Welcome!

Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Machine Learning , Java IoT, Adobe Flex

Machine Learning : Article

A New Way to Look at Portals

This portal framework provides full support for AJAX-type message processing

Historically, the progress of Web-based applications and the diverse nature of information from different Web applications ushered in the need to unify content to a single point of access: the Web portals.

There are several Web portal frameworks being developed in both the J2EE and .NET camp to unify Web content and provide end users with a more efficient environment to interact with the Web.

The portal technology is based on the notion of a portal container that provides the basic infrastructure to host a load of disparate applications wrapped up as portlets.

To facilitate cross-vendor Web application deployment as portlets in portal containers, a number of specs were written with several implementations in J2EE and .NET, but there still was no way to host content from both J2EE- and .NET-based Web applications in the same portal container.

To fix this issue, WSRP (Web Service Remoting Protocol) came into being. But WSRP is also pretty heavyweight and does not serve the needs of the enterprise to provide an easy portal architecture.

In general, if we look at the portal implementations mostly in the J2EE space, there are some major shortfalls:

  1. The idea of a portal-type solution started early with the classical page flip kind of Web architecture and most of the portal specifications/implementations are still abiding by that. With the Web 2.0 and the AJAX push portal, solutions also need to move to an asynchronous way of request-response handling, but the most popular Java portal specifications such as JSR 168/286 does not provide the same till date.
  2. With so many implementations of the portal container, it’s difficult to deploy a portlet app. The deployment procedure varies from container to container even after common standards like JSR 168/286.
  3. There is no way to deploy applications written in .NET and J2EE in the same portal container.

This article looks at an easy portal infrastructure that’s built on a Flex-based portal container and portlets (individual Web applications) deployed as Flex modules. This portal framework provides full support for AJAX-type message processing with a very efficient deployment of portlets and manages the portlets so that they can logically connect to any Web application, freeing developers from routing to J2EE/.NET portal frameworks. If you need a clean way to integrate and reuse the same code for your Flex application based on either a J2EE or .NET back end inside a portal container, read on.

This article is more about Java portal containers and the J2EE back end, but the same principles may be applied to the .NET side as well.

Basic Shortfalls in Today’s Java Portal Solutions
To standardize the process of portal development and deployment, there are standards such as JSR 168/286 and WSRP. These standards are driven by a huge group of commercial portal vendors. First I’ll look at the underlying architecture of the JSR168/286-based portal solution.

JSR 168/286 relies on the classical page-flip Web architecture, where the full browser page is refreshed whenever an event happens in the page. Figure 1 shows the architecture details of a JSR 168/286 portal solution.


This portal solution is based on the server-side aggregation of content that is pushed to the browser upon request in the form of an HTML document. The container that hosts the portlets resides on the server side where the deployed portlets (individual applications) are logically managed. In this architecture, the content from different portlets is aggregated in the server and the net result is pushed back to the client browser as HTML. However, to effectively make AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) type request/response handling work for the portal, it’s required to manage portal/portlet interactions in the client browser too. Without the notion of a client-side container present in the user browser, it will be very difficult to have an AJAX-type request/response work in the portals. With the architecture in place with JSR 168/286, we have the following shortfalls when it comes to AJAX-type request/response handling:

  1. Asynchronous rendering of portlets is not currently mentioned in the Portlet Specification JSR 286/168
  2. With non-standard work around too, it’s difficult to get AJAX working for more than one portlet on a page. This also leads to intra-portlet communication using AJAX impossible even with JSR 286 support.
  3. Whenever a portlet state is updated without a server round-trip, the state that may be encoded in other portlets may be stale, which is the most severe flaw when working with AJAX.
  4. Some AJAX implementations exist but are vendor-specific and non-standard. These solutions use JavaScript to tie portlets in the browser and again tie portlets using a JSR 286 kind of solution or session sharing in the server-side portal container.

How Can a Flex-Portal Solution Come to the Rescue?
To fix the above issues and provide a rich portal framework, Flex might be an ideal solution for Web applications written in Java or any other technology. Flex applications are loosely coupled from the server-side processes; they rely on the server just for data. Flex applications have self-contained UI logic, which is ideal for portlets. Unlike JSP/ASP-type rendering where the UI is closely attached to server-side processing, Flex UI logic does not depend on the server side; it only needs the server-side data to bind Flex controls with actual data. Hence, if the policy exists to fetch data from a server, Flex UI can be connected to any server from any browser-based or stand-alone application and render the same rich UI every time. This basic advantage of Flex can be exploited to come up with a robust Web2.0-compliant portal architecture as shown in Figure 2.


