The WebSphere Portal Blog
We often get asked what is the difference between a portlet and a widget and so I thought it would be a good idea to provide a post that explains some of this. Portlets and Widgets both provide a UI component model and as such have a lot of similarities. They also have some differences. Lets start with the similarities.
Both Portlets and Widgets are mostly concerned with the applications UI vs. the applications logic. So they both assume that there is some useful service on some 'back end' system and they provide a user interaction with that service. We say they are 'mostly concernced with UI' because it isn't always clear what is UI and what is logic, and there are certainly cases where some logic is performed in the Portlet or Widget.
Both Portlets and Widgets can pass information/context to other Portlets or Widgets, and they can also both consume context from other components on the page. There are a number of techniques for doing this context sharing and they have pros and cons, but those pros and cons will rarely enter into the decision of which component model to choose.
End users and administrators can put portlets or Widgets onto a page and re-arrange them on the page, and customize their behaviors based on global settings that impact all users in the case of administrators as well as personal settings that only impact that one user.
So does that matter and what does it mean?
The second consideration is how much augmentation of the back end services is likely needed? If there is a lot of logic or data manipulation required, then using a language like Java, or doing that processing on a server vs. on a client is probably a good idea. Or alternatively, you might want to deploy some server logic on a Java server or PHP server or sMash server to do the necessary processing and then use an Widget for the display. Purists can argue whether or not this is an 'Widget' scenario, but that isn't important. We'll just refer to it as a Widget hybrid scenario. The important consideration is to determine whether or not your back end services are ready to use or need additional server side logic. If they need additional logic, portlets are a good model for that if you are comfortable with Java and the portlet spec. Otherwise, you should consider what language you do want to write these services in and look at Widgets to create the UI components.
The fourth consideration is responsiveness. This is a tricky one. In the purest sense, Widgets are independent browser calls to server side services and will be, or will feel, more responsive than the standard portal pattern of rendering all the portlets before returning the page. Where this is a bit tricky now is because you have more options for rendering individual portlets as well as the portlets using AJAX for improved responsiveness. There are also cases where it is best not to independently render parts of the page. So you want to consider your bandwidth, the 'chattiness' of the user interactions, what the right kind of page(s) make the most sense.
The fifth consideration is standards and investment protection. Portlets are the most mature of the choices and is covered by second versions of widely adopted Java and Oasis standards. Widgets are relatively new and you should expect some amount of evolution and possible churn as the industry moves to standardization.
The sixth consideration is that you probably will have some additional testing against different browser types based on how much logic you put into the browser. For intranets, you can often minimize this by specifying one or two supported browsers. This is not really just and Widget vs. Portlet consideration however. As already mentioned, you can put a lot of client side logic into portlets as well, and so it is a general consideration as you put logic into the browser.
And finally, client side aggregation (whether portlet based or Widget based) causes issues with most search engines and so you should consider having an alternate rendering for search engines. For public facing web sites with external crawlers, that is probably most easily accomplished in the near term via Portal and Portlets. For intranets, there are more options for indexing sites and search.
Welcome to the WebSphere Portal Blog. We're the team responsible for the strategy and planning of WebSphere Portal. Let me introduce the team (they should be putting all this into their profiles, but those will be filled in over time. ;)
Rob Will is the chief architect of WebSphere Portal. He's an IBM Distinguished Engineer. That's a fancy title that means he's a technical expert and has made substantial technical and leadership contributions in IBM over a long time. It is an executive title equivalent to Director. He's never been a manager in IBM. One great thing about IBM is that there is a robust career track for technical professionals that doesn't lead to management. I first worked with Rob almost 10 years ago when I was working with another product he led, WebSphere Personalization.
Stefan Liesche is another architect for WebSphere Portal. (We have lots of architects!) He lives in Germany and works out of the Boeblingen lab which is near Stuttgart, Germany. The Boeblingen lab houses the core portal development team. They were the team that built the first version of WebSphere Portal, version 1.1, way back in 2001. Today, WebSphere Portal is built by teams all over the world. In addition to Germany, we have developers working on WebSphere Portal in Dublin, Ireland, Sydney, Australia, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Westford, Massachusetts (near Boston), and, like most companies these days, we have developers in India and China as well. These days Stefan spends most of his time working on Portal Accelerators. Portal Accelerators are products that are complementary to and plug into WebSphere Portal.
