Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

WebLogic Portal 8.1

WebLogic Portal 8.1

WebLogic Portal 8.1 Beta is out and builds upon the successful and well received WebLogic Portal 7.0. Portal 7.0 dominated industry reviews last year, winning many "best technology" awards (for example, Best Enterprise Portal Solution in the 17th annual Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) Codie Awards) as well as recognition as the best portal product. Most important: Java developers loved it.

The keys to Portal 7.0's success were its open architecture, ease of use, and overall high-quality portal features such as personalization and interaction management. The architecture allowed an ease of integration with either BEA WebLogic Integration or other third-party business process providers. Its user interface allows an ease of look and feel updates, and a division of labor between GUI specialists and Java developers. Portal features such as personalization (delivering audience-specific content), entitlements (restricting access to the correct resources), dynamic navigation, and interaction tracking were intuitively designed in a way that simplified developer usage.

So how do you improve on a classic? First you build on its strengths. Portal 8.1 provides all of the benefits of Portal 7.0 while adding new features that improve integration with the rest of the WebLogic platform. More wizards and graphical component designers were added. BEA has also added more Java Controls, which provide a head start on application development by simplifying API or J2EE resource calls. In addition, Portal 8.1 now allows for the addition of multiple portals within the same overall Web application.

One of the biggest changes in WebLogic 8.1 involved the development environment updates to WebLogic Workshop, which has evolved into a complete developer tool capable of integrating Web services, Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs), JavaServer Pages (JSPs), and busines processes into the portal environment. This provides a one-source tool for most areas of portal development. A debugging source code editor has also been added to Workshop. The numerous updates to Workshop itself are covered in a related article on page 28.

Portlet functionality has also been dramatically improved. The drag and drop creation of portlets and their components works well and greatly eases development. JSP portlets, Web services portlets, and Java Page- flow portlets can all be created at the click of a few buttons (and maybe a little typing). The portal development interface combines visual logic with vast utility, and provides what BEA calls "Converged Portal Development," using Workshop to build custom portals that combine business processes and Web services.

Portal Sample
The sample portal represents a fictional company called Avitek (see Figure 1). There is an initial sign-on page, "Avitek Inweb," followed by three tabs representing "Content," "News," and "Bookmarks."

A portal created by WebLogic consists of a single XML file, which is constructed automatically by Workshop when the Portal Designer is employed to build a portal. A snippet from the sample.portal Avitek example XML file is shown below:

markupType="Desktop" title="Avitek
Intranet - A platform for Information Sharing">
markupName="avitek"
markupType="LookAndFeel" skeleton="default"
skeletonPath="
/framework/skeletons/" skin="avitek" />

Luckily, you don't really care what this looks like as you are using WebLogic Workshop. To open the Avitek portal simply open the XML file. Workshop uses the XML file to determine the portal contents and presents the developer view (see Figure 2).

Let's go through what you see from the sample.portal view in Workshop.

On the upper left, there are two tabs labeled Application and Files. The Application tab has a directory structure and provides access to all of the modules that are currently part of the portalApp sample application. The Files tab lists the file names for all of the same directory modules.

Below that area is a Palette tab that lists available construction elements. Currently, Book and Page are showing. A Book provides the ability to add a collection of Pages to one portal area. A Page represents a specific area of the portal.

In the middle of the Workshop screen is the visual representation of the portal application being built. Files from the application and palette tabs can be dragged and dropped to this area when adding new functionality. You can see four pages within the sample application. The first page has two columns, each with a portlet. A portlet is an access point to an application within the portal. Within the sample, a Login portlet is on the left and a Dev2Dev portlet is on the right. Both use JSPs to provide their content.

Immediately to the right of the portal representation are the Property Editor and Document Structure tabs. The Document Structure tab provides a directory structured listing of the various components of the portal desktop. The Property Editor provides the ability to set specific values for each of these components. Key Property Editor attributes for a Page include Title, which specifies the name of the page; and Navigation, which identifies and type of navigation (tabs or text). Other properties exist, most are fairly well named and, after you look them up once or twice, remain in memory.

The Data Palette falls below the Property Editor in the sample screenshot. It lists the Portal data components. For the sample, all of the available portlets are listed. These can easily be dragged into any of the pages.

Finally, the tour of the sample portal concludes with the tri-tabbed section immediately below the footer of the portal representation. The tabs are Build, Output, and Content Preview. The Build tab shows the results of any application build process. The Output tab shows functional output that occurs given Workshop usage. For example, if you have the debugger on, the various debugger outputs are depicted. Dynamic content can be previewed with the Content Preview tab.

After reviewing the sample and working through a tutorial (see Reference section), I created some sample portals. Creating them is straightforward once you get the hang of it. First, create an application to contain the portal. Follow that with the project to build within. Then it's simply a matter of adding Books (collections of pages) or Pages (containers for portlets). Stylesheets can be included very easily as can specific JSPs for the header or footer.

