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Action framework - An exciting feature of OBIEE

           Action framework is a feature which enables an end user to invoke a variety of processes or actions from OBIEE UI. In OBIEE 11g, Action Framework has enhanced options to integrate with external applications and the ability to call processes or scripts seamlessly and this has been further improved in OBIEE 12c.

          There are many types of actions available which can be classified into two types as Navigation actions and Invoke actions.

·         Navigate actions are used to access external applications include E-Business suite, EPM system, Siebel CRM, another report from OBIEE, etc., by passing parameters based on the generated report data.

·         Invoke actions are used to take actions by calling external Java processes, web services, invoking a browser script, invoking an HTTP request, etc.,

 

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Fig 1. Action Framework


We will discuss some of these actions in detail in the following sections.

1. Navigating to external applications:

This simplifies the process of navigation to external system by specifying the URL. There has been a significant improvement in 11g from older versions, where a host name change in URL might be required when migrating the reports across environments, by using aliases instead of hardcoded hostnames in the action link. Also, previously the username and password, if used as parameters in URL were visible to the users who are invoking it. But this issue has been addressed with the introduction of hide/visible parameters option.

2. Invoking a Java process:

Another very interesting use of Action framework is invoking a Java process which can be used to achieve various functionalities.

For e.g., we had a requirement where some of the OBIEE reports were to be delivered in a shared path. This was achieved by developing a java process that will export the answers and FTP to the given location. The java method can be deployed in OBIEE system itself and re-used whenever needed through actions and it can also be scheduled through agents.

3. Invoking a web service:

Action framework is also a common platform which can be used to invoke predefined web services and also to build web services for specific requirements.

For e.g., Write-back is an ability to enter/update values in backend directly from a report. By using web services, we can implement this functionality in OBIEE.

There is also a web service called OBIEE web services for Service oriented architecture (SOA) available, which is used to integrate OBIEE with Oracle Fusion Middleware products. It can be used to query the web catalog and agents without the need of having an explicit session with OBIEE.

1.      4. Navigating to Siebel CRM/Source System:

Using action framework, the Navigate to Siebel CRM option allows Siebel views for a particular record to be accessed from OBIEE reports allowing a seamless integration between both the applications. 

Many Practical Applications

Action framework serves as a common platform for accessing java processes or web services and there are numerous useful utilities that can be developed and utilized, such as,

·         We can add watermarks to the OBIEE PDF exports.

·         Click and search words easily in google from the reports.

·         Start ODI ETL process from OBIEE through ODI web services, etc.

·         Also, in scenarios like navigating from one report to another report where both are built using different subject areas, action framework is a simplest way to create navigations.

Security in Action Framework

            Since Action Framework (especially while invoking web services) can have increased ability to modify the application and database as well, security needs to be well defined. Both at OBIEE and database administration level, necessary pre-cautions and best practices with respect to roles, accesses/privileges, etc. needs to be followed.

For e.g., in OBIEE, there are different types of privileges available which can be assigned to the users as per the requirements and roles. Also Database admin needs to ensure any changes to DB can be done by authorized users only.

Action Framework thus provides comprehensive set of practical applications and thus can be used effectively for achieving numerous business objectives and enhanced interactions with other applications in a secured manner.

-Mohanraj Dhamodharan




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