In this final daily post for the EPBCS blog series debut, we’ll take a look at a new feature called Navigation Flows. This is a feature that currently exists in EPBCS and FCCS and should make its way to PBCS in July.
So what is a Navigation Flow? A navigation flow is a way to customize the tiles (now called “cards”) on the Simplified UI home screen. With navigation flows, you can configure which cards different sets of users see, which can help direct their navigation through the planning process and overall EPBCS product. You can also customize the cards to display certain objects, like a particular form or dashboard, for instance. In addition, you can customize a cluster (a group of cards) and choose which cards exist within them.
What are real life use cases for using navigation flows? The first important thing to know is that navigation flows can be used for any group of users, including administrators. The following situations highlight a few scenarios that I’ve heard of:
- Hiding specific default Simplified UI cards from all users (all accessible forms, all accessible reports, all accessible business rules, etc.)
- Restricting the Simplified UI cards to just customized ones during a planning process so that certain users can see only what is necessary to complete that planning process
- Customizing user navigation by planning process (one for Budget, one for Forecast, etc.)
The first question people ask is…how is this feature different from task lists? It’s similar in principle, but somewhat limited. It’s better visually, which makes it more intuitive and very cloud-like. You can add task lists to your navigation flows but not vice versa. You can also link directly to reports and dashboards, which task lists don’t allow (you have to use the URL feature).
But you can definitely do more with task lists, like add due dates, alerts, dependencies, URL’s, etc. In addition, one advantage that task lists have is the URL feature, which can be used in an EPM Cloud world to link to different pods if you have other Cloud tools or multiple EPBCS/PBCS pods. Take a look at the options available to task lists:
Let’s take a look at how navigation flows work. When I log in as an administrator, here is my default home screen:
Note that because I have no custom navigation flows created yet, I don’t have any other clusters besides the one that came enabled with my one configured framework for Financials. As you enable more frameworks, you’ll see that there is one cluster for each one. These are controlled by the Default navigation flow which cannot be modified. However, you can:
- Make a copy of the Default navigation flow
- Modify the copy
- Activate the custom navigation flow
Before we get deeper into the weeds, here are some general notes about navigation flows that are stipulated in the EPBCS documentation:
- As alluded to above, an EPBCS application comes with one Default navigation flow – it is read-only and cannot be modified
- Every additional framework added to the application will update all flows with the new configurations, including the custom navigation flows
- Newly duplicated navigation flows are inactive by default until activated by an administrator
- You can create multiple navigation flows for each “visibility category” (explained in a second), but only one navigation flow can be active within each category. This activation process is governed by EPBCS – when one navigation flow within a single visibility category becomes active, the others turn off.
- An EPBCS application requires one active navigation flow at all times (and this will be the Default one by default)
- Navigation flows only apply to the Simplified UI (they wouldn’t apply to Smart View, for instance)
- There is an upper limit to the number of navigation flows that can exist in a single EPBCS application. I believe one of the Oracle developers that I spoke to this week mentioned that it was 100, but I’ll double-check.
In addition, there are some documented restrictions.
The following cards cannot be removed from a navigation flow:
- Settings – and this one will always be visible for administrators
- Console – and this one will always be visible for administrators
The following tabs cannot be removed or hidden within the Settings card on a navigation flow:
- Settings tab
- User Variables tab
- Navigation Flows tab
Limitations of the Default navigation flow:
- The “Default” name cannot be modified
- The navigation flow cannot be deleted
- The navigation flow cannot be modified
- The navigation flow can be both activated and deactivated
- The navigation flow can be copied
And here’s the list of things you can do with a custom or copied navigation flow:
- Assign access
- Hide and unhide cards
- Create new cards
- Remove existing cards
- Group cards into clusters
- Move cards between clusters
- Rename cards
- Rename tabs
- Switch the icon associated with cards and tabs
- Change the display order of cards and tabs
- Add new and customized horizontal and vertical tabs
- Hide and unhide tabs
- Remove tabs
- Remove navigation flows
- Activate and inactivate navigation flows
- Assign EPBCS components to your cards and tabs:
To create a custom navigation flow, you’ll have to copy the Default one first and then modify the copy. From the Simplified UI, navigate to Settings >> Navigation Flow:
Make a copy of the Default by highlighting it and choosing to Create Copy from the action menu:
Then you’ll be asked to name the new navigation flow:
You’ll now see it appear in the list. You can now select it to edit it:
Once you edit this Default navigation flow copy, you’ll see all of the wonderful cards and clusters behind it:
One interesting thing to note is that I see clusters for all frameworks in the list. However, only the Financials one is visible in the home screen and Navigator, regardless of the visibility setting shown in this screen.
Now let’s pause for a moment to understand a few important concepts related to navigation flows: visibility category, permissions, and activation.
First, there’s the concept of a “visibility category”, which relates to who can see the navigation flow in their home screen once it’s activated.
There are 3 visibility categories:
- Global – can be seen by all users
- Role – can be seen by users of a specified role (e.g. Planner or Administrator)
- Group – can be seen by users of a specified group
* When the visibility categories conflict across navigation flows for a single user, the visibility at the lowest level (group) wins when they are activated simultaneously. For instance, a user assigned to a group called “Finance” would see the navigation flow assigned to the Finance group over the Default navigation flow (which is global).
You can set each navigation flow to a different visibility category. But, as mentioned before, only one navigation flow can be active within each category. This allows you create many navigation flows for the same set of users and then activate them at different times. So if you have one navigation flow for Budget and one for Forecast and the Finance group has access to both, Budget could be activated during the year when the Budget process is underway and Forecast could be activated the rest of year.
The next important concept relates to the permissions for navigation flows, although this works more inherently and behind the scenes. Permissions is different from visibility category, as permissions relates to the access to the objects that are referenced by navigation flows. There are 3 levels of permissions:
- Global – access for all users
- Role-based – access for users of a specific role (e.g. Planner or Administrator)
- Artifact-based – access for users or groups to certain artifacts
Finally, let’s talk about the third important concept, activation. When you first create a custom navigation flow, it’s assigned globally and deactivated by default. You would have to change the visibility category within the navigation flow to something other than blank for it not to be global. And then you have to activate the navigation flow before anyone affected by it can interact with it.
Notice that the Default navigation flow is activated by default. I would like to activate the “Test Custom” navigation flow.
To do this, you click the Inactive link next to the navigation flow that you’d like to activate and it will change to Active. You do not have to deactivate the other ones first. As EPBCS governs this process, any other active navigation flows assigned to the same visibility category will be deactivated automatically.
Now that I’ve activated it, if I am affected by it (meaning that it’s assigned to the administrators role, a special group that I’m in, or assigned globally) and I want to see this navigation flow in action, I’m able to do this by first navigating back to the home screen and then selecting Reload Navigation Flow from within the user menu.
Alright, now that those concepts are out of the way, let’s go back to customizing a navigation flow. There are many options for customization. Here are some high-level screen shots of each of the areas to customize.
Options for customizing the navigation flow at a high level:
Options for customizing a cluster:
Options for customizing a card:
Options for customizing a tab:
That covers the basics of navigation flows. I hope you’ve enjoyed the debut of the EPBCS blog series this week. I’ll plan to post more in the future!