Friday Aug 31, 2007

Simon Phipps on Meanings and Motivations behind Open-Source Communities

Simon Phipps interviewThose exploring the OpenPortal community will be interested in reading this articulation (by Simon Phipps, Sun's chief open-source officer) of the diverse perspectives that must be grasped in order to understand the dynamics that drive open source --

The Meanings and Motivations of Open-Source Communities

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.

Thursday Jun 28, 2007

Documentation on the Community Feature

Documentation on the Portal Server community features, community services, and community sample portal is available in the Sun Java System Portal Server 7.1 Update 1 Community Guide.

In prior releases, this guide was titled Sun Java System Portal Server Community Sample Guide. In the 7.1 Update 1 release, the title as well as the structure of the guide has been changed.

The Community Features section discusses how to manage communities, set up community templates, and customize Sun Java Web user Interface Theme.

The Community Services section discusses how to deploy and configure the various portlets (such as Wiki Portlet, Surveys Portlet etc.) and includes documentation on the Portlet Application Framework.

The Community Sample Portal section provides an overview of the Community Sample portal and areas of customizations to the Community Sample portal UI.

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!

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

Wednesday Jun 06, 2007

Breads "R" Us

If you are an avid reader of Techcrunch, you may have seen this guest post by David Sacks. The post is titled "The New Portals: It's the Bread, Not the Peanut Butter". David, who is the CEO of Geni.com and was the COO of Paypal, provides an analysis of how he thinks portals have evolved over the years. His analysis is essentially the following graphic

David suggests that portals evolved from a web directory (Yahoo) to search (Google) and have now morphed into a mechanism to share information (Facebook, MySpace). According to him, portals of tomorrow will provide a 'social graph' - a network of relationships that will push information to you. So it's no longer the portal administrator or content editors who will decide what you see on your portal. Heck, it's not even you who'll decide what you see on your portal; it'll be your social graph! (Of course, you'll still have control over whom you want to hear from.)

The important point David makes here is that aggregation is no longer the only core function of a portal. The new portals are all about sharing. It's about using your social graph to learn and to share more efficiently. David emphasizes that the social graph will not replace search, but augment it with new capabilities. So he warns us to not look at sharing as the peanut butter, but look at it as the bread itself. In other words, the social graph shouldn't be considered as just another feature, but as a core function of the portal itself.

We, in the Sun Portal Server team, could not agree more with David. And to prove it we've been working over the past two years on making our portal completely "share"-ready. The Sun Portal Server 7.x has community features baked right into the bread (see this demo) so that you don't have to worry about finding ways to make your users talk to each other. It allows users to create Wiki-based communities that can be used by community members to share information. Access to these communities can be open or restricted. The communities can host portlets that will allow users to share documents or discuss on topics using a forum.

However the sharing features that we focussed on thus far were mostly from enterprise users' point of view. I believe enterprise portals should look for inspiration even outside the enterprise landscape. There are number of features that are implemented by the current crop of web 2.0 websites that'll be very useful inside an enterprise. For example, the social news ranking feature implemented by Digg can be used by enterprises to foster bottom-up innovation. The portal will be then transformed into an idea marketplace where feedback for new ideas can be sought from a large community instead of a handful of people. Similarly tagging and social bookmarking can further improve the social graph of an enterprise.

The ideas are out there, and with OpenPortal there is a robust open source portal platform out there as well. Now all we need to do is to go convert these ideas into code. Wanna sign up?

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

 

Thursday Feb 01, 2007

Portal Community Wiki

The enterprise-class Portal open source project is a community of Users, Developers, Partners, and Evangelists creating an industry leading enterprise-class Portal. This community is part of a collection of Open Source Middleware Communities.

The Portal Wiki is a valuable informational resource addressing the requirements of this broad Portal Community. The wiki is open for reading to all. Contributors to existing or new wiki topics need to have a registered user id.

The Portal Wiki is hosted in the following URL
Here are the links to Wiki of each Portal Component

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 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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Tuesday Jul 11, 2006

What a Portal Provides



Why use a portal when building a new service for your community rather than a web page, or a web site, or a web application or a rich application or other presentation layer method?

