What is portal?

When I was asked what do I do for living? I say I am portal consultant. blah..blah. Then comes the interesting question from the person who asked - What is it?

Well, a portal offers a single point of personalized, unified access to applications, content, processes. A portal delivers integrated content and applications, plus offers a unified, collaborative workplace. A portal is a web site that has many features than typical website. For eg, When I say Yahoo! what comes to your mind immediately? Yahoo home page has got small small multiple windows typically called portlets (tell about this in a bit). Each portlet for different purpose - stock, weather, news, search, etc, etc. They are contents from different external sources into single window. To know more about portal and its flavors in weblogic, please visit this blog entry.

Not only it stops here :)
Portals can provide valuable service functions such as security, search, collaboration, and work flow.
To name a few of Portals features - authentication, personalization, customization and content aggregation.

Authentication: - Typical website may not have authentication. You can see all contents. But portal provides facility of Logging-In. Provides you with information based on who you are.

Personalization: Limited, focused content. Eliminates the need to visit many different sites. e.g.You type in your user name and password and see your yahoo mail only.

Customization: This is the one of the powerful features of portal. You can organize which contents you want to access/see. If you go to my.yahoo.com or igoogle.com you can personlized what do you want to see. But in Website contents are not customizable. All content is there for every visitor. All are public contents.

Content aggregation: Portals can provide lot of contents collected from various sources under a single desktop. These contents can be secured and non-secured. Also portals can show specific contents to specific set of users based on the their entitlements (security).

What are Portlets?
Portlets are basic building blocks of portal. Portlets are web based java applications that can interact with the user. It can generate dynamic web contents.There are many types of portlets. More info on upcoming posts...

A web page can have any number of portlets.

P.S: To know more technical information about portals and its flavors, please visit this blog entry.

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