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IBM WebSphere Portal Primer: Second Edition [Paperback]

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Item description for IBM WebSphere Portal Primer: Second Edition by Ashok K. Iyengar, Vankata Gadepalli & Bruce R. Olson...

What makes the WebSphere programming model so compelling? Why is WebSphere Portal server fast becoming the world's premier portal server in sales and functionality? What are portlets? What is the open Portlet API? How is it possible to secure and manage large Web portals that each have their own distinctive look? Does WebSphere Portal support B2B, or B2C, or B2E, or all of them? Which topologies does it support? Is it J2EE certified? This book answers these and many more such questions and covers everything from basic e-commerce concepts to advanced three-tier Internet topologies. Completely updated for V5.1.x, the authors systematically guide you through IBM's WebSphere Portal product, which includes the Portal server, the Personalization server, Workplace Web Content Management, Document Manager, versatile search engine, collaboration component, new Virtual Portal and Business Process Integration, and Task Management features. Software developers who are creating simple portlets and JavaServer Pages (JSPs) or are well-versed in using JavaBeans will find this book's contents relevant. It covers installation, configuration, administration, tuning, and usage of WebSphere Portal server software. It discusses portlets, servlets, security, single sign-on, transactions, session management, and scaling as it relates to WebSphere Portal server.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   529
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2005
Publisher   Mc Press
ISBN  193118223X  
ISBN13  9781931182232  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ashok K. Iyengar, Vankata Gadepalli & Bruce R. Olson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Iyengar is a member of the WebSphere Enablement Team in San Diego.

Ashok Iyengar currently resides in San Diego, in the state of California.

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Reviews - What do customers think about IBM WebSphere Portal Primer: Second Edition?

Not of much use for technical people.  Aug 10, 2006
It's neither useful for developers or architects or managers. Most of the pages are filled with screenshots/images(WebSphere portal administration interfaces).

I found better information in the IBM Redbooks on WebSphere Portal Server.
This book is essential reading and lives up to its name  Jan 25, 2006
I'm reading the 2nd edition, which says on the cover, "Fully updated for V5.1". I think some of the reviews appearing here may be referring to the 1st edition when they complain that it only covers V4. Furthermore, there is confusion among reviewers between the versioning of WPS (Web Portal Server) versus the versioning of WAS (Web Application Server). The latest version of WPS is 5.1 while the latest version of WAS (now renamed to "Rational") is 6.0. The book covers WPS 5.1 as well as both WAS 5.1.x and WAS 6.0. So, it is completely up to date as far as I can tell. In my opinion the complaints that the book only covers v4 or v5 are based on a misunderstanding of versioning and should not be considered.

Chapters 1 and 2 were at a high level and very well written, considering the enormous complexity involved in putting so many different products under the same umbrella and making them appear unified. It makes one a little sympathetic for the IBM architects who have to make a logical, consistent set of diagrams out of all the disparate products IBM offers including Lotus and Domino.

Chapter however 3 was not pleasant to read. It gives instructions for installing Websphere Portal on Windows, Unix, and Linux with all sorts of variations. Many concepts that it would have been nice to have had explained, weren't. For example, why is the author all of a sudden saying an http server is required and that the IBM http server will be used in the examples? Isn't there an http server embedded somewhere already in the Websphere Applications Server? A paragraph of explanation would have helped to clear that up. And the expertise in LDAP servers that chapter three presupposes is not necessarily true of all readers.

Chapter 3 as it continued, increasingly dispensed entirely with explanations and became, essentially, long lists of commands to type in with little explanation of why the commands were necessary or what they actually did. By the time the chapter ended, one could not help but feel intimidated as to the incredible amount of memorization and knowledge and experience required to understand the complete installation of the product in a corporate setting.

Chapter 4, entitled "Customizing the Portal", is very readable and important because it explains the basics of portals such as skins, themes, pages, columns, rows, etc. There is a terrible problem with pages 135 to 144 unfortunately. Those pages contain nothing but faulty pictures of the themes and skins that come with the default installation. All of the pictures look the same and can barely be seen. This is not the authors' fault but the fault of whoever typeset the book. Shame on that person. They have ruined what would have been a very helpful portion. Still, chapter 4 is a valuable and useful chapter, entirely appropriate for a "primer".

Chapter 5, "Personalizing The Portlal", is mind-numbing but essential reading. It introduces all the concepts necessary to personalize a portal/portlet and then steps you through from start to finish the creation and deployment of a personalized portlet. It requires that you have WSADS 5.x installed because they step you through installing a jsp/html editing feature that has beem removed from WSADS but is needed to create personalized portlets. So, they explain how to manually re-activate it from the command line. It can only be re-activated in WSADS 5.x. They say once you see how it's done in WSADs 5.x you can then do it yourself without the enhanced editor in Rational v6. If you are like me and have both of those installed on your pc, you hit the lottery and will find this chapter very useful. If you only have Rational v6 it will be very frustrating. It's a scary chapter and makes you wonder if anyone on planet earth could ever actually use this monster of a product. But if you work in a corporation that uses IBM Websphere Portal you *know* it does actually work, so just take a deep breath and read the entire chapter. It's very well written, especially considering how hard it is to try to make it seem as if a business analyst could do many of the tasks in this chapter that seem to require quite a bit of knowledge of java.

