PeopleSoft telephony two factor authentication

By Larry Grey • July 7, 2008

(update : check out demo 4 in the Flash demo for our ERP Firewall to see some additional real world examples of multi-factor authentication for PeopleSoft)

At the end of the previous blog entry on PeopleSoft telephony integration, we were able to initiate telephone calls from within PeopleCode to an end user and prompt them to enter a PIN code so that we could authenticate them. We could even see in the logs whether the user typed the correct PIN on their phone or not.

What we didn’t cover was how we can figure out in PeopleCode whether the user typed the correct PIN or not. If we can’t do that, then there’s not much point to the whole exercise, eh? 🙂

To make a long story less long, you can’t (easily) find out the answer with just PeopleCode. There are a couple of reasons for this. One was hinted at yesterday; the Asterisk Manager API call origination only allows you to get the call going. Once the call has been successfully initiated, then the call origination reports success. Even if the user does not answer the phone, the call itself was successfully originated.

If you want to find out what happened, then you have to use another part of the Asterisk Manager API, the events API. That allows you to listen to various events happening within Asterisk. So after we originate the call, there will be a series of events triggered (Dial events, Hangup events, Callerid events, etc.) that we can use.

The good news is that the Asterisk-Java library that we’re using has great support for the events API. There are Java classes for all of the different events that occur within the Asterisk server. For example, here’s someone else’s sample Java code of catching the Dial event and using that for screenpops.

In order to register which events that you are interested in though, the Asterisk-Java library require you to implement a Java interface called ManagerEventListener. Implementing interfaces is no big deal when you’re writing Java code; it’s just a list of methods that you have to provide the actual code for. However PeopleCode can’t implement Java interfaces, so we’re going to need to write some Java code ourselves.

In order to make this work, I needed to create two separate Java classes. The first one is called PSoftLoginManager. In addition to implementing the ManagerEventListener interface, I moved the PeopleCode logic for doing the call origination into this class as well.

The other class that I needed to create is called PSoftLoginEvent and it extends the delivered UserEvent class. The Authenticate command that we are using in Asterisk does not actually create any events for us to listen to. However, Asterisk supports the notion of user defined events, so we can use that. At the moment the PSoftLoginEvent includes the PeopleSoft user ID and whether the login attempt was successful or not.

The Java code wasn’t too bad. 100+ lines or so, but let’s look at how the PeopleCode looks now first. All of the variable declarations at the top stay the same, but the rest of the code is now just

Local JavaObject &loginMgr = CreateJavaObject("com.greysparling.asterisk.PSoftLoginManager", &host, &user, &pswd);
Local JavaObject &loginEvt = &loginMgr.challengeUser(&userID, &phone, &pinCode, &channel, &context, &exten);
If &loginEvt.isSuccess() Then
Warning ("Successfully validated user " | &userID);
Warning ("Off with " | &userID | "'s head!");

We create our PSoftLoginManager object with the Asterisk server information, and then call challengeUser to initiate the call and get the result back. Instead of having challengeUser return a binary result of success or not, I return the actual PSoftLoginEvent object itself which can be queried for success or failure. That keeps things easy later if we need to expose any additional data back from the Asterisk side.

On the Asterisk configuration side, we need a small change in order to trigger our login event.

exten = 7189,1,Answer()
exten = 7189,2,Playback(vm-intro)
exten = 7189,3,NoOp(Authenticating user ${PSFTUSERID})
exten = 7189,4,Authenticate(${PIN},j)
exten = 7189,5,NoOp(Successful login ${PSFTUSERID})
exten = 7189,6,UserEvent(PSoftLogin|userId: ${PSFTUSERID}|result: SUCCESS)
exten = 7189,7,Hangup()
exten = 7189,105,NoOp(Unsuccessful login ${PSFTUSERID})
exten = 7189,106,UserEvent(PSoftLogin|userId: ${PSFTUSERID}|result: FAILURE)
exten = 7189,107,Hangup()

The main difference is the use of the Asterisk UserEvent command. That takes the name of our login event as it’s first parameter. The additional parameters are the ones that we have defined for our event. The Asterisk-Java library will automatically map these extra parameters that we have defined into the appropriate setter calls on the Java PSoftLoginEvent object (e.g. userId maps to setUserId() ).

Now when we run the App Engine program, here’s what the Asterisk console looks like.

