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Mashups vs. the Portal

 
author and cow tipper
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Portal technology has been used to help generate dashboard type applications that can display disparate types of data on a single, portal type of page. But the technology is sometimes cumbersome, and portal administration can be time consuming.

How do mashups compete against a complete portal solution?

-Cameron McKenzie
 
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Portal technology has proven powerful but complex. Mashups offer the other extreme - simplicity, but maybe not as much power.

IBM has an interesting product called Mashup Center http://www.ibm.com/software/info/mashup-center/ that illustrates both of these properties. In Mashup Center, you have a repository of widgets that you can drag onto a page and perform simple tasks to connect one widget to ahother.

Another possibility is that the overall concept of portals is replaced by new technologies like Ajax widget libraries and even JavaFX. Many of the limitations of JSR-168 portlets seem quaint now that we are in the age of the interactive web (aka Web 2.0).
 
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A subject close to my heart ;-)
Incidentally, I co-presented with IBM about Mashup Center and my Patterns book last week at a jStart/Greenhouse event. The archived talk is available here: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/ebusiness/jstart/infocenters/mpWebcast.html

I talk a bit about this in the free chapter that's available online.

First, mashup tools can compliment existing portal products. Either by creating widgets with their own url that can be dropped into an existing framework, or by natively spitting out JSR-168 portlets. One of the patterns in my book, Portal Enabler, discusses this concept. However, technical capabilities aside, I think that mashups threaten the corporate portal from a customization standpoint.

Portals started out as a means to broadcast content to a wide audience. But users began to push back and demand more of a say in how the content was organized and presented. Which led us to personalization. The downside is, the portal owners still had a say in what/how content could be personalized. Enter mashups: Users are now free to create highly customized experiences completely on their own terms (perhaps even mining a portal underneath). This outcome should be no surprise to those of use who regularly Tivo shows and read filtered or aggregated RSS. People want total control over the interaction experience.

Is the corporate portal going away? I doubt it. But I do posit that it will become much more generic and only provide the most common information (company policies, employee manuals, etc). I further imagine that IT will become more focused on providing the raw materials to build what are essentially personal dashboards (but more on that later ;-))
 
Cameron Wallace McKenzie
author and cow tipper
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This is a great perspective on the future of portal. Thanks for the insight!

I'll be watching keenly as the battle marches on.

-Cameron McKenzie
 
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