I was invited to participate in the first meeting of the WebSphere Portal Canadian and Carribean User Group session. (CC-WPUG). This community held the meeting in Toronto and simultaneously across their member locations. We always look forward to learning from our customers at these sessions, as it's a great way to understand how our customers are progressing, their common questions, and for customers to discuss their experiences and best practices.
A key area of interest for this group were deployment best practices. We spent time discussing approaches, test plans, best practices for building well performing portlets, and more. There are many resources for information that users can leverage as they finalize plans for test and deployment. A publication has just been made available on the WebSphere Portal and LotusWeb Content Management wiki, entitled: Managing WebSphere Portal 6.1 Environments This wiki provides high level information about how to set up a WebSphere Portal v. 6.1 Environment, including a development, staging, and production environment. Within the context of each of these environments, it includes direction related to how to move changes through the system and successfully manage releases of a WebSphere Portal 6.1 site. We look forward to your view of this information and input as to how more detail or clarifications could be added.
This group also learned about the latest updates in WebSphere Portlet Factory, an easy to use development tool included with WebSphere Portal. We saw an extensive demonstration of it's capabilities via Sametime Unyte, which ranged from building portlets accessing data tables, making modifications and republishing, to using the tools Web 2.0 features such as the AJAX builder to create highly responsive, interactive portlet applications. There are many good demonstrations and articles for developers new to and experienced with Portlet Factory on the WebSphere Portlet Factory wiki
Another topic of discussion across the participants was the ways organizations were incorporating search services to their Portal deployments. Some were using the Portal Search Engine, included with WebSphere Portal, others used IBM OmniFind, to expand the search reach beyond the Portal managed resources. Other customers were using additional search engines they had invested in, some were using both Portal and external third party search engines. There are useful articles related to these efforts, for customers who may want to deliver more customized search experiences, or to extend the Portal's Search Center portlet. This article, Customizing and Extending WebSphere Portal 6.1 Search Center portlet, shares how to extend the newly redesigned portlet, now leveraging Dojo and AJAX, with custom widgets, or with additonal portlet samples to manage External Search source queries or Suggested Search Links to guide user search results.
We also reviewed some of the recent enhancements to the WebSphere Portal and Lotus Web Content Management Version 6.1 offerings, including the new JSR 286 Web Content Viewer portlets, PHP Extension and WebDav extension, available from IBM on the WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog. These new offerings make it easier for portal site designers and content authors to expand sources, tools and associated user skills to easily contribute to and update portal paes and content.
This was a very productive event for attendees at the customer host facility in Toronto and participants from remote member locations.
Another venue we look forward to each year as a way to share information, best practices, strategy and experiences across our portal community as it the IBM Portal Excellence Conference 2009. We've renamed this event from the WebSphere Portal Technical Conference this year, to provide an expanded agenda which will cover industry and business topics across the IBM software portfolio. During the week, these events provide many programs and sessions to interact with our customers, IBM Business partners, IBM architects, services and business leaders to share information that helps to shape the future direction of our products and solutions. We are building the session directories now for events we'll offer at four worldwide locations this year. You can visit the event site to receive the latest updates. We look forward to you input on the topics and agenda in plan, and to your participation this year.
- - Lauren