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:
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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:
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.