(Original posting date: June 11, 2011)
I'm writing this blog shortly before the planned release of Web Experience Factory, which is the new name of WebSphere Portlet Factory. I've been architect of this product since back at Bowstreet in the years before we were acquired by IBM, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts about where we're at now with the product, especially as it relates to the area of mobile web application development.
When the whole smartphone and smart device market really exploded last year, we realized that the model-driven code generation and profiling technology of Portlet Factory was uniquely suited for mobile and multi-channel web application development. So for this release of Web Experience Factory the team worked hard to put together a set of key tools - builders, themes, profiling support, etc. - to support mobile web application development. Recently I've spent quite a bit of time demoing these features to customers, and I have to say that it's been really fun. People really respond well when they see two key capabilities: first, how quickly you can build great-looking mobile applications, drawing on all the existing rapid development features of Portlet Factory; and second, how you can use profiling to generate multiple renderings for different device types (smartphone, tablet, desktop, etc.) from a single model. I suspect that the multi-channel aspect is hitting home with developers because it helps address the scary prospect of supporting the myriad of new smart devices that are coming out.
I won't go into all the details of Web Experience Factory's mobile and multi-channel support here, but if you haven't checked it out yet, the following page on our wiki has links to slides, articles, and downloads to get you started: http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/pfwiki.nsf/dx/Smart_Phone_and_Mobile_Device_Development
So I'm very excited about the unique value that our technology offers at this particular point in time, and I'm hoping that it will expand the community of developers using the tool. If you've used Portlet Factory, hopefully you've experienced the benefits of things like model-based development, high-level automation using builders, and the ability of dynamic profiling to generate multiple application variations from a single source model. Now we're seeing that in the mobile web application arena, these technologies are even more compelling. For example, in the new product, check out the way you can:
- Apply a Data Layout builder and a Theme to a model to cause a conventional-looking desktop UI to "morph" into a nice looking mobile-optimized UI.
- Use profiling to turn on and off different layouts and themes based on client device, so that a single model renders differently for each device type.
Going forward after this release, we'll continue to expand the tools that we provide for mobile and multi-channel support. We'll be posting samples and code you can learn from and use. We'll post supplementary material such as articles and video demonstrations to help you learn and to show you best practices. We'll keep working with mobile technologies such as the PhoneGap hybrid framework and HTML5 offline features, to show how they can be used with Web Experience Factory. The mobile application development world is rapidly evolving, and we fully intend to continue to move quickly to keep pace.
About the new product name
Just a few words about the product renaming: All of the interest in mobile development has caused more and more customers to consider using Portlet Factory both for their WebSphere Portal-managed web sites (which can be delivered to mobile and desktop devices) and for mobile web applications that are running on WebSphere Application Server. Portlet Factory has always supported the development of stand-alone servlet-based applications, but many customers didn't realize that, in part because of the product name. So now we've taken the word "portlet" out of the name, to help make it clear that the product is good for all of your "web experience" development. You'll probably notice that completing the transition to the new name will take time; for example, when you run the new Web Experience Factory Designer you'll still see the "WebSphere Portlet Factory" name.
About this blog
And lastly, a few words about this blog: We'll be using this blog to post some fairly informal writings from individuals on the Web Experience Factory team. We'll continue to publish articles on the Portlet Factory wiki (hmm, need to get the name of that changed...), but this blog will let us also post writings with more of an informal and personal slant. And we'll try to stay away from product marketing-type content here.
Please feel free to make comments about this blog. If you have suggestions for future blog topics you'd like to see covered, we'd love to hear them.
(Original posting date: June 30, 2011)
Well, in case you haven't heard, the 7.0.1 release of Web Experience Factory is now available. Customers can download it from IBM Passport Advantage, and we'll have a free trial version that should be posted in the next week or so.
Key new features in Web Experience Factory 7.0.1 include:
- Mobile and multi-channel support, with new builders, wizards, themes, and more (this is the big one!)
- New IBM Web Content Manager builder allows easy integration of content and development of custom authoring interfaces
- Improved end-user experiences with new builders such as Data Layout, Lazy Load, and Page Navigation
- Improved development experience with new editing features and usability enhancements
This page has some slides on all the new features: Announcing IBM Web Experience Factory 7.0.1
We hope you'll try it out. As I said in my previous blog post, I really think that the Factory code generation and profiling features are uniquely suited to support mobile and multi-channel web application development.
In the coming weeks, we'll be posting a bunch of new resources on the wiki to help you learn to use the new Web Experience Factory. We'll have a series of videos that demonstrate techniques, some new samples and articles, an updated "Getting Started" guide, and more. So keep your eye on the wiki, and I'll also be blogging here about some of the new resources as they become available. If you have any particular resources you'd like to see, feel free to post a comment here.
My favorite new builder in 7.0.1
Builders are at the heart of the capabilities of Web Experience Factory, and for each release I usually have a favorite builder. Of course there are always a number of builders that I really like, so it can be kind of like asking a Beatles fan to pick just one favorite Beatles song. But it's fun to do anyway.