Most items employ a drag-and-drop mechanism for inclusion. The other main area for updating (aside from code) is the Property Editor tab on the right-hand side of the Workshop screen. The usage pattern I settled on was to select the item in the Document Structure tab and then update the properties in the Property Editor tab. You can also just select the item on the page, but sometimes I had trouble identifying specifically what I had selected.

The Workshop Test Browser allows a portal developer to see the outcome of their changes easily. Just remember to save your changes prior to refreshing it.

It is also possible to import any file, module, library, or project into your project or application. This allows a group of separate HTML developers, for example, to develop the code elsewhere and integrate it into the portal application. Once JSP or HTML has been imported into the project, creating portlets from the pages involves a drag-and-drop, which then calls the Portlet wizard.

When generating a Web service portlet, the interface provides three types of generated portlet code for access, which provides a degree of time savings. The choices available are Form, which takes parameters from an HTML form and calls the interface; Call Generation, which creates a stubbed out portlet where you code in the source for the parameters; and Web service(s) Interfaces, which documents the interface usage.

The integration with Pageflows provides one of the more powerful aspects of WebLogic Portal. Pageflow provides a series of conditional statements provided with page outcomes. Possible outcomes include other pages, Struts ActionForms, or Workshop Java Controls. Java Controls allow logic to be reused as a simple interface to all developers. WebLogic Workshop includes several built-in controls, such as database access.

Deploying portal applications is relatively straightforward. After the server is started, access the console and deploy your entire portal application using straightforward directory options (similar to the deployment of JSPs or EJBs). WebLogic Portal 8.1 provides advanced administrator capability once the portal is created. Using the single XML file created by WebLogic Workshop when the portal is created, the Administration Portal allows the various components of the portal to be modified and reassembled. In addition, an administrator can set entitlements for user groups and individual areas of the portal.

Documentation
The online Workshop documentation provides a good understanding of what the different screen attributes mean, and provides a basis for some portal programming. But I had difficulty getting a sense of context from just Workshop or the sample alone. I recommend using the dev2dev eWorld tutorial for getting up to speed quickly after going through the Workshop documentation. Used in combination, I think you get a good understanding of what is possible (mostly from the Workshop documentation), and with the tutorial, a sample of potential use. The tutorial does not provide examples of all of the Portal features, but definitely provides enough to know where to look if it isn't covered.

Conclusion
BEA has done it again. WebLogic Portal 8.1 Beta is an excellent tool and greatly simplifies the potentially difficult development of a portal. It provides more wizards and has simplified usage, and makes portal development that much easier. Much of its usage is intuitive, and because of the overall consistency of the application, patterns for usage from one area can be reapplied to other areas, allowing faster learning. I was able to create JSP, Web service, and Pageflow portlets within the portals easily and soundly. I also added interaction management features through the handy designers without much trial and error.

Most important, significant updates have been made to WebLogic Workshop. This article has only touched the surface of what Workshop provides. BEA has done an excellent job integrating the various Web development software packages into one platform. It is through the use of this platform that the real power of Workshop can be demonstrated.

References
The following sites should be helpful for anyone reviewing BEA Portal:

  • eWorld BEA Portal 8.1 Tutorial: http://dev2dev.bea.com/ resourcelibrary/tutorials/Portal_Lab.jsp
  • BEA Portal 8.1 Release Notes: http://edocs.bea.com/wlp/ docs81/relnotes/index.html
  • Workshop Overview: includes a section on WebLogic Portal: http://edocs.bea.com/workshop/ docs81/doc/en/core/index.html

    SIDEBAR

    BEA Systems, Inc.
    2315 North First Street
    San Jose, CA 95131
    +1.800.817.4BEA (US toll free)
    +1.408.570.8000 phone

    Requirements:
    BEA WebLogic Portal requires BEA WebLogic Server 7.0

    Sales:
    North American Sales
    Ready to Purchase BEA Products
    +1.800.817.4BEA (1.800.817.4232)
    toll-free (24 Hours/Day)
    +1.415.402.7250 fax

    For Europe and Asia:
    www.bea.com/framework.jsp?CNT=sales1.htm &FP=/content/about/contact/

  • More Stories By Jason Snyder

    Jason Snyder is an architectural expert for CSC Consulting in Boston, and has served as the lead architect for several J2EE development projects. He has over 10 years of experience in software development, OO design, and application architecture.

    Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
    Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
    DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that the upcoming DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO New York event will feature 10 companies from Poland to participate at the "Poland Digital Transformation Pavilion" on November 12-13, 2018.
    Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
    The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...
    In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
    More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
    DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
    @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
    In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
    DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
    Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
    We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
    Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
    Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
    Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
    Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
    Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
    Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
    "IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...