Tuesday Jul 31, 2007

Portal Server 7.1 Update 1 Release Available For Download

OpenPortal Portal Server 7.1 Update 1 is a maintenance release addressing major bug fixes from the previous releases along with some significant new features and enhancements. In particular, this release addresses some of the gaps specifically around community functionality. The new feature set includes the ability to create private  communities, allowing cross community search and management of communities via admin console. Other notable features include the AJAX portal container and the ability to create blogs.

For Solaris and Linux platforms, the release is available both in the form of an upgrade (via patches) and as a fresh install.

For Windows platform, we have taken a simple approach and are making this release available only in the form of a  pre-configured install, without an upgrade option. The main reason for taking this approach is that the earlier release of Portal Server 7.1 on Windows (part of Java Enterprise System 5 bundle) was somewhat difficult to install and required quite a few workarounds to configure the product.

This release simplifies the install experience and speeds up the evaluation and development  process. It is highly recommended that the Windows release should mainly be used for development and  evaluation purposes. 

The Portal Server 7.1 Update 1 release is available for download at this location.

Also note that the Java Application Platform SDK streamlines enterprise application development and improves developer productivity. A new version, Update 3 Preview 2,  is now available for download. In this release the Portlet Container has been updated from the earlier 1.0 beta version to 1.0 FCS.

Thursday Jul 19, 2007

Command-Line Utilities to Administer Communities

Portal Server community administration can be done from either the Portal Server Management Console or through command-line interface (CLI). 

For the Portal Server 7.1u1 release, the command-line utilities for community administration was consolidated into a technical note.

 Each entry has the command (long and short formats), description, syntax, and options.

Instructions to administer communities from the Portal Server Management Console is available in the online help.

Monday Jun 25, 2007

Portal Server 7 Samples Screencast

There are 4 portal samples available with Portal Server 7.  Here's a quick overview of each sample and pointers to the screencasts available for the samples.

Portal Welcome page

  • The Enterprise Sample is a business portal based on a fictitious company named Adventure Sports Café and showcases key features of the Sun Java™ System Portal Server.  Checkout the screencast
  • The Developer Sample highlights content that would be helpful to a developer trying to understand the inner workings of the Sun Java™ System Portal Server. Checkout the screencast

The fourth sample is the Welcome Sample which is a welcome page that provides a single point of access to the portal samples and pointers to the product documentation and support.

Friday Jun 15, 2007

Portal Hacks: Ajax Table Container as a Community template

Sun Java System Portal Server 7.1 Update 1 introduces the Ajax table container (see screencast for more information) . The Ajax container provides Ajax capabilities at the framework level such as drag & drop positioning of portlets, asynchronous refreshing of portlets, multiple layouts and styles.

The Community feature (see this post for more information) allows you to create new communities with different layout templates. The layout templates provided out-of-the-box are 2 column, weblog and  wiki, left navigation, and wiki. The Ajax container is not provided out-of-the-box, but it is fairly easy to add the Ajax table layout to the existing templates. Follow these steps to add Ajax table layout as one of the options to be displayed during community creation.

Step #1

From your command shell (make sure you are logged in as root or the portal user), go to /var/opt/SUNWportal/portals/<portal-id>/communitytemplates. All the paths in this post are for a portal installed on Solaris. If you are using Linux or Windows use the appropriate corresponding paths. For example, the above path on Linux will be /var/opt/sun/portal/portals/<portal-id>/communitytemplates, and on Windows it'll be something like C:\\Sun\\JavaES5\\portal\\data\\portals\\<portal-id>\\communitytemplates.

Step #2

In the /var/opt/SUNWportal/portals/<portal-id>/communitytemplates directory, copy 2column directory as ajax (or some other name), and 2column.properties as ajax.properties.

# cd /var/opt/SUNWportal/portals/portal1/communitytemplates
# cp -r 2column ajax
# cp 2column.properties ajax.properties
# ls
2column                      ajax.properties              menucontainer                wiki.properties
2column.properties           menucontainer.properties     wiki_en.properties
2column_en.properties        blogwiki                     menucontainer_en.properties
ajax                         blogwiki.properties          wiki

Step # 3

Change to the newly created ajax directory. You'll see a number of XML files in the directory.

# cd ajax
# ls
banned.xml    disabled.xml  member.xml    pending.xml   visitor.xml
deleted.xml   invited.xml   owner.xml     rejected.xml

Edit each file and replace the string "JSPTableContainerProvider" with "AJAXTableContainerProvider".

Step # 4

Change directory one level up and edit ajax.properties. Customize the values for the new ajax template. This should be fairly straightforward. Next create a localized copy of ajax.properties by copying it as ajax_en.properties.

# cp ajax.properties ajax_en.properties

That's it! Your ajax community layout is now ready to be tested.

