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Getting started with Portals...

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I'm realizing that an application I'm working on could be a good fit for implementation as a portal. I've looked at a few of the JSR-168 implementations and I'm starting to see how the pieces fit together.

However I had a few questions that I haven't been able to get a handle on from the documentation the various systems (spent the most time reading about JBoss Portal).

In a multi-column layout, is there any way to control which column(s) a given portlet can be placed in? I know when playing with the demo JBoss Portal, pulling the main content portlet into the sidebar cause a lot of content to be pushed off the screen. Is there a way of stopping the user from doing this? or is it more of a "Doctor it hurts when I do this; Don't do that" type of thing?

My current design calls for about 6 pages that each would have about 7-10 Portlets on them arranged in three columns, with about 36 unique portlets identified so far. I haven't done enough brainstorming/wire-framing to know what the less-portalesque pages would look like; though I'm leaning towards a more standard two-column layout, with 3-4 portlets as the navbar and then a single one in the content area. I believe this is a fairly standard design for a Portal application (at least for portal applications that aren't merely providing a front end to multiple disparate back-end applications). Does this sound like a project for which I should be looking at portal-based solutions?

I'm also a little confused about regular portal pages and dashboard pages. If all of the six pages I mentioned above should be user customizeable, then they are all dashboard type pages, correct? But it seems like dashboard pages get treated very differently than regular pages from a navigation bar layout perspective. I assume this could be changed via all the CSS/customizations, but it makes me think I might be approaching this incorrectly.... Can anyone help clue me in?

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