    -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:1] Answer("IAX2/123456789-2", "") in new stack
-- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:2] Playback("IAX2/123456789-2", "gs-demo-login") in new stack
-- Playing 'gs-demo-login' (language 'en')
-- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:3] NoOp("IAX2/123456789-2", "Authenticating user PTDMO") in new stack
-- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:4] Authenticate("IAX2/123456789-2", "4554|j") in new sta ck
-- Playing 'agent-pass' (language 'en')
-- Playing 'auth-thankyou' (language 'en')
-- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:5] NoOp("IAX2/123456789-2", "Successful login PTDMO") in new stack
-- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:6] UserEvent("IAX2/123456789-2", "PSoftLogin|userId: PTDMO|result: SUCCESS") in new stack
-- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:7] Hangup("IAX2/123456789-2", "") in new stack
== Spawn extension (challenge-psft-user, 7189, 7) exited non-zero on 'IAX2/123456789-2'
-- Hungup 'IAX2/123456789-2'

You can see the addition of the UserEvent here, plugged in with the name of our event, the PTDMO user and the result value of SUCCESS. Since this event is what our challengeUser function returns to PeopleCode, we can now properly do the two factor authentication from PeopleSoft.

Here’s the Java code for the PSoftLoginEvent class. The things that are worth noting is that it extends the org.asteriskjava.manager.event.UserEvent class, and that it has setters for the values that we want to receive. It appears as though you can only get strings from the Asterisk side, so I adopted the convention that result has to be the string SUCCESS for a successful login.

package com.greysparling.asterisk;

import org.asteriskjava.manager.event.UserEvent;

public class PSoftLoginEvent extends UserEvent {

private String userId;
private String result;

public PSoftLoginEvent(Object source) {

public String toString() {
return "PSoftLogin for " + getUserId() + " (" + result + "),"
+ super.toString();

public boolean isSuccess() {
return "SUCCESS".equals(result);

public void setResult(String result) {
this.result = result;

public String getUserId() {
return userId;

public void setUserId(String userId) {
this.userId = userId;

private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;


Here is the Java code for the PSoftLoginManager class. This is a little bit more complex, but not too bad. We implement the ManagerEventListener class so that the Asterisk-Java library knows we want to receive events. That means that we have to provide an “onManagerEvent” method.

Our implementation of onManagerEvent is pretty simplistic – we just check if the event is a PSoftLoginEvent, and whether the user ID in that event matches the one that we just sent. A more robust implementation would use some unique IDs for matching up the exact logins; not just check the user ID. We’d also want to check for other related events such as the user hanging up without even trying to enter the PIN code.

Another thing worth pointing out here is that in the Asterisk-Java library, event notifications come in on a different thread. PeopleCode only runs single threaded, but when you are calling Java from within PeopleCode, there may be multiple threads running from within the Java Virtual Machine.

In this demo implementation, we’re cheating a bit by just sleeping on the main thread while we wait for the login event to come back. It works just fine for our purposes here, but it’s definitely not production ready code. We’d probably also want to have some sort of a connection pool instead of logging in to the Asterisk server on every request.

package com.greysparling.asterisk;

import java.util.HashMap;

import org.asteriskjava.manager.AuthenticationFailedException;

import org.asteriskjava.manager.ManagerConnection;
import org.asteriskjava.manager.ManagerConnectionFactory;
import org.asteriskjava.manager.ManagerEventListener;
import org.asteriskjava.manager.TimeoutException;

import org.asteriskjava.manager.action.OriginateAction;
import org.asteriskjava.manager.event.ManagerEvent;
import org.asteriskjava.manager.response.ManagerResponse;

public class PSoftLoginManager implements ManagerEventListener {

private ManagerConnection connection;
private boolean keep_running = true;

private String userId;
private PSoftLoginEvent event;

static final String USERID = "PSFTUSERID";

static final String PIN = "PIN";

public PSoftLoginManager(String host, String user, String pswd) throws
AuthenticationFailedException, TimeoutException, IOException {

ManagerConnectionFactory factory =
new ManagerConnectionFactory(host, user, pswd);

connection = factory.createManagerConnection();


public PSoftLoginEvent challengeUser(String userId, String phone,
String pinCode, String channel, String context, String exten)

throws InterruptedException, TimeoutException, IOException {

this.userId = userId;
this.event = null;

HashMap vars = new HashMap();

vars.put(USERID, userId);
vars.put(PIN, pinCode);

