Wednesday Sep 12, 2007

Jazz up your Portal UI

Currently, the web designers design the portal's look and feel via a web based UI -  which they may not be entirely comfortable with.

Wouldn't it be nice if portals provide a method by which the designer is able to use professional web design tools that he is already familiar with to create a beautiful looking portal.

Well, now its possible. For more details on how, click here.
For screencasts on how it can be done, click here.

This feature is available as part of Portal Server 7.2.

Wednesday Jul 18, 2007

The Design Story: Yesterday, Today...

 [Click image to see enlarged view]

The past two iterations of work on the Portal Server Admin console have been an interesting journey in design work.

We started by teasing the Portal Server Console out of the Identity Console. Endless meetings with white boards filled with diagrams of everything that needed to be presented to the user in the console, and how they should be grouped. Denim was my friend those days. At the end of all this we had a spanking new console with a navigation scheme that had a good amount of "scent". What is scent you say? It is a concept that Jared Spool uses, and that I happen to like. The idea is that a well designed website should let users know that they are on the right track. The 7.0 console had the ability to lead you to the area that you wanted to go, and to find your way back there with ease the next time you wanted to.

The next iteration of work was adding the Visual Display Design Tool. A Direct Manipulation Interface that lets the Administrator interact directly with what they are working on - a portal page. This advances the UI further along the continuum of task awareness (note: I did not say task based, task centric etc.. I should blog sometime about my reasons for avoiding those terms...). One of the unique tools in this round of work was comics to tell stories. It was a lot of fun to do, and was a lot more effective in ensuring a shared understanding of the work. Plus it was a lot of fun to put together!

Cross Posted from :

Tuesday Jun 19, 2007

Documentation on Customizing the Portal Desktop


Portal Server document collection had a title called Desktop Customization Guide. During Portal Server 7.0 release, the document collection was reorganized and consolidated.

Someone recently asked why such a useful guide was dropped. No, the content was not dropped.

The new improved version is called Portal Server Developer Sample Guide.

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 as

# cd /var/opt/SUNWportal/portals/portal1/communitytemplates
# cp -r 2column ajax
# cp
# ls
2column                          menucontainer               blogwiki           
ajax                         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 Customize the values for the new ajax template. This should be fairly straightforward. Next create a localized copy of by copying it as

# cp

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!

Thursday May 31, 2007

Portal Desktop Design Tool Screencast

design As indicated in an earlier posting, one of the main features of the future Portal Server 7.2 release will be the Desktop Design Tool. 

The Desktop Design Tool will be an easy to use tool for portal administrators to design and customize a portal page's layout and theme.

To give a preview of this upcoming feature, I have recorded a screencast that shows how this tool can be used for adding new content, changing the layout of the page by rearranging  tabs and channels, and finally, changing the theme of the page.

Check out the screencast here -- Portal Desktop Design Tool Screencast

Friday May 04, 2007

What's new on the OpenPortal project site


Check out two cool enhancements to the OpenPortal community landing page:

  1. Roadmap – now that the complete production portal server source code is available to the community, we wanted to ensure the community also has visibility to features expected in future source and binary versions e.g. upcoming features like the new Visual Desktop Design Tool, Delegated Administration, etc. We will update the roadmap as new features are added or removed from a specific future release.

  2. Centralized and Categorized Downloads – since the OpenPortal community site is intended to be the main landing page for all related subprojects, we centralized the navigation to all the downloads that are available on,,, etc. Additionally, we have structured the page to make it easy to find relevant information for the download you are interested in.

We hope you like the changes.


Tuesday Sep 05, 2006

Best Practices for AJAX and JSR 168 Portlets

The new technical article "Best Practices for AJAX and JSR 168 Portlets" has just been published at  Check out this article for the latest ideas on how to best implement AJAX with JSR 168 portlets, and how to use JavaScript libraries like Dojo to add dynamic content to your portlets.

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Tuesday Jul 18, 2006

Ajax Samples in the Sun Java System Portal Server

Jai just did a technology preview of Ajax support in Sun Java System Portal Server 7. It demonstrates a variety of ways by which Ajax can be applied to Portals to significantly impact user experience, interactivity and much more.

The demo shows a new Ajax Container in action. This Container Ajax-enables each individual channel on the Portal Desktop such that the channels can interact with the Portal in an async manner. The Container also allows for a richer user experience by introducing features such as dynamic drag and drop positioning of channels, easy addition and removal of channels, and inline editing of channel preferences

Check out the screencast (it runs about 12 mins).

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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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