You may not have heard of the Liberty Profile, unless you are interested in running WebSphere Application Server in a cloud environment like BlueMix. Saurabh Agarwal and Jaspreet Singh presented this session at the IBM Digital Experience Conference.
What is this Liberty Profile? Liberty is a lightweight WebSphere Application Server that is already embedded in IBM Bluemix which runs on Softlayer. By lightweight, I mean that the install of the server is fast, startup is fast, and it is optimized for cloud. Liberty is really targeted at developers and improving the experience for developers. Rather than install the big WebSphere Application Server on every developer machine, which requires more memory, more CPU and more disk space, a developer can spin up a Liberty Profile locally or on Bluemix very, very quickly. IBM estimated that developers waste 5 hours per week managing the large WAS installation on their local machines.
Why talk about Liberty at the Digital Experience Conference? When developing portlets for the Digital Experience, a developer will typically install a full WebSphere Application Server and Portal Server on their local machines. That is more disk, more memory, and more configurations to manage. If all a developer needs to do is test portlets prior to deploying to a test server, this is a lot of wasted resources and time.
Liberty helps in this area because it comes with a Portlet Container. A Portlet Container is simply an environment that enables running JSR portlets. The Liberty Profile enables you to run JSR portlets that you will eventually put into WebSphere Portal, so it has the base libraries needed to run these portlets. As you develop a portlet you can deploy it to Liberty for unit testing and skip all the configuration and installation efforts.
In addition to the Portlet Container, Liberty also has a WSRP Producer that you can use. A WSRP Producer allows a remote portal server to access and display your portlet running on Liberty. Imagine that you are developing a portlet, testing it on Liberty and want to see what it looks like in the full portal interface. If you have a portal running on a test server, for example, you can use that server’s portlet consumer (WSRP Consumer) to show your portlet in context. You don’t have to deploy the portlet to the test server, so it saves you some time there.
IBM also has Portlet Container Tools for the Liberty Profile. These tools provide:
- the ability to use a wizard to create portlet projects in the Eclipse IDE. Here you don’t need to use RAD to create portlets that you will test on Liberty
- a WSYWIG Editor for configuring the portlet (editing portlet.xml) and a JSR 286 event manager
- configuration of the liberty profile server
- publish, test and debug your portlet within Eclipse
All these addons to Liberty for portlet development are free to developers. You will pay a fee to use Bluemix, but you will save time and money by using Liberty in your development environment. The cost of using Libery on Bluemix is extremely affordable.
Web Experience Factory ships with a Liberty instance so you can test portlets you create in WEF on your local machine without having a full WebSphere Portal installed.
When would you choose Liberty and the Portlet Container tools versus using Rational Application Developer and a full installation of WebSphere Portal? Here are some considerations:
- Easy and no charge for the tools or license
- Light weight
- Portal customers using WSRP
- Want to test portlets in Bluemix
- Rational Application Developer
- Target full WebSphere Portal installations that may have specific security or database configurations
- Need Portal specific features such as Credential Vault, Business Process and Personalization
- Need advanced features like JSF, Dojo & jQuery
- Multi-channel portlet development
If you do use Liberty for your development, you easily migrate those projects into RAD when needed.