Chapter 6 explains how to write, configure, and deploy a portlet. The first 34 pages cover the proprietary IBM portlet API, and the last 13 pages cover cover the JSR-168 portlet API. There is a lot of information to cover, and it all presupposes the reader is familiar with the J2EE servlet creation methodology. Realistically, it is this chapter that is the most important for a java programmer who actually has to write portlets, and conversely this might be the least important chapter to operations staff who probably don't know java and don't need to for their job function. It's too much to read this chapter in one sitting, lest the concepts of the proprietary IBM portlet API get confused in one's mind with the concepts of the JSR-168 portlet API. All in all, it's a very good chapter. There was only one misprint that really vexes, which is on page 239 where reference is made to a code example in figure 6.8 that supposedly shows instantiating a DefaultPortletMessage object. There is no such instantiation in that figure, alas, and in such a difficult chapter that is annoying because realizing the mistake breaks mental concentration.

The second part of chapter 6 on the JSR-168 portlet API is helpful both in explaining the JSR-168 API as well as forcing the authors to better explain the IBM proprietary portlet API by comparing and contrasting the two. Considering the complexity and the subtleties of portlet programming, this chapter did an excellent job. The final paragraph states, "The subject of portlet programming alone could fill a book." It then recommends a book called, "Programming Portlets" by Ron Lynn, Joey Bernal, and Peter Blinstrubas (2005; MC Press).

Chapter 7, "Portal Gatekeeper", is devoted to security. It is too dense to be read in one sitting. It begins with the big picture/architecture of how security can be maintained in various LDAPs or in a combination of LDAP and rdbms, etc. and just when it seems like the chapter should end, it begins with a very specific example of configuring an example company with three departments. There is one minor misprint in the example, which is easy to pick out with a clear head but in the thick of reading the chapter can make the reader lose confidence the chapter is comprehensible. (A second reading after a good night's sleep is recommended). In between these two sections there are several pages of raw listings of two XML configuation files. All in all it's a mentally difficult chapter to comprehend. The chapter continues with more detail on vaults and vault segments, etc., etc., but by the end of the chapter when everything that can be said has been said, one feels much, much more informed on the subject of websphere portal security.

Chapter 8, "Portal and Beyond," begins with twenty pages covering portal search capabilities. It's a nearly impossible task to cover the subject that quickly, and you have to hand it to the author for, gamely, making the attempt. The next 24 pages cover Site Analytics, which is a vast subject. It feels like a different author wrote this second section of the chapter. The detailed examples with screenshots culminate by showing a report that is spectacular until you look closer and realize it only shows statistics on one "hit" on a test web site. The third section of chapter 8, "Process Portals", is the worst written section of the entire book, so far. It's like something a jaded technical writer might compose in a Dilbert cartoon for an incomprehensible technical feature that the marketing department insisted on adding. The forth section of chapter 8, "Websphere Portal Application Integrator", takes the mantle from section three and is definately the worst, most cynically written section of the book, so far. The closing one page essay of the chapter, "Door Closing", is brilliant, a marketing masterpiece. It was obviously polished and rewritten many times by a senior writer.

Chapter 9, "Portal Content and Collaboration", continues in the tradition of Chapter 8 by exploring more "checkmark" features. The chapter 9 features seem to have been added by the IBM marketing department, Lotus/Domino division. It becomes increasingly apparant as one reads further into this book that production use of IBM WebSphere Portal requires hiring IBM consultants and programmers to actually get the beast installed and configured. The final paragraph of chapter 9, "Door Closings", is more openly transparant and far less clever than it's brilliant chapter 8 counterpart.

Chapter 10, "Portal Crossing", begins with 24 pages of detailed, step by step instructions on how to configure simple, sample portlets. Maddeningly, none of the sample portlets come with their source code, they only come with the class files. The author is annoyingly glib. For example, the author mentions that the sample Webpage Portlet is nearly useless because it cannot maintain state, then adds glibly, "Still, this portlet is a good way to integrate existing Web applications into a portal in proof-of-concept situations". This chapter is written at practically a kindergarden level of understanding in comparison to the prior chapters. It reads kind of like a series of powerpoint slides to be presented by sales to non-technical managers, to try to convince them how easy the product is to use.

