so eloquently put it: “WTF?”

We especially liked how “Leap Year” was in quotes as if to say it’s kind of a mythical thing that you can choose to believe in – or not. If nothing else, this did make us chuckle!

A kindly Siebelite, named JDijkhuis, has done the honors of posting a solution on the IT Toolbox site, that we have tested successfully. Beware, though, as I’m not sure about the performance impact if this were exposed through a list applet. I’ll let you follow the link to the kindly gent’s web site so as to give full credit for the solution.

The mind truly boggles! 🙂