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Oracle® Fusion Middleware Building Portals with Oracle WebCenter Portal
11g Release 1 (11.1.1.8.3)

Part Number E27603-05
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46 Adding Discussion Forums to a Portal

This chapter describes discussions feature and how to set up discussions in a portal for participants. Discussions provide a means of creating and participating in text-based discussions with other members of a portal. Use discussions to create forums, post questions, and search for answers. Discussion forums additionally provide the means to preserve and revisit discussions.

This chapter includes the following topics:

Permissions:

To perform the tasks in this chapter, you must be a portal moderator or member with Manage All or Manage Configuration permission in the portal.

To work with discussions, you must have the following permissions:

For more information about portal-level permissions, see Section 29.1, "About Roles and Permissions for a Portal."

46.1 Prerequisites for Discussions

For discussions to work, the system administrator needs to perform the following tasks for WebCenter Portal:

See Also:

"Troubleshooting Issues with Announcements and Discussions" section in Oracle Fusion Middleware Administering Oracle WebCenter Portal.

To make discussions available in a portal, the portal moderator or anyone with Manage All or Manage Configuration permission must perform the following tasks:

Note:

For information about the discussions feature and how to use discussions, see Section 46.8, "Working with Discussions Task Flows."

46.2 About Discussions

You can use discussions to post, respond to, and preserve topical information in discussion forums limited to the current portal or to multiple portals. Users post topics to a discussion forum, and other users post information relevant to those topics. All of this information is preserved within the forum.

The back-end server that provides discussions (Oracle WebCenter Portal's Discussion Server) manages content in a hierarchy. At the top of the hierarchy are categories, below that are forums, and then topics. Where categories are exposed in your portal, authorized users can create multiple forums within a given scope and multiple topics under those forums. Where categories are not exposed, authorized users can create multiple topics under one forum within a given scope.

A new portal is assigned a single discussion forum by default. Portal moderators can allocate multiple forums to a portal if required, as described in Section 46.3, "Modifying Discussion Forum Settings for a Portal."

Discussions are scoped to portals. That is, you can create forums and topics only within the context of a portal. You can view and participate in discussions in both portals and the Home portal, depending on your application permissions.

Access to discussions is influenced by application security. Users can access discussions according to the permissions they are granted by their specific user roles within a given portal.

Scoping additionally limits the users who can view and participate in discussions. For example, only members of the Finance portal can view discussions that transpire in Finance portal forums.

To expose a discussion forum to a specific set of users, you must add just those users as members of the portal where you hold the forum (for more information, see Section 4.4, "Granting Users Access to a Portal").

To open a discussion to all users, you must create a publicly-accessible portal (for more information, see Section 4.5, "Granting Public Access to a Portal").

Most Discussions task flows provide configuration settings for specifying which forum content to show. This is of particular use in the Home portal, which exists outside a specific portal scope (for more information, see Section 46.7, "Setting Discussions Task Flow Properties").

Note:

All instances of the Discussions task flow in a portal run against the same back-end server and it serves no purpose to add multiple Discussions task flow instances. This is true for all task flows that require connections to back-end servers, for example, task flows for presence, announcements, and mail.

There are a wide variety of task flows for viewing and participating in discussions:

Discussions is tightly integrated with other features, such as links and mail. For example, mail sent to a portal distribution list can additionally be posted to that portal's default discussion forum. The portal moderator must select Monitor Incoming Mail in the portal settings for discussions (seeSection 46.4, "Publishing Portal Mail in a Discussion Forum"). Every discussion topic provides the opportunity to link from the topic to another portal asset, such as a document or an announcement.

46.3 Modifying Discussion Forum Settings for a Portal

The system administrator is responsible for setting discussion forum options for the entire application through WebCenter Portal Administration pages (see the "Configuring Discussion Forum Options for WebCenter Portal" section in Oracle Fusion Middleware Administering Oracle WebCenter Portal). By default, WebCenter Portal creates a single discussion forum for a new portal after discussions is enabled. For more information, see Section 39.2, "Enabling and Disabling Tools and Services Available to a Portal." After enabling Discussions, you can optionally modify the default setting to allocate multiple discussion forums to the portal (described in this section).

