As some of you may know, I have been toying with the idea of patterns in the portal space for a while now. Initially this involvement stemmed from a set of articles that I wrote for developerWorks on Portlet design and modeling. You can see this at: Modeling WebSphere Portal Portlets with UML - Part 1. ( You'll have to do a search to find parts 2 and 3.)
I have had a few requests recently, that I decided to refocus some of my effort in this area. I did some work last year trying to define a list of patterns that would be useful for folks as they started building their portal. The list has evolved a bit from my original work, and as it continues to evolve could definitely benefit from more refinement. I'm still struggling with what patterns actually mean in the context of a portal, but I usually do not let small points like that stop me from moving forward. : )
Customers are always asking for best practices when building applications or designing their site, and there appears to be some big holes around design and usability best practices for portals. Not only within IBM, but across the portal industry. I need this type of information myself, often when discussing the multitude of options that can drive new portal teams crazy. Since there was a bunch of information just sitting on my laptop, and not in a very re-usable form, I have decided to try and do some community building around this idea. I have launched a new web site called PortalPatterns.org. I am using MediaWiki to drive the site, it is very easy to use and is somewhat appropriate since Wiki's are probably the precursor to more recent portal frameworks.
The focus of the site is for listing and describing many (as many as possible) of the options that folks have available for building their portals and portal applications. It would be great if it could evolve eventually into a larger repository or could be used to collaborate on portal pattern languages. The site is also designed to be somewhat technology agnostic. In light of this I am using the term Portal Application, or Portal Application Pattern (PAP) to mean portlets. Which on different platforms could be portlets, widgets, gadgets, etc.. I do not belive that patterns of this type should not be tied to any particular technology or product, at least not initially. The implementation of different patterns will of course be different based on the technology, which will be addressed in the site also, by allowing for specific technological solutions to be discussed after the pattern description.
Anyway, I've mapped out what patterns I have so far and will start to actually describe each pattern as time allows. Check it out and join in the fun, or contact me if you have some ideas or information to offer!