In the figure, the container runs in the client as a Flex application with basic support for authentication/persistence, etc., being provided by a server-side container process (may be implemented in J2EE /.NET/Web services). Individual portlets are Flex modules deployed in the server, which are instantiated in the portal container whenever needed. These individual portlets can get their data using SOAP/HTTP from any Web server. Portlets are managed by the portal container and can also be attached to an application running in the same container server or any third-party/Web services server to get the data. Portlets are designed as Flex modules to have minimum downloadable size and to enable runtime hot deployment without any need to stop or recompile the Flex portal container.

Now let’s see how this architecture scales with issues discussed earlier and how does it tackle the same.

More Stories By Indroniel Deb Roy

Indroniel Deb Roy works as an UI Architect for BlueCoat Systems.He has more than 10 years of development experience in the fields of J2EE and Web Application development. In his past he worked in developing web applications for Oracle, Novell, Packeteer, Knova etc. He has a passion for innovation and works with various Web2.0 & J2EE technologies and recently started on Smart Phone & IPhone Development.

More Stories By Alex Nhu

Alex Nhu works as a manager, UI Development at Packeteer Inc. He has more than 11 years of work experience designing and architecting complex server-side J2EE and XML applications. He loves developing Web applications with Flex now after getting a taste of developing UI using other RIA platforms.

Comments (9) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
srinuguda 08/21/09 12:46:00 AM EDT

Hi,

Kindly post the some sample on portlet implementation in flex.

Regards,

Lord1984 03/13/09 11:59:40 AM EDT

Hi,

very good article...

When you talk about portlet window you mean that portlet window is a mx panel and it contains a module, is it true?
how to achieve direct module to module communication?

Where download the source?

thanks.

sreiner 11/09/08 07:12:47 PM EST

Is the source available? The link mentioned in the feedback only runs a demo (with no flex "view src"). The article mentioned "source code for the interfaces can be found in the annexure-1". Thanks.

Indroniel Deb Roy 04/03/08 07:04:27 AM EDT

Try the following URL:
http://www.portalcontainer.com/portalcontainer

Sujit Reddy G 03/31/08 04:02:04 AM EDT

This is a awesome idea. The link is broken. can you please post the URL to the implementation.

Indroniel Deb Roy 12/20/07 06:22:09 AM EST

Here is the link to a basic flex container implementation showing some portlets based on the Amazon Web Service.

http://www.portalcontainer.com/portalcontainer/pc.html

Indroniel Deb Roy 12/18/07 06:24:21 PM EST

I got a preliminary version of the Flex Container up and running with stuff discussed in the article with some sample portlets. I will post the URL soon, so that everyone can get a feel of it!

Andrea Bosio 12/01/07 04:28:58 AM EST

Great article and excellent idea! Our company could be very interested and actively involved in this open source porject. At the moment we are setting up and deploing Liferay Portals as intranet system to our customers. Please contact me if you decide to start the project or if you are looking for partners.

Luke 11/23/07 07:26:33 AM EST

Excellent overview article. We're looking at Flex as a portal/portlet technology for the next overhaul of our intranet system, I would be very keen to be involved in a dedicated container. Please let me know if you decide to post this as an open source project.

@ThingsExpo Stories
"We provide IoT solutions. We provide the most compatible solutions for many applications. Our solutions are industry agnostic and also protocol agnostic," explained Richard Han, Head of Sales and Marketing and Engineering at Systena America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseTech has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. EnterpriseTech is a professional resource for news and intelligence covering the migration of high-end technologies into the enterprise and business-IT industry, with a special focus on high-tech solutions in new product development, workload management, increased effic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CHEETAH Training & Innovation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CHEETAH Training & Innovation is a cloud consulting and IT training firm specializing in improving clients cloud strategies and infrastructures for medium to large companies.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datanami has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datanami is a communication channel dedicated to providing insight, analysis and up-to-the-minute information about emerging trends and solutions in Big Data. The publication sheds light on all cutting-edge technologies including networking, storage and applications, and thei...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...