WebCenter Portal stores all discussion forums and categories under the application root category on the discussions server. The system administrator can change the root category, as described in the "Specifying Where Discussions and Announcements are Stored on the Discussions Server" section in Oracle Fusion Middleware Administering Oracle WebCenter Portal. If required, you can change the default storage location for the discussion forums for a particular portal.

For more information about configuring and managing discussions, see the "Managing Announcements and Discussions" chapter in Oracle Fusion Middleware Administering Oracle WebCenter Portal.

To modify the discussion forum settings for a portal:

  1. On the Tools and Services page (see Section 7.8.1, "Accessing Tools and Services Administration for a Portal"), select Discussions (Figure 46-13).

    Figure 46-13 Portal Discussion Forum Settings

    Description of Figure 46-13 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-13 Portal Discussion Forum Settings"

  2. (Optional) To launch the Jive Forums Administration Console, the Web-based tool for configuring and managing discussion forums, click Administer Forums (Figure 46-13).

  3. To allocate multiple discussion forums to the portal, select Support Multiple Forums for the Portal.

    Note:

    The Watched Topics and Recent Topics task flows on the Home page of a Discussions portal template are set to display data from a single forum, which is the default configuration. If you are specifying that your portal use multiple forums, the Watched Topics and Recent Topics task flows must be edited to remove the task flow parameters from the Forum ID field. See "Forum ID" in Section 46.7.2, "Discussions Task Flow Parameters."

  4. Click Save.

    The page refreshes to show a category, under which the multiple forums are stored (Figure 46-14).

    Figure 46-14 Portal Discussion Forum Settings: Multiple Forums

    Portal Discussion Forum Settings: Multiple Forums
  5. To store portal discussions in a different category and discussion forum than those specified by Category Name and Forum Name, click the Choose a category for portal icon (Figure 46-14) to change the storage location.

  6. Click Save.

46.4 Publishing Portal Mail in a Discussion Forum

Communication through the portal mail distribution list can be published as discussion forum posts. When a mail message is new, a new topic is created for it. When a mail message is a reply to an existing mail message, a topic reply is created for it.

Note:

WebCenter Portal supports Microsoft Exchange server or any mail server that supports IMAP4 and SMTP. To enable WebCenter Portal users to access mail within WebCenter Portal and perform basic operations such as read, reply, and forward, you must first register the appropriate mail server with WebCenter Portal. The Mail service is not configured out-of-the-box. Refer to the "Managing Mail" chapter in Oracle Fusion Middleware Administering Oracle WebCenter Portal.

To publish portal mail in a discussion forum:

  1. On the Tools and Services page (see Section 7.8.1, "Accessing Tools and Services Administration for a Portal"), select Discussions.

  2. To publish portal mail on a discussion forum of your choice, select Monitor Incoming Email (Figure 46-15).

    To disable this feature so that mail is not published for any portal, deselect this check box.

    Figure 46-15 Portal Discussion Forum Settings: Mail

    Portal Discussion Forum Settings: Mail
  3. If required, update the portal Mail Account.

    This is the default distribution list used to mail all portal members. For details, see Section 48.2, "Configuring the Mail Distribution List for a Portal."

    Note:

    If you specify a mail distribution list that has been defined as the distribution list for a different portal, then the mail sent to that distribution list is by default archived in the discussion forum specified in the Mail Settings for that portal. Mail sent to a portal distribution list can only be archived one time in one forum, on a first come first served basis.

  4. In the IMAP Host field, enter the name of the computer where the IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) service is running, and in the IMAP Port field, enter the port on which the IMAP service listens.

  5. Select Use SSL if a secured connection (SSL) is required for incoming mail over IMAP.

  6. Enter the User Name and Password of a portal member with sufficient privileges to modify these settings (Manage privilege).

  7. To publish portal mail on a different discussion forum than the forum specified by Forum Name, edit the value in Forum Name or Forum ID.

    Click Choose a forum for portal mail to display list of available forums in the portal (Figure 46-16).

    Figure 46-16 Selecting a Forum for Portal Mail

    Description of Figure 46-16 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-16 Selecting a Forum for Portal Mail"

  8. Select a forum in the list and click Select.

    Alternatively, create a forum from scratch. Click Create Forum, then enter a suitable name and description. If you have not selected to set up multiple forums, then you will not see this option.

