PeopleSoft Spotlight Series: Class Search & Browse Catalog with Elasticsearch

In Campus Solutions 9.2, we use the PeopleSoft Search Framework and the Elasticsearch engine to support the Class Search and Browse Catalog features in our delivered Fluid pages. This Spotlight Series video focuses on setup and use of delivered Campus Solutions features for both Class Search and Browse Catalog to optimize their functionality and provide your students with the most accurate search results during their use. While we will provide additional information on resources for implementing Elastisearch in Campus Solutions at the end of this video, if you have not already done so, you should view the PeopleSoft Spotlight Series: Deploying Elasticsearch on PeopleTools in order to familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of using the Peoplesoft Search Framework to deploy the Elasticsearch engine. For this video, we’ll start with a quick demonstration on how Class Search and Browse Catalog work once you’ve properly completed their setup in Campus Solutions. Then, we’ll examine the preparation and setup that’s required to support what we demonstrated with attention to some of the options that you and your implementation team should consider. Next, we’ll examine how to manage delivered utilities for creating and managing indexes that will ensure your search results are optimized during enrollment and with other features in Campus Solutions. Finally, we’ll share suggestions and practices for taking advantage of delivered configuration features. Let’s take a look at how Class Search and Browse Catalog work for your student users. A student logs into their homepage, selects the manage classes tile, and selects the class search and enroll menu item and the term in which she is searching for a class. We are using a laptop or large form factor view for this video, but because we are in the Fluid UI, your students could use a tablet our smartphone just as easily. Users can enter a keyword Or use the Additional ways to search link to begin a search. Either way, initial search results are displayed based on the value entered or selected: in this case she uses a simple keyword of ENGL to provide the initial results instead of using the list of subject values or the other Additional ways to search options. You’ll notice that a list of facets appears. This allows the student to refine a search with the criteria you deploy She uses the filter for Undergraduate to refine her search. Search results are updated and re-displayed immediately. She might want to attend classes only on weekdays and selects that facet.
Of course, she can always change her search and she can de-select a facet to do so. Some Facets (like meeting days) can be configured and we’ll show you how to do that later in this video. In all cases, selectable facets appear based on the initial search results returned. And that’s important to remember because there a number of additional criteria that could also appear: Examples: Waitlist Status might be displayed as a usable facet. Course Attributes if used will display and can be applied as selection criteria. If you utilize the Common Attribute Framework to create and assign field values to classes they can be configured as facets. We’ll show you how to deploy Common Attribute Framework values later in this video. She selects Englit 120 where she sees she has 3 options for scheduled class sections. She’ll select one and will be automatically shifted to the delivered guided Enrollment process which we demonstrate in other videos. Browse Catalog works in a similar fashion and can be configured in similar ways. Here, our user starts by entering the keyword of Math and can use the delivered facets to refine search results. Browse Catalog is integrated with the Planner Feature and Enrollment in Campus Solutions. Now that we’ve reviewed how these features are used, let’s examine how we get class search and browse catalog to work in Campus Solutions 9.2 Fluid UI. Remember, the first step to making Class Search and Browse catalog work in the Campus Solutions Fluid UI is to set up and successfully test Elasticsearch for your Campus Solutions 9.2 environment. The master solution for configuring and troubleshooting Elasticsearch can be found on My Oracle Support at Elasticsearch Home Page. Implementing Elasticsearch in Campus Solutions 9.2 requires PeopleTools 8.55.12 or higher. Part of the technical implementation is to make sure that the your Search Definitions are deployed. We deliver 4 search definitions that you should use to implement Class Search and Browse Catalog. A convenient way to confirm that the four delivered search definitions are deployed is to navigate and access the Deploy Search Definition page. In Search Definitions you should find the four shown with a Deploy status of Deployed. In the Search Category component, you’ll find the facets for search criteria that we deliver and that you can use for class search and browse catalog. You should use the facets that are delivered. They have been designed and constructed to work out of the box for class search and browse catalog. While you should not add any facets, you can de-select them from use. You should refer to the Peoplebooks section called Configuring PeopleSoft Search Framework for Search in Fluid for complete documentation for doing so. After your technical deployment of Elasticsearch, you are ready to decide on Class Search Setup and Browse Catalog options. It’s probably a good idea to assign a team of both technical and functional experts to consider how these searches should operate on your system and for your users. For Class Search, you’ll start on the Class Search Setup component: a single location for many of the most important aspects of Fluid Class search. It’s organized into a number of sections where you can manage a number of your options. In Class Search Setup you can decide whether you users will use the Shopping Cart to park classes when they have been selected or allow your users to go directly to enrollment to enroll in the selected class or both. The Class Search Display Limit controls the number of courses that appear in class search results. This number refers to the number of courses that appear on the Fluid user interface and not the number of courses retrieved by the system. You can change this number and the text message that’s displayed when users exceed the display limit. Filter options are selected depending on how you’d like to enable your searches. For example, by default you might want users to see only open courses. The Open status of a course is a facet so a user can always remove it if necessary to show all courses regardless of status. Filter options are selected depending on how you’d like to enable your searches. For example, by default you might want users to see only open courses. The Open status of a course is a facet so a user can always remove it if necessary to show all courses regardless of status. Maybe the most important feature setting on the Class Search Setup page is the Track Admin Changes to Classes checkbox . Selecting the checkbox allows you to manage changes in your class schedules with delivered utilities in order to provide accurate search results to your users. We’ll talk about how it works later in this video. In some circumstances, where the enrollment process completes but the student is