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Roy Russo's Blog

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The JBoss Portal team is proud to announce the release of our 2.6 Alpha (download). This release marks the second release under the 2.6 branch, and contains the following additions:

  • jBPM integration: Our bundled CMS now includes workflows for supervisor approval - allowing supervisors to approve content changes via the portlet or via email.
  • Fine-grained CMS security model: Secure a folder, file, or any resource in the CMS by roles or by user. Security assignment also distinguishes between read, write, and management of resources.
  • Personal Dashboard Configuration: Missing from our DR release, this new UI allows end-users complete control over their personal dashboard. Add/Edit/Delete Pages and add/edit/remove all portlet instances deployed on those pages. Themes and Layout applied to pages can also be reassigned - allowing for a completely customizable user experience.


A complete list of tasks associated with this release, can be found here. As always, community feedback is encouraged and needed, so please feel free to post here.


Roy Russo


The JBoss Portal team is proud to make available a snapshot release of JBoss Portal 2.6, targeted to developers. We hope, with this early release, to have the community provide feedback on the direction we are taking, with respect to usability and overall design enhancements in JBoss Portal 2.6.


You can find the downloads, here, and the updated documentation, here.

Target: Usability


"Every day is usability day!"
(I'm not exactly sure what that means, but one of our Product Managers keeps running around the office screaming it, on a caffeine-fueled high... so I thought it went well in this part of the blog.)


Anyway.. here's a quick-and-dirty list of the most important changes in this release:


A new theme: We have added a new theme, "Renaissance", as our default theme.



JBoss Portal Home


Personal Dashboards: Users can now have their own personal dashboards, able to customize the portal pages to their liking. The dashboard is accessible by a new navigation region in the layout.

JBoss Portal Home


Drag-n-Drop Windows: Using the library, we have added Drag-n-Drop window support for logged-in users in their personal dashboard area.

JBoss Portal DnD


AJAX + Persistence: Changes in window positions are now persisted for users logged-in, while in their personal dashboard area.


Admin Portal: Administrators now have a dedicated Admin Portal with all the functionality to manage the portal, cms, users, and roles.


Portlet UI reworked: As this release cycle progresses, you'll find the bundled portlets are also being reworked, with respect to their usability.

JBoss Portal Portlets


Roy Russo


Along with the Portal team at Sun, we are proud to announce the start of a new protocol for communicating with portlet repositories.


The idea for a standard repository protocol came after discussions with Sun over the interoperability of disparate portlet repositories with many portal vendors (as you know, they also have a portlet repository), and how we could offer a standard medium of communication between all players involved. So the idea was to create a Web-Service-based API that would allow any portal vendor to browse repositories, view individual portlet meta-data, and be able to download/update portlets from any repository... much like developers are accustomed to browsing/installing/updating plugins in their favorite IDEs.


The standard is not a specification at the JCP. ;-) It is an open standard, so that anyone may take part and voice their opinions in its future development.


What this means to portal administrators, is that one day they will be able to install/update/demo portlets from a myriad of repositories from within their portal itself. It also means the portlet world will get a lot smaller, in view, as where those portlets are coming from is transparent to the user.


For information on the project, joining the mailing lists, and reading through the early documentation of the standard, go here. Any and all input is appreciated on the mailing lists.


Roy Russo


The JBoss Portal team is proud to announce the general availability of JBoss Portal 2.4. This release marks important additions, such as full clustered CMS capabilities and WSRP (Web Service for Remote Portlet) support. For a full human-unreabable list of changes/enhancements in this release, please see our JIRA notes. As always, you can fetch the new release (now with a new clustered version as well) from our download page. For some of the highlights in this release, read below...

