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Where Is That Oracle Virtual Book?

The advanced search in Oracle Database 10g Release 2 (10.2) documentation library gives you the option to format search results into a virtual book.

This is a nice little feature that formats your search results as a single combined table of contents, making it easier to scan through similar topics from different books. For example here is a virtual book about materialized views. It took about 15 seconds for the search engine to return results formatted as a virtual book, not very fast.

What about Oracle Database 11g?
It seems that the virtual book option is missing from the Oracle Database 11g Release 1 (11.1) documentation library. I could not find it on the advanced search page. If it is there and I missed it, please let me know. Until then, I figured out a simple way to transform an 11g search result into a virtual book. Just append “&vbook=1″ to the end of the search results URL. For example:

http://www.oracle.com/pls/db111/search?word=materialized+view
http://www.oracle.com/pls/db111/search?word=materialized+view&vbook=1

Even though the virtual book format option is not exposed on the advanced search page, it is mentioned and explained on the 11g search help page. Hmm!

You could also bookmark this page http://www.oracle.com/pls/db111/vbook and use it whenever you want to generate a virtual book for any search term.

A new search plugin
Finally, the easiest option of all is to install the Oracle DB 11.1 Virtual Book search plugin in your browser (Firefox or IE7). If you use Google Chrome, here are the instructions on how to add a new search engine.

Comments Off | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , ,


New RSS Feed for Oracle Database 10g Documentation Search

How do you create an RSS feed for a web page that does not have one? you use Dapper. That’s what I did with the Oracle database 10gR2 search result page. I used the Dapper generated RSS feed for this page in my oradoc Ubiquity command.

John already had an RSS feed for the 11g documentation search results. He commented on my Ubiquity post:

A lot of the potential RSS goodness is tied up with the Web 2.0-style stuff in the 11g library. E.g. there are URLs for RSS feeds for new books, but have to find the right place(s) in the UI to link to them; for example, perhaps in the left navigation bar for each book. But the RSS feed for search results doesn’t have such dependencies, so it shouldn’t be a problem to backport.

So, a few days later, John email me the URL for the 10gR2 documentation search results RSS feed:

http://www.oracle.com/pls/db102/search?word=search_term&format=rss

and for 11gR1 it is:

http://www.oracle.com/pls/db111/search?word=search_term&format=rss

I have updated the oradoc Ubiquity command to use the new 10gR2 feed.

Thanks John, you rock!

2 Comments | Filed in Extensions, Firefox, Oracle | Tags: , ,


New Ubiquitous Ways to Search Oracle Documentation and More

If you use Firefox, you’re in for a treat. If not, please download it and resume reading about Ubiquity and how you can use it to query the Oracle database documentation library and do other neat stuff using simple commands.

Jake was struggling to define it, but basically, Ubiquity is a Firefox extension, a powerful one. Here is a short video that gives you an introduction to what it can do.

Cool, isn’t it? Go ahead, install Ubiquity 0.1.1 and give it a whirl.

OK, now that you have Ubiquity enabled in your Firefox browser, visit the following page:

http://awads.net/firefox/ubiquity/commands/ubiquity.html

When you are on that page, you will get a message offering you the choice of subscribing to my Ubiquity commands which are also listed on the page.

Ubiq Subscribe

Currently, I have only one command: oradoc. It is similar to Don’s command but it has the added feature of displaying the search results in Ubiquity’s preview area.

Currently the preview is for Oracle database 11g and 10g documentation libraries. This was possible because John provided an RSS feed for DB 11g search results. I used Dapper to create the DB 10g search results feed.

I use and parse the feeds in the command code to generate the preview using jQuery’s AJAX and XML Goodness.

By the way, you can use Ubiquity’s “search” command to search with your Oracle Search Plugins, or other search plugins, installed in your browser’s search bar.

Here is a short screencast that demonstrates how to use the oradoc Ubiquity command and shows you other neat Ubiquity features: Click here to see the screencast.

6 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle | Tags: ,


See How Easily You Can Search Oracle

Since the introduction of the first Oracle search plugins for Firefox, a few things have changed:

So, what does this have to do with search plugins? Read on and you will know:

  • What’s new in IE7 and Firefox 2 regarding search plugins.
  • You will be introduced to the new Oracle custom search engines powered by Google.
  • And you will be able to install many Oracle search plugins that will help you in your Oracle-related research and learning.

Search plugins in the new Firefox 2 and IE 7

Both Firefox 2 and IE 7 browsers now support the OpenSearch description format (XML) for search plugins. Which means that if you develop a search plugin for Firefox, that exact same search plugin can also be installed and used in Internet Explorer.

Moreover, there are now two (automated) ways to install search plugins (and they both work in Firefox 2 and IE 7). The first is to call one simple JavaScript function, the second is through auto-discovery of search plugins.

Using auto-discovery, a web site that offers a search plugin can advertise it so that Firefox 2 and IE 7 users can easily download and install the plugin. This is similar to the RSS auto-discovery of feeds.

