1.2 What Is Content?

In Oracle Portal, content comes in two forms: items and portlets. An item is something that you explicitly create or add to your portal page. A file is a type of item; so is a block of HTML code, a link to another page, a zip file, and so on. A portlet is a reusable component that is created by someone else—someone at your site, perhaps, or perhaps by Oracle or one of Oracle's partners. For example, to make your company's e-mail application available to you as a portlet, someone with programming expertise must use Oracle Portal's APIs (application programming interfaces) to enable communication between Portal and that e-mail application. Once the portlet is created, anyone with the proper privileges can simply drop that e-mail portlet onto a page.

Oracle Portal makes it easy to work with items on pages, once the appropriate privileges have been established. For example, you can use a step-by-step wizard to help you add, edit, or delete items from your pages, or, if you have a WebDAV client such as Web Folders available, you can seamlessly drag and drop files and folders back and forth between your desktop and Oracle Portal pages.

Keep in mind that just because you have add or edit privileges on a page, you may not see your changes reflected on the page immediately. That's because there are further gradations of privileges beneath the overarching "write" privilege, to help page designers control what is displayed to large audiences and when. If you have Manage With Approval privileges on a page, your changes and additions must be approved by one or more people before it becomes visible to others. To help you keep track of the status of those items, you'll want to have the My Approval Status portlet on one of your frequently used pages so you can see whether your content has been approved, rejected, or is still pending.

Figure 1-3 My Approval Status Portlet

The My Approval Status portlet

1.2.1 Keeping Up with Changes

Because the information contained in portlets is dynamic, you don't have to do anything to ensure that you always have the latest information. But how do you make sure that you're notified if something changes in one of possibly hundreds of pages and items that impact you? Oracle Portal helps you keep tabs on important pages and items with its subscription and notification services. When you subscribe to an item or page, an alert is sent to your My Notifications portlet to notify you of the change.

Figure 1-4 My Notifications Portlet

The My Notifications portlet

If you are part of an approval chain, the My Notifications portlet also notifies you when something requires your approval. For example, if you must review all HR policies before they are published company-wide, you'll receive an alert when a policy requiring your approval has been published. The policy won't be displayed publicly until you explicitly approve that item.

1.2.2 Controlling Content Handling

Oracle Portal provides many methods to help ensure that items are handled appropriately within your site. For example, you may find that in order to update an item, you first have to check out the item. While you're making your changes, no one else can edit the item, although authorized viewers can still see the item as it was before you checked it out. Once you've checked in the updated item, what happens to the older version? That depends on which versioning options have been established for the item. Depending on the requirements for a particular item, a new version of an item may or may not replace an existing version as the current copy; a copy of the old version may or may not be retained. While keeping older versions handy makes it easy to track changes made to a document over time, such records may not be necessary for all items.

To help you control when people see your work, you can specify a publish date for an item, which means it won't be visible to anyone (except you) before the date you supply. You can also set an expiration date to automatically hide items that are no longer relevant or important. And if item level security is enabled, then you can state who can see, edit, or manage the items that you contribute.

Again, your page group administrator controls which of these options are available to you. Contact that person if you want to take advantage of some of the features just described.