IBM WebSphere Portal 6 boosts Office connectivity – IBM Compete

April 6, 2006

IBM WebSphere Portal 6 boosts Office connectivityThe next version of IBM Corp's WebSphere Portal will contain improvements to help business users more easily adds portlets, while adding native connectivity to Microsoft Office applications.Among the improvements in version 6, available in July, is the ability for users to drag and drop portlets from a sidebar that shows what's available to them. They can move portlets that are already on their screen to or from the sidebar.

Additionally, there is native integration to Microsoft Office through a standard Windows pane, plus the ability to check-in and check-out, and drag and drop documents created in Office to the screen.

Other improvements focus around search. For portal users, there is expanded search capability that goes beyond web or portlet sources to external file systems and repositories that are approved for access.

For external users, portal content that is approved for public access is now being made more easily searchable by public search engines like Google. The key is a new mapping system, so that content identified by search engine robots can still link up to portal content whose location or other characteristics is more dynamic than normal web content.

Release of WebSphere Portal 6.0 also coincides with the initial release of Portlet Factory, the tool that came as part of IBM's acquisition of Bowstreet last December. Portlet Factory provides role-based, dynamic portlet design with predefined end user templates.

Initially, a "blue washed" IBM-branded version is being released this month. Its capabilities will also become part of Portal 6.0 when it becomes available in the summer.

That means that WebSphere Portal 6.0 will add capabilities for business analysts to chain together more complex, multi-page portlets, aided with adapters to leading sources like SAP, Siebel, Domino, Oracle e-Business Suite, spreadsheets, and web services.

And it provides the ability to personalize pages, not only by changing code in the portlet, but through user-friendlier dialog boxes and wizards while inside the portal.

And it also provides new workflow capabilities so business users can piece together workflows that take advantage of BPEL-based process orchestration. While the previous version of WebSphere Portal supported BPEL, it required developers to use Rational tools to piece together the orchestration. Version 6.0 takes this to business users courtesy of Portlet Factory.

Finally, WebSphere Portal 6.0 also adds capabilities for non-technical users to make small text-based changes to content through "inline" editing capabilities that work almost like editing a word-processed document.

In the second half of the year, IBM plans to add support for offline functionality using Eclipse-based clients. However, at this point, IBM is not looking at adding Ajax capabilities to add Web 2.0-like local dynamic capabilities to browser-based portal clients. IBM says that it's held off because Ajax tooling and best practices remain immature.


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