For this 7.0.1 release, the big new feature is, of course, all the new mobile and multi-channel support, which comes in various forms including builders, themes, wizards, and more. But in terms of one particular builder, my favorite builder in 7.0.1 is the Data Layout builder. This builder makes it really easy to create great-looking data displays for both mobile and desktop devices. There are a few really cool things about the Data Layout builder:
- It comes with a bunch of very nice out-of-the-box layouts, for both mobile and desktop devices.
- It works on an existing display of data and morphs it into the selected layout. This has a couple big benefits: (1) It can work with pages that are generated from any existing builders such as View & Form, Data Services User Interface, or Data Page; and (2) you can turn on/off different layouts without affecting any other functionality such as navigation links.
- It is easy to extend the builder with new layouts. To do this you don't have to write any code at all - you simply create an HTML fragment using a few documented tags and attributes that tell the builder how to use the layout, then place the fragment file (called a layout template) into a particular folder. Optionally you can provide one or more CSS files to style your layout. Your new layout will automatically appear in the list of available layouts, and it will work just like any of the prebuilt layouts. And it's a reusable tool that you can use in any model.
Here is a short video showing the Data Layout builder: video showing how to use the Data Layout builder. In the coming weeks we plan to post additional samples and articles on the use of the Data Layout builder. The Data Layout builder is used in several of the 7.0.1 mobile samples. For more information about the Data layout builder, see the 7.0.1 product documentation, which includes detailed information on creating new layout templates.
(Regarding my favorite builders for each release... In case you're wondering, for Portlet Factory version 7.0, my favorite new builder was Data Field Settings. The Data Field Settings builder makes it really easy to control all the rich behavior of all your data fields in an automated, centralized way. Though as I say, it was tough to pick just one favorite for that release, given some of the other really powerful builders such as SQL Data Services, SQL Table Create, and Data Service User Interface.)
- Jonathan Booth
The planned IBM acquisition of Worklight (press release here
) is an exciting positive development in IBM's mobile story. A number of people have asked me what it will do to our strategy with IBM Web Experience Factory (WEF). The good news is that the Worklight technology will have a great synergy with WEF, and WEF's place in IBM's mobile strategy remains unchanged. The Worklight acquisition will serve to accelerate IBM's support for mobile features such as hybrid, and that's all good for customers who want all the things that WEF offers (such as rapid development using a model-based approach, multi-channel delivery including desktop and mobile, portal and WAS support) and who want some additional mobile pieces like hybrid. I expect that we'll start demonstrating the combination of WEF with Worklight technology not long after the acquisition completes. Earlier I have blogged about using WEF with the IBM Mobile Technology Preview (link
), and many of the same points made there apply to the Worklight technology. Also, note that the new client-side architecture and Dojo Mobile support introduced in the recent WEF 8.0 Beta One is very well suited to a number of hybrid app scenarios that can now include Worklight.
We have combined our Digital Experience Products Support Blogs with our Application Integration Middleware Support Blog. You will find new content for the DX suite of products at Application Integration Middleware Support Blog. Existing blog entries for DX will remain on this blog since there is a wealth of great information here, but be sure to follow us at our new location so you will be up-to-date on new content. Update your bookmarks and rss feeds and check us out at our new space! You can also find information on that blog about many of the other products in our middleware portfolio.
In case you haven't seen these, one of the members of the Web Experience Factory team has posted some nice articles that talk about what's "under the hood" of some key Web Experience Factory technology such as builders and Page Automation.
Folks, on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 11:00 AM ET there will be an important Webinar covering Digital Experiences... register for it it should have some pretty cool stuff https://ibm.biz/BdxCZf
Together, IBM executives, leading industry analysts and customers will explore how you can create an exceptional customer experience and:
Understand the individuals in your market: Listen to and anticipate customer preferences and captivate them with rich, personalized digital experiences.
Deliver exceptional service: Delight users on any channel or device with integrated and tailored applications and content.
Engage individuals and communities: Exchange valuable insights and feedback and build trusted relationships, loyalty and advocacy.
REGISTER NOW TO LEARN MORE!
(Original posting date: October 27, 2011)
One important component of IBM's mobile support strategy has recently been made available. This is the "IBM Mobile Technology Preview", which includes important mobile application components that you can download and use. This initial preview release includes features such as the Phonegap client runtime for developing hybrid applications, and notification technology for sending notifications to client devices.
You can find more information on the IBM Mobile Technology Preview here
, and some blog postings here
(including one from me on using Web Experience Factory with this technology).
The Web Experience Factory team is working closely with the IBM team that delivered this Mobile Technology Preview, and over the next months we expect to post more examples showing the use of these valuable mobile technologies with Web Experience Factory and with WebSphere Portal.
