New site promises open source portlet code

Sun Microsystems, BEA Systems and others have thrown their weight behind a new open source site to help developers build portlets for their enterprise portals.

Open standards and open source software are being blended to create a resource for developers to build portlets for their enterprise portals.

That resource is a Web site that was launched Monday to allow the sharing and comparing of code for building portlets based on the recently accepted Java Specification Request (JSR) 168 and Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) specifications.

"This site basically will provide a way for customers to kick-start their portal deployment by having a central repository of portlets that are available for them to share," said Nils Gilman, senior director of product marketing for BEA Systems Inc.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company is one of four software makers that helped develop the Portlet Open Source Trading (POST) site. The others are Sun Microsystems Inc., Plumtree Software Inc. and Documentum Inc. POST is hosted by SourceForge, an open source software development organization.

Gilman said that developers have long shared code to build portlets, which are user interface components for portals, but the POST site will use the open source model to make the process easier and provide "critical mass."

The four companies said that they will provide the site with an initial library of portlet code based on JSR 168 and WSRP 1.0, and they'll offer users feedback, suggestions and best practices.

JSR 168 is a specification that was recently passed by the Sun-controlled Java Community Process. It provides interoperability between portlets and portals by defining a set of APIs for portal addressing. WSRP was created by the OASIS standards body to define Web services interfaces so that portals can access services.

Gartner Inc., the Stamford, Conn., consulting firm, sees standards as key to the portlet initiative.

"The emergence of portlet standards, combined with a means for sharing standards-based portlets, will potentially provide great benefit to portal customers by increasing choice and reducing cost," Ray Valdes, a Gartner research director, said in a statement.

Gilman said that the POST site will let vendors such as BEA focus on providing portals rather than on the more labor-intensive process of building portlets.

"Most of the [portal] vendors have not wanted to get into the portlet-building business -- partly because we see that it's a difficult business to be in," he said. "Customers want to do a lot of specialized things, and it's hard to make money in that."

He said that companies benefit from POST because their developers can use it to create custom content for portlets that they can run on virtually any vendor's portal software.

Robert Duffner, a director of product marketing in BEA's WebLogic portal group, said that if companies want, they can also choose a systems integrator to build their portlets. "Generally, the SIs are at the front lines of building these portlets out," he said.

Duffner said that integrators will likely use the POST site to show off "teasers" for the portlets they've built for other customers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Resource: Portlet Open-Source Trading (POST)

Article: Web services integration may hinge on portals

Article: OASIS approves standard for Web services portlets

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