Practice: Working with wsadmin and the customization directory in IBM Connections 3.0.1

Branding IBM Connections

In this practice exercise, learn how to use IBM Connections' built-in wsadmin tool and customization directory to customize the IBM Connections user experience to meet your business needs.

Brian Ochs (bochs@thinksis.com), Solution Architect, Software Information Systems

Brian Ochs photoBrian Ochs is a solution architect at Software Information Systems, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He specializes in customer implementations of IBM Connections and IBM WebSphere Portal. He has been working with Connections since the initial release and is the coauthor of the IBM Connections 3.0.1 Customization Redbook.



28 August 2012

Also available in Russian Portuguese

Overview

IBM Connections 3.0.1 supports changing many aspects of the user interface (UI) without altering the source code of the installed web applications. You customize the UI by modifying configuration files or overriding the installation files in a special customization directory.

Prerequisites

The following practice exercises require access to an IBM Connections 3.0.1 server. You should have direct access to the server along with administrative rights. The solution steps are shown using a Windows Server® 2008 installation, but solutions on other operating system platforms are similar. Refer to the product documentation for more details. You should also have a basic understanding of HTML and cascading style sheets (CSS).


Exercise 1: Use the wsadmin command

You can customize IBM Connections by modifying system configuration files that control the page layout and functionality. These are complex XML files, so you should not change them directly. Instead, use the IBM WebSphere® Application Server wsadmin command-line tool.

Perform the following tasks with the wsadmin tool:

  1. Check out the IBM Connections common configuration file.
  2. Update the configuration file.
  3. Check in the configuration file.

Exercise 2: Use custom JavaServer Pages files

You can customize some of the IBM Connections page layouts using standard JavaServer Pages (JSP) files, giving you full control over the UI.

In this exercise, you:

  1. Copy the Activities footer template.
  2. Update the help link.

Solutions for Exercise 1: Use the wsadmin command

The sections that follow provide the solutions for each task in Exercise 1.

Check out the IBM Connections common configuration file

To check out the IBM Connections common configuration file, complete the following steps:

  1. Open a command-line prompt.

    On Windows Server 2008, be sure to open it with the Run As Administrator option.

  2. Change the current directory to the WebSphere deployment manager /bin directory (on Windows Server, typically C:/IBM/WebSphere/AppServer/profiles/Dmgr01/bin).
  3. Start the wsadmin session using the following command:
    wsadmin -lang jython -user admin_user -password admin_password -port soap_port

    . . . where:

    • admin_user is the user name of an administrator on the WebSphere Application Server machine
    • admin_password is the password for that user name
    • soap_port is the SOAP port for the WebSphere Application Server instance (If you have used the default port 8879, you do not need to specify this parameter.)
  4. Initialize the wsadmin environment for running IBM Connections common commands:
    execfile("connectionsConfig.py")
  5. Check out the IBM Connections configuration files using the checkOutConfig command.

    Note that commands are case sensitive.

    LCConfigService.checkOutConfig("working_directory","cell_name")

    . . . where:

    • working_directory is the directory that IBM Connections uses to store the temporary copies of the configuration files while they are checked out (On Windows Server, use forward slashes [/] to separate directories in the working directory. For example, you can use C:/Temp as the directory.)
    • cell_name is the case-sensitive name of the WebSphere Application Server cell hosting the IBM Connections application

Be sure not to exit the wsadmin session before you check in your changes. You must check in the files during the same wsadmin session in which you checked them out for the changes to take effect.

Update the configuration file

After checking out the common configuration file using the steps in the previous solution, a file called LotusConnections-config.xml should now be in the specified working directory along with a file called LotusConnections-config.xsd. This XSD file is used for XML validation during the check-in process.

You can open the LotusConnections-config.xml file using your favorite text editor and make any necessary changes. Do not worry about LotusConnection-config.xsd: This file should never be changed.

Check in the configuration file

After completing changes to the common configuration file, check in the file to validate and deploy the changes. To check the file in, complete the following steps:

  1. Execute the checkinConfig command using the same value used during the check-out step:
    LCConfigService.checkOutConfig("working_directory","cell_name")

    . . . where:

    • working_directory is the directory that IBM Connections uses to store the temporary copies of the configuration files while they are checked out
    • cell_name is the case-sensitive name of the WebSphere Application Server cell hosting the IBM Connections application
  2. Allow time for the Deployment Manager to synchronize the changes (usually about 1 minute).
  3. Exit the wsadmin client by using the exit command.
  4. Stop, then restart all IBM Connections application servers.

Solutions for Exercise 2: Use custom JavaServer Pages files

The sections that follow provide the solutions for the tasks in Exercise 2.

Copy the Activities footer template

Copy the footer.jsp file from the Activities application source directory to the customization directory. In a default installation, this mean copying the footer.jsp file from C:/IBM/WebSphere /AppServer/profiles/AppSrv01/InstalledApps/cell_name/Activities.ear/oawebui.war/nav/templates to C:/IBM/LotusConnections/data/shared/customization/activities/nav/templates.

Update the help link

Open the footer.jsp from the customization directory using your favorite text editor. Find the section of the JSP file with the help link by searching for help links. The default help link HTML section is as follows:

<%--
The help links. Points to the end user help for the current application, 
and to the public IBM forums for IBM Connections
--%>

<lc-ui:templateLink key="help.help" appname="${appName}">
	<fmt:message key="label.footer.help.help" /></lc-ui:templateLink>

<%-- 
--%>

<li><%-- 
	--%><a href="<c:out value="http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/lcforum.nsf" />"><%-- 
	--%><fmt:message key="label.footer.help.forums" /><%-- 
	--%></a><%-- 
--%>
</li>

Modify the link and the link label to something more appropriate for your environment. Update the link by replacing the URL in the anchor tag. You can either update the link label, replacing the entire <fmt> tag, or update the resource bundle, if you require internationalization support.

Now, save footer.jsp and restart the Activities application to see the change. You can skip the restart step if you have enabled customization debugging. See the product documentation for more information on how to enable debugging.

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