Friday, April 01, 2011

Warping Labels to Blank lines

Ahhh, to experience the joys of designing and implementing an Identity Management solution. It doesn't matter how many bugs you quash, what desired impossible functionality that you pull out of the hat, there's always that something more that's needed to make the project "Perfect." For me, as an old timer with MaXware Identity Center and now with SAP NetWeaver Identity Management, perfection lies in the user interface.

I love the fact that I don't have to know PHP to customize the UI with the migration to NetWeaver and that I can add in all kinds of neat things like tabs, lines and columns. However, I just wish that it would work a little better.

The biggest frustration I've had recently is how to get a blank line to appear in the UI. Sometimes a blank line just works better than putting in a horizontal line. Every now and then I would be able to get one to appear, but just not consistently. After a while, I began to determine some trends and after some testing I think I have the process down pat for including blank lines in the UI:
  1. Create the label and put some text in it.
  2. Apply the change. IDM Service restart via NetWeaver Administrator might be needed
  3. Change the label text to some spaces.
  4. Apply the change. IDM Service restart via NetWeaver Administrator might be needed
There you have it. I’ve found more often than not the first restart is not needed, but you just never know. As I’ve thought about what’s happening behind the scenes, my theory is that the system rejects a NULL value as a label, which is what you have when you create the label. After it’s been populated and then cleared, the value is no longer NULL. It is, however, empty and is represented that way in the UI. (Thanks also to my friends on the development team who commented on this as well)

To date, I’ve only been able to test this in NetWeaver Identity Management 7.1, SP5. I would be very interested to hear if this works in other 7.1 patch levels (it probably should) and in 7.2 (Can’t wait to get my hands on it!)

Personally, I think it would be better for all concerned if there was just a blank line object. Maybe next version…
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