    Note:

    If no forum is specified for mail archiving, or the specified forum is deleted, mail sent to the distribution list is not archived anywhere.

  9. Click Save.

46.5 Adding a Discussions Page to a Portal

To provide navigation to the Discussions page in a portal, you can add a page link to the portal navigation, as described in Section 13.2, "Adding an Existing Page to the Portal Navigation."

Note:

Unlike prior releases, the Discussions page (or console) is not automatically exposed when the tool is enabled or when the portal is created. However, if the portal template exposes the Discussions page, the portal will also automatically expose this page.

46.6 Adding a Discussions Task Flow to a Page

Task flows expose all of the functionality available for discussions. Discussion Forums is the most feature-rich task flow, providing controls for creating and managing discussion forums and posting and managing discussion topics and replies. The other task flows are useful windows into discussion forum content. They provide different views of the discussion forums and topics available to a particular portal or all portals.

For the steps to add a discussions task flow to a page, see Section 14.2, "Adding a Component to a Page."

Tip:

By default, some of the discussions task flows are included in the default resource catalog (except the Discussion Forums console, which is included by default on the Discussions page). The presence or location of this component depends on how the resource catalog is configured. For example, in the default resource catalog, open the Social and Communication folder, then next to any of the discussion task flows (such as Forums, Watched Forums, or Watched Topics) click Open to expose a list that includes the discussion task flows. Click Add next to the task flow you want to add.

Note that some of the discussions task flows, such as the Popular Topics task flow and the Recent Topics task flow, are not included in the default resource catalog. These task flows can be added to a custom resource catalog used by the page, as described in Section 23.5.1, "Adding a Resource to a Resource Catalog"

For more information about the various discussions task flows, see Section 46.2, "About Discussions."

The selected discussions task flow is displayed on the page. Figure 46-17 shows the Popular Topics task flow.

Figure 46-17 Popular Topics Task Flow

Description of Figure 46-17 follows
Description of "Figure 46-17 Popular Topics Task Flow"

Users with Edit privileges can access the task flow's Component Properties dialog in Composer. For information about configuring a discussions task flow to display the discussions from a particular portal or from all portals, see Section 46.7, "Setting Discussions Task Flow Properties."

46.7 Setting Discussions Task Flow Properties

The discussions task flows have associated properties, which users with sufficient privileges can access through the Component Properties dialog in Composer (Figure 46-18).

Tip:

For information about accessing the Component Properties dialog, see Section 14.3, "Modifying Components."

Figure 46-18 Discussion Forums Task Flow Component Properties

Description of Figure 46-18 follows
Description of "Figure 46-18 Discussion Forums Task Flow Component Properties"

The following sections provide information about properties of the discussions task flows and describe the properties on the Parameters tab.

46.7.1 About the Discussions Task Flow Properties

The properties on the Parameters tab of the Component Properties dialog control the default task flow content. For descriptions of the parameters on this tab, see Section 46.7.2, "Discussions Task Flow Parameters." For some task flows, parameters on this tab facilitate the wiring of the task flow to page parameters and page definition variables. For more information, see Chapter 19, "Wiring Pages, Task Flows, Portlets, and ADF Components."

Changes to the properties on the Display Options, Style, and Content Style tabs affect the appearance and behavior of the task flow for all users. These properties are common to all task flows. For more information, see Section 14.3, "Modifying Components."

The contents of the Events tab depend on the events supported by the task flow. For more information, see Section 14.3.7, "Working with Component Contextual Events."

The Child Components tab displays all of the components contained within the current component. It provides controls for rearranging, showing, and hiding child components. Not all components contain children. So this tab may be omitted. For more information, see Section 14.3.5, "Working with Child Components."

All properties on the Parameters and Display Options tabs provide access to an Expression Language (EL) editor, which you can use to select or specify a variable value instead of a constant value. Click the Edit icon next to a property field to open the editor.

Note:

Wherever you enter EL on the generic Display Options tab in the Component Properties dialog, the entry is automatically validated. If the EL syntax is invalid, an error appears and the value is neither applied nor saved. Generic Display Options are those cataloged in Table 14-1, "Display Options Properties".