Marshall Lamb is the third architect on this blog team. He works out of the Research Triangle Park lab. (He also just works out--if you haven't met him in person, he's like 6'3" tall and very fit). Marshall is responsible for the management and deployment aspects of WebSphere Portal. Some people think that stuff is just boring technical infrastructure--like plumbing, but Marshall doesn't! ;) But our customers love Marshall because he's the guy that makes WebSphere Portal easier to roll out and manage.
The last development person on our team is Doug Gieger. He's the Director of Portal Development. He's in Research Triangle Park with Marshall. Besides WebSphere Portal, he also is responsible for Lotus Web Content Management, Mobile Portal, Lotus Forms, Lotus Active Insight, Portlet Factory, Portal Accelerators, and other products too. That's a log of stuff to keep track of and he does a great job. He's relatively new to the Portal team, but has been in IBM a long time.
Lauren Wendel is the product manager for WebSphere Portal. She is responsible for Portal requirements and product marketing activities. She's the keeper of the product roadmap schedule. If you want to know when the next fixpack is coming out, she's the one to ask. She's very involved with our Portal-related education events like Lotusphere and Portal Excellence conferences. She works in the Westford office or from home. That's another great thing about IBM. Many IBMrs work from home. A phone line and an internet connection are the only office requirements. With the Lotus collaboration tools for mail, calendar, instant messaging, team rooms and web conferences, all the things you need to do your job are provided. Sometimes we'll work with someone for years and never meet them in person. (ok, enough of that. I'm starting to sound like a recruiter!)
Brian Chaput is the offering manager for WebSphere Portal. That means that he is responsible for directing the activiites that bring the product to market. He creates the text for the brochures and announcement letters, builds the portal presentations our executives use, does market research, trains the sales team and plans the business strategy. Sometimes he gets to do other stuff that is more fun. ;) He's another work-from-home IBMer and lives in New Hampshire.
And then there's me. I'm Bill Swatling and I lead the product management team for WebSphere Portal. I've been involved with WebSphere Portal since the first release in 2001, first as the Product Manager and then managing various parts of the WebSphere and Lotus portfolio before coming back to being responsible for Portal about a year ago. Before coming to IBM Software Group, I worked an consultant, architect, and developer in IBM Global Services where I built web applications using WebSphere and other technologies. A big part of my job is to go around and talk about how great IBM technology can be applied to solve business challenges. Lately we at IBM have been talking a lot about how social software is changing the world and how it can help businesses and organizations better communicate and foster communities that build value. But I've only been a spectator in that Web 2.0 revolution until now. Sure I have posted a few videos to YouTube and occasionally I have posted to forums, but I haven't really made a contribution to any online community. So I got together some of the best minds in IBM on Portal and we agreed to start this blog.
There's a lot of stuff that we do that we think the community of WebSphere Portal customers and the people who work with them would be interested to know. All of us spend time talking to customers. We're all involved in planning the future of portal. We are actively involved in Portal-related events and activities. So in this blog, we'll try to share some of our experiences with the WebSphere Portal community on IBM developerWorks.
Now Available! Version 8.0 Beta for IBM Customer Experience Suite, IBM WebSphere Portal and IBM Web Content Manager
As with previous versions of IBM WebSphere Portal and Content Manager released over the past several years, we offer an open beta program to enable our customer, partner and IBM community to evaluate future platform directions.
We are pleased to announce "Beta One" availabilty of our next major release; IBM Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8, operating on WebSphere Application Server 8.
Version 8.0 Beta offers users a more seamless and rich user experience. Features includes enhanced integration of web analytics, social services , rich content management and search optimization, operating on WebSphere Application Server Version 8.
1) The ability to track effectiveness of web properties through new user-friendly overlay statistics, also new flexible options to tag pages, portlets or web content and measure their usefulness through Campaign and Custom tags. 2) An integrated, seamless and in context experience of Community pages in Websphere Portal placing IBM Connections resources in the right Portal and Web Content Manager context, and an integrated and consistent tagging and rating experience 3) The ability to integrate Facebook, Google and Yahoo ID's with WebSphere Portal. 4) Integrate with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and other systems through Web Content Manager support for CMIS standard. In addition, the Beta introduces the the ability to create Web Content with point-and-click simplicity using the new Content Templating user interface. 5) Optimize external search for Web content rendered through WebSphere Portal.
2) An integrated, seamless and in context experience of Community pages in Websphere Portal placing IBM Connections resources in the right Portal and Web Content Manager context, and an integrated and consistent tagging and rating experience
3) The ability to integrate Facebook, Google and Yahoo ID's with WebSphere Portal.