OriginateAction action = new OriginateAction();
action.setChannel(channel + "/" + phone);


action.setPriority(new Integer(1));

ManagerResponse response = connection.sendAction(action, 30000);


while (keep_running)

return this.event; // caller can check isSuccess()


public void onManagerEvent(ManagerEvent event) {
if (event instanceof PSoftLoginEvent) {

PSoftLoginEvent login_event = (PSoftLoginEvent)event;
System.out.println("Login event: " + login_event);

if (userId.equals(login_event.getUserId())) {
System.out.println("Matched user");
this.event = login_event;

else {
System.out.println("User was " + login_event.getUserId());
else {
System.out.println("Event: " + event);

public void stop() {
keep_running = false;


So there you have it. We’ve successfully made phone calls from within PeopleSoft, challenged user for a PIN code, and take action accordingly. Everything that we need for two factor authentication of PeopleSoft users, and our total cost is still under one dollar.

(updated with syntax highlighting)

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PeopleSoft IVR Integration the easy way

By Larry Grey • July 6, 2008

Yesterday’s blog post on Java 5 and PeopleTools 8.49 (and my high hopes that it would have fixed something that been annoying me) didn’t have a happy ending. PeopleTools doesn’t (yet) take advantage of the some of the Java 5 features, so we have to stick with some workarounds for the time being. PeopleTools 8.49 using Java 5 does provide me another good new thing to work on though. The open source Asterisk-Java library requires Java 5 at a minimum, but with PeopleTools 8.49, that’s OK. What the library provides is a good Java level interface into the open source Asterisk telephony platform. There’s tons of material about Asterisk available, both online and printed books, so this blog post won’t go into too much background on it. If you want to follow along though, you can’t go wrong with the different downloadable Asterisk appliances out there (PBX in a Flash, AsteriskNOW, etc.). This blog post is actually sort of a lead-in for one of the sessions that I submitted for this year via Mix was called “Telephony Integration with PeopleSoft on the cheap“. I don’t know whether that session will actually make it in for OpenWorld (there are an astounding number of sessions that have been submitted via Mix), but it’s a good topic, so I thought I’d start blogging it. For this blog post, what we want to do is be able to initiate a phone call to the end user from PeopleSoft, prompt them for a PIN code, and take action in PeopleSoft depending on whether they were successful or not. We may want to do this as part of the initial signon process for two-factor authentication of your PeopleSoft users, or we might tie this in with some business logic (e.g. be really sure who is sending off a large wire transfer). For the business logic use case, we recommend that you utilize an application firewall to simplify the configuration and maintenance of it. Our own ERP Firewall for PeopleSoft product has a demonstration on our product page of doing 2-factor authentication using Instant Messaging technology (a similar technique to that used here). For testing, I always like to whip up an App Engine test program for playing around. Let’s take a look at our first attempt at the code, then we’ll look at the Asterisk configuration.
REM Connectivity to Asterisk server. ;
REM Assumes that &user has been granted access to Asterisk Manager API;
Local string &host = "";
Local string &user = "asterisk_user_id";
Local string &pswd = "asterisk_password";

REM Asterisk information for how we will be originating phone calls;
Local String &voip_provider_acct = "123456789</code><code>";
Local string &channel = "IAX2/" | </code><code>&voip_provider_acct</code><code>;
Local string &context = "challenge-psft-user";
Local string &exten = "7189";

REM The phone number that we will be calling;
REM This would normally come out of the user's profile;
Local string &phone = "15105551212";

REM The PeopleSoft userID of the person to call;
Local string &userID = "PTDMO";

REM This PIN could be autogenerated or stored in the DB;
Local string &pinCode = "4554";

REM ******** No more user variables below here *********** ;
Local string &base = "org.asteriskjava.manager.";
Local JavaObject &connectFactory = CreateJavaObject(&base | "ManagerConnectionFactory", &host, &user, &pswd);

Local JavaObject &connection = &connectFactory.createManagerConnection();

Local JavaObject &originateAction = CreateJavaObject(&base | "action.OriginateAction");
Local JavaObject &vars = CreateJavaObject("java.util.HashMap");
&vars.put("PIN", &pinCode);
&vars.put("PSFTUSERID", &userID);
&originateAction.setChannel(&channel | "/" | &phone);
&originateAction.setPriority(CreateJavaObject("java.lang.Integer", 1));

