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At IBM’s Exceptional Web Experience Conference, Rob Will, Chief Architect for WebSphere Portal and WCM, delivered his usual outstanding presentation on What’s New in WebSphere Portal and WCM. His presentation was 117 slides long, so it was packed with lots of information. He conveyed some of IBM goals with respect to Portal and WCM and recapped what has been delivered in the past.
Below I’ve tried to capture all the highlights of the new features in V8. We’ve blogged about many of these features in the past while looking at beta versions.
- Managed Pages – This is probably the biggest change in V8 as it ties Portal and WCM together more closely than ever before. See Glenn Kline’s blog post from the conference about Managed Pages. Rob went through the demo of managed pages and you can see some of those features in my recent post Creating Managed Pages in WebSphere Portal 8: First Look.
- The base WCM system is now included in all versions of WebSphere Portal. In the base Portal Server version, you can’t use WCM directly, but you have access to an Article portlet, a List of Articles portlet, a Rich Text portlet and an Image Portlet. These portlets let you add content to your portal without the full WCM interface. To add the full set of WCM features you must upgrade to Portal Express, Enable, Extend, or the WCM versions.
- Core WCM Enhancements: Includes many REST services; Federated Documents which provides integration with CMIS systems, FileNet, DB2 Content Manager, Lotus Quickr, and Atom feeds.
- Mobile updates: In V7, IBM added a Device Class concept that can map a User Agent to a Device Class. There were 4 classes defined: smartphone, tablet, bot, and desktop. These classes can be used to by portlets or the theme to tailor the experience for the user. Web Experience Factory and Rational Application Developer also include specific tooling for the mobile experience.
- WCM Mobile: includes the ability to use CSS3 media queries, feed generation instructions, or a rendering plugin to tailor content to mobile devices.
- Community Pages: This feature ties portal pages to IBM Connections Communities. You can include a community at a portal page level and all the Connections and WCM portlets will use that community as its context. This feature came out in V7, but required setting advanced properties using a community ID. In V8, you have a nice interface to pick the community.
- SharePoint integration: V7 included several features that enhanced the integration between WebSphere Portal and SharePoint. In V8, the CMIS support in Portal allows direct access to SharePoint 2010 content.
- Process Integration: V8 now includes Business Process Express, which allows you to deploy business process applications. Integration with IBM Business Process Manager has always been a feature of Portal, but now you get the express software when you purchase Portal.
- SAP Integration: Portal provides nice access to SAP NetWeaver Portal Services. Here is a link to an SAP whitepaper on this capability.
- JSF Support: Portal 8 supports JSF 2.0 and MyFaces
- Web Experience Factory (WEF): Includes Native Smart Phone Builders and samples. It also supports Dojo Mobile and the IBM Mobile Platform.
- Module Theme Framework: Started in V220.127.116.11, the new theme is very modular and can dramatically improve page load times. The new theme has dropped support for the Client Side Aggregation model, but IBM is planning to reintroduce this in the future. You can see my writeup on the new theme here: WebSphere Portal 8: New Modular Theme Framework.
- Accessibility: The new theme framework promises to be compliant with WAI-ARIA, WCAG 2.0, and Sec 508.
- JCR Database: JCR has been rewritten and is now more DB friendly. In the past, IBM’s JCR implementation created over 1,000 tables and 4,000 indices. That has been reduced to under 100 tables and under 100 indices. Portal side BLOB caching has been added. They have also clearly separated the runtime user privileges from the configuration user privileges which should make DBAs happier. All this has led to improved performance for the database.
- New installation program: V8 is now installed using IBM Installation Manager that speeds up the installation process.
- Supports WebSphere Application Server V8.
I’m sure there are new features that I missed, but as we find them, we’ll let you know about them. If there are any that you particular liked, post a comment here to share with everyone.