To the end user, a channel is a distinct area in the desktop, usually set off with a border and header row of icons. The icons enable users to configure the channel to their preference.
Channels are administered from the Portal Server administration console. The administration console allows you to create channels from pre-built as well as custom providers and to change channel preferences.
Channels can be implemented either as Providers or Portlets.
A “channel” is a Sun Java System Portal Server specific term. The portlet specification (JSR-168) does not use the term “channel”. Rather, the JSR-168 portlet specification uses the term “portlet window” to refer to a specific use of a portlet.
Providers are vertical channels that have a single use and can be reused (multiple channels can be created from a single provider) on a custom portal. Providers are Java class files based on the Provider API that can be used to construct both channels and page containers.
You can use the Portal Server pre-built providers such as JSPProvider, URLScraperProvider, and XMLProvider to implement channels without the need to write code.
For more information on the Provider API, see Sun Java System Portal Server 7 Developer’s Guide.
Portlets function similarly to providers, however they are based on the API defined by the JSR-168 portlet specification.
The Sun Java System Portal Server includes the following sample portlets:
Use the Portal Server management console of command-line utilities to deploy these portlets at the Enterprise Sample organization level.
The advantages to using portlets are as follows:
Portability. A portlet implemented using only the standard Portlet API and other standard J2EE interfaces, is portable to any JSR168 portlet specification-compliant portlet container.
Access to developers. As support for the portlet API grows with multiple vendor implementations, more developers are becoming familiar with the API.
Developer tools. Wider support may be available for developer tools to create portlets.
Web application integration. The portlet API is based on the Servlet API, making it is easier to integrate portlets with servlets and other standard web application components.
For more information on the portlets, see Sun Java System Portal Server 7 Developer’s Guide.