Thursday, July 14, 2011

MOS 5.3

re: Document 1326487.1.  My Oracle Support Release 5.3 Features

I knew that new features/enhancements were coming to MOS this past weekend, and I was looking forward to seeing what they were. I had heard that Search was improving. So when I read this Release Document, I was just a little underwhelmed at the level of detail. The "Release Highlights" all sound good, but I wanted meat. And then just today I realized that the details are actually in another document, My Oracle Support Release 5.3 Detailed Benefits Table (Doc ID 1329876.1)

More details in this document. But still not quite what I was hoping for. None-the-less, I decided to look into them.

Please note, I am a bit cynical in my comments. I realize a lot of hard work went into these enhancements, and there is a ton of "stuff" going on behind the scenes that I do not know about.

[EDIT: Egads, Blogger really mucked up my tables!!! Holy off-the-page, batman!]

Knowledge preferences
Customize your preference page
Knowledge preferences page on the Settings tab allows you to customize your knowledge settings

There are only 4 things you can customize, "Search Term Suggestion" (and associated number, max of 10), "Search Intent Clarification", "Search Result Set Length" (with a measly max of 25), and default "Searched Sources". That's it. I am disappointed. The "Searched Sources" only has two options, either the KB or ALL. Some preference. Better than nothing, I guess.

Support Identifier ManagementAbility to delete multiple Support Identifiers at onceNew window added for sizing control to change number of rows displayed for Support Identifier and managed users

meh. Could be helpful for organizations with really large numbers to manage. Glad we don't.

Search ImprovementsSearch Term Suggestion; search box has a type-ahead feature offering search suggestions using our knowledge base dictionaryFaster search results

Here we go, the fabled Search Improvements!
I have put this to the test already and it does help a bit. The only downside is that it is only available in FLASH (of course), since FLASH slows things down for me.

Message Center on the DashboardThis new feature consolidates all the pending user action for Automated Service Request, Configurations, and new user Support Identifier requests

I had to look carefully for this - it is really small, and in the upper right-hand corner, and often occluded by the annoying green slider message box that I was told was going away. Automated Service Requests (ASR) are the domain of Sun products, thus not relavant for me personally. I could care less if a "pending user request" popped up, since I get mailed about them anyway. I am actively looking for a way to make this "Message Center" go away. Not sure why this is under the "Search Improvements" section.

Auto-detection of product namesQuickly refine your search results for a product

This is still a bit buggy. When I type "Oracle server ent", I get 8 products, 6 of which are more than 6 years old, nothing for 11g or 9i, only one for 10g. "Quickly refine"?!? Or maybe I am simply using it incorrectly - not really obvious to me.

Auto-detection of common tasks and intentsQuickly refine your search results based on selected task 

Not exactly sure how this works. Obviously, not relevant for the search bar on every page, since there is no "task" selected. And it seems you can only select a "task" once a product is selected, no way to skip right to it. When I did look for a "task", the "Customer Recommended" document was #23 out of 25. I see that it is sorted by date, but not finding any way to sort by, say, reverse date, or even "Customer Recommended" for that matter. Or even by rating. The "Refine Search" bar on the left is really slow.

'Customer Recommended' indicator on search hit listBenefit from the feedback of other users who liked knowledge base documents

Mentioned above. It is not clear exactly how a document gets the fabled rating. Seems similar to the "like" button.

More comprehensive and intelligent search tipsAdditional guidance to get the most out of the search engine

Not much to say about this one - I'll have to take their word for it. The "type-ahead" auto-fill thing is probably the most visible aspect, and I like it so far.

More search sources in the form of additional product documentationExpands the knowledge base of possible solutions

So, now, I can search for JDEdwards and Sun documentation. Umm.. yippee?

Ability to set default search source to "All Sources" (in preferences)Expands the knowledge base of possible solutions

Mentioned above, but don't oversell it. A small step in the right direction. :)

Browse / Navigation ImprovementsRedesigned Knowledge Management tab with new "Browse Knowledge" regionEasier to find content that solves your problem

Not seeing how this works. Thus not easier at all. How do I do a search for a specific product and a specific intent with my keywords? Seems like when I enter keywords in the search bar, it completely ignores what I selected for product and intent. Where are the enhancements?

