Portal standards take flight

As two key specifications approach final status, portal vendors are stitching in standards-compliant APIs for delivering content and applications into the portal framework.

Both JSR (Java Specification Request) 168 and WSRP (Web Services for Remote Portals) are on pace for final release between mid-August and early September. JSR 168, shepherded by the Java Community Process, was created to establish a standard portlet programming API. The Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards' (OASIS) WSRP specification, meanwhile, leverages Web-services standards to integrate remote content and applications into portals.

Sun, IBM, Vignette, Plumtree and BEA Systems are outfitting support into their portals.

"If [you are] creating a software application and want to convert it to a portlet to make the app available through a portal, these standards let you do that in a way that is portable across different vendors' portals," an analyst at Forrester Research, said Laura Ramos, said.

"[It] increases the content and applications you can get in your portal."

Leading the pack, Sun last month kicked off the beta release of its Sun ONE Portal Server 6.2, which includes support for JSR 168 via an early-access version of the Sun ONE Portlet Builder 2.0.

The final release of the portal, due in September, would include the full JSR 168 implementation, and support for WSRP would be added in the first quarter of 2004, Sun officials said.

IBM this month plans to roll out Version 5.0 of its WebSphere Portal featuring an open source implementation of JSR 168. After the JSR 168 and WSRP specs are finalised, IBM will furnish support for both via an incremental update.

With its Epicentric acquisition digested, Vignette plans to support JSR 168 and WSRP in the next release of its Vignette Application Portal due in the fourth quarter.

The company also plans to add the standards to its Vignette Application Builder product in the fourth quarter and to its V7 content management suite in early 2004, vice-president of product strategy at Vignette, Ed Anuff, said.

"Today, if someone had a portal from BEA and wanted to get Vignette content, they'd be dependent on whether there was a connector available from BEA to the Vignette repository," Anuff said.

With JSR 168, Vignette could provide a standards-based portlet that allowed that content to be accessed from any portal, he said.

Plumtree implemented a future 2.0 version of JSR 168 that taps WSRP as a transport mechanism to provide JSR portlets remotely, and plans to support both specs when they are finalised.

BEA, meanwhile, has posted a development kit on its Web site to provide support for JSR 168 with WebLogic Portal 8.1.