Portal Development Guide

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Introduction to Portals

This chapter introduces Oracle WebLogic Portal concepts and describes how the content of this guide relates to the portal life cycle.

This chapter contains the following sections:


What is a Portal?

A portal represents a web site that provides a single point of access to applications and information.

From an end user perspective, a portal is a web site with pages that are organized by tabs or some other form of navigation. Each page contains a nesting of sub-pages, or one or more portlets—individual windows that display anything from static HTML content to complex web services. A page can contain multiple portlets, giving users access to different information and tools in a single place. Users can also customize their view of a portal by adding their own pages, adding portlets of their choosing, and changing the Look And Feel of the interface.

Technically speaking, a portal is a container of resources and functionality that can be made available to end users. These portal views, which are called desktops in WebLogic Portal, provide the uniform resource location (URL) that users access. A portal presents diverse content and applications to users through a consistent, unified web-based interface. Portal administrators and users can customize portals, and content can be presented based on user preferences or rule-based personalization. Each portal is associated with a web application that contains all of the resources required to run portals on the web.

Portals provide the following benefits to the user:

Portals typically include the following features and benefits:

WebLogic Portal supports development of portals through Workshop for WebLogic, which is a client-based tool. You can also develop portals without Workshop for WebLogic through coding in any tool of choice such as JBuilder, vi or Emacs. Portals can be written in Java or JSP, and can include JavaScript for client-side operations. Although you can create portals outside of Workshop for WebLogic, to realize the full development-time productivity gains afforded to the WebLogic Portal customer, use Workshop for WebLogic as the portal and portlet development platform.

After you create the parts of a portal using Workshop for WebLogic, you assemble it into a desktop using the WebLogic Portal Administration Console. From an administrative standpoint, a portal is a container that defines a portal application. When you create a new portal using the Administration Console, you are really creating an empty portal to hold different versions of the portal (desktops) that can be targeted to specific users. A portal can contain one or more desktops, or views, of a portal. It is the desktops to which you add the portal resources and navigation such as books, pages, and portlets that make a dynamic portal.

Each portal is associated with a web application that contains all of the resources required to run portals on the web.


What is the Portal Framework?

The portal framework is the portion of WebLogic Portal that is responsible for the rendering and customization of the portal.

The portal framework turns a portal that you develop in Workshop for WebLogic into the HTML page that desktop visitors see in a browser. When you are familiar with the portal framework tools provided in WebLogic Portal, you can look at a rendered portal in a browser and understand which pieces of the underlying framework you need to modify to obtain the results you want.


Portal Development and the Portal Life Cycle

The creation and management of a portal flows through a portal life cycle. The portal life cycle contains four phases:

The tasks described in this guide are organized according to the portal life cycle, which includes best practices and sequences for creating and updating portals. For more information about the portal life cycle, refer to the Oracle WebLogic Portal Overview. Figure 1-1 shows a sampling of tasks that occur at each phase.

Figure 1-1 Portals and the Four Phases of the Portal Life Cycle

Portals and the Four Phases of the Portal Life Cycle


During the architecture phase, you design and plan the configuration of your portal. For example, you can create a detailed specification outlining the requirements for your portal, the specific portlets you require, where those portlets will be hosted, and how they will communicate and interact with one another. You might also consider the deployment strategy for your portal. Security is another consideration for the portal architect.

This chapter describes tasks within the Architecture phase:


Developers use Workshop for WebLogic to create portals, portlets, pages, and books. During development, you can implement data transfer and interportlet communication strategies and consider the security of the components.

In the development stage, careful attention to best practices is crucial. Wherever possible, this guide includes descriptions and instructions for adhering to these best practices.

The chapters describing tasks within the Development phase include:


Oracle recommends that you deploy your portal to a staging environment where it can be assembled and tested before going live. In the staging environment, you use the WebLogic Portal Administration Console to assemble and configure desktops. You also test your portal in a staging environment before propagating it to a live production system. In the testing aspect of the staging phase, there is tight iteration between staging and development until the application is ready to be released.

The chapters describing tasks within the Staging phase include:


A production portal is live and available to end users. A portal in production can be modified by administrators using the WebLogic Portal Administration Console and by users using Visitor Tools. For instance, an administrator might add additional portlets to a portal or reconfigure the contents of a portal.

The chapter describing tasks within the Production phase is:


Getting Started

This section describes the basic prerequisites to using this guide and lists guides containing related information and topics.


In general, this guide assumes that you have performed the following prerequisite tasks before you attempt to use this guide to develop portlets:

Related Guides

Oracle recommends that you review the following guides:

Whenever possible, this guide includes cross references to material in related guides.

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