Direct navigation to "premium content" using task, product and release refinementEasier to find content that solves your problem

Easier, eh? Still can't find it. I must be really stupid. :)

Removed product browse tree (in favor of Knowledge Guidance)Easier to find content that solves your problem

Umm... they just replaced "tree" with "hierarchy". And moved it into a drop-down button. Oh wait, they had that before as well.

Health RecommendationsAbility to set lifecycle (Production, Stage, Test, Development) of multiple Systems at once Easier to maintain and manage Systems and Targets

Interesting. I guess that is a good thing, and it seems to work. Gotta love the little warning message (which should be removed, imo):
"The change will take approximately 2 seconds to complete. A message will inform you of the final result."

I am not going to comment on the other 5 sections of "Health Recommendations" because I do not use them. For folks that do, I can see how these might be good things, but given what I have see so far with other "enhancements", I have to question how much of an improvement this actually is.

Guided ResolutionTask-based Advisor helps to guide through a series of steps in a taskHelps you solve problems based on the process or workflow

I have no idea what this means. Where does one find this "Task-based Advisor"? Going to have to skip this whole section because I have no idea what they are talking about. It does recall to mind the old Libraries they used to keep. Again, sounds like a good idea, just not really obvious. Or maybe I really am dumb.

My Oracle Support CommunityNew user profile enhancementAllows user to enter biographical or specialized information and the ability to control emails sent from Oracle.

Not finding anything I want to fill out in this "profile enhancement". Provide my education?? Manage Certification logos? Gah! And the only knob for "controlling emails" is a radio button that says "receive emails based on your community subscriptions". Not what I was expecting at all.

Ability to upload documents, pictures, and videosAdd information in the format that communicates your question or situation clearly 

This sounds like a good thing - I did not realize you could not do that before. But I only have 8 Community points, so....

Allow users to view and manage the documents they subscribe toHelps to manage solutions so you can solve problems faster

This made me laugh.

General notes:

  • still see annoying green slider box in upper right.
  • when displaying a document, still see the annoying "slide left" effect that takes a couple seconds.
  • Good ideas and intention. Disappointed with the implementation.
  • still hate the lack of any decent "back" functionality (a FLASH thing). Clicking through breadcrumbs erases options I might have selected earlier. (Big problem with search!!)
  • new tab for "Advanced Customer Services". Really, an advertisement?!? How do I delete that?

To Do:

  • Learn more about Health Recommendations and Guided Resolutions. Dare I have high hopes?


Charles Schultz said...

I should mention that there is at least one enhancement that I noticed with the HTML version - it looks prettier. And this is a good enhancement. :)

Charles Schultz said...

Ok, so I took some time to go over the "Health Recommendations". I am still not convinced we are going to pay much attention to this section - I think there is some good potential in there, but it is wrapped up in what I would call "overhead" junk; things like not having control of what is "Informational" vs "Warning" vs "Critical". The "new features" add abilities to aggregate by this thing called "Lifecycle", but you manage that elsewhere. I also found that the PowerView can seriously affect how you use this tool, since PowerView filtering is 100% independent of the the switches you have on this page. That is really confusing.

One big annoyance I had is that the Recommendation itself (the full details, not the one-line snippet you see on the Health Recommendation landing page) is shoved below the viewing area - and for me, it was "below" the screen and I could not scroll to it. I could only see it when I made the viewing area smaller by pulling up on a draggable border.

Another issue I had is that I could not Suppress multiple messages from a specific timeframe (like 40+ weeks!!) - I can select them, but I cannot click on the option to suppress them.

In order for Health Recommendations to be useful to me, I feel that I would have to spend a lot of time tweaking and fiddling with the MOS tool just to get it to behave in a practical fashion, and that is time I have no desire to invest right now.