Here are some things useful when creating Labs software.
The request path for your portlet is written in a request attribute called ForgeHelper.ATTR_REQ_PATH. So, for example, if you have a page with your portlet, and the link is: /portal/my_page/a/b/c, then the attribute value will be: a/b/c. Example of usage: downloads and categories.
All AS and portal configuration should go to the configuration subdirectory. So, no changes should be made directly to as-binaries or portal-binaries. This way, upgrading is a lot easier.