In this post I will show you what the HFM web interface looks like in the new EPM 188.8.131.52 release. There are quite a few changes - partly because the technical foundation has been changed and partly for the reason that HFM applications now support virtually unlimited number of custom dimensions.
HFM 184.108.40.206 Web Architecture
The HFM web UI was written from scratch for this version and it is now based on Oracle's ADF J2EE framework. This means that the HFM web interface is no more generated in IIS and that there is now a Java based web application that has taken over this task. As HFM is firmly rooted in the Windows world IIS is still needed in the middle but only to provide a Web Services interface that the ADF part uses when talking to the HFM application components. The following diagram should clarify things a bit:
The J2EE based HFM web applications (FM ADF Web Application and FM Web Services) are deployed into a single managed WebLogic server. These web apps must be deployed on the same machine where IIS is running which practically means that they can only be installed on Windows servers.
When performing the IIS configuration tasks for HFM you now need to select the option "Configure IIS to Enable Financial Management Web Services" even if you are not installing Financial Close Management. Leaving this option out (I tried it of course) causes the /hfmapplicationservice application not to be configured in IIS and because of this the FM ADF web application will fail to communicate with the HFM app server.
Each IIS based HFM application gets its own application pool as seen in IIS Manager:
If you open the HFM IIS Web Services URL in a browser (e.g. http://hfmwebserver:80/hfmapplicationservice/Actions.asmx ) you will be greeted by a friendly page listing the methods available via Web Services requests:
The Web Services methods don't seem to be included in any HFM documents yet but the descriptions offered by IIS (and in the WSDL output) can most probably be used to come up with the required information to execute some basic tasks. It will be interesting to see when the first third-party applications using this interface will pop up.
Web User Interface
Here's what the new UI for HFM apps looks like in Workspace. One of the most notable changes compared to previous versions is that the user interface is now a lot more flexible. You can have several HFM applications open at the same time and several tabs holding forms, grids and other components in each applications as well. Panes like the one on the left showing Task Lists can be collapsed to save screen space and most views offer more options for customization than before.
|HFM 220.127.116.11 web form|
|Web form designer|
Note the Filter options that can be used to restrict the data or documents that are shown in each view:
|Manage Documents view|
|Member Selection Dialog|
|Classic application administration (Load Application Elements)|
I personally think there is a lot of potential in the new ADF based layout. But we have to keep in mind that the HFM web interface has not seen too many changes since the early versions of the product - and old habits die hard - so it will be interesting to see how these changes are received by the HFM user base.
HFM Windows Client
One last thing which might come as a surprise to many: The Win32 client has been cut down dramatically in this release. The only functions that remain are the Profile Manager and Metadata Manager which means that all the rest like the Load and Extract functions are only available via Workspace. Based on this change it looks like HFM will go completely web based pretty soon.