4) Integrate with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and other systems through Web Content Manager support for CMIS standard. In addition, the Beta introduces the the ability to create Web Content with point-and-click simplicity using the new Content Templating user interface.
5) Optimize external search for Web content rendered through WebSphere Portal.
TNunes 100000GJQH Tags:  analytics exceptional northstar content management experience rich media experiences ibm marketing web project 4 Comments 8,991 Views
IBM Project Northstar was introduced today at the Portal Excellence Conference in Chicago. Conference attendees were given the opportunity to hear about IBM's vision and multi-year roadmap for how organizations can create next-generation online experiences. The focus of IBM Project Northstar is to bring together the capabilities organizations need to create and deploy exceptional Web experiences that attract and retain the best customers, improve brand loyalty, increase customer satisfaction, and lower operational costs.
Realizing the full potential of an organization's Web presence can mean any number of things... Increased customer satisfaction, heightened profitability, enhanced organizational efficiency, customer retention and acquisition. In addition, how customer's interact via one channel impacts other channels as well, requiring solutions that address multi-channel needs. Finally, creating exceptional Web experiences that are competitvely differentiated enough to dazzle, retain, and acquire new customers requires a Web platform that's both agile and insightful, combining an open and extensible foundation with additional cabilities including social and real-time communication, search, personalization, marketing tools, integration capabilities, mobile device support, real-time analytics, rich media management and more.
Read more about IBM Project Northstar at www.ibm.com/northstar.
Many of our customers and partners are interested in extending key portal-based applications to mobile devices. Most are prioritizing this effort as a set of services that is becoming mandatory (no longer optional) to deploy, to support the information access preferences of their customers, partners and end users. A wide variety of market research and information publications cite the rapid growth of the mobile application market. For example, a recent IBM study managed by the Institute of Business Value interviewed over 600 consumers across international locations and found over 50 percent would prefer to receive their information via mobile device instead of the PC today. Further, the study predicts that the world's population of mobile-phone users expected to increase from the current 50 percent to 80 percent in 2013.
IBM software offerings are architected to deliver information, collaboration, application and transaction services on the platform of choice; whether server-based, rich client or via mobile devices. Many of our Portal customers are already extending their portal based solutions to mobile audiences. Examples include online mobile banking, managing in-store task lists, customer service, accounts management, alerts, and subscriptions, application purchases, and more.
Using WebSphere Portal and the Mobile Portal Accelerator offering, our customers have leveraged the scalable, secure WebSphere Portal foundation services, including centralized administration and personalization services to seamlessly deliver applications targeted towards the information needs of their users; customers, prospects, business partners and internal employees. The Mobile Portal Accelerator software delivers content to mobile devices that 'fits' or suits the unqiue display characteristics of the mobile device; whether it is an iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia or older phone with fewer display options. In fact, the Mobile Portal Accelerator device repository enables the software to support over 6500 devices worldwide, with new devices added as the are updated or introduced to the market. Our customers have rapidly increased their ability to introduce new products and services to their connected and mobile audineces, using the combination of WebSphere Portal and Mobile Portal Accelerator, both managed via Portal administration. Their end user audiences are able to seamlessly complete tasks, collaborate with others, contribute new and updated information using their preferred device and work style, greatly improving overall organizational productivity and competitiveness. This solution also lets administrators, or site designers, make the right choices about which portal applications and pages they want to make available to their mobile portal audiences. In addition, from an end user point of view, the mobile end user is presented with a productive mobile experience; as the mobile display (including navigation, text and images) are optimized for the display characteristics of their mobile device. This reduces the frustration mobile users can experience when accessing mobile content designed for delivery to the "lowest common denominator" web mobile experience, which can often involve scrolling or missed information via an incomplete display. The Mobile Portal Accelerator multi-channel server and mobile device repository connect the device specific characteristics (and there can be as many as 800 defined per mobile device) through the multi-channel server which optimizes the portal content appropriately to the specific mobile device that invoked the portal page.
Last month we introduced a new version, the Mobile Portal Accelerator 6.1. This release introduces several useful new features, including support for the WebSphere Portal 6.1 platform. The Mobile Portal Accelerator (MPA) 6.1 release provides closer integration with the Lotus Web Content Management (LWCM) author and presentation environment. This means that LWCM content authors can create content, approve it for publication to the portal, and seamlessly also publish that content out to their mobile audiences. You can see a good demonstration of this in a demo posted to the Mobile Portal Accelerator wiki. Notice that the LWCM content authored presents differently (and is perfectly tailored to ) the device display characteristics of the iPhone, Blackberry and Nokia mobile phones used in the demonstration. Doesn't get much easier than that...
