David R. Heffelfinger

  Ensode Technology, LLC

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OpenPortal First Impressions

I recently got involved in a project that may need some portlet development. The project is a completely new application to be built from the ground up.

The customer has been using GlassFish as their application server and they are very pleased with it, therefore it just makes sense to continue using it.

The OpenPortal Portlet Container can be installed in GlassFish from its update tool, therefore it made sense to try it out.

GlassFish Update Center

Once installed, I also installed the NetBeans Portal Pack plugin from NetBeans 6.5 RC2, that can be installed directly from the NetBeans Plugin Manager.

NetBeans Plugin Manager

The plugin makes deploying portlets to OpenPortal a breeze, as can be seen in this flash demo.

My main complaint? The default look and feel of the portlet is, let's just say, not the best looking.

OpenPortal default look

As far as I can tell the only way to change the default look is to hack the CSS and JSPs by hand. I noticed the icons to minimize a portlet, maximize it, edit it, etc had transparent backgrounds, therefore it gave me some hope that they should be able to be used when simply changing the background color of the portlet bar. I made a simple modification to the CSS to test this, unfortulately it seems like some of the pink background creeped into the icons.

OpenPortal modified look

Also, as far as I can tell, modifying the available tabs to match our application requirements will involve some customizations of the JSPs included with OpenPortal, there is no tool to create or modify tabs as necessary.

Even with these disadvantages, I'm leaning towards using OpenPortal if we in fact turn out to need portlets for this project. The tight integration with GlassFish and NetBeans is a great advantage and I can live with having to do some CSS and JSP hacking to make it look the way we need it to look.


Hi David,

The OpenPortal Portlet Container provides you with just a driver that allows developers to test and develop portlets. It is meant for development environment. For deployment and customization, you should use WebSynergy. You can use Netbeans Portal Pack 3.0 to deploy portlets on WebSynergy.

Typically developers use the OpenPortal Portlet Container driver to test, develop and debug their portlets without much of a hassle of using a full fledge Portal. Once ready they deploy on to a production environment like WebSynergy. Both WebSynergy and driver use the same portlet container.

Posted by Deepak Gothe on November 21, 2008 at 08:11 AM EST #

Deepak, Thanks for your comment, I already took Project WebSynergy for a spin . It is very likely I'll be using it in a new project very soon.

Posted by David R. Heffelfinger on November 21, 2008 at 09:26 AM EST #

In order to modify the looks of the portal, you should open the war file using winRar or 7zip archivers, there you will see the images and css folders that can be modified (I guess) there.

I am using OpenPortal driver for my class project on my little laptop computer, and OpenPortal is what we are required to use for they are lighter in weight.

Posted by Mi on April 16, 2009 at 11:17 AM EDT #

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