unable to enroll in classes, users will need to reenter the process and make some additional adjustments. You can add, edit and configure instructional messages here as necessary. There is some additional setup that you and your implementation team will need to decide upon. The first is setting Up Class Filter Options. Campus Solutions allows you to set up certain class filter options that are unique to your institution. On the Units tab of the Class Search Setup component, you can configure Units into ranges that are consistent with those of your classes. Each row on the Units page is converted to a facet value that is used to narrow down the search results. The value users select is matched against the class unit value. This makes it easier to manage searches for you users. On the Meeting Times tab, you can configure meeting times relevant to you meeting patterns. The start and end times are converted into two separate facets that are matched against the class meeting pattern start and end times. All classes within a class option must meet the facet value to be retrieved. Each row on the Meeting Days tab allows you to construct a value that is converted to a facet value that is matched against the class meeting pattern. All classes within a class option must meet the facet value to be retrieved. The setup for Display Settings and filtering options for the Browse Catalog in PeopleSoft Fluid User Interface are very similar to the Class Search setup.
Display Limit, Filter options, Recently viewed (no favorites for Browse Catalog) and Course tracking can be configured. Browse Catalog filters for units are also available. Once you’ve completed the basic setup for Class and Course Catalog search, you are ready to start deploying search results to users. We have delivered several utilities that give you ability to do that. We recommend that you use these processes because they have been specifically designed to operate with Campus Solutions As you can see in this diagram; The Class Table is used by the the Pre-processing utilitiy to create rows in a class table extension. The setup that you’ve configured and delivered search definitions are all used when you execute index builds that create Elasticsearch indexes for both large and small form factor devices. This diagram and a similar one showing Course search are available in the Peoplebooks section: Building Indexes for Class and Course Search. Let’s see how these processes work. Running Class Search Index Pre-Processing requires that you have generally completed the scheduling data entry for the terms for the classes you wish to appear in class search results. Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to manage additions and changes to your schedule a little later. In its basic application, Class Search Index Pre Processing is used to select all of the classes you want to add to the Class Table Extension so that you can build a full Class search index in selected terms Here, we are selecting to Add classes that have been scheduled, To select the classes for the term to be included in our index build, we select from the delivered queries the query that will allow us a range of terms. Campus Solutions has delivered a choice of queries that should meet all use cases and we recommend that you only use these for Index pre processing. Once you’ve selected the query you’ll use, you can preview the results. Browse Catalog Course search Pre-processing works in similar ways. Now that you have selected the classes that you’ve scheduled, you are ready to build a full index for those scheduled classes. You should build a full index after your initial implementation of Elasticsearch, PeopleSoft Search Framework search definitions, and setting up class search for Fluid that we’ve discussed earlier in this video. This delivered process shows you important information about you Index Full Build. Notice that you will build 2 indexes; one that will be used by users who are searching with small form factors devices like smartphones and another for larger form factor devices like tablets and laptops. You will also note that all of the terms of the scheduled classes that we previously pulled in from Pre Processing are listed in this grid on the page. Full builds should be run if you’ve made any changes to the setup for the PeopleSoft Search framework like adding or deleting facets. Remember; when you run the full index build process it prevents self-service class search from displaying search results so you should only do so if there are times that Class Search won’t be used. Here’s a tip: if you want to add or remove a facet, without running a full build you can so by using the Search Category page. (Peopletools > Search Framework > Designer > Search Category). Of course, a Full Build for Course Search for Browse Catalog works in a similar fashion to the Class Search Full Build. And the same caution applies: full index build process prevents the course catalog from displaying search results as all the indexes are being rebuilt. After completing the Class Search Index Full build, you’re ready to start using Class Search. However, we all know that class schedules are very dynamic. New classes are constantly being added, instructors, facilities, meeting times and days are changed, and classes are cancelled. And this is where the Class Search Index Manager will be critical! The Search Index Manager allows you to run an Incremental Build for Class Search Index so that those changes will appear in Class search results. Here, you can see that the page displays pending classes that require an incremental build. Using the detail icon, you can drill into each row to see the changes that have been made. Use the Class Search Index Manager page to manually trigger an incremental build. The incremental build process does not prevent class search results from being displayed. Remember we showed you a checkbox in the Class Search Setup page called the Track Admin Changes to Classes. You HAVE to have selected this checkbox in your setup in order to tell the Index Manager to scoop up the changes you’ve made, list them here, and then update them with this process. Now that you have a basic understanding of how to setup and manage Class Search and Browse Catalog, let’s talk about suggested practices and additional ways for applying and understanding delivered functionality. In order to deliver the most accurate search results to users and In order to best manage your configuration and delivered utilities, it’s important to consider what changes in setup and in your scheduled classes are recognized and deployed in search results. Here’s a quick reference that will assist you in determining when to run which processes. Generally, it’s a good practice to schedule the Class Search Index Manager process whenever changes in your schedule of classes occur. However, the frequency which this occurs depends on your own business procedures. On the other hand, we have constructed Class Search so that there are certain items that will be recognized and used in “real time” for students when they search and select classes for enrollment without having to run the Class Search Index Manager. Campus Solutions class search performs a real time check against Class Status, that is; whether a class is open or closed and does so for each component of a class to provide accurate and immediate search results..