Below are a few items which initially seem like a set of criteria for determining if a project should be constructed with a portal or not, however, they may be even more insightful when thinking about the evolution of presentation services and the combination of user interface and web site design methods.
  1. Portal Services - a portal platform comes with several items, a portlet design tool, a page layout tool, a portlet container and support for WSRP and Interportlet communication, a desktop personalization system (individual can select / arrange content), a content management system, a human workflow application development system, an integrated search engine, an identity / policy management system or integration, a system for end user service creation and group collaboration.
  2. Presentation Service Aggregation - A portal provides a desktop to assemble multiple portlets into portal pages with associated navigation.  As an example, a set of portlets could be grouped into a portal page (aka, a tab) and added to an existing portal desktop.  A different set of portlets can be grouped into another page and added as a tor as as a subtab to an existing tab, etc.  Aggregation allows new services to be either added/deleted/modified to the default presentation layer or "made available" to users allowing them to add/delete/modify their displayed content.
  3. Identity Based Content Delivery - A portal fully integrated with an identity management system allows the content to be deployed to the portal depending on a users role.  A specific portal page or portlet can then be made available to individuals based on their identity realms, orgs, roles, etc.  IBCD provides one of the most significant developments in portals, and provides a powerful method for both determining an organization's productivity as well as ensuring security  / policy compliance for all services in an enterprise.
  4. Atomized Presentation Services -  A web application can be built in a portlet as either, a full application inside a single portlet with full page flow, a set of portlets, with interportlet communication and individual page flow, or as an atomized function of a full web application.  As an example for this last method, an inventory control system could be built as a full web application.  Additionally, a portlet can be developed which allows managers (if given access to the portlet using IBCD), to see when widgets cross below a specific threshold.  The portlet could have additional functionality which allows the manager to set thresholds per widget.  The portlet could further allow the manager to click widgets displayed, which would open a new browser window, passing the widgets attributes to a web application allowing the manager to order new widgets.  A portal page could contain multiple atomized services which is then deployed to specific users, groups, orgs depending on identity policy.  Additional atomized services can then be easily added to the enterprise (or modified, or deleted, or replaced) without affecting the existing enterprise site design.
  5. User Preferences and User Personalization - As stated in Presentation Service Aggregation, a great number of portlets can be available to users which they individually can add/delete/modify from their default display.  Utilizing the new AJAX desktop from Sun, users can drag/drop/preview/add portlets to their pages, creating a customized view/desktop which suites their needs best.  Leveraging the concept of atomized services, the enterprise could more services which users leverage or not depending on the services usefulness to them "individually".
  6. Centralized Navigation -  A portal can become an enterprise's central navigation unifying web applications, web sites and portals, regardless if the top level is aimed at "all customers", "all employees", "public", or "managers", etc.  Using the concept of centralized navigation, administrators can design the navigation within an enterprise combining web applications, web sites and portals.  The portal home page becomes the entry point for all navigation, and leverages or becomes the basis for the look/feel for all other content.  This last aspect also helps to centralize the "look/feel" repository for a company, allowing a single change to proliferate across all web sites, web pages, web applications and portal pages.  Integrated search additionally provides a central method to add extended navigation to an enterprise wide site.  As navigation becomes deeper, users can search for services or save searches for their own customized navigation.
  7. End User Service Creation - The newest technology to be made available to portals is allowing end users to build web pages, web sites, and web presentation services utilizing communities, wiki's and atomized presentation services (portlets).  Users can define their community, their participants, can create web pages on the fly utilizing html, text, and even portlet services.  The last item is very significant to the community, as it means that the collaboration capabilities are based on open standard portlet services.  Infinitely expandable, true non-proprietary, true open expansion and long term life cycle. 
  8. Enterprise Productivity Design - Last, a portal can improve productivity for users interacting with systems.  Web site design and  human interface design only account for a single application, service or site - a portal is concerned with the interaction on a personal level.  Additionally, this design methodology focuses on three areas:
    1. Individual Productivity - Because users can select from multiple available services, and can customize their desktop, and provides Single Sign On, and other personalized aspects., an individual can improve their productivity because they can design their environment to suit their needs, conditions and their desires.
    2. Team Productivity - Because users can create communities, can self publish, can leverage a selectable set of portlet services specific to their community, team productivity within a portal can be dramatically improved.   While IBCD helps the formal organizational structure, End User Service Creation helps the ad-hoc informal organizational structure.  Example, a user may be responsible for ProjectX - they create their community, add their applications, and content, and determine their users.  This becomes their site, and is added to their portal pages.
    3. Organizational Productivity - Using IBCD, an organization can determine what services are available to which individuals, which are default, which are locked in place and which are modifiable.  An enterprise can determine how all services, all navigation is made available to all users depending on their identity, e.g., a new help desk service is create which provides a list of all customer cases which have escalated in the last 5 days - this portlet could be default added to the home page of all product delivery managers (rather than as a separate URL which they may or may not leverage).  Services then become "targeted" and their usage climbs according to enterprise policy.  This allows the "default" content to be specific to an individual - and thus increase the productivity of all individuals from an organizational level.

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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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