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Oracle® Fusion Middleware User's Guide for Oracle WebCenter Portal: Spaces
11g Release 1 (11.1.1.6.0)

Part Number E10149-11
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1 Introducing WebCenter Portal: Spaces

Welcome to Oracle WebCenter Portal: Spaces! The Spaces application furnishes all the tools you require to rapidly create portals, communities, and social networking sites capable of accommodating thousands of users and encompassing diverse populations with differing language requirements.

This chapter defines a few useful terms and provides a sampling of some of the types of portals, communities, and social networking sites you can create using the Spaces application. It also supplies a table of references to details about the resources discussed in this chapter.

This chapter includes the following sections:

Learn More:

For more detailed information about Spaces application features that support social networking, see Chapter 3, "Leveraging Social and Collaborative Services."

1.1 Understanding Portals, Communities, and Social Networking Sites

Your decision about what to build naturally falls in line with what you plan to accomplish. This section assists you in that decision by clarifying what is meant by portals, communities, and social networking sites. It includes the following subsections:

1.1.1 What Is a Portal?

A portal is a web destination that presents information and resources that are diverse in location, technology, and derivation, through a single point of entry. Content and technology that originate from widespread sources appear to your users as a cohesive set of information and services that are easily available from one location.

For example, in a Spaces portal, a user can look at all the Worklist items coming from their organization's eBusiness Suite, the detailed customer information coming from a CRM suite, and the latest sales figure charts coming from a Business Intelligence tool. Despite these multiple sources, to your user, all of this content is available in one place and appears to be coming from a single source.

Portals offer solutions for aggregating disparate content into one or multiple libraries. Authorized users are provided with controls for uploading and managing such content so that consumers have easy access to what appears to be a cohesive body of knowledge available in one location.

Applications from multiple sources can appear as a family of applications, once again, available from a single source: the portal. Through their portals, users have a go-to destination for all of their self-service applications, such as expense and time reporting, no matter the multiple points of origin. The portal provides an efficient delivery platform that saves users time and effort and creates a positive experience between the enterprise and its employees.

Also contributing to that positive experience, portals deliver personalization capabilities. Personalization provides a means of leveraging the information in a user's Profile to tailor the user's experience of the portal. For example, Mary the manager logs in and sees department-wide results information and links to reporting applications, while Sal the salesman logs in and sees his reports on his own results and links to leads.

Spaces portals provide two arenas for the presentation of resources and information: a space and the Home space.

Spaces are typically used to create portals and communities that are scoped to a specific audience, for example, a specific division, department, project, or community. Subspaces, which are hierarchically lower than their parent spaces, enable you to set up, for example, a divisional portal (the space), with child portals for each subdivision (subspaces).

You can use the Home space to address all of your company's employees. In addition to its inherent broad appeal—by default, the Home space is accessible to all authenticated users—the Home space can be set up to provide a personal experience for each user. For example, each user can have a dashboard of all the information they require for starting their daily work. That is, a portal just for them.

1.1.2 What Is a Community?

A community is a group of individuals gathered together to accomplish a common goal or share a common interest. Communities can be used in conjunction with portals as well as social networks—they are not mutually exclusive.

In the Spaces application, the idea of community is realized in spaces that are designed to support collaboration among space members.

Spaces support the formation and collaboration of project teams and communities of interest. They provide a dedicated and readily accessible area for relevant services, pages, and content.

Spaces support the assembly of team and community members through direct addition, invitation, and self-registration. They support internal hierarchies through the assignment of permissions and roles, which offer differing levels of access to space features and resources. They support structural hierarchies through the creation of subspaces, the management of which can be delegated to subteams or different lines of business (LOBs).

Spaces bring people together in a virtual environment for ongoing interaction and information sharing.

Learn More:

For more detailed information about spaces, see Part XI, "Planning and Building a Space".

1.1.3 What Is a Social Networking Site?

Any number of social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, may have already given you a strong understanding of web-based social networking. Users forge connections to each other. That connection provides a free pass to information about each other's activities and the resulting content. That is, links to sites of interest, photo slide shows, and statements reflecting the connection's current state of mind. A connection between two people increases exponentially as each user's connections introduce themselves through recommendations and by commenting and liking streamed posts and links.

The Spaces application does not reimagine social networking, but rather focuses it on the more purposeful environment of your enterprise. Users with common interests and goals can forge connections that expose them to content of interest and enable them to follow and benefit from each other's activities.

You can provide social networking capabilities in both portals and communities—they are not mutually exclusive.

The Home space is an excellent venue for setting up a site that is focussed on social networking. The Home space is accessible to all employees, provided they are logged in, making it the best foundation for a broad social network.