Local JavaObject &originateResponse = &connection.sendAction(&originateAction, 30000);
Warning (&originateResponse.getResponse());
After setting up a bunch of variables that we’ll need, the code begins by connecting to the Manager API of our Asterisk server. We’ll need a user/password here that has appropriate access to the Manager API; there probably won’t be any in your default install of Asterisk so you’ll need to add one. This is not an end-user account though; it’s a service account that should be treated with the appropriate security. The other configuration note here is that the Manager API lets you limit access with an IP address range for each user, so in addition to having a strong password, you should limit the user to only be able to connect from your PeopleSoft servers. After that, the code creates a call origination object. The Asterisk Manager API allows us to originate a call between a channel and an extension that is the Asterisk dialplan. A channel can be a lot of things (different Voice over IP protocols, regular phone network, etc.). In this case, I’m using a IAX2 channel that I’ve previously defined in Asterisk to use a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) connection to the outside world. IAX2 is an Asterisk specific protocol similar to the more commonly known standard SIP (for example, both Oracle and BEA have SIP servers). The nice thing is that you don’t need to know too much about the channel details for experimentation purposes though. For example, for this test, I use a pay-by-the-drip VoIP provider called CallWithUs. There’s other providers out there (and we use some of those also), but CallWithUs have a nice web based provisioning system. Sign up through their webpage, send ’em some money, and you’re all set. You then supply the info that they give you to Asterisk, so when you ask Asterisk to make a call, it can send it along through CallWithUs, who then connect the call. If you’re using one of the Asterisk appliances, then you can probably get your first call happening in 30-60 minutes or so. The nice thing about doing it this way is that this can all be running on standard computer equipment. Everything that we’re doing is software based, and CallWithUs deal with the part of actually connecting to “real” phone system. As part of the channel definition for the Asterisk Manager API, we add the end-user’s phone numb er to our “dial string”, which Asterisk sends off to CallWithUs, who make the phone call to the end user. That’s one half of the call equation; my mobile phone is now ringing! Here’s what we see in the Asterisk console with the logging turned up.
  == Parsing '/etc/asterisk/manager.conf': Found
== Manager 'asterisk_user_id' logged on from
-- Call accepted by (format ulaw)
-- Format for call is ulaw
As soon as I answered the phone, then the Asterisk console shows
      > Channel IAX2/123456789-2 was answered.
If you’ll remember our original requirements, we needed some programmatic validation of a PIN code through the phone. The cool thing about Asterisk is that there are tons of built-in options for how you handle a call coming in. Here’s a snippet from the Asterisk configuration. This defines what Asterisk calls a “context” and what to do with a call into that context for extension 7189. The name of the context and the extension don’t really matter; we just need for our PeopleCode to match up with Asterisk has.
exten => 7189,1,Answer()
exten => 7189,2,Playback(gs-demo-login)
exten => 7189,3,NoOp(Authenticating user ${PSFTUSERID})
exten => 7189,4,Authenticate(${PIN},j)
exten => 7189,5,NoOp(Successful login ${PSFTUSERID})
exten => 7189,6,Hangup()
exten => 7189,105,NoOp(Unsuccessful login ${PSFTUSERID})
exten => 7189,106,Hangup()
