yes, there is.
This behavior is encapsulated in the layout and theme .
We ran out of time to deliver a better experience, but you can plug in your own very easily. write your own layout (jsp) that maps out the outer most frame (the markp), and lays out the regions that will be hosting portlets (left , header, center, right, etc. ). Then you can use a render set to render the markup for each region (use an existing one, or write your own). This gives you very fine control over the markup that is being rendered for each region, each portlet window in a region, the decoration (state and mode links), and the portlet content for each portlet.
Furthermore, the layout strategy allows you to act on maximized, minimized , etc. events. To top it all off, you can use a theme to make it all look realy pretty.
I agree that this should all be delivered OTB in an ideal world, but we simply ran out of time. There are some people thinking very hard about this right now, since we'd like to standardise on the id and class attribute names to allow for more interchangeable themes. The nice thing is also that this can be delivered without a new portal release. Now it just has to happen ;) .... in the meantime, roll your own as described above.
I am very glad that JBoss has the capability to do so. Thanks for answering and addressing my concerns. Is there new documentation coming out to describe how to go about doing that?
not sure about the doc. Roy would have to answer that. I've been meaning to write up at least the important parts of it, but never got to it....