Pay no attention to the title. Today I felt like I should choose a blog title with the same random thought-process our portal competitors use when defining their roadmaps.
2005 is now coming to a close, and so it marks the birth year of the JBoss Portal project. Our first release, intelligently named 2.0 ;-), was made available in the March-April timeframe, and our second major release was just made available last week - 2.2. For the short amount of time the project has been in existence, we have seen our community blossom (explode, may be a better word to use), customers ranging from government agencies to Fortune 100 companies deploy websites and intranets, partners, such as Novell, Alfresco, and Cignex rally and support the development team, the emergence of PortletSwap as an open portlet/layout exchange site, our own JBoss Labs team using it to power a growing important part of the JBoss infrastructure, and now Julien sits on the Portlet Spec 2.0 group, and we both sit on the JCR 2.0 group. If this is what we have accomplished as a community, AND company with this project in its first year, look for us to change the portal market profoundly in 2006 (Note: This is where you folks at BEA stick your heads back in the sand).
Frankly, I never saw the mass adoption of JBoss Portal arriving so quickly. Normally, I assumed it took one or two years for a product to mature and gain wide-acceptance. The portal market, being as it is, with many players - open source, and proprietary - did not seem open to new arrivals. The competition was thick, often cutthroat, and some of the older players had been entrenched for years with proven business and development practices. Surely, the original portal team - Julien, Thomas, and I - would not stand a chance coming to market with a new release. Lets face it, some of the proprietary vendors had at their disposal, gaggles of developers and flocks of MBAs, and the open source competitors had the promise of "free". Needless to say, I had deep reservations about our success in the beginning. We were clearly outnumbered, outgunned, and a late arrival, but one thing I failed to see, was the fact that we were never outclassed.
Despite my reservations, it was quickly apparent before our first major release that the market was, in fact, ready for JBoss Portal. Even before our first launch, our partners had rallied behind us, lending resources and aiding us in various other ways, and the community had a taken up the cause and helped us fine-tune the product. From the onset (before we had product managers here at JBoss ;-)), the business goal was to model the success of JBoss Portal with that of JBoss Application Server. Mainly, provide a free, open source, scalable, stable product with all the functionality (and then some) of the properietary vendors, backed by proven JBoss Support Services. From a community development aspect, we looked at the Hibernate team as our example - great documentation, a focus on tutorials, ease-of-use, ease-of-installation, and a low learning curve - spurring early mass-adoption (Please don't tell Gavin I said this). So these were our differentiators, right? The open source players promised "free, free free", but didn't have the brand, support services, and, often, product quality to back it up. The proprietary players, oth, offered powerful tools, a bucket o' portlets, and support services (for better or worse), but installation, integration, and licensing costs would make even Bill Gates cry for his mommy (Note: BEA, place head back in sand).
So this is where we are today... a stable, scalable, spec-compliant portal framework, JCR-based CMS, SSO support... okay... you can see the feature list for yourself here. We run with the big boys now and don't look back. Our 2.4 release will be available 2Q 2006, featuring WSRP, improvements to the bundled web content manager (workflow, webDAV, etc...), and improvements to the core architecture. PortletSwap.com will also undergo a bit of a refactoring for tighter integration in to the product itself.
If this blog entry seems like a pat on the back, well not quite - with respect to the JBoss Portal team (Julien, Thomas, Boleslaw), the great and talented people at JBoss, our partners, and the portal community, this is a pat on the back, a handshake, a bear hug, and a kiss in the mouth. ;-) You all had a hand in making portal achieve greatness in its first calendar year. This thing is going to grow, and any reservations I had in the beginning have been replaced by anticipation of what greatness lies before us all.