Search Plugin Installation in IE 7 Using Auto-Discovery

In IE 7, here is how the search bar looks when you browse a website without search plugin auto-discovery:

iesb.png

And here is how it looks with search plugin auto-discovery enabled:

iesb-ad.png

If you click on that small orange down-arrow, you will see something similar to this:

iesb-ad2.png

In fact, if you are using IE 7 to browse this very page, you will be able to see it in action in your browser right now. Just look at your search bar.

Note: I have noticed that IE 7 does not discover more than 3 search plugins using auto-discovery.

Search Plugin Installation in IE 7 Using a JavaScript Link

Alternatively, if the installation is done using the JavaScript link, you will be presented with this window in IE 7:

iesb-ad3.png

Search Plugin Installation in Firefox 2 Using Auto-Discovery

In Firefox 2, here is how the search bar looks when you browse a website without search plugin auto-discovery:

ffsb.png

And here is how it looks with search plugin auto-discovery enabled:

ffsb-ad.png

If you click on that small blue-ish down-arrow, you will see something similar to this:

ffsb-ad2.png

In fact, if you are using Firefox 2.0 to browse this very page (or Wikipedia for example), you will be able to see it in action in your browser. Just look at your search bar.

Search Plugin Installation in Firefox 2 Using a JavaScript Link

Alternatively, if the installation is done using the JavaScript link, you will be presented with this window in Firefox 2.0:

ffsb-ad3.png

Oracle Custom Search Engines

I have created three Oracle custom search engines powered by Google.

  1. The first search engine is for Oracle-related blogs. It searches all the blogs aggregated by OraNA.

  2. The second search engine is for Oracle-related forums and mailing lists. Currently this search engine searches the following sites:

    Let me know if you have other Oracle-related forums you want to include in this search engine.

  3. The third search engine is for Oracle-related websites. Currently this search engine searches the following sites:

    Let me know if you have other Oracle-related sites you want to include in this search engine.

These search engines, and more, are now available to you right from your browser’s search bar.

Install Oracle search plugins

Just click on a search plugin below to add it to the list of engines available in your browser’s search bar:
(Firefox 2 or IE 7 and above only)

Oracle Custom Search Engines:

Oracle Documentation Search Engines:

Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are four search bar keyboard shortcuts that will make using the search bar even faster:

  • Go to search bar: Ctrl+K in Firefox. Ctrl+E in IE.
  • Select next search engine in search bar: Alt+Down in Firefox. Ctrl+Down in IE.
  • Select previous search engine in search bar: Alt+Up in Firefox. Ctrl+Up in IE.
  • Open search results in a new tab: Alt+Enter

And here is a bonus tip to change the width of the search bar in Firefox.

Happy searching!

6 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , , , ,


Bart’s Punishment For Asking Dumb Questions

I will use Google before asking dumb questions

Using Google to find answers is a good idea, but when it comes to finding answers to technical questions, hitting the documentation first is a very smart move that may save you some humiliation later on.

When you ask “obvious” questions on forums or mailing lists, there is a good chance that the more experienced forum contributors will hit you with an answer like this one: RTFM before asking dumb questions.

Tim Hall has noticed a trend in the Oracle forums:

It feels like most posters these days don’t even bother to open the manuals before asking a question. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked a question, that is answered by the first couple of paragraphs in the manual. It’s just lazy beyond words.

OK, so Tim is predicting the downfall of Oracle forums because posters don’t bother to RTFM first.

Now, with the help of Oracle Blogs Search and Google, let’s see what other bloggers have written about this subject:

RTFM – by Tom Kyte:

I do recommend and point people to the documentation, but I don’t think I give RTFM answers… I will answer with a gentle reminder such as “well, when I typed your subject into the search field, I found these 5 articles, did you see them?”.

How To Be A Good Guru – by Andrew Clarke:

Telling some newbie “RTFM” is an act of pure arrogance. It just feeds the respondent’s ego without helping that questioner learn anything, except maybe not to ask for help in the forum again.

But it’s in the manual! – by Jonathan Lewis:

I’ve just seen a note on the news group comp.databases.server.oracle advising someone to check the online manual for a piece of code to report which objects are using how much space in the buffer cache. This is the reference and this is the code… There are two flaws with this code – it gets the wrong results, and it’s inefficient.

RTFM, Newbies etc – by Niall Litchfield:

RTFM says “you’re wasting my time and I think you are stupid”. I wouldn’t say that to anyone in one-to-one conversation, I don’t see why it is acceptable in email. (unless you are 14, male and on a video games forum obviously).

Read the ******* Manual – by Andrew Gilfrin:

First let me say I’m not a prude, but neither do I have a mouth like a toilet. But I do find the acronym RTFM incredibly offensive.

How to get users to RTFM – by Kathy Sierra

The “F” in RTFM is the biggest clue that most of us blame the user for not reading the manual… since we can’t force our users to do anything, if we want them to RTFM, we need to make a better FM.

And finally, here is what I say:

  1. Don’t use the acronym RTFM.
  2. Do point people to the documentation.
  3. Don’t blindly trust the documentation.
  4. Do test, test and test, even after you read the documentation.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions. What’s dumb to some, is genius to others.