EL validation is not performed on non-generic display options.

If you need EL assistance, an application developer can provide an EL expression; see the "Expression Language Expressions" appendix in Oracle Fusion Middleware Developing Portals with Oracle WebCenter Portal and Oracle JDeveloper.

46.7.2 Discussions Task Flow Parameters

Table 46-1 describes the properties that are unique to the discussions task flows.

Table 46-1 Discussions Task Flow Parameters

Parameter Description Task Flow

Category ID

On the discussions server, the category ID under which a given set of forums is managed

For the Forums task flow, use this parameter to specify the set of forums to present. For all other discussions task flows, use this parameter to specify the parent ID of the topics to show by default.

If omitted, the value defaults to the Category ID associated with the current portal. In the Home portal, it takes the root Category ID.

Use the following EL expression to return the Category ID of a named portal:

#{sessionContext['oracle.webcenter.collab.forum'].groupInfo['PortalName'].categoryId}

Enter the internal name (not the portal display name) for the variable PortalName. The portal internal name is the name specified by the portal URL on the portal's administration settings. The portal display name is specified by Display Name, and is the name that appears in the portal banner at the top of the portal. If you need EL assistance, an application developer can provide an EL expression; see the "Expression Language Expressions" appendix in Oracle Fusion Middleware Developing Portals with Oracle WebCenter Portal and Oracle JDeveloper.

  • Discussion Forums

  • Forums - Quick View

  • Popular Topics

  • Recent Topics

  • Watched Forums

  • Watched Topics

Forum ID

On the discussions server, the identifier under which topics are managed

Use this parameter to identify the default forum to show in the task flow.

Use the following EL expression to return the forum ID of a named portal:

#{sessionContext['oracle.webcenter.collab.forum'].groupInfo['PortalName'].forumId}

Enter the portal internal name (not the portal display name) for the variable PortalName. The portal internal name is the name specified by the portal URL on the portal's administration settings. The portal display name is specified by Display Name, and is the name that appears in the portal banner at the top of the portal.

If you are selecting to use multiple forums in your portal, remove the parameter specified in the Forum ID field of the default Watched Topics and Recent Topics task flows on the Home page of a Discussions portal template. This is because these two default task flows on the Home page of a Discussions portal template are set to display data from a single forum, which is the default configuration. In this instance, the Forum ID will be set to ${sessionContext['oracle.webcenter.collab.forum'].groupInfo[portalContext.currentPortalName].forumId}. Delete this value and save the page.

  • Discussion Forums

  • Popular Topics

  • Recent Topics

  • Watched Topics

Hide Toolbar

A means of showing or hiding the task flow personalization feature (see the "Showing and Hiding Additional Discussion Forum Information" section in Oracle Fusion Middleware Using Oracle WebCenter Portal.

  • If selected, then the task flow personalization feature is hidden.

  • If not selected, then the task flow personalization feature is shown. This is the default value.

  • Popular Topics

  • Recent Topics

  • Watched Forums

  • Watched Topics

Show Recursive Forums

Determines if you show forums either in a category only or in subcategories.

  • If selected, then all forums under a given category/subcategory are shown. This can impact performance.

  • If not selected, then only the category's direct child forums are shown. This is the default value.

Forums

Show Categories

A means of showing the forums grouped under the Category ID or the topics specified under the Forum ID.

  • If selected, then the task flow displays the forums classified under Category ID.

  • If not selected, then the task flow displays the topics associated with the specified Forum ID. This is the default value.

This parameter value works in combination with other parameters.

Forums

Do Not Allow Selecting Number of Topics Fetched

If selected, then users are not allowed to change the number of visible topics.

Discussion Forums

Number of Topics Fetched

Sets the number of visible topics.

  • Discussion Forums

  • Forums - Quick View

Number of Recent Topics Fetched

Sets the number of visible recent topics.

Recent Topics

Number of Watched Forums Fetched

Sets the number of visible watched forums.

Watched Forums

Number of Watched Topics Fetched

Sets the number of visible watched topics.

Watched Topics

Do Not Show More Link

If selected, then the More link (to see more topics or forums) is not visible.

