Monday, August 06, 2007

Is There a Portlet I Can Use?

Portlets are pluggable user interface components that are managed and displayed within a traditional web page. They are mini-applications that run inside regular applications and are completely independent of the rest of the application. For example, a travel website can include a weather portlet.

Portlets have actually been around for a while and were once touted as the next big thing. With a conventional portlet, the browser needed to reload the entire page every time any change occured, but this changed with the advent of Ajax technology. The Java Portlet Specification 1.0, Java Specification Request (JSR) 168 creates a web services standard that allows for the "plug-n-play" of portlets from disparate sources.

Bremner, Naidoo, Sandell, and Vickery offer up the following advantages of using portlet technology in the creation of a portal:

Personalization – Customers of portals have the ability to select the kinds of information that they require and have it presented in a layout of their own choosing. This allows a level of customisation so customers can maximise their productivity.

Single Sign On – Customers should not have to login to services after their initial portal login. Credentials for the initial portal login are propagated to the portal services, which can then be used to authenticate a customer to the service in the background.

Aggregation – Customers can access a multitude of services from a single location. Instead of having to check out multiple pages on a web site, or even multiple web sites, a customer can have the information they seek presented to them on a single page if desired.

Information Management – Management of the content distributed to our customers can be managed more effectively and efficiently, allowing a much better level of reuse without duplication.

Information Targeting - Content can be targeted to specific groups of people such as Academic staff and/or Postgraduate students doing research or Library staff. This gives a much more granular level of control for content distribution which saves customers from being bombarded with irrelevant information.

Multiple Device Delivery – Portals have the ability to be rendered independently of the data that they contain. What this means is that using a different ‘style sheet’ for rendering can enable the same information and even similar functionality on devices such as PDA’s and mobile phones.

So, has anyone out there built any neat library-oriented portlets they wish to share? Sphere: Related Content

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