The next 15 pages of chapter "10" are so complicated and difficult to follow that they require being re-read at least three times. They assume an expert level of J2EE programming ability and are quite discouraging to anyone who thinks portals might have a long term place in the world of programming. The *next* 7 pages, on Virtual Portals, is useful and important. It concludes, "The topic of Virtual Portals is huge-- more than can be adequately covered here." Next is 10 pages on Web Services for Portlets. The chapter and the book end with 6 pages on internationalization. The obligatory "Door Closings" for the last chapter states the chapter covered the features of WebSphere Portal "that set it above the rest." It adds, "they might not be available to the general portal user community."

The bottom line is that this is a book from IBM press that through thick and thin has a mandate to try to get people to use IBM Websphere Portal, even if the authors have to jump through hoops to make this monstrously complicated product seem attractive. If your corporation has WPS then you need this book. Sigh.

There is an online tutorial on the IBM website covering some of the same material as this book that should get five stars and then some. Run don't walk to the amazing, cutting edge, state of the art, A plus plus tutorial at the following link. If you read the book and view the following tutorial as well, you are well on your way to mastery. They complement each other nicely even though the book is 2 stars and the online tutorial is 5 stars.
still one version behind  Oct 25, 2005
[A review of the 2nd EDITION 2005.]
The first edition described version 4 of the Portal, but the actual released version was 5. Now in 2005, here is the second edition. It covers version 5.1. However, the Portal is now at version 6. Still one step behind. Rather unfortunate. You should keep in mind that this probably arose due to the sheer complexity of the total WebSphere development effort, and the unavoidable lag time in publishing a text.

The text does give an impressive roundup of the WebSphere Portal effort. The Portal has extensive personalisation and customisation. (IBM maintains a distinction between these, which the text explains.) The end user and the sysadmin can access these to present a nice UI. One chapter goes into a good level of detail as to how much tweaking you can do to this. A lot of effort has clearly gone into building out this ability.

None of this is actually programming. Whereas to the programmers amongst you, later chapters of the book are more germane. One chapter describes the IBM Java Portlet class, and how it extends the standard HttpServlet. The Portlet API is explained at a level suitable for programming. To good approximation, you can think of the Portlet coding as a variant on JSP and servlet coding, which perhaps you might already have done.

Continuing this, another chapter shows how authentication and authorisation can use JAAS.

Overall in the book, you can clearly see that IBM has committed to producing code compatible with J2EE standards. Which means that if you already have a background in J2EE, it will help your assimilation of the book.
Copy is wrong about this book  Aug 1, 2005
This books is updated. this site is highlighting the copy for the second edition as the first edition. See below for accurate description.

Completely updated for V5.1.x, the authors systematically guide you through IBM's WebSphere Portal product, which includes the Portal server, the Personalization server, WebSphere Content Management, Document Manager, versatile search engines, and the collaboration component.
Good on concepts/background, outdated for version...  Apr 29, 2004
Target Audience
Portal developers and administrators who are responsible for the installation and maintenance of WebSphere portal server.

This is a tutorial guide on how to install and configure WebSphere Portal, as well as how portlets are developed.

The book is divided into the following chapters:

Enter The Portal; A Portal Blueprint; Putting Up The Doorway; Customizing The Portal; Building Blocks; Personalizing The Portal; Portal Gatekeeper; Portal And Beyond; Portal Crossing; Installation Planning Worksheet; Jlog Properties File; Portal Related Web Sites

IBM is pushing the concept of the portal very hard, and their portal branding falls under the WebSphere umbrella. But unlike installing Notes/Domino or Microsoft Office, trying to get WebSphere Portal (WP) up and running is not a trivial task. Things have to be done in a certain order with certain settings. And then once that is done, you have to start configuring the portal environment with the portlets you want to use. This book can help guide you through that whole process.

First, the good things... There's a good blend between background material on the J2EE technology involved and the "hands-on" tasks, such as installation and configuration. The screen shots and step-by-step writing is very well done, and you should be able to get up to speed quickly. I wish I had access to this book when I first started exploring WP a year or so ago. It would have saved me a lot of time and aimless wandering.

Now the not-so-good thing... Since IBM is banking on WP being the next significant business platform, they are enhancing and simplifying the software on an aggressive schedule. As a result, the current version of WP has gone beyond the version used for this tutorial. Normally that wouldn't be deadly to a book like this, but in this case it may be. The install process has been improved, as well as the administration process. If the user is trying to follow along using the WP 5.x software, there won't be a lot of matches. That could prove frustrating to the beginning WP administrator.

Even with the version issue, I'd still recommend this as a good secondary book to add to your portal bookshelf. There are still many basic principles that apply to version 5, such as the portlet development concepts, theming, and some of the out-of-the box portlets you can download and use for free.

The main drawback to this book is that WebSphere Portal is now up to version 5.x, and the book covers version 4.1. Since WP 5 is significantly improved over 4.x, you may not get as much out of this book as you'd like. But the basic information and explanations are solid and informative.


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