  • Forums - Quick View

  • Recent Topics

  • Watched Forums

  • Watched Topics


46.8 Working with Discussions Task Flows

The Discussion Forums task flow is rich, providing controls for creating and managing discussion forums (available to the portal moderator only) and posting and managing discussion topics and replies. The other task flows, such as Watched Topics or Watched Forums are useful views into discussion forum content. They provide different views of the discussion forums and topics available to a particular portal or all portals.

Note:

Most of the tasks can be accomplished by portal participants. Tasks such as creating and managing forum topics and replies, watching forums and topics, showing and hiding forum information, sending mail from discussion topics, are described in the "Working with Discussions" chapter in Oracle Fusion Middleware Using Oracle WebCenter Portal.

Only portal moderators can create, edit, and delete discussion forums, described in this section.

This section contains the following subsections:

46.8.1 Creating a Discussion Forum

Create discussion forums on the Discussions page (or console) or with the Discussion Forums task flow.

Note:

A new portal is assigned a single discussion forum by default. Portal moderators can allocate multiple forums to a portal if required, as described in Section 46.3, "Modifying Discussion Forum Settings for a Portal."

To create a discussion forum:

Note:

To create forums, you must be the portal moderator, or have permission to Create, Edit, and Delete Discussions.

  1. Go to the Discussions page (console) or the Discussions Forums task flow.

    If multiple forums have been enabled, then you see a Forums link pointing to the list of forums (Figure 46-19)

    Figure 46-19 Discussions Page with Multiple Forums Enabled

    Description of Figure 46-19 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-19 Discussions Page with Multiple Forums Enabled"

  2. Click the Forums link, and then click Create Forum (Figure 46-20).

    Figure 46-20 Create Forum

    Description of Figure 46-20 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-20 Create Forum"

    The Create Forum dialog opens (Figure 46-21).

    Figure 46-21 Create Forum Dialog

    Description of Figure 46-21 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-21 Create Forum Dialog"

  3. In the Forum Name field, enter a name for the discussion forum.

    You can enter up to 200 characters.

  4. Optionally, in the Forum Description text box, enter a description of the discussion forum.

    You can enter up to 4000 characters.

  5. Click Create.

    The new forum appears in the list of forums (Figure 46-22). Click a forum name to view forum content.

    Figure 46-22 New Discussion Forum (Requested Enhancements)

    Description of Figure 46-22 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-22 New Discussion Forum (Requested Enhancements)"

46.8.2 Editing the Forum Name and Description

To rename a discussion forum or revise its description:

Note:

To edit the forum name and description, you must be the portal moderator, or have permission to Create, Edit, and Delete Discussions.

  1. Go to the Discussions page (or console) or the Discussions Forums task flow, and click the forum you want to edit.

    The forum page opens (Figure 46-23).

    Figure 46-23 Forum Page with Edit Forum Link

    Description of Figure 46-23 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-23 Forum Page with Edit Forum Link"

  2. Click Edit Forum.

    The Edit Forum dialog opens (Figure 46-24).

    Figure 46-24 Edit Forum Dialog

    Description of Figure 46-24 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-24 Edit Forum Dialog"

  3. Optionally, in the Forum Name field enter a new name for the discussion forum.

    You can enter up to 200 characters.

  4. Optionally, in the Forum Description text box, revise the default description of the discussion forum.

    You can enter up to 4000 characters.

  5. Click Save.

46.8.3 Deleting a Discussion Forum

To delete a discussion forum:

Note:

To delete a discussion forum, you must be the portal moderator, or have permission to Create, Edit, and Delete Discussions.

  1. Go to the Discussions page (console) or the Discussions Forums task flow, and click the forum you want to delete.

    The forum page opens (Figure 46-25).

    Figure 46-25 Forum Page with Delete Forum Link

    Description of Figure 46-25 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-25 Forum Page with Delete Forum Link"

  2. Click Delete Forum.

  3. In the Delete Forum dialog that opens (Figure 46-26), click Delete to confirm the operation.

    Figure 46-26 Delete Forum Dialog

    Description of Figure 46-26 follows
    Description of "Figure 46-26 Delete Forum Dialog"

    The forum and all the topics associated with the forum are deleted.