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WebSphere Portal 8: New Modular Theme Framework

IBM has been reworking WebSphere Portal themes for a long time now.  The feedback I get on themes in Portal 7 is they are too complicated, too slow, and not well documented.  With WebSphere Portal 8, IBM is addressing these concerns with a new theme architecture.  IBM is touting the new theme as very modular, which should lead to a flexible framework that improves download times and minimizes the number of requests going from the browser to the server.

In my last post about Managed Pages, I said that I had received some errors when creating a page.  I had built a blog page and wanted to include a tag cloud on that page.  When I dragged the Tag Cloud portlet to the page and saved my changes, I received the following messages:

Profile Errors

Apparently, I was missing some Dojo files that were needed for the tag cloud.  After looking into this, I figured out the default  theme must not have been quite right.  I looked at the page properties and noticed a theme profile select box.  When I clicked on that entry, I found that I had a choice of several profiles:

Theme Profile    Theme profile

I changed the profile to Full and saved the page again.  This time, I was able to save my page with the Tag Cloud portlet.  So why would the profile matter?

A theme profile is one mechanism IBM implemented to improve load time.  A profile loads modules that the theme designer designates from the list of available modules.  Modules are part of the new module theme framework.  So a theme profile can load all modules (i.e. Full), or the profile can load selected modules based on the needs of the page.

If you don’t need the entire Dojo library, for example, you can create a theme profile that loads only those modules you do need.  The Portal documentation contains a list of modules supplied by IBM and you can create your own modules. By choosing only the modules your page absolutely needs, you can skinny down the overall theme, improving load times.

You can learn more about the module framework here.  While its too early to tell if IBM finally has a workable, modern theme, this new module framework certainly looks very promising.

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10 thoughts on “WebSphere Portal 8: New Modular Theme Framework

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  2. Terry Oakley

    Hey Mark,
    Thanks for the intro here. One thought about the modular theme and that it appears to be able to cut out loading dojo, or portions thereof. My understanding is that many portlet developers rely on the the theme loading the dojo lib. So, are we putting the onus on the portal admin to make sure the right ‘profile’ gets loaded to include what the portlets need? What is the recommendation for pages where we allow privileged user customization? Use full in that case? Just trying to understand the implications. Thanks.

  3. Mark Polly Post author

    Yes, the idea is to be able to fine tune page load times by removing code that isn’t going to be used. Code developers that are going to use Dojo should coordinate with the page owner to ensure the right theme policies are in place. For personalized pages, where the user can add portlets themselves, you may want to use the “full” theme, or you may need to train them on how to update the page properties to support the portlets they are adding.

  4. Girish

    Hey Mark,
    Thanks for sharing the information on Modular theme, I have to develop the Modular theme for my client in WPS 8.0.0.1. If you have any idea/document on, how to develop the Modular theme, that would be great. Kindly let me know.

  5. Nithin

    Hi, i am trying to migrate a custom theme developed for websphere portal 7 to websphere portal 8. But in vein. Can u pls provide a link that has the complete steps of migration.

  6. Mark Polly Post author

    I don’t believe there is a migration guide for the theme, or at least I haven’t seen one. In my experience, it is often faster to just recreate the features in your old theme into the new theme manually.

  7. Nithin

    Thanks mark, but recreating is a tedious job if i have quite a lot of themes in my older version. so i was thinking if there is an easy way to achieve the migration

  8. Ashok

    Mark, are Theme Policies depracated in WPS v8. Do you have any ideas on the replacement feature? Or do we just have to migrate Theme Policies of prev versions to WPS v8? If yes what is the procedure to do the same.

  9. Mark Polly Post author

    Yes, IBM has deprecated Theme Policies on 8. They still work if you bring a v7 theme into Portal 8, but that may not be the case in future versions. Below is the notice from IBM about this. You’ll have to look at the new theme documentation to see how to migrate theme policies if you want to take advantage of the portal 8 theme.

    Theme Policies
    Theme policies are deprecated. Use the new theme functionality offered as a replacement for theme policies. The instructions are validated to work in Version 8.0. Use them to create a theme policy to migrate a legacy theme.

    http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/portalwiki.nsf/xpDocViewer.xsp?lookupName=IBM+WebSphere+Portal+8+Product+Documentation#action=openDocument&res_title=Unsupported_and_deprecated_features_wp8&content=pdcontent&sa=true

  10. Ashok

    Mark, thanks for your quick reply. I searched a lot but I cant find the replacement for theme policies. Also the last part of the paragraph says “Use them to create a theme policy to migrate a legacy theme” which means theme policy feature is still available in Portal 8.

    Can you please share any link which talks about the detailed process involved in replacing/migrating theme policy?

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