HEUG: PeopleTools 8.51 in Action

This afternoon, I attended Jim Marion’s PeopleTools 8.51 in Action session.  I understand that someone else was supposed to present it, but Jim did a great job.  I left excited to delve into the new tools features.

The intro was kind of fun again.  I felt like I just missed the book give-a-way — the winner was directly in front of me 4 rows!  Oh well.  Also, I noticed that Jim is a hard core HTML guy: it’s obvious when someone uses a web page with check boxes to show and check off topics covered.  I thought it was cool.  Is that the cheese grater showing through?

First, he mentioned again the different between tools 8.50 and 8.51 in the drop down menu.  In tools 8.51 you have to click on each menu item whereas tools 8.50 only required you to click on the first item that opened the menu.  As a result, in tools 8.50, the menu is called a hover menu, and in tools 8.51 it is called a drop down menu.  Jim showed how you can change the navigation type in PeopleTools > Portal > General Settings.

One great point that Jim made was that you need to pay attention to documentation.  When you switch your stylesheet / look, your documentation screenshots will not match.  Just something to think about.

Next, Jim talked about the SWAN styles sheets.  I think I did this part wrong when I did my tools upgrade steps (and no one said anything!) because I was modifying stylesheets in App Designer.  I was following the directions in the tools upgrade document.  Jim simply went to PeopleTools > Utilities > Administration > PeopleTools Options.  Then, he changed the stylesheet name to PTSTYLEDEF_SWAN (if I remember the name right).

Type-ahead was another topic.  Someone asked a question about the chatter/network traffic caused by the type ahead.  Jim pointed out that it may break even considering you don’t have to reload the whole page.  So, you are sending less data more often, which makes for more consistent traffic rather than spikes.

The Work Center is another new feature to PeopleTools 8.51.  It seems to work similar to Related Content except that the extra information displays to the left of your main content rather than at the bottom.  A great example is to add a navigation collection to allow easy navigation within a group of related screens.

On a side note, Jim pointed out the new operational dashboard feature.  In structure and content, you can open up homepage tabs under portal objects.  When you create a new content reference, you can change the Usage Type to Homepage Tabs.  Then, you see a new option call Operational Dashboard.

Persistent Search is another new feature to Tools 8.51.  You have to enable it on the Web Profile, and it is the Recent Search Results on the bottom of the Caching tab.  The local cache uses the browser’s HTML5 local storage to save search results.  Once you search, you will can reopen the search results from the bread crumbs bar without generating another query to the database.

One of the questions asked at the end caught my interest.  The person asked if persistent search created a security concern since it was storing information on the user’s computer.  Jim referred her to another person for the answer, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the answer.  From what it looked like in the session, the search results only persisted during life of the user’s session.  When Jim logged out and back in again, the search results were gone.  So, that doesn’t seem like much of a security concern to me.

Jim talked about a few other features.  He pointed out that pagelets load independently via AJAX.  So, even if you have many pagelets, you see the homepage immediately, and the pagelets slowly load as the info comes across.  He also mentioned embedded help, which is something you have to turn on from the page in App Designer.  Finally, he pointed out the way you can pop grids out of the page, modal messages show as AJAX dialogs, and secondary pages are modal.

So, this was a great session, and I have a bunch of new features to blog about!

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