Feel free to add your own DO or DON’T, or even ask dumb questions, I promise I won’t throw an RTFM on you :)

15 Comments | Filed in Oracle, Tips | Tags: , ,


Oracle Bookmarklets, The Easiest Way to Search Documentation and More

In addition to the Oracle documentation Firefox plugin and extension, you now have another easy and quick way to search Oracle documentation and other Oracle and non-Oracle related web sites.

Introducing Oracle Bookmarklets

A bookmarklet is a small JavaScript program that can be stored as a URL within a “bookmark” (or a “favorite”) in your browser. Bookmarklets are simple one-click tools that can add substantial functionality to the browser. Below you will find Oracle specific bookmarklets as well as other useful bookmarklets. They work in Firefox and Internet Explorer.

How to install the bookmarklets

In Firefox:

  1. Make sure your “Bookmarks Toolbar” is visible (ensure View/Toolbars/Bookmarks Toolbar is checked).
  2. Right click on the bookmarklet.
  3. Select “Bookmark This Link…” from the menu.
  4. Select “Bookmarks Toolbar” in the “Create in” drop down list and click “OK”.

Alternatively, you can just drag and drop the bookmarklet on the Bookmarks Toolbar.

In Internet Explorer 6:

  1. Make sure your “Links” toolbar is visible (ensure View/Toolbars/Links is checked).
  2. Right click on the bookmarklet.
  3. Select “Add to Favorites…” from the menu.
  4. If you get a security alert, click on “Yes” to continue.
  5. Select “Links” in the “Create in” drop down list and click “OK”.

In Internet Explorer 7:

I have successfully tested the bookmarklets in Internet Explorer 7 (RC1). The installation is similar to IE6. However, for the bookmarklets to work properly you may need to disable IE7’s built in pop up blocker and tweak the default security settings, otherwise you will have to explicitly allow the bookmarklet script to run everytime you use it.

How to use the bookmarklets

The bookmarklets below can be used in two ways:

  1. If you select (highlight) text on the web page you are browsing and then click on the bookmarklet on your toolbar, the corresponding search for the selected text will be performed and the result displayed in a new window (or tab).

  2. If you do not select (highlight) any text on the web page you are browsing and click on the bookmarklet on your toolbar, you will be asked to type in your search terms and then the corresponding search for the entered text will be performed and the result displayed in a new window (or tab).

Oracle Database Documentation Bookmarklets:

Oracle Resources Bookmarklets:

Other Useful Bookmarklets:

Bonus:

I have created these bookmarklets and used them to research a topic I want to blog about or a work related problem I want to solve. I hope you will find them useful as well.

2 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle | Tags: , , , , ,


Oracle Global Documentation Search Not So Global

I have noticed that the Oracle database 10g documentation library is excluded from the global documentation search result. By global documentation search I mean the following pages:

  1. http://www.oracle.com/pls/db92/db92.federated_search
  2. http://www.oracle.com/pls/db102/db102.federated_search

For example, here is the search result for “select” using the first page, and here is the search result using the second page. The result in both searches does not include any results for Oracle database 10g Release 1 or 2. It does however include results for the Oracle database Express Edition 10g Release 2. Does anyone know the reason for that?

Update: August 14, 2006 – This seems to have been fixed. The Oracle database 10g documentation library is now included in the search results.

Comments Off | Filed in Oracle | Tags:


Search Oracle Documentation Google Style

Last month, Oracle removed the authentication requirement from its documentation libraries. Since then, OTN membership is no longer required for accessing the Oracle documentation.

Yesterday, Justin announced that a new way for searching the documentation has just gone live.

For example, to see the new Oracle Docs search in action, here is the search result for “merge”.

Check it out at search.oracle.com.

To make searching easier:

  • For Firefox users: Install the new Oracle Docs (SES) search plugin.
  • For IE users: Add the new Oracle Docs (SES) custom button to your Google toolbar.
4 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , , , ,


What’s new is important

What is the first thing you do when a new version of an Oracle database (or any software) is released? You immediately look for the “what’s new” document, right?

I believe that the “What’s new” document is very important because it informs you of new (or modified) features that is supposed to make your life easier and your applications more powerful.

Take advantage of “what’s new”. After all, you’re paying for these new features (I assume), so use them or lose them.

To that end, here is a list of “what’s new” links. They will take you straight to the corresponding section of the Oracle documentation:

What’s new in Oracle Database version:

What’s new in SQL in Oracle Database version:

What’s new in PL/SQL in Oracle Database version:

3 Comments | Filed in Oracle, Tips | Tags: , , , ,


Search Oracle Docs and read OraBlogs from Google toolbar

Oracle Internet Explorer users, now it is your turn. With the release of the latest Google toolbar for IE, now it is possible to add custom buttons to the toolbar that will let you visit and search your favorite websites and keep up with interesting feeds. So, I went ahead and created two custom buttons, one for searching Oracle documentation, another for reading Oracle blogs: Continue reading…

2 Comments | Filed in Oracle, Technology | Tags: , , , ,