One thing that may be a little confusing here is that we’re using Asterisk from two sides. One is our code that is calling the Asterisk Manager API that is initiating the call between my mobile phone and this context/extension definition within Asterisk. However, the Manager API is just initiating the call and then it’s done. The context/extension definition within Asterisk then says what to do with the call to this context/extension. Line 1 of the context/extension definition says to Answer the call. Line 2 plays a message that explains what is happening. On my mobile phone, I hear “This is the Grey Sparling demo login. “. Line 3 just logs what is happening on the Asterisk console. We use one of the variables that was set in the PeopleCode side so that we can match up calls with the PeopleSoft user accounts. Line 4 is a builtin Asterisk command to challenge the user to type in a PIN code. Here we’re using the PIN code that was set from the PeopleCode side. There are a series of voice prompts already delivered in Asterisk that get played as part of this as well as Asterisk “listening” for the DTMF tones from the buttons on the phone being pushed. You can roll your own handling of this within Asterisk (speech recognition anyone?), but the Authenticate command has a lot of built-in functionality for free so we make use of that. One strange thing worth mentioning here is the “j” parameter after the PIN code. That tells Asterisk to jump “+101” if the command fails (it continues on the next line if successful). It’s a bizarre form of GOTO (note that there are other ways of adding logic to Asterisk though). Then we log what happened on the console (depending on whether we get the right PIN code or not) and then hangup the phone. Here’s what the Asterisk console looks like with an invalid login.
    -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:1] Answer("IAX2/123456789-2", "") in new stack
 -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:2] Playback("IAX2/123456789-2", "gs-demo-login") in new stack
 --  Playing 'gs-demo-login' (language 'en')
== Manager 'asterisk_user_id' logged off from
 -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:3] NoOp("IAX2/123456789-2", "Authenticating user PTDMO") in new stack
 -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:4] Authenticate("IAX2/123456789-2", "4554|j") in new stack
 --  Playing 'agent-pass' (language 'en')
 --  Playing 'auth-incorrect' (language 'en')
 --  Playing 'auth-incorrect' (language 'en')
 -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:105] NoOp("IAX2/123456789-2", "Unsuccessful login PTDMO") in new stack
 -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:106] Hangup("IAX2/123456789-2", "") in new stack
== Spawn extension (challenge-psft-user, 7189, 106) exited non-zero on 'IAX2/123456789-2'
 -- Hungup 'IAX2/123456789-2'
We can see that in this instance I didn’t type in the PIN code correctly, so I wouldn’t have been granted access. Here’s the relevant bits from the Asterisk console of a successful login.
    --  Playing 'agent-pass' (language 'en')
  --  Playing 'auth-thankyou' (language 'en')
  -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:5] NoOp("IAX2/123456789-3", "Successful login PTDMO") in new stack
  -- Executing [7189@challenge-psft-user:6] Hangup("IAX2/123456789-3", "") in new stack
But how do we find that out within the PeopleCode side so that we can actually take action? That will have to wait until part 2 One final note here. I mentioned that CallWithUs is pay by the drip. One reason that is important is because the pay by the drip VoIP providers are typically more open to initiating multiple calls at once (since you’re not paying a flat fee), which is something that you’d need for doing this for authenticating users. Once you’re comfortable with doing this sort of thing, then you might want to get your own internal phone folks involved, but since this sort of thing is fairly uncommon at this point, you’ll probably be on your own for your initial experiments in this. The nice thing is that it’s fairly cheap though. For each call to my mobile phone that was initiated while testing this I paid US$0.0125. So you get 80 login attempts for a buck 🙂

