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Custom framework or Standard Portal for a dashboard  RSS feed

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We have several web applications and we need to develop a dashboard with widgets/ portlets to access these web applications. Our current environment is based on web-logic and we must utilize this environment for our dashboard app.

We are considering whether to use a standard Portal like Liferay/ Pluto for this purpose or to develop a custom own framework.

Even if we build a custom framework, we got to touch our existing web applications and also we must develop personalization/ integration mechanism our own. For integration purposes we are thinking of using AJAX to retrieve html markups from web-apps render on the portlet window. Also we need to totally decouple the dashboard from other web-applications, that is there should be no down-time for the dashboard in-order make changes for web-apps/portlets. Also we are thinking adding/ removing portlets through DB entries rather than providing a admin console. We need your advise on whether this is a good idea/ approach.

Even if we use a standard portal, the concerns we have/ we do not understand is - whether we can use web-logic environment without running a separate portal server - How far can we customize the look and feel - Can we disable the features which we do not need i.e. like spaces/ threads

Appreciate your advice/ input on this.
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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