Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Publishing Gadgets

In the world of Gadgets and Widgets getting a new gadget is as simple as downloading and installing one from a Gadget site, message board or blog. This is great for making a framework pervasive but would wreak havoc on the complex IT communities that implement EPM or BI solutions. Security is an obvious concern but also the idea of maintaining and understanding what users have installed becomes impossible in a scenario like this. When designing Smart Space we often argued this topic wanting to keep idea of gadgets open and pervasive while maintain control for customers. This is how the idea of Gadget publishing came to be.

Gadget publishing gives an administrator the ability to control what gadgets his or her users can download and install. It also allows the administrator to recommend gadgets to users giving administrators some assurance as to what gadgets are installed on a user desktop. Gadget publishing is done using the same technology we use to deploy and maintain the Smart Space client (often referred to as the framework); Click Once. Going into details on Click Once would warrant an additional post, so I will keep it short for now. Click Once helps to provide a safe and secure environment for users to download and install the gadgets while providing automatic updates. The gadgets are also digitally signed with a certificate so users will be assured of their safety when installing.

I am a simple guy so I will put this is simple terms. When Smart Space is installed in an environment the administrator essentially runs a 'store' where they will maintain an inventory of gadgets or other components. The users can go to this store and download from the 'stores' inventory with confidence.

Here is how it is done. The administrator will first have to install the Smart Space Administration Utility. This utility will probably only be installed by one or two people and does require administrative privileges to install. The installation files for this get laid down when the Smart Space server is installed and can be usually accessed from the following URL: http://[ServerName]:17080/SmartSpace/Installations/AdminUtility/Setup.msi. (For installation and setup help check out the Administrator's Guide for Smart Space) Once installed and configured you should be able to open the administration utility and get to the Sign & Publish tab.

From this tab you can do the following; publish or remove the framework (Smart Space client), publish or remove gadgets, download already published gadgets, sign gadgets, etc. Most of the time you are going to just sign and publish gadgets; but if this is a first time installation you will probably sign and publish the framework and the gadgets. In either case the process is the same but it is key to make sure the framework is properly published otherwise users will not be able to get any gadgets. The utility should be pretty self explanatory and there is plenty of help in the Administrator's guide but I will run through the steps for publishing a gadget.

  • From the Sign & Publish tab click Add.
  • Browse for a framework or gadget file to publish. (.SmartSpaceGadget or .SmartSpaceFramework)

    These files are compressed files with all the bits needed for the Click Once installations and deployments. An administrator will find the framework and default gadgets in the directory where they installed the Administration Utility (usually C:\Program Files\Oracle EPM\Oracle EPM Smart Space Administration Utility).
  • Once on the list from the action dropdown verify that it says Publish.
  • Click Apply.

This will move the gadget file to the server and place all the bits in the correct location so that users will see it as available to them in the Smart Space palette on their client.

To summarize, gadgets can be a great end user tool but in the world on enterprise software there needs to be some level of control.

1 comment:

Ba Bugil Le said...

What a great article, i got a lot of things from here. Thanks!