In some situations when developing with Web Experience Factory (WEF), you may want to quickly create a data provider model without depending on a back end data store. The new XML File Data Service builder just posted on the wiki is a sample builder that can be used for this. With it, a single builder can be used to create a service provider with complete CRUD (create, read, update, delete) access using data from an XML file. It has no external dependencies or configuration requirements.
As you may know, the SQL Table Create builder provided in the WEF product can also fill a similar role. It can create a new database table with the columns you want and implement a CRUD data provider accessing that table; however, it does depend on a JDBC data source. This new XML File Data Service builder removes any such dependencies.
The builder package includes all the sample source code, so you can enhance or modify it as you wish.
Folks, please check out these two recorded webinars covering how to create exceptional mobile digital experiences:
Hi folks, updated the Leveraging IBM Web Experience Factory whitepaper, to match the new IBM Exceptional Digital Experience messaging - click here
(Original posting date: July 18, 2011)
With the new release of Web Experience Factory, all of the new mobile and multi-channel support is generating interest in the Factory framework from quite a few teams that haven't used Portlet Factory before. To help these teams and others get started, we've been posting a series of introductory videos on our wiki. These are short videos that introduce the model-based development approach, show you how to get started with the tool, and demonstrate some of the key builders. These videos don't go into deep technical topics, but hopefully they can give newcomers to the framework a little jumpstart in getting familiar with the tool..
The videos are listed here: Web Experience Factory Video Gallery
We'll be adding more videos over time, so let us know if you have suggestions for particular topics you'd like to see covered in a video.
There are two recent slide decks from the US and European Exceptional Web Experience conferences now available on the WEF wiki:
The mobile and multi-channel presentation gives an overview of mobile and multi-channel techniques in WEF, with updates for WEF 8.0.
The "tips for teams" presentation is a new one. It was created to answer questions that development teams may have when they adopt the WEF framework. The original title at the conference was "OK, we've chosen IBM Web Experience Factory for our development tool, now what?" It goes through a number of topics at a high level:
- Background - why WEF
- Key resources and getting started
- Developing user interfaces for desktop or mobile/multi-channel
- Developing services and data access
- Team development
- Testing, debugging, and performance
- Tailoring the automation framework
For more details on any of the topics covered in that presentation, the "Learning WEF" page of the wiki remains the place where you can find pointers to detailed resources on all aspects of using WEF: Learning IBM Web Experience Factory
There's a new Redbook just published on building multichannel web sites using IBM WebSphere Portal, IBM Web Content Manager, and IBM Web Experience Factory (WEF). It's based on an example of a city government web site that provides access to content and services for citizens, from any desktop or mobile device. Here are some of the functions described:
- Using the latest Portal multichannel and response theme, so all your content and applications are available with an optimized UI on all devices.
- Using IBM Worklight with Web Experience Factory to create a hybrid app that gives access to the complete site and invokes the mobile device camera to let users take pictures of issues such as graffiti or vandalism.
- Using the new responsive templates from CTC4 for displaying content on any device.
- Developing WEF-based portlets for displaying and creating status updates and blogs from IBM Connections.
The recent conference (workshop) on Social interaction patterns, exceptional digital experiences has been good source of information. Take a look at this link for further information - https://www.ibmdw.net/social/2013/11/14/webinar-replay-technology-deliver-exceptional-social-digital-experiences
This Webinar also covered integrating web experience factory, Social Business toolkit and multi-channel feature pack for developing social integration using high level wrappers.
The concept was a showcase in an conference (Berlin) earlier this year and has now been published as a white paper. It's a useful paradigm for the enterprise deployment customers, who are invested in WP & IC bundles.
WEF article : http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/pfwiki.nsf/dx/Developing_social_portlets_leveraging_IBM_Social_Business_Toolkit
This has the detailed white paper as the attachment.
OpenNTF : All the sources for white paper have been uploaded here :
(Original posting date: July 26, 2011)
We recently posted a free trial version of Web Experience Factory 7.0.1 that you can download. This download comes complete with everything you need to try things out, including the Eclipse IDE and the WAS CE (WebSphere Application Server Community Edition) test server.
My recommendation for the simplest way to get up and running is to use the default installation, so that everything's installed and configured automatically, with Eclipse and WAS CE. Later you can switch to running on the Portal server whenever you want. Here's what I'd suggest for getting everything going quickly:
- Run the installer with defaults, so that Eclipse and WAS CE are all installed and configured. You can pick any folder location for the installation.
- Create a new project using WAS CE server as your server, and include the options for Dojo Extension, Mobile, Building Models, and Tutorials. See below for a link to a video of this process.
- Open and run one of the sample models such as samples/gettingstarted/OrdersServiceConsumer, to make sure everything's working. Let the tool start WAS CE when it asks (there's no need to enable the debug mode checkbox).
- Download, import, and run the mobile sample models linked below, to explore the mobile and multi-channel features.
Key links for getting started with the free trial:
Have fun, and remember to use the Web Experience Factory wiki and forums if you need more information or help.
- Jonathan Booth