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Digital Transformation

IBM WebSphere Portal Theme Optimization

Themes in WebSphere Portal continue to undergo significant changes.  In the past few releases we have seen the following enhancements to themes introduced:

  1. Splitting theme from the wps.ear into separate applications that can be managed independently of the Portal code
  2. Introduction of Client Side Aggregation (CSA) which builds a page using Javascript on the browser instead of completely building it on the server first.
  3. PageBuilder and PageBuilder2 themes that provide better interfaces for managing pages directly without going through the Portal Administration interface.

Now IBM has slipped Theme Optimization into the latest fixpack for WebSphere Portal (see IBM’s fixpack documentation).  It appears that theme optimization was targeted for Portal 8, so maybe it is making an early appearance here.  Fixpack 2 was released in mid December 2011.

So what is theme optimization?  IBM has split its new theme into multiple modules that can be configured independently of each other and the theme itself.  For example, CSS is now a module that you can manage independently of the overall theme.  Say you want to tweak some CSS  on your site.  Previously, you had to deploy a new theme .war file to get the change made.  In this latest release the module can dynamically load your new CSS without restarting anything.

Some modules can be deferred and then are loaded after a page loads during a full page refresh.  Non-deferred modules are loaded during the initial page load.  As an example of this you might want to only load a module (say javacript) only when entering edit mode for a page (not a portlet!). The deferred module allows resources not required in view mode to be loaded lazily on demand when the page mode is changed to edit.

IBM has included many modules in the new theme, including pagebuilder, search, site analytics, utilities, sametime and dojo modules.  You can also swap out modules for your own code or supplement with your own set of modules.  For example, if you wanted to include jQuery, you could make a module for that and then include the module in the theme.

I’m sure I’m not doing justice to the capabilities of this new theme optimization feature.  You can read documentation here, although it seems incomplete at the moment.  I hope we can get more information at Lotusphere 2012 this month.


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Mark Polly

Mark Polly is Perficient's Chief Strategist for Customer Experience Platforms. He works to create great customer, partner, and employee experiences. Mark specializes in web content management, portal, search, CRM, marketing automation, customer service, collaboration, social networks, and more.

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