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Why use a Portal?

Chris DeLashmutt
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 5
I'm interested in getting some insight into what people think the value of a Portal is? What are the things that Portal technology allows one to do easily that are much more difficult to do in other technologies? What are the things that would make me choose a portal to use on a project?

Thanks!
Joe Harry
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Joined: Sep 26, 2006
Posts: 9466
    
    2

What exactly do they mean by a portal?


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Chris DeLashmutt
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 5
I mean a product called a Portal, such as Liferay, JBoss Portal, eXo, WebSphere Portal, Oracle Portal, etc. These products support JSR-168, but what value does that spec bring above existing specs and technologies?
Joe Harry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 26, 2006
Posts: 9466
    
    2

But what does that mean when you say these products support JSR-168?
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 42360
    
  64
Originally posted by Jothi Shankar Kumar Sankararaj:
But what does that mean when you say these products support JSR-168?


He's talking about this. Are you familiar with JSRs in general?


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Ben Souther
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Joined: Dec 11, 2004
Posts: 13410

Jothi Shankar Kumar Sankararaj,

Please note that asking a different question in an existing thread is called "hijacking" and is considered to be very rude.

It would be better for you to start a new thread with your question so you don't steer the conversation away from the original poster's question.

For other tips on asking questions on JavaRanch see:
http://faq.javaranch.com/view?HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch


Thanks,
[ June 13, 2007: Message edited by: Ben Souther ]

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Jason Moors
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Joined: Dec 04, 2001
Posts: 188
Portals typically provide common functionality required by enterprise applications - JAAS Authentication (Security), Single Sign-On (typically via signed cookie), User Management and Role/Group based content and Themes to provide common look and feel.

Some portals go further by providing Content Management and Collaboration capabilities, enabling users to share documents, use instant messaging etc.

The downside is that all this functionality comes at a cost in terms of speed and complexity, and from what I have seen of the open source Portals, they implement these features to different degrees.

I think the issue comes down to cost of ownership, whilst the portal JSR-168 spec means that you should be able to write a Portlet a run in any portal implementing the spec, in reality it means learning and maintaining another layer of complexity.

It basically comes down to your requirements, for my own personal applications, I haven't found the open source portals mature enough and my requirements haven't required the need for a full blown portal, so I've gone down the route of using the Spring framwork with security modules like Acegi Security.

Regards
Jason
arulk pillai
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3223
Q. What is a portal?

A portal is a Web site or service that offers broad range of resources and services like e-mail, forums, search engines, on-line shopping, news, weather information, stock quotes, etc. Portal is a term generally synonymous with the terms gateway or grand entrance into the Internet for many users. E.g. www.yahoo.com, www.aol.com, www.msn.com etc. A Web portal software allows aggregation of several back-end systems, processes, sites etc brought together through a single portal page. Portals also provide additional services such as single sign-on security, customization (i.e. personalization) etc.


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Joe Harry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 26, 2006
Posts: 9466
    
    2

I'm sorry for hijacking this thread. Anyways, thanks for answering my querry!
Anil Konduru
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 18, 2006
Posts: 9
So, weblogic portal is also same or implemented as thiis?
[ June 14, 2007: Message edited by: Anil Konduru ]

Anil Konduru.
Rob Doughty
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 16, 2006
Posts: 10
Hi Chris,
In response to your original question I posted this on the ranch last year when asked the difference between portlets and traditional servlets.

I think of a portal as the aggregater of a number of disparate applications
in a highly personalised manner. The critical component here is personalisation i.e. the ability to present only the relevant portlets based on a particular role, this is the key differentiater that portals possess that websites do not.

Many large organisations have at least two portals one being for internal staff (Intranet) and one for external facing customers.
How personalisation is performed depends on the scope of the portal and the nature of an organisations business e.g. Staff portal may have business, management, technical and sales roles where an external facing customer portal may be have roles based on what product customers have bought etc..
Applications or portlets are then displayed to the user based on their role(s). Portals also allow the user to customise their applications which although being a nice feature most probably will not provide the level of business benefit that personalisation does.

So what is better web apps(Servlets) or portlets ina portal? That depends on whether you already have a portal in place and whether you want to target your app to certain roles. It also depends on other things such as whether you are introducing process centric type applications (that co-operative portlets can assist with) and the granularity of the app you are building.

A lot of good new stuff is emerging with portals such as inbuilt eForms and process management. Add that to the other stuff such as SSO, WSRP, and a wealth of JSR-168 pre-written components, I would definitely move to a portal if your business has capacity for one.

Gartner sees portals as the flagstone of any organisations IT systems in the coming 5 years and IBM and Microsoft (via Sharepoint) are using them as their default presentation tier solution.

Rob


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Chris DeLashmutt
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 5
Many of the technologies listed above seem to be available to me already without using a portal.

For instance:
-Single Sign On I could do with a valve in Tomcat
-JAAS support is included with most EE app servers
-Themes/Layouts I could do with templating
-User management "could" be done through the tools included with my security store (User Management for Active Directory, LDAP tools for an LDAP repo, etc)
-Content Management I could get with Jackrabbit or some other higher end framework

Basically, it seems that I'm hearing that the value of portal tech is that it combines a lot of these technologies into one place that you might have to cobble together yourself, or write glue for. Also, the ability to personalize the functions that a user has access to seems to be important.

It also seems that most folks don't seem to have use for a portal. If you look at the message volume on this site, for instance, it seems that many more people go towards the servlet way of doing things, as Jason mentioned above, rather than the portal way. Are these needs for personalization, eForms, process management, etc limited to Enterprise? Does a portal effectively only make sense if you are a large company?
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18914
    
  40

For instance:
-Single Sign On I could do with a valve in Tomcat
-JAAS support is included with most EE app servers
-Themes/Layouts I could do with templating
-User management "could" be done through the tools included with my security store (User Management for Active Directory, LDAP tools for an LDAP repo, etc)
-Content Management I could get with Jackrabbit or some other higher end framework


I think the main advantage of a portal is the standard itself. With a portlet, I get all of that, plus it will run in any JSR 168 compliant portal.

For example, I believe the iGoogle page uses the liferay portal, and have tons of third party portlets to choose from.

Henry


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subject: Why use a Portal?