In the Home space, social networking capability is greatly enhanced by the People Connections service. This service provides features for forging connections to other users, viewing and customizing personal profile information, viewing the activities of other users, and sharing such activities, as well as files and links, with a broader audience.

The Home space may include a set of pages that are created by application administrators and pushed to targeted users. Such pages are called business role pages. Use business role pages to provide content of interest to a specific group of users, such as the Sales team, and prevent uninterested users from seeing it.

Provided they are enabled to do so, users may have the ability to create and customize pages in the Home space for their eyes only. They can add or upload content of interest specifically to them, and share that content with whomever they choose.

Learn More:

For more detailed information about Spaces application social network capabilities, see Chapter 3, "Leveraging Social and Collaborative Services."

1.2 Planning Your Portals, Communities, and Social Networking Sites

This section provides an overview of the types of portals, communities, and social networking sites you can build and describes the resources and roles you would need to build them. It also supplies pointers to relevant information in the rest of the guide. This section includes the following subsections:

1.2.1 Planning a Home Space to Serve All Users

Requirement

Build a highly controlled, secure, and performant corporate portal that focusses on social networking among thousands of users.

Who Will It Serve?

This corporate portal is intended to serve all internal users. Its purpose is to disseminate information about corporate events, accomplishments, and initiatives, and to provide access to corporate resources, such as Payroll, Human Resources, Purchasing, and the like. Additionally, it is meant to enable employees to connect with each other and share all kinds of information about themselves and their endeavors.

To a limited degree, this portal confines access to targeted information to specific audiences. For example, only the sales people see a link to the Sales Manager's blog; only the decision makers see a link to the Purchasing page. All users see the link to the page From the CEO. In some ways, this is like the corporate "family" site. It might replace and improve upon the traditional corporate newsletter as well as provide links to resources that are available to all employees.

What Type of Access Should Users Have?

A small group of people are responsible for creating and managing pages and managing the site's look and feel. Authenticated users—that is, users who are logged in—can interact with social networking services, such as People Connections and they can set personal Preferences. But they cannot create Personal pages nor perform page management tasks.

What Types of Resources Should Be in Place?

Portal builders require access to site resources, such as application Skins and Navigation, Page templates and Styles, and so on. They require access to application Administration pages where they can specify which resources to apply. They are also likely interested in analyzing Usage and Performance Metrics to determine heavy traffic areas and possible bottlenecks. The Analytics service will be useful to this end.

Within the small set of users who are tasked with building and maintaining the portal, a subset of users should be given the responsibility of establishing and maintaining site Security through the creation and assignment of application roles and permissions.

Such a portal could be based on the Home space, with its application-wide scope. Basing the portal on a Home space would simplify and centralize site resource management, and call for a security model with a fairly simple structure.

This type of portal will also make use of a few System pages and Business role pages. System pages are prebuilt utility pages, such as the application login page, that authorized users can customize in terms of content and look and feel. Business role pages are pages targeted to a specific business role, such as a salesperson, an HR representative, a Corporate Trainer, and so on. Each business role page is pushed into the Home space views of its target audience.

The Documents service, which encompasses files, Blogs, and Wikis, should be made available to the limited set of users who are allowed to provide content to the portal. The People Connections service should be made available to all authenticated users to enable them to interact with social networking features, such as Profile, Activity Stream, and Connections.

Connections and Activity Stream are a particularly essential components of a robust social network. Connections enable users to create the network. Within the Home space, Activity Stream streams the activities of each user's connections. Within a space, it streams the activities of each space member.

Liking, Commenting, and Sharing should be available on the Activity Stream to enable users to interact with each other by expressing approval for and commenting on streamed activities and for sharing objects of interest and useful links.

The Activity Graph service will also be of great use. It provides a means of enlarging your users' spheres of interest in the Spaces application by offering recommendations for new connections, suitable items, and relevant spaces.

You might include the Polls service to provide a means of administering simple polls to the entire corporate population regarding issues, ideas, and events of interest to all.

1.2.2 Planning Multiple Portals Serving All LOBs

Requirement

Build highly controlled, secure, and performant portals to be accessed by thousands of users. Each portal is targeted to a particular LOB. All portals must have consistent branding that is controlled by a limited set of users. The content of each portal is maintained by specific roles within each LOB.

Who Will It Serve?

This portal provides a central landing place for all LOBs with the intention of directing each LOB to its own dedicated portal. Each LOB portal in turn offers information of specific interest to that LOB as well as access to External Applications aimed at the LOB's reporting requirements (status, expense, results, and the like).

What Type of Access Should Users Have?