Login to the Community sample as a user. Default user is test/test. Click on the "Create a New Community" link to launch the community creation wizard. Enter the values for the first two screens of the wizard till you reach the Template step. In the templates screen you should now see a new option for the Ajax Table Layout.

Select Ajax Layout in the template selection step and go through the wizard to create a new community. Access your newly created community and you should see the community load up using the Ajax table layout. In your layout, you'll be able to drag and drop portlets around the page, change the layout from 2-column to 3-column, and even change the style of the page.

This concludes the simple hack to make your community Ajax-enabled!

Elluminate, Weather, and Photo Show AJAX Portlets Available

Weather Portlet

Check out these cool portlets available now in the Portlet Repository!

  • The Elluminate Portlet allows users of Elluminate Live! server 7.0 to create, join, delete, and schedule meetings. A user simply needs to provide their login name, password, and Elluminate Server location and then they are up and running and able to communicate with an Elluminate Live Manager.   Here's more on Portals and Live Collaboration.
  •   The Weather Portlet uses the Yahoo weather service for a weather report based on a zipcode.  The zipcode is a portlet preference set by the user. This portlet also uses the Scriptaculous javascript library  for cool rendering effects..

You'll find the binary, source code, and documentation for all of these portlets and several others at the Portlet Repository Downloads page.

Didn't find the portlet you were looking for or you'd like to contribute a portlet, then drop us a line and let us know.

Wednesday Jun 13, 2007

New SDN Article: Authoring Community Services With Portal Server

writerThe Communities/Collaboration feature set in Portal Server 7 has been evolving at a good pace.

One of the key requirements in that area was the need to provide the ability for developers to write their own collaborative applications that could plug right into the community infrastructure and be used alongside the ones that are provided out-of-the-box.

Jeff has written a new article on SDN that explains how to do just that, i.e. create collaborative applications that are community aware. The article goes into great detail and uses the Shared Bookmarks Portlet from the OpenPortal Portlet Repository Project for illustration purposes.

You can get the article here (PDF) -- Authoring Community Services with Portal Server

Friday Jun 01, 2007

Portals and Live Collaboration

Portals are a service delivery platform. The page real estate can consist of content, business integration interfaces, business alert windows, simplified application composites and collaborative applications interfaces. 

At a customer meeting this last week for a very large state govement portal, the customer focused on the aspects above and how various software could improve their overall services to their end customer.  As part of live collaboration, I showed the customer a new portlet Venkata Yella from Sun had recently finished which provides an interface to Elluminate Live.   Elluminate provides desktop sharing, distance learning, co-editing documents, VOIP, etc. - and the Elluminate portlet allows individuals to schedule, track, launch meetings on a portal page along with other collaborative services and business integrations for better human productivity - e.g., perhaps I see in a mashup portlet, alerts on a specific factory from our inventory control system and then schedule or launch a live meeting with managers at the factory.  Integrating portals with business integrations and collaborative services can vastly improve corporate or "Enterprise Productivity".

What I found also noteworthy about this Portlet from Yella, was that it was built by Sun ISV Engineers and Elluminate together, and then contributed into the Portlet Repository Project.  The portlet, docs and portlet source are there now for the world to use with OpenPortal or others.  Everyone has their portlet or gadgets or widget libraries; google, yahoo, IBM, BEA, JBOSS, Yahoo groups, etc. and each wants to keep them proprietary.  This example meets a great goal, to provide to end administrators, SI's and eventually end users (once end users are allowed to add portlets and widgets from a shareable repository to their community pages) a vast non-proprietary array of functions to just click and run in their pages.

If your company builds a service like Elluminate - build an opensource portlet. We'll help. 

If your company is building portals and enterprise services - leverage opensource portlets - and contribute back.


Saturday May 12, 2007

Private Communities and Community Management features in Sun Java System Portal Server 7

A previous posting (also this) had introduced the Communities/Collaboration feature set which was one of the big themes behind Sun Java System Portal Server 7.

To show where that whole area is logically evolving into next, Maneesha has recorded another screencast that highlights the notion of Private Communities, Community Management and more..

So check out the screencast here -- Private Communities in Sun Java System Portal Server 7

Tuesday Apr 24, 2007

Web 2.0 Communities via the Sun Java System Portal Server

Portal communities Tom has published an article that describes how Web 2.0 concepts are a perfect complement to Portals, and in particular how the Sun Portal product makes effective use of Web 2.0 features and concepts to help users be more collaborative and productive.

So check it out here -- Creating Web 2.0-Enabled Communities With Sun Java System Portal Server


Friday Sep 15, 2006

Enterprise-Scale Databases in Sun Portal Server Collaboration features

An earlier post described the compelling collaboration/communities features that were introduced by Sun Java System Portal Server 7.