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Java and PeopleCode Tips and Tricks – Part 3

By Larry Grey • August 30, 2006

I haven’t written anything on the Java and PeopleCode series (part 1, part 2) recently, so I thought I’d whip something together this evening. As previously discussed in the series, there are a few, um, quirks in the bindings between Java and PeopleCode. One typical workaround when you can’t cross between Java and PeopleCode successfully is to write some additional glue code on the Java side to provide an easier “target” to work with. This post will discuss a few tips and techniques for doing it all from the PeopleCode side. Why would you want to avoid writing the Java glue code to simplify things? Well, it’s certainly not to avoid the complexity of Java (as the rest of this post will show). A more common reason is to avoid needing to distribute the compiled Java code out to each application server (which can be the source of various logistical difficulties). On with the code. The use case here is to take an image and modify it so that we can stamp some text on it. The example comes from an article that shows how to use the Java Advanced Imaging libraries that are part of the standard Java environment as of Java 1.4. The actual working code is below. Let’s start by looking at the first line of code that causes problems.
&jBufImage = &"", &sSourceFileName));
This line of code will trigger the infamous “more than 1 overload matches” PeopleCode error. If you look at the relevant Javadoc, you’ll see that there are indeed multiple versions of the read method. Java can tell these apart by the type of the parameters being sent in, but PeopleCode only uses the number of parameters to differentiate among methods in a Java class with the same name. In order to call this method from PeopleCode, we’ll need to use reflection. Reflection is how Java lets you determine class metadata (such as what methods it has and what parameters they take) at runtime. Here’s what it looks like in action. This is broken into separate lines for clarity, but as you’ll see in the code, you can combine these where it makes sense.
&jReadArgTypes = CreateJavaObject("java.lang.Class[]", &jIOFileClass);
&jReadMethod = &jImageIOClass.getDeclaredMethod("read", &jReadArgTypes);
&jReadArgs = CreateJavaObject("java.lang.Object[]", CreateJavaObject("", &sSourceFileName));
&jBufImage = &amp;amp;jReadMethod.invoke(&jImageIO, &jReadArgs);
This is easier to explain working from the bottom up. In order to call a method via reflection, we need to have the correct Method classinstance and use it’s invoke method. That’s what the 4th line is doing. The first parameter, &jImageIO, is the same object that we were trying to use before, and the second parameter is an array of parameters that invoke() will pass along to the “real” method. Getting that parameter array is what line 3 does. When we have all of the values that are ever going to be in the array, then using CreateJavaObject with the braces, [], at the end of the class name is nicer than using the CreateJavaArray PeopleCode function. Mainly because we can pass all of the values in at once instead of setting them one by one as CreateJavaArray forces you to do. We also needed to have the actual Method object. That’s what line 2 is doing. We call the getDeclaredMethod() method of the underlying Class object (this is the actual Java class that defines what a Java class is; chicken, meet egg) and pass it the name of the method that we want, along with array of the parameter types (not the parameter values!) that the method expects. You can get the underlying Class object for any Java object by calling the getClass() method (there are examples in the code below). But when you have a JavaObject in PeopleCode that you obtained via GetJavaClass (instead of CreateJavaObject), then you actually have a PeopleCode reference to the class and not an instance of java.lang.Class. The PeopleCode reference allows you to call static methods on the class, but if you call getClass() on it, you’ll get an error. The secret to getting to a java.lang.Class instance for a particular class when you don’t have any instances of that class is to do something like this.
&jImageIOClass = GetJavaClass("java.lang.Class").forName("javax.imageio.ImageIO");
Now &jImageIOClass is an actual java.lang.Class instance, suitable for the reflection work that we’re doing. Finishing things off, in line 1, we created the array of parameter types that we needed for the call to getDeclaredMethod(). The parameter types are specified by using their underlying java class, so you definitely want to be sure that you understand the difference between a java class and the java.lang.Class object which describes that java class. Whew! That’s a lot of explaining to do just because PeopleCode doesn’t resolve all Java methods properly. What’s worse is that we’re not done yet. We now have another problem. In the original line of PeopleCode, we called a method (“read”) that returns a Java object. Specifically an object of type java.awt.image.Bufferedimage. But we can’t use it as a BufferedImage object, because PeopleTools looks at the return type for invoke() and sees that it returns java.lang.Object, which is the base class for everything in Java. If you try to do something useful with &jBufImage (like get the dimensions of the image), PeopleTools will give you a “method not found” error. Thankfully the underlying JVM still understands that this is a BufferedImage object and not just a java.lang.Object. So we can (read “have to”) use reflection again in order to use our BufferedImage. Of course, since we’re using reflection with BufferedImage, that means that any Java objects that we get back from reflected method calls are also misunderstood by PeopleTools (it will think that they are instances of java.lang.Object rather than whatever they really are). So, once you fall into needing to use reflection within PeopleCode, you end up using a lot of it. Believe it or not, it’s not so bad once you wrap your head around it. It took me longer to write this post than it took to write the code below since the extra work is essentially just some extra typing. Obviously if you are doing a lot of Java/PeopleCode integration, then you’d be better off just writing a little bit of glue code on the Java side to avoid all of this, but when you’re just doing something quick (like using Java hashmaps instead of faking it with 2 dimensional arrays in PeopleCode), then this technique works well. Finally, here is the actual code, along with the starting image (found in your PeopleTools directory) and the altered image. Scroll box Labels: PeopleCode, User

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Application Engine Development Tips

