For custom attribute value pick lists, use only STATIC VARAs

Discussion created by Michael_Lowry on Nov 16, 2017
Latest reply on Nov 16, 2017 by Michael_Lowry
Yesterday we finally got to the bottom of a problem that had been preventing us from using the AWI with our newly-upgraded v12.1 system. The root cause turned out to be related to the way custom attributes (a.k.a. grouping criteria) were defined in this system.
  • In this system, we had defined several custom attributes inUC_CUSTOM_ATTRIBUTES.
  • For two of these custom attributes, the data source for values was anEXEC VARAthat ran an SQL job.
  • The SQL agent on which these jobs ran was down.
The Automation Engine apparently just assumes that the data sources for custom attribute values will always be accessible. If these data sources are STATIC VARAs, everything will work fine because the AE will be able to load the results from its own database. If dynamic VARAs are used however, these VARAs may not always return results, or may not return them in a timely fashion.  The AE does not appear to be designed to handle the scenario wherein a custom attribute data source does not return results immediately.

If the data source for a custom attribute value pick list is a dynamic VARA object (e.g., an EXEC or SQL VARA), and this VARA does not return results immediately (perhaps because an agent is down), the graphical user interfaces are affected in the following ways:
  • Java User Interface: The JUI will work fine for most operations; however, if you try to load the value pick list for one of these custom attributes, the JUI will hang. It will be necessary to kill the app and restart it.
  • Automic Web Interface: It will not be possible to log in to the Automic Web Interface. The login will time out, apparently because the AWI pre-caches all custom attribute value pick lists when the user is logging in.
I’m not sure whether Automic considers this a bug, but the documentation might provide a clue.
No reference values are available when there is no reference VARA object. This means that you cannot use the grouping criterion in the Process Monitoring perspective. The same applies when you use a dynamic variable that cannot be resolved (incorrect login info or invalid SQL).
The quoted passage (emphasis mine) suggests that problems with resolution of dynamic VARAs should result in the pick list’s being empty. In any event, this is not how it works in v12.1, and until this issue is resolved, it is probably advisable to use only STATIC VARA as the data source for custom attribute value pick lists, particularly if you rely on the AWI.