Su just published an excellent article that articulates how you can deploy and enable an enterprise-scale community in a production environment by switching to Oracle and taking advantage of its high-availability features.

On SDN --  Switching to Enterprise-Scale Databases in Sun Java System Portal Server for Collaboration

Thursday Jul 27, 2006

The Best Opensource Portlets

With Sun Portal's entrance (NOT foray!) into the Opensource community, [whose goal is deeply focused on the betterment of the world community of users and developers (see my posts)]- our developers have started two distinct efforts each with their own benefits. 

1.) Opensource Portlet Repositories: 
My new four wheel beast came with a very large engine, navigation, super-wide low profile-rims, satellite radio ... and an iPod integration.  That's ~400hp and ~10,000 songs - all controlled at the steering wheel.  Sweet.  But, where'd I get those 10,000 songs? iTunes is free  but the songs are not.  What good is a luxury sports car without an iPod integration and what good is iTunes without songs?  

desciTunes allows you to purchase songs from their store, and allows you to rip CD's you already own, but wouldn't it be great if you could go to independent sites and download songs, ones that are cheaper (50 cents) or have other catalogs (has Steve Jobs ever heard of the Beetles) or frees songs from new artists?  Maybe then I'd have 20,000 songs for that saturday afternoon drive to Julian for apple pie.

It's the same for a portal server.  A portal doesn't do anything without portlets.  Sort of like a web server.  Who cares what web server you use, as soon as you finish the install, it does nothing until you build some web pages and put them in doc root.  But a portal allows three categories for content, not just web pages,  1.) content (like the web server) 2.) portal-specific applications and 3.) portal independent applications.    So wouldn't it be great if you could get portlets for free?

desc A portal's unique capability is that it allows you to easily build a page or set of pages consisting of each of these elements.   A portal should be designed to simplify #1, and #2 should come with a portal (for free because it has something to do with the function of the portal - example, delegated administration of users or portal pages).  But for #3 today, most portal customers have to either develop each portlet themselves or purchase them from their vendor's proprietary library - making the customer even more tied to the vendor from whom they thought they purchased a capital expenditure (visualize the fat cat smoking a cigar laughing and counting his piles of money with smoke stacks in the background...).  Can you imagine only being able to buy gas from the same auto dealer and only at one location?

Sun's vision for the opensource portlet repository is to end this dependency on proprietary portlet repositories.  As the repository grows, the portal installer will install the portal of their choice, then add to that installation functions from an opensource repository.  Customers can download and own the code and migrate it through their own lifecycle or contribute back to the community.  ISV's will be able to provide tot the community their integrations - reducing their costs required today to support multiple portal vendors.  Governments may and should provide all their integrations back to the community that funded their projects.  Over time with thousands of customers our community should develop thousands of portlets - but first we must start with a set of core portlets.  Those portlets which provide the greatest value.

descSo what are the 10 core portlets we need?  What should the community be looking to develop?  A few categories are (I will provide deeper detail on these to community members over time):


  1. Collaboration
    • Project / Task Mgmt
    • Surveys  / Polls / Decision Making
    • File sharing, document routing
    • Workgroup Networking (blog post coming soon)
  2. Communication Suite Integration
    • individual email -no
    • individual calendar - maybe
    • individual summary - maybe
    • individual address book - maybe
    • community email - maybe
    • community calendar - yes
    • community addressbook - yes
    • enterprise wide address book - yes
  3. Enterprise Applications Integrations
    • standard applications  (alerts, quick data entry, human workflow, repetitive function interface)
  4. Business Intelligence and Analysis
  5. Desktop Integration
    • Windows Sharepoint Services (tasks, events, photos)
    • Citrix, Sun SGD (Tarantella)

2.) Next time, I'll discuss the benefits of the Portal repository to CIO's, Division VP's and even SI's and ISV's.

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Thursday Jul 20, 2006

Portal 7 Communities Screencast

One of the key and compelling new features of the Sun Java System Portal Server 7 release was support for Communities and Collaboration. See Paul's writeup that introduces this feature-set and explains why "Community Portals" have the potential to impact how we use the read/write Web.

To follow up on that, Jeff just recorded a screencast that demonstrates the usage of Communities in Portal 7, including the Community samples that ship with the product.

Check out the screencast (it runs about 6 mins) and his blog.

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Friday May 26, 2006

Welcome to The Portal Post

Welcome to the group weblog of the Sun Java System Portal Server product team.

This weblog will talk about all things related to the Sun Portal Product and related standards/technologies, including Portlets, WSRP, Aggregation, Desktop, Communities and Collaboration, Search, Secure Remote Access, Mobile Access, and much more. And even beyond technology, the marketplace, partner/ISV ecosystems, and all the rest of it.. So stay tuned!

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