  • Documentation - Our new documentation guides add the following enhancements, aside from all of the guides being re-created:
  • WSRP - Some of the new additions to our new WSRP implementation are as follows:
    • Ability to easily consume portlets from remote producers
    • Seamless integration of WSRP portlets in portal
    • Support for simple registration schemes
    • Simple caching of markup and metadata
    • Support for WSRP Base level (support for service description and markup interfaces)
    • Local portlets can easily be exposed remotely to WSRP consumers
    • Includes a local WSRP producer to easily test WSRP in Portal ('self' portlet provider)
  • Migration - A migration application is available as a deployable war that provides an automated walk-through for those of you upgrading from 2.2.x to 2.4.x. This migration application will be a permanent fixture, accompanying every release.
  • Scalability - Render-view caching for improved performance, clustered portal state, and clustered CMS.
  • TestSuite - In contrast to our "we let the community test our software" competitors, we have added a Testuite that tests most aspects of the portal codebase and is run nightly in our QA Lab.


The roadmap for 2.6, is presently being fine-tuned. At this time, we will mention a few items that are already being worked on, such as full WSRP 1.0 compliance, CMS enhancements, and a revamping of our usability and UI (wiki| forums).


Roy Russo

PortletSwap v.2

Posted by roy.russo Aug 17, 2006


The JBoss Portal team is proud to announce the public availability of JBoss PortletSwap v.2. The community has taken a commanding role with regards to contributing portlets and sharing ideas during the first year of JBoss PortletSwap, and this release introduces some extra features:

  • Revamped UI for the portlet catalog: A new more intuitive UI, with screenshots and links to information regarding the portlet project and downloadable sources/binaries.
  • Tutorial Portlet Section: Portlet that are referenced in our JBoss Portal documentation are now available in complete source or bundled download.
  • PortletSwap Documentation: Manuals covering all aspects of the site, how to contribute, and how to get your project hosted.
  • Portlet project Hosting Services: We now offer free Portlet project hosting services for open-source portlet projects - providing a SVN repository, wiki, and forums.


The most exciting feature we have added is the support for hosting your own portlet project on our infrastructure. Since PortletSwap has become the defacto portlet catalog on the web for JSR168-compliant portlets, you can be assured you project will benefit from the community involvement we see taking place in PortletSwap and JBoss Portal, as is evident with other portlet projects, such as Kosmos and JBoss Wiki, that are hosted here.


Roy Russo


In the spirit of open source and transparency in the JBoss Portal project, we have been soliciting input from our community with regards to the next version of JBoss Portal and its planned enhancements to usability and user interface design.


The Portal Team has just posted a brief on what is being proposed as usability and user-interface enhancements for JBoss Portal 2.6. You can look through all the proposed changes, here. Much of the discussion surrounding these additions were open to the community in this thread, and I would ask that any further conversations over the proposed enhancements take place in the same thread.


Here are some highlights of the wiki article, at this stage:


Our new default theme:


Page-level personalization for users:


Intuitive Portlet Controls:


Dynamic user page-layout creation/modification:


We hope to see our community provide further feedback, regarding the ideas proposed in our wiki. After all, most of the designs above came directly from you, our community, and we thank you for continuing to help JBoss Portal evolve.


Roy Russo

Red Storm Rising

Posted by roy.russo Jul 27, 2006


I had the opportunity recently to conduct a briefing with the analysts at Gartner about JBoss Portal - where it is / where its headed. It was essentially a show-and-tell presentation, that would eventually feed their annual portal report. And so today, I received their Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portal Products, 2006 report.


JBoss Portal is positioned just as I thought it would be... as an honorable mention. Considering that 2005 was our first year in existence (this report only covers 2005), this is a perfect spot to be positioned in and they do make note of the good things to come from the Red Hat / JBoss acquisition.