In addition, we provide dynamic checking on enrolment capacity, waitlist capacity, and total number of seats and/or places available and provide information accordingly again without having to run the Class Search Index Manager. Proper planning for running utilities is an important aspect of managing search results accurately and avoiding downtime. Instead of running a Class Search Index Full Build (which prevents using a search when it’s processing) , in most cases you can use a combination of Class Search Index Pre-Processing and the Class Search Index Manager to deploy search results. Let’s take a look at a very simple use case that illustrates good practice. Let’s say this is your initial use of Class Search using the PeopleSoft Search Framework and Elasticsearch. You have completed all of your setup and you’ve built out you schedules for Fall Term 111 and Spring 222. In order to deploy Fall 111 Term’s search results only, you complete the Class Search Index Pre-Processing for Fall 111 and a Class Search Index Full Build and you are good to conduct Fall 111 enrollment. When you need Spring Term 222 search results for enrollment as long as you have select Track Admin Changes to Classes you can deploy them to users by including Spring Term 222 classes when you run the Class Search Index Pre-Processing and the Class Search Index Manager. And when you enter Summer Term 333 classes in your Schedule of Classes, with Track Admin Changes to Classes selected, you can run Index Pre-Processing and the Class Search Index Manager to deploy those classes. As you can see, the key to all of this good practice to keep the Track Admin Changes to Classes checkbox selected. Of course, there will be times when you’ll want to delete appropriate classes from your search results. You can also use Class Search Index Pre-Processing to change the contents of the Class Table Extension record and use the Class Search Index Manager to recognize those changes.
Let’s say you’d like to remove the classes from a certain term from search results. Select the classes in Class Search index Pre-Processing to be deleted. This way, you can be fairly “surgical” when changing the classes in certain terms and sessions from being used by Class Search. The Common Attribute Framework is an innovative feature that allows customers to add fields to pages and, in this case, facets, without customization. You can take advantage of the Common Attribute Framework feature if you need to define specialty Class Search criteria and use the Common Attribute Framework to construct facets. First, we need to create and assign Common Attribute values to appropriate classes. Using the common attribute framework to create data fields is well documented in Peoplebooks. Make sure that the values you wish to deploy have been assigned to appropriate classes on the Adjust Class Associations component, Class Component tab.
Next, use the Common Attributes Tab on the Class Search Filters component to define specific Common Attributes for your class search. Once you have established the common attribute as a filter and saved, you’ll need to run a Full Index Build. Any time you update Class Filters you need to do so. So you need to be cautious because running a full index will prevent the use of Class Search. You can see how the new field will be displayed and used in Class Search. Note that any valid values that you assign to the Common Attribute will be included. We also provide additional setup that allows you to configure a number of options that are designed to provide clear and user friendly information or messaging. For example, here we see how to add information for class, section, and class number using the setup provided on the Class Label page. Instead of only showing the component, additional information can be displayed for each class section. Behind the scenes, Campus Solutions searches use Keywords in a unique way.
As we tested Class Search, we found that Elasticsearch’s use of stemming; that is reducing a key word to a root form, was not producing consistent expected results. To solve this, we have introduced code to Campus Solutions that applies a transparent wildcard character to any keyword text that a user enters. Thanks for watching this spotlight video. There are abundant resources available for reference when implementing Class Search and Browse Catalog using Elasticsearch in Campus Solutions 9.2.

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