Monday, August 29, 2011

FIM RCDC Tool

I'm sure most of you by now have had the chance to see how great the FIM Portal is. I remember when I first saw it; I couldn't believe how slick the interface looked. I thought, what a great place for a User Directory! How many times have clients asked for an interface that offered the ability to view employees, and even a place where employees can update some of their own information.

To this day, I still feel this is one of the best selling points for the FIM Portal. However, clients are always looking to customize those pages and offer up possible attributes that aren't out of the box. FIM doeslet you extend the schema and then you can add those attributes to pages, or RCDCs, so those new attributes come through. Good stuff until you actually see what it looks like to edit the RCDC. As the song goes, 'Could make a grown man cry...'

The way the RCDC looks and behaves is all done through XML and hence an xml file; an ugly, unforgiving and complicated file. After you play around with it for a while, you might finally figure out how it works. Unfortunately all it takes is a single typo and FIM barfs by not rendering the page and offers no explanation as to why it doesn't like what you did. Then it's a matter of going back over and over and over just to figure out what you did wrong. I've spent hours working on these just making small changes each time to make sure it works. Unfortunately, it consumes a lot of time, especially if you're a consultant and it starts burning too many hours on the project. You wonder what was Microsoft thinking when they put FIM together and fell short on some easy way to manipulate these pages! Microsoft, always the king of wizards configurations and WYSIWYG GUI.

Recently I discovered a tool, that does just that! It's a WYSIWYG tool that lets you manipulate RCDCs by dragging attributes around the page, and to other tabs. In addition, it offers easy to use wizards to add new attributes or tabs, or change the properties of existing attributes. After exporting the full FIM configuration, you load it into the tool, called RCDC Editor, and it loads the RCDC configuration and renders the page just like it was the FIM Portal.






Now you can move things around anyway you wish. Once you're finished, you save the project and it creates the needed xml file to be imported back to FIM. Run IISreset and that's it, you're done! Imagine sitting there with your client and decided together exactly what they'd like to see in the FIM Portal.

All the controls that are available in FIM are available through the RCDC Editor like: TextBox, Label, Check Box, Radio Button, etc. When adding new controls, the creators have tried to guide you in the right direction by pre-populating certain properties that you will probably want, this in turn makes using the tool that much easier and reduces the risk that the RCDC won't work. For example, let's say you created a new user attribute in the FIM database called 'User Laptop #', using the RCDC editor you click on Add New Control and you are offered a list of attributes that aren't currently used in the RCDC. You find 'User Laptop #' and click it, then decide what sort of control you want. Whether it's TextBox or MultiValue Control, etc, it immediately populates the control with what you might typically want, like Caption to be User Laptop #, and the Control Value to come from the FIM Database and from that actual attribute.











Now that being said, it does have an advanced option that will allow you to change any attribute property you want. Of course at this point you're on your own whether it'll work on not. The tool will let you enter any sort of information or gibberish, at that point.

Check it out, you can find it on www.tools4fim.com. You can download and play around with it, but until you buy a license, you can't save any of your work.

One final trick up this tool's sleeve is the Resultant Rights Evaluator. This is a nifty way of querying FIM and lets you see who will, and will not have rights to certain RCDC attributes. You want to know who can see or modify attributes in the RCDC. You define the requestor and the target and it'll return whether that requestor can Create, Delete, Modify or Read, it's very granular. I'll talk more about this piece of the tool next time.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Hi Peter,
which editor are you refering to? Where can I find it?

Thanks
Chris

declan oreilly said...

Does anyone know where the RCDC Editor can be found. Am loving FIM/MIM but editing XML in the raw is not a pleasant experience.