The new MPA 6.1 release also includes new out of box mobile enabled portlets, including an updated RSS mobile portlet, stock reporting portlet, and new client framework widget sample portlets (see details below).
Many of our customers are asking about support for 'Smartphones' with the ability to render Web 2.0 capabilities such as AJAX client side rendering. The Mobile Portal Accelerator offers support for such devices, and the ability to develop applications that can take advantage of the presentation power of those devices, via new Framework Client widgets and sample mobile portlets provided with the release. The sample widgets provide over fifty rich, client side interfaces that can be used to deliver an enhanced, more interactive experience to client capable mobile devices. Examples of these widgets include styling, transition, AJAX table, autocomplete, popup, ticker tape, and more. You can see a demonstration of some of these capabilities displayed to mobile devices, and other mobile portal application demonstrations on the Mobile Portal Accelerator wiki. This release also introduced several features and priorities that were planned jointly as we worked with our customers and partners to understand their current and future plans for mobile portal applications.
It's a great time to be involved with this technology - it's a very active space and our team is quite responsive to the needs of our customers as they deploy mobile portal solutions - worldwide.
For those seeking more technical detail on the Mobile Portal Accelerator, the Information Center is another useful online resource. If you are to attend one of the IBM Portal Excellence Conference 2009 events this fall, you'll find several Mobile Accelerator technical, business value and hands-on lab sessions are offered.
We look forward to hearing your questions, comments and plans to extend your portal applications to mobile audiences.
- - Lauren
Our team is often asked how to approach developing the mobile versions of web content pages. How to begin and what needs to be considered and prioritized as you go? Once you determine which mobile devices you will need to support (if you need to support one or two devices that your organization has standardized on, developing a mobile portal page using a development tool such as Rational Application Developer or Portlet Factory may be a great option for your organization). Several useful mobile application examples are available from the engineering team, located in the WebSphere Portlet Factory wiki, http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/pfwiki.nsf/xpViewRecent.xsp?searchValue=mobile. Other organizations realize they will need to support more than three mobile devices (and their updates) and may choose a multi-channel server option, such as Mobile Portal Accelerator, to help automate mobile portal development and display optimization for thousands of in-market devices, and their updates in the future. We've worked with a number of organizations worldwide that have saved development and code maintenance costs using this approach. A demonstration of the power of Mobile Portal Accelerator to optimize content for virtually all mobile devices in -market can be viewed here on an IBM "Demonet" server: http://mpademo.net:10040/wps/portal (you can check this out with your own mobile device)!
You'll find other useful articles providing best practice guidance in the Developing Exceptional Web Experiences redwiki http://wiki1.swg.usma.ibm.com/ldd/portalwiki.nsf/dx/Table_of_Contents, and other tips and techniques in the Mobile Portal Accelerator wiki:http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/portalwiki.nsf/xpViewCategories.xsp?lookupName=IBM%20Mobile%20Portal%20Accelerator.
We look forward to helping further as you deliver your Exceptional (mobile) Web Experiences. - -Lauren
jasonCornell 060001JGYY Tags:  2.0 interactive dojo exceptional web ajax rich experience 1 Comment 7,567 Views
Download WebSphere Portlet Factory Next Beta now to supercharge delivery of applications that deliver exceptional Web experiences with the most advanced, rich and highly interactive user interfaces from https://www14.software.ibm.com/webapp/iwm/web/preLogin.do?source=swg-wspfnob. WebSphere Portlet Factory Next Beta provides new features and enhancements enabling faster and simpler creation of richer, more interactive and scalable applications including:
• Expanded support for the latest, advanced Dojo toolkit User Interface widgets and controls enabling delivery of exceptional web experiences
WebSphere Portal is #1 in portal market share. The data comes from a new report from Gartner, Inc, that shows IBM has maintained its #1 market share position. What makes this even more impressive is that IBM has held the #1 portal market share title for 7 years in a row now. Given the market consolidation and intense competition in this space, that makes this accomplishment even more significant. A #1 ranking by market share is a good measure of actual value for customers since it is measured in dollars, not seats or servers which can be given away in bundles or other packaging. It is value customers are willing to pay for.
