Digital Transformation

Mastering Community Pages powerd by IBM Connections and IBM Portal

So I’ve been very interested in deeper integration between Portal and Connections. That means that the beta out on Community Pages is of particular importance.  Jon Brown of the Connections team and Stefan Liesch of Portal and Content team fame gave the presentation.

IBM has seen the concept of a social portal evolve.  Social Portal drives a need for typical portal scenarios like surfacing applications. It also drives the need for social features like communities, blogs, wikis, profiles, etc.  As Stefan Liesch puts it, “Hmmm, we are IBM and we can do something about that.”

An exceptional social web experience bring more than just consumers of content. They want to be contributors.  It will need to adapt to the changing demands of the users and the marketplace.  IBM’s vision of a social portal is to take a classic portal site and help it evolve into a social portal. Portal customers can add IBM Connections and vice-versa.

IBM recent CIO survey noted that there is a new imperative to improve the intranet. A social portal is a web site that seamlessly and contextually integrates people and social content.   Context is key here.

Integrating with Connections uses the REST apis

  • Web Experience Facotry REST builders and Connections samples exist
  • Customer example: Gemini systems and teach for america.   It has 30,000 users and growing and new teachers need to come up to speed.  They use a social portal to make it possible and easy to use.

 

Best Practices for integration

  1.  Consider the users. Are you building social intranet where teams need to form organically or are you building a B2C site?  Are you building a site to interact with partners and users?
  2. Remember that different users have different goals.

 

Community pages allows you to inject communities in portal.  You can pin specific Connections content on that page.

Side by side approach

Create a common navigation using Websphere Application Integrator or static navigation put in both products.  This approach may use Connections portlets but you would probably just go to one place to to your “social networking”

Community Pages approach

WebSphere Portal is the entry point and Connections is integrated to portal using Connections portlets.    This approach give you one UI and lets you get a consistent stylesheet, header, footer, etc.      This approach also lets you associate a community with a page.  When you associate, you can actually pin specific Connections content to a page.

In this approach, you are embedding social throughout the portal.  It adds the contextual portion to your social portal.

 

Steps:

  • Get SSO working by sharing LTPA token or hooking to a tool
  • Use the same LDAP for both products
  • Use communities as access control source.  Only show a community portal page to members of the community.

Demo

Stefan’s demo was what you expect.  You can see a set of blogs on a homepage and then hit a blog post in a community. It kept context in the portal and didn’t just move to the community in Connections.  That’s very interesting because it shows a unified portal and Connections site vs two separate ones.

He also showed integration of Connections Activities to you, the user on your financial page.  That’s interesting because it’s not context on a page but in a session.

Next showed hitting the forums but where the forums had kept track of the last post of the user.

Showed an investment page with wiki portlet configured to point to the investment tag.

Where to get the Connections Portlet

In the solutions catalog

  • Blogs summary portlet
  • Member Profiles summary/detail
  • Forums summary/detail
  • activities
  • Community overview
  • Wikis

How to associate pages to communities?

  1. Go into actions and edit page properties
  2. click set some parameters
    1. IBM.community.page = true
    2. ibm.community.id=the community id you want. (It’s a large id)
    3. ibm.community.home=false (don’t use the homepage for the community)
  3. save it
  4. return to the page and look at a portlet on the page
    1. It should ask you what blogs in the tied community (most recent, list, all of them, etc.  You have lots of choices)

What’s coming in Portal 8 that improves upon this?

Portal 8 beta 3 is available today.  It will improve upon the integration and experience.  You won’t need to copy the community id.  You can map it using a visual ui instead of a parameter.  It could even create you a new community.  You could even map the parent, create a sub portal page and tell it to map to the same community as the parent.  The community page will then work as already demonstrated

Connections Documents could be made available by using a CMIS configurator. It’s read only capability right now.

Portal 8 will also federate tag cloud for WebSphere Portal.  You could create a single tag cloud.  You configure this by going into the configuration of the tag cloud portlet, tell it the sources, and let it do its stuff.

OpenID is supported for authentication and to participate in registration

About the Author

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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