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JIA: Building Portals with Portlets, Content Repositories and WSRP with Doug Bateman
[series of entries regarding my trip to JIA]

My first session of the day was a presentation by Doug Bateman entitled “Building Portals with Portlets, Content Repositories and WSRP”. My interest in portlets going in was directed at taking my existing applications and providing views for a portal-type interface. So that you could look at a snippet of new topics in a Bamboo forum, or new comments in an Elephant blog. What I took from the presentation wasn't exactly what I wanted out of it.

What I really took from the presentation was that portlets in their current form, are not really mature enough to do anything complex. As Doug said, most of the time portlets just spit HTML back at the caller for it to display. This seems to be an absolute horrible method for integration. What if you want to change the design? What if you want to theme the portlet? You'd have to get down and dirty with the code or you'd have to have portlets that supported a theme engine.

Most of the discussion was on the definition of portals and portlet and what portletizing your application means. Going in, I knew what a portlet was and what it meant from using RIFE's embedded elements which have similar concerns. Not touching the URL, not depending on other things on the page, etc. He seemed to really want to hammer in the point that portlets require a different way of thinking. I was hoping for a code level overview of portlets, however, most of what we saw was directed towards Oracle's portal server and portlet products and the various wizards and interfaces. We really didn't delve into the code as much as I had hoped. Just looked at wizard generated classes.

This presentation seemed to be directed more at managers than at developers. It seemed like a managers overview of portlet/portal products and a session on how to sell your clients/bosses on portlet/portal products. How the different server implementations different. There was no delving into the spec and no discussion of how to implement a portal solution for your framework or for your applications. In fact, the presenter seriously discouraged people from using their own frameworks and talked on how you could get your manager to accept a “standardized” framework.

All in all I think I did learn a bit about portals/portlets but not what I think the presenter or I wanted to learn from it. I wanted to learn how to write portlets, how to integrate portlets into my product, how to write a portlet “server”, etc. The presenter seemed to want me learn how to sell portals/portlets correctly to my managers. I still did learn a bit about what different products are around and what their interfaces look like, so I suppose when we integrate portlets into our products I know what clients expect.

Stay tuned for more from JIA...

Update: In a discussion with a friend I was made aware of another point. Doug had a huge problem with the questions section of the presentation. At the beginning of the presentation and after every break he asked for questions about portals/portlets and the audience really only asked very basic questions. So the presentation was tailored to the users, but I wasn't in the majority.
posted by JR Boyens in JIA on Oct 5, 2005 7:18 PM : 0 comments [permalink]


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