The report also lists some of our customer success stories. These are great. Our customers are using WebSphere Portal in very innovative ways. But in the press release, these are cut way down because of space. IBM has posted some great WebSphere Portal case studies here.
The other great news in the press release is our industry success. This is more than just rounding up our best customers and listing them together in a press release for good marketing. It is a focused effort to expand the horizontal value proposition of WebSphere Portal into industry verticals by introducing industry-specific product capability. Let me explain what I mean...
Portals are a horizontal product in that they can be used by companies in any industry. An intranet portal in a financial company really isn't all that different from an intranet portal in a technology company. Even when a customer uses a portal for their public, external web sites, many of these sites are not all that different in what they contain. It is when companies start implementing applications on their web sites that there begins to be a significant difference between industries.
For example, Duke Medicine implemented WebSphere Portal for their patient self-care portal called HealthView. This site enables patients throughout the Duke Medical system to make appointments, check and pay their bills, and even get lab results through the portal. Because of HIPAA and other privacy and regulatory concerns, the process of doing those things is substantially different from the way people make appointments and pay bills for other things. IBM and Duke Medicine partnered to build the Healthview portal with the thought of reusing this for Healthcare-focused portal customers. This is where the Websphere Portal vertical or industry-specific portal strategy began to evolve from just an industry-focused marketing and sales approach to have a vertical/industry product focus as well.
The code that we wrote for Healthview has been enhanced and expanded and is now available as the IBM Healthcare Accelerator. We are now expanding this strategy to include new Industry Toolboxes. Toolboxes have both collateral and code that enable companies in that industry to get a head-start on implementing portal solutions to their industry-specific challenges. The first two toolboxes for Healthcare and Government are posted already. We have plans for more industry toolboxes. On the product team we are now discussing what industries to go after next and what the toolboxes should contain. Do you have any suggestions?
TNunes 100000GJQH Tags:  portal business now web bps partners content portals issl management ibm websphere 1 Comment 7,020 Views
Web portals provide a number of valuable and well recognized features, including seamless application integration, single sign-on, personalization, integrated collaboration and more. Such features help organizations large and small deliver exceptional Web experiences that set them apart from their competition.
So why isn't everyone using portal software? Well, some organizations may be unfamiliar with Web portals and others may have IT resource concerns. In fact, a number of concerns or perceptions have delayed portal deployments in the past... Until now.
The IBM WebSphere® Portal NOW business application is a proven approach to deploying an enterprise-class portal business solution in just 16 days. A comprehensive set of application templates, combined with a defined project plan, all help deliver exceptional results and provide companies with an exponentially greater ROI.
Listen to how IBM Business Partners are leveraging WebSphere Portal NOW to deliver exceptional Web experiences to their customers...
Want to learn more about WebSphere Portal NOW? Simply contact an IBM Business Partner or IBM to learn how your organization can deploy a fully working portal and content solution faster than you ever thought possible.
~ Tim Nunes
Hopefully by now you've seen the announcements about WebSphere Portal and Lotus Web Content Management joining the ranks of several other IBM software products with offerings out on Amazon Web Services. Here's the IBM press release: http://www-304.ibm.com/jct03001c/press/us/en/pressrelease/26673.wss.
In February of this year, we released free for use, "development only" versions of our product as Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that you can use free of charge from an IBM licensing perspective. You only pay Amazon for the time and space used. These images are small in size and are meant for use in eduction, trials, development and test of portal and content management solutions. Later, in June, we released production AMIs that are larger (64-bit, giving access to larger machine instance types) and are licensed for use in production environments in the cloud. See the complete AWS IBM AMI catalog for more details.
We are very excited about the benefits cloud computing, and particular Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud, brings to the portal and content management platform. In about 20 minutes, you have a fully-functional WebSphere Portal and Web Content Management instance running, with several features preconfigured out of the box:
Leveraging a product like WebSphere Portal and WCM in the cloud allows the user to get past those initial setup and configuration costs and down to business much faster than using traditional bare-metal installations. You can either use our AMIs as a starting point (see the catalog link above), or build your own AMIs based on product licenses you've already purchased.
I can think of several ways to leverage Portal/WCM in a cloud:
Additionally, we've started posting Portal/WCM Beta AMIs on EC2. You can now run our beta programs from within the cloud. Go to our Portal.Next beta page for more details.
With the introduction of our AWS support, we have started on the cloud computing journey, rich with exciting technical advancements and total cost of ownership savings. Look for new announcements coming that expand on our cloud computing support and commitments.