Monday, February 1, 2010

Web Portals

A web portal refers to a web site or web based interface which offers a broad array of resources and services and it presents information from diverse sources in a unified way. There are several portal categories and this chapter discuss more about the enterprise portals and the currently available open source portal engines.

An enterprise portal is a Web-based interface for users of enterprise applications and it provides access to enterprise information such as corporate databases, applications, and systems.
Java Portlet Specification (JSR) 168 that enables interoperability among portlets and portals was released in mid of 2003. This specification defines a set of APIs for portlets and addresses standardization for preferences, user information, portlet requests and responses, deployment packaging, and security. These standards allow portal developers, administrators and consumers to integrate standards-based portals and portlets across a variety of vendor solutions. A plethora of offerings are currently available in the portal software market and they make it possible to bring together all aspects of portal functionality.

The major goal of the portal software vendors is to provide a scalable, flexible and a reliable portal framework and some of the vendors have enhanced the portal framework by including more features with their framework. Those frameworks with the enhanced features can be considered as a complete portal solution. Some of the major functionalities of web portal software are,
  • User and community management
  • Personalization
  • Aggregation
  • Security
  • Integration
  • Search
  • Interaction management and administration
Some portal software is proprietary and encourages use of other products by the same vendor, whereas other offerings are very open. So what software to choose from and develop on depends on one’s priorities and requirements.

Some examples of open source portals are,
  • Liferay
  • JBoss
  • Exo
  • GridSphere
  • uPortal

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