Friday Jun 29, 2007

Free Stuff For Your Portal!

Thanks to everyone who helped put The Portal Post on Sun's Hot Blogs list!

Here's a little something in return: most people don't know this, but you can try many of our most popular portlets (and, sometimes, the back-end services to which they connect) for free! For example:

Elluminate Live! - 60-day, 25-user free trial of Elluminate's distance collaboration/eLearning environment. It includes app sharing, whiteboarding, collaboration via VOIP and IM, recorded transcripts and much more. We resell Elluminate Live!, and our customers love it! Check it out.


YellowBrix - 30-day free trial of real-time feeds of 130,000 breaking news stories culled daily from premium sources, including the BBC, the Financial Times, USA Today, Washington Post, LA Times, and thousands of industry trade journals and magazines. Sign up today!

Lotus Notes/Microsoft Exchange - Yash Technologies offers free trials of its SyncEx portlets to connect to Notes or Exchange. You want to call them to set that up.

877.257.1343 (Toll Free)
847.903.2564 (outside U.S.)

BTW, if you need more time to conduct your evaluation, all of these companies are very accommodating.

Also, although some ISV's don't publish free trials, if you're seriously considering them for purchase, most will be happy to set you up.


Kim Buck

Friday Jun 15, 2007

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.

Thursday Jun 07, 2007

SPEAK OUT! Portlets and Web Services

When bringing an application into a portal, when is a Web service better than an old-school portlet? That's not a rhetorical question  - what do you think?

 The answer will probably vary, based on the type of application you want to expose. My work has been primarily with commercial ISV's (Citrix, Elluminate, Documentum, etc.), maintaining our Core Portal Ecosystem. Originally, every portlet project was 100% custom. Most ISV's had decent API's, but it was still a lot of manual work (not to mention constant business negotiations, measurement, etc.). The rapid adoption of the Java Portlet Specification (JSR 168) standard helped (by providing a container, consistent authentication mechanisms, etc.), as did WSRP's enabling of Web service consumption. Better still, many ISV's began publishing and supporting portlet sets of their own, taking over about 80% of the portlet development work.  However, even with these advances, code to support portal-specific features (e.g. single sign on and, in our portal's case, Secure Remote Access) was still done largely by hand.

This Google spellcheck portlet is actually a Web service.

This Google spellcheck portlet started with a Web Service. To learn how to build this yourself, visit the tutorial

Clearly, Web services are the future for commercial ISV portlets. Some are already phasing out portlets in favor of publishing Web services (Interwoven and Business Objects come to mind). SIDE NOTE: I've been advocating the creation of a core series of reusable infrastructure services (e.g. a single sign-on service, a secure remote access service) to glom\* together with the ISV services as our model for supporting commercial portlets going forward. Some of our gifted engineers are validating the concept as we  speak. What's your take? 

Also, almost half of the proposed features in the upcoming Portlet Specification 2.0 address WSRP alignment. So where does that leave the portlet as we once knew it? Is it strictly to be used for obscure, one-off tasks or ...?

Which method do you prefer in which circumstances? Please share your ideas and experiences.

Kim Buck


PS - If you're interested in portals, you're probably interested in SOA. For a glimpse into Sun's SOA ISV community, feel free to visit my SOA Solar System blog. Most of the content is business oriented vs. technical, but it's a good place to learn about  how SOA vendors - from established platform players to innovative startups - are shaking up that space.


\*glom - to mash, to moosh, to adjoin with reckless abandon (trademark pending) ; )




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