All users have access to the central landing page, which might be the Home space or the parent space in a set of Hierarchical spaces. There are advantages to both. For example, basing the landing page on the Home space simplifies the security model, at least for that page. Basing it on a parent space in a hierarchy enables you to take advantage of inheritance of configuration settings, simplifying the task of maintaining consistent branding across portals.

Security would likely be set up in a steeper hierarchy than discussed with the first model. Like the first model, a small set of users control the site resources for all portals, such as the templates, skins, and Resource Catalogs (these provide access to the components one adds to a page). In this multiportal environment, however, management of each portal is delegated to a few people from each LOB, each controlling access, Content management, and maintenance of their specific sites.

What Types of Resources Should Be in Place?

In addition to portal resources, such as Skins, Navigation, Page templates, and the like, LOB portals would find Announcements useful for spreading information of interest to a like-minded group, immediately or on a selected date and time. The Activity Graph service would be useful for providing recommendations for pages and documents of interest based on an analysis of user activity. The Instant Messaging and Presence service (IMP), would keep department members alert to each others' online status and provide options for contacting another user on the spot. Finally, the Worklist service would be useful for keeping track of workflow notifications and messages channeled through the User Messaging Service (UMS).

1.2.3 Planning a Department Portal

Requirement

Enable each department to build multiple portals in one environment. These portals serve as information-sharing vehicles for their users.

Who Will It Serve?

Each of these portals serves a very large department with internal subdivisions. For example, imagine a large manufacturing corporation that is primarily divided into Marketing, Sales, Accounting, Manufacturing, Fulfillment, and Distribution. Every employee will likely fit under one of those umbrellas, but under a given umbrella there are subdivisions. Accounting will have at least two: one for Accounts Payable and one for Accounts Receivable. They may also handle Budgets, Collections, and Payroll.

Each of these departments has a portal based on a parent space, such as the Accounting home page, with a hierarchy of subspaces, each purposed with addressing the information requirements of a given subdivision (Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and so on).

What Type of Access Should Users Have?

All department members have access to the parent space, which is the landing page for the department. Limited access is provided for subspaces: users belonging to a subdivision have access to the subdivision's dedicated subspace in a group of Hierarchical spaces.

A limited set of users would manage the portal's Resources. These users might control resources for all portals, or there might be a like group of resource managers for each portal, and possibly for each child portal. A limited set of users would handle Content management. It is likely that each portal would have its own team handling Security, and subdivisions may also handle their own.

What Types of Resources Should Be in Place?

Portal Resources and Security are useful to all portals. Hierarchical spaces are of particular importance in this model. They provide a number of relevant benefits, such as grouping of related content under a given space; logical navigation for drilling down into required areas for more information; delegated administration; inherited membership; and a flexible security model, where you can configure access to be identical to the parent space, or allow it to be completely overridden by the administrator of the subspace.

Services in support of information dissemination, such as the Documents service, the Announcements service, and the Activity Graph service, will likely come into play. Polls scoped to the department or to a subdivision could also prove useful.

1.2.4 Planning a Department Portal with Diverse Collaborative Teams and Communities

Requirement

Enable a controlled set of users to build portal sites, while the rest of the users can build team sites.

Who Will It Serve?

This is another type of departmental portal that provides information of interest to all department members as well as access to spaces serving project-focussed teams and communities of interest.

What Type of Access Should Users Have?

All users have view access to the department portal. A small set of users serve as portal administrators, who control the look and feel and content of the main site and delegate responsibilities to managers of teams and communities. A larger pool of users are assigned space moderator roles, to enable them to manage and monitor their team and community spaces.

What Types of Resources Should Be in Place?

In addition to all the portal-building Resources mentioned in other models, many collaborative tools will come into play. For example, the Lists service will provide useful features for creating things like project issues lists, milestones lists, and lists of deliverables. Project teams can leverage the Events service for meeting planning and event scheduling. The Members task flow is vital for keeping track of who is on the team or who belongs to the community. Team member can use Wikis for preserving meeting agendas and note taking. Teams and Communities can use Blogs for evangelizing technologies and ideas and disseminating expertise.

It will serve the users of this portal to provide the Links service to enable the creation of connections between relevant application objects, for example, from a list of project milestones to project design documents and functional specifications. Naturally, the Documents service will frequently come into play.

The Discussions service will be essential for enabling the creation and capture of discussions among colleagues. This is particularly useful for retaining a record of such exchanges and for enabling a widely distributed workforce to participate in their own time.

1.2.5 Planning a Division Portal with Teams, Communities, and Social Networks

Requirement

Enable a controlled set of users to build portal sites, while the rest of the users can build team sites and socialize using social networking features.