By Larry Grey • May 13, 2006

Application Engine can be fairly handy in a PeopleSoft developer’s toolchest. Aside from all of the useful batch processing things that it can do, it can also be useful for providing ways of running PeopleCode against a system directly from within Application Designer. This can be used for things like testing some PeopleCode or providing some developer productivity utilities. David Bain and I used to do some presentations on developer productivity for PeopleSoft developers, and taking advantage of Application Engine was one of the tips that we used to always mention. An example utility is the version control work that we’ve been doing for our products at Grey Sparling. When you have a project that needs to be checked into the source code control system, the project needs to be split up from one large file into a multitude of separate files (the exact number of objects that you have in your project). We have an App Engine program that does this for us, but we needed a way to specify the exact project name to the program. In regular App Engine programs running on a server, you’d have some page for entering run control parameters and the program would look at these. But when you run the App Engine program directly from within Application Designer, you don’t have those facilities available to you. So what we end up doing is a couple of things. First, we take advantage of the COM integration in PeopleCode and use that to have Internet Explorer provide a prompt with the list of projects in the database. When you have an Application Engine program open in Application Designer, you can press the traffic light icon or select Edit->Run Program from the menu. You’ll get a prompt like this. . I always turn on the save to log checkbox, and then press Enter or click OK. Once the program starts, Internet Explorer pops up the list of projects in the database and lets you select one. The project name that you select is then used by the rest of the Application Engine program to do it’s work. Here’s what the code looks like: SCROLL BOX The IEPrompt function takes a title and a label and an array of choices and returns back the selected choice. We use a hidden form field as a flag for when the user has made their choice since we can’t actually catch COM events from within PeopleCode. The HTML that we generate from PeopleCode is not super fancy, but it gets the job done. The other functions in the code are to assemble the list of projects from the database into a PeopleCode array and then to put the entire thing together. How about if you wanted to supply the parameter yourself without getting prompted? Maybe you, as the developer, want to run this AE program as part of a bigger script. The answer is to just pass the parameter on the command line and use a little PeopleCode to parse out the values. In order to do that, I ported over this C# based command line parser from The Code Project. It was easiest to port by utilizing Java from PeopleCode. SCROLL BOX The C# regular expression classes are fairly similar to what is available in Java. The only minor headache was that PeopleTools was having problems looking up one of the Java methods used (which we’ve seen before in previous blog entries), but that was fairly straightforward to get around. The workaround is to repeatedly compile one of the regular expressions instead of just once, but in this particular usage scenario, the overhead of that is so negligible that we don’t care. As a side note : native regular expression support was added the 1.4 version Java Runtime Environment, so if you’re on an older version then you’d need to look at some extra libraries for adding regular expression support, or this code won’t work.

Labels: PeopleSoft

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Tips and Techniques

Java and PeopleCode Tips and Tricks – Part 1

By Larry Grey • February 28, 2006

Since Java is the language of choice for the Oracle Fusion applications, I thought it would be nice to have some posts that show some good tips and tricks related to using Java within PeopleSoft today. As I mentioned in the previous post there are a few quirks in the way that Java and PeopleCode work together. Well, as Bill Cosby once said, “I told you that story so that I could tell you this one” 🙂

The quirk that we’ll cover today has to do with the way that the mapping between PeopleCode and Java datatypes works. I have a few quirks that I’ve known about for awhile, but I got bitten by this one just recently while working on a follow on to a previous blog entry about version control and PeopleTools. The idea was to show an example of using the JavaSVN java library from PeopleCode to be able to place application data under version control (application setup/configuration data, not something like Ledger entries).

The library works great directly from within Java code, but I hit some strange behaviour when trying it from PeopleCode, and it turned out that the fault is in the way that PeopleCode was passing Null into the Java side.

To simplify things, imagine that you have the following Java class that exposes these static methods.

package com.greysparling.demo;

public class JavaPeopleCode1 {

public static boolean IsObjectNull(Object test1) {
if (test1 == null) {
return true;
else {
return false;

public static boolean IsStringNull(String test2) {
if (test2 == null) {
return true;
else {
return false;


You’d think that these methods would each return True when you pass a Null from PeopleCode into them and False otherwise. When we call these from a short AppEngine program (side note: using AE is a great way to test out these sorts of quick test things) we see otherwise.

Local String &sClassName, &sPeopleCodeString;
Local JavaObject &demo;

&sClassName = “com.greysparling.demo.JavaPeopleCode1”;
&demo = GetJavaClass(&sClassName);
&sPeopleCodeString = “Testing”;

Warning (&demo.IsObjectNull(&sPeopleCodeString));
Warning (&demo.IsObjectNull( Null));

Warning (&demo.IsStringNull(&sPeopleCodeString));
Warning (&demo.IsStringNull( Null));

Here’s the output that we get from running this (miscellaneous junk from the log has been trimmed out).


Notice that last one? We would have expected that to return True since we’re passing Null. It turns out that any object type that PeopleCode has a direct mapping for (such as a PeopleCode string with java.lang.String), you can’t pass null. Or more accurately, if you pass Null from the PeopleCode side, you won’t actually get null on the Java side.

Annoying eh?

The workaround for this is to create some additional Java glue code and call that from the PeopleCode side.


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