Where'd all the OS Portals go?
It is interesting to see how the only other (relevant) open source portal server mentioned in this report is Sun (having just recently OSed parts of their portal server). So thats it, no mention of the other players in the OS Portal market, as they find themselves sliding in to the black hole of irrelevance. Gartner points out, quite accurately, that there used to be apprehension on the part of corporations to move to OS Portals. Unlike the Application Server space, relevant open source portal competition didn't emerge until recently (that would be JBoss). Because of cost, support/service, and functionality, IT organization used to be unsure of taking the leap on to an OS Portal server. Not anymore, as we're all witnessing the shift in the market. ;-)


And "Private Source"...
Another interesting item, is the effect that OS Portals are having on the proprietary players...

The technology in Java-based horizontal OSS portals, such as that provided by JBoss (recently acquired by Red Hat), is maturing, and vendor-independent portal standards, such as JSR 168, are reducing concerns about vendor lock-in.


Clearly Gartner has hit the nail on the head again by realizing the demand by consumers for open and standard-compliant portals. No more vendor lock-in, no more proprietary APIs, and no more paying insane gobs of cash for it all. Go figure, IT organizations really do embrace freedom.


The Winning Combination
From the onset, I professed that JBoss Portal would do to the Portal market, what JBoss Application Server did to the Application Server market, and we're seeing it play out. JBoss provides a winning combination in this area that makes it all possible: functionality, proven support services, scalability, stability, an enormous community, and wide distribution (specially now with RHAT). The other OS portal players have a hard time providing much (or any) of this and the proprietary guys are... well... clueless.


We're seeing a maturing portal market, now. Consolidation between various players is rising (expect more in 07), competition is heating up, and the OS Portals are now something to heavily consider (or even fear if you're IBM/BEA/Larry) when making a deployment decision. So expect this one-year-old pup to grow in to a frightful pitbull in the coming months. If what we've achieved so far in such a short lifespan hasn't convinced you yet, stay tuned for the next chapter in our history. You will not be dissapointed and will be surprised. ;-)


Roy Russo


'Ceteris Paribus', is a Latin phrase most of us learned while studying Economics, and is normally defined as "all else being equal". Commonly it is used with respect to the law of supply and demand, 'If the price of BEA licensing would decrease - ceteris paribus - more people will buy BEA licensing.' Of course this statement assumes "all else being equal", and does not take in to account: substitute goods (JBoss, anyone?), macro-economic variables, ridiculous comments on TSS by BEA executives, etc. This is how economic theories are normally discussed, as there can be a myriad of variables to affect the demand/supply of any good/service.


So why the quick lesson in fundamental economics? Is it a primer for a blog on Econometrics? Thankfully, no (I'd like to forget those days). It is meant to define how a cause-and-effect relationship *can* *be* isolated from external influences, something that seems to be lacking in the world of benchmarking.


We all should be familiar with benchmarks, by now. They're those cute little chart-and-graph reports that corporations release periodically to show their product towering over their competitors'. Normally, they're about as objective as the tobacco industry, sponsoring studies, showing how cigarettes don't kill. Clearly, whoever is running the test, has the ability to tweak/tune/hack things in such a way to achieve the desired results. From where I sit, they are nothing more than marketing material/fluff/fud/poop pieces.


Every once in a while, a benchmark is released by a third-party, that would seemingly have nothing at stake with any player in the study 'winning'. This week, we have a study by eweek. JBoss Portal did very well in this 'study'...


On Average Transactions Per Second:


On Average Document Download Time:


The problem with this study, however, is that the idea of Ceteris Paribus is not observed. From their platform matrix, I see a mish-mash of stacks - different OSes, different DBs, JVM?. And then the question, 'Which Portal is the most performant'? If the benchmark implementors had a clue on some basic scientific principles, we would see identical stacks compared - one for the Windows side and one for the Linux side.


Ceteris Paribus breaks down in this study, as...

  1. Portals tend to sit at the top of the stack, and are influenced by everything that sits under it. (This is why we leverage JBoss JEMS components, so we don't have any 'frankenstein parts' as our underpinnings.) So all underlying components must be identical: OS, DB, Network usage, etc...
  2. Bundled portlets are never identical. A MS Exchange Portlet will take much longer to execute via WS than a simple cached HelloWorldJSP Portlet.
  3. Who was the genius that thought of making every portal communicate via network (slow) to MySQLDB, except just one of them accessing an in-memory DB?