Who Will It Serve?

This portal will be lively and robust and serve a corporate division with a fairly open policy toward internal collaboration and communication.

What Type of Access Should Users Have?

All users will have access to the Home space and may have permission to create their own Personal pages in their view of it. Users belonging to a subdivision will have access to the portal dedicated to that subdivision. A small team of users will control division and subdivision home pages, including Security and Content management, but control of team sites and communities will be delegated to key members of those teams and communities. All users should have permission to update People Connections data, which would enable them to make connections, update their profiles, view the activities of their connections, and share resources.

What Types of Resources Should Be in Place?

Resources for building portals and managing portal Security should be readily available to the small set of users administering the division and subdivision portals. Resources for securing spaces, creating space pages, and managing services within the space scope should be available to users tasked with such activities. A collaborative environment, either teams or communities, will benefit tremendously from the availability of the Discussions service. The Search service will be useful for searching a large set of portals with a large volume of content. The Tags service will enable users to add their own personally meaningful search terms and share them with other users. Naturally, you will want Content management, People Connections, Lists, and Events services to support the capture, delivery, and preservation of schedules, ideas, goals, and headway. Polls will be useful across the board for taking stock. The Links service will enable users to provide links from one location to another or from a location to an application object, such as a document, a note, an event, and so on.

Connections and Activity Stream are a particularly essential components of a robust social network. Connections enable users to create the network. Within a Home space, Activity Stream streams the activities of each user's connections. Within a space, it streams the activities of each space member.

Liking, Commenting, and Sharing should be available on the Activity Stream to enable users to interact with each other by expressing approval for and commenting on streamed activities and for sharing objects of interest and useful links.

The Activity Graph service will also be of great use. It provides a means of enlarging your users' spheres of interest in the Spaces application by offering recommendations for new connections, suitable items, and relevant spaces.

You might include the Polls service to provide a means of administering simple polls to the entire corporate population regarding issues, ideas, and events of interest to all.

To assist your users in keeping informed of changes to their connections and to spaces and application objects of interest, you can incorporate Notifications into these portals. This gives users a means of subscribing to be notified over selected messaging channels when their subscribed objects change.

1.3 Where to Look for More Information

Table 1-1 provides links to information about all the resources discussed in this chapter.

Table 1-1 Where to Look for More Information

Resource Where to Look

Activity Graph

Section 58, "Working with the Activity Graph Service"

Administration pages

Analytics

Chapter 55, "Analyzing Usage and Performance Metrics"

Announcements

Chapter 59, "Working with the Announcements Service"

Blogs

Chapter 48, "Working with Blogs"

Business role pages

Section 7.1, "Working with Business Role Pages"

Content management

Part X, "Working with Content"

Discussions

Chapter 60, "Working with the Discussions Service"

Documents

Chapter 39, "Introduction to Adding and Managing Content"

Events

Chapter 61, "Working with the Events Service"

External Applications

Chapter 6, "Configuring Services, Portlet Producers, and External Applications"

Hierarchical spaces

Chapter 54, "Working with a Space Hierarchy"

Home space

Instant Messaging and Presence

Chapter 62, "Working with the Instant Messaging and Presence Service (IMP)"

Languages

Chapter 24, "Working with Multilanguage Portals"

Liking, Commenting, and Sharing

Chapter 34, "Liking, Commenting On, and Sharing Objects"

Links

Chapter 63, "Working with the Links Service"

Lists

Chapter 64, "Working with the Lists Service"

Members task flow

Section 52.4, "Working with the Members Task Flow"

Navigation

Chapter 11, "Working with Navigation"

Notifications

Chapter 36, "Setting Up Your Personal Subscriptions and Notifications"

Page templates

People Connections

  • Connections

  • Activity Stream

  • Profile

  • Message Board

  • Feedback

Personal pages

Polls

Chapter 67, "Working with the Polls Service"

Preferences

Chapter 35, "Setting Your Personal Preferences"

Resource Catalogs

Chapter 16, "Working with Resource Catalogs"

Resources

Chapter 10, "Working with the Resources that Compose a Portal or Community"

Search

Chapter 56, "Working with the Search Service"

Security

Part VI, "Securing Your Portal"

Skins

Chapter 14, "Working with Skins"

Styles

Chapter 15, "Working with Page Styles"

System pages

Section 7.3, "Working with System Pages"

Tags

Chapter 57, "Working with the Tags Service"

Usage and Performance Metrics

Chapter 55, "Analyzing Usage and Performance Metrics"

Wikis

Chapter 47, "Working with Wiki Documents"

Worklist

Chapter 70, "Working with the Worklist Service"