I'm not complaining about the results, although - Ceteris Paribus - JBoss Portal would be the clear winner. ;-) However, if benchmarks are a necessary evil we have to deal with in our industry for people to be able to sell ads and steer prospects in their direction, can we agree to observe some basic (very basic) scientific priniciples?


Roy Russo


We will be hosting a JBoss Portal Webinar on Wednesday May 24th at 1PM Eastern Time. You can register here.


Julien and I will begin the presentation with a brief feature-list overview of what the JBoss Portal project contains, and then dive in to coming features of our 2.4 (Devil) release this summer. Additionally, we will be introducing our JBPortal 2.6 and 3.0 roadmap items to the public.


Roy Russo


From time-to-time we are asked in our JBoss Portal User Forums whether anyone is using JBoss Portal in production. Normally, a few community members raise their hands, and point to their own existing production deployments. Granted, being Open Source (yes we are OS, despite what our FUD-spreading, large, smurf-like competitors would have you believe) and freely available, we have little control over who downloads Portal and deploys it in a production environment.


Innovation Awards:
Its also important to note, at this time, that we will be featuring JBoss Innovation Award sessions. Two submissions related to JBoss Portal are Orbitz/Cendant (link) and ADP (link).


Enter JBoss World:
This year's JBoss World Vegas has no less than 7 portal-related presentations. The topics covered vary; with 4 of them answering important questions mentioned above:

  • Who is deploying JBoss Portal
  • What problems it helped solve in their enterprise
  • Why they chose us over proprietary and expensive technologies
  • Cost savings when selecting JBoss Portal over others


Clearly these are just some of our support customers and corporate partners that have real-world use-cases supporting JBoss Portal deployment and selection. List below:

  • “Using JEMS to Deliver a US Navy Enterprise Portal” Doug Schnelzer, AEM
  • “Using JBoss Portal: Citizen eGovernment Portals” Varun Narula, TCS
  • “Leveraging the Power of JBoss Portal with JBoss jBPM” Venkata Challagulla, Cignex
  • “La Petite Academy and Amentra: Legacy Modernization Success Story”. Brian Carothers, Amentra, Sherwin Lu & Walt Tracy, La Petite Academy


In addition to the above real-world scenarios, there are 3 planned presentations to be given by the Portal team, listed below:

  • “JBoss Portal 2.4: Diablo” Julien Viet & Roy Russo, JBoss, Inc.
  • “WSRP and JBoss Portal” Christophe Laprun & Julien Viet, JBoss, Inc.
  • “Portlet 2.0 (JSR-286)" Julien Viet, JBoss Inc. This presentation will cover some of the important highlights in the next version of the Portlet Specification.


So if you are interested in meeting some of the folks that have deployed JBoss Portal, want to know more about what is planned by the Portal team, and have an itch to take me on at a friendly poker game, I would suggest attending JBoss World Vegas. It should be a fun and informative time to be had by all who attend!


Roy Russo


I have recorded a presentation on JBoss Portal 2.2 top features, and the coming release, in May, of JBoss Portal 2.4 ("Devil"). You can watch the presentation here. The presentation is flash-based with my glorious voice-over to enhance it. Some of the 2.2 topics discussed are:

  • Ease of Installation
  • The concept of Dynamicity
  • IPC (Interportlet Communication API)
  • Pluggable Themes and Layouts
  • JCR-enabled CMS


After reviewing the presentation, I have to question why I sent them a picture that looks like a mugshot. I guess its fitting to look like a criminal, considering the way we "steal" BEA's Portal customers. ;-)


Roy Russo

Shoppin with Gavin...

Posted by roy.russo Mar 27, 2006


... a parody. ;-)


I just come back from a shopping trip out with co-founder of Hibernate, Gavin King. Gavin decided to move to Atlanta about 3 years ago and has been living here ever since. He works his ass off as most of the company knows, but Gavin also shops every day if he wants to and there is "watah". See, Gavin LOVES to shop and he is also very good at it. I love shopping too but I am a bit worse at it. When I asked Gavin if I really needed a “work” excuse to do this, he mentioned that “shopping” was excuse enough for us to get together in the name of the company, and that Marc Fleury will never know about it.


The mall where he lives (Atlanta, GA) are good fun. There are basically many small stores each with devilish clothing. It was good fun to shop them with Gavin as he basically knows them by heart. Other bonus is the lines were small or empty. He took me the first day to this store called “le internazionale” which basically looks like a toilet bowl full of moguls. It was frankly scary to me, specifically that red velvet jacket that Gavin wanted me to buy without thinking. I managed to put my money down without really thinking about it and Gavin bought this double diamond ring without even breaking style. Wow, I was impressed. He uses this new technique of “phantom purchasing” on credit cards and he masters the move. He was fun to watch.


So I decided to buy myself good sweaters (already splurged on boots earlier this year). BTW, if some of you care about clothing, first thing Gavin taught me is that now is the time to shop and buy the end of season stuff as you probably already know. Store wide was 50% off where Gavin took me. Second I want to mention that my clam-shell Adidas are the SHIZZLE. I wouldn't take them off after the shopping, they were so comfortable.


Anyway, it was good fun shopping with Gavin for 3 days. I am sad that at least *my* season is over.


STAY METAL and good shopping,
Roy Russo

JBoss Portal - En Vivo!

Posted by roy.russo Mar 17, 2006


The JBoss Portal team is proud to make available a live demonstration instance of our project that the public can test-drive here. It features a basic installation of JBoss Portal 2.2RC2, with some of the PortletSwap portlets deployed, along with the "Havana Affair" theme created by our partners at Novell.


We have also focused on making things easier for developers to get up and running with our portal by unveiling a simple 3-step process to demo, deploy, and accessorize your own portal instance. Yes folks, its really that easy... no need for a bus full of consultants here. ;-)





Roy Russo


Although a standard on InterPortlet Communication (IPC) is set to be addressed in the next version of the Portlet Specification (JSR-286), as we stand today there is no standardized way of addressing this shortfall in the first version of the Portlet Specification (JSR-168).


Those enterprise portal vendors who have chosen to address IPC, have had to create their own APIs, and JBoss Portal is no exception. With JBoss Portal 2.2, we listened to our community and customers and have included an IPC API that is easy to understand and implement.


The JBoss Portal IPC API, found in 2.2+, makes use of our PortalNode hierarchy. Essentially, all objects and components within the portal are considered branches on a tree.

A developer is now able to leverage this architecture philosophy within his own code to make portlet-linking and page-linking a reality. To enable the use of IPC, we have also added a chapter to the online Reference Documentation, and a sample download (source included) on PortletSwap. Hopefully, both items will help you get up to speed with this enterprise-level feature in JBoss Portal 2.2. The sample portlets will introduce developers to both the Page-linking and IPC mechanisms:




I invite you all to download the sample, flip through the docs, and let us know what you think in our forums.


Roy Russo


Its been about a month since we released version 2.2 of JBoss Portal, cleverly named "Blade" (ok, so we name our releases after superheros and can't take all the credit). ;-)


To illustrate some of the most important features in the latest release, we have written an article that walks through them. Changes including a JCR-enabled CMS, the concept of Dynamicity (or dynamic portal objects), ease-of-install, and a new consolidated deployment descriptor for rapid development and deployment are all outlined in this article.


As is always the case, the Portal Team is committed to providing an open source enterprise-class portal framework for the masses. Feel free to visit the Portal HomePage or Download Page to begin your journey with the best portal framework open source has to offer.


Roy Russo

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