How skilled portlet developers make the portal strategy work

Portals are providing more value than ever, and having skilled portlet developers on staff brings the technology to new levels.

More and more Java developers are being asked to learn the Portlet API.

Cameron McKenzie, Editor of TheServerSide (@potemcam)

TheServerSide has always had a strong love-hate relationship with portal server technology. Rarely does an article about portlet development go up without a strong response from the readership about difficulties some have encountered when using the older JSR-168 Portlet API. And when news headlines point towards many of the advances the portal server vendors have made with integration and usability, there is often a flame-war or two over the future of the technology. In fact, even the editorship of TheServerSide has had reservations over the future of Java based portal technology, as can be seen in the following article from April of 2012:

Every enterprise needs an employee portal. Or do they?

The evolution of the portal

But that article was written well over a year ago, and while many of the issues discussed in that feature still persist, the fact is, portal based technology is stronger than ever, with open-source plays competing on equal footing with some of the more traditional vendors as competition takes the technology to new heights. And not only have the portal servers themselves changed drastically over the past two or three years, but so have the tools that make portlet development possible, laying to rest many of the naysayers of the past who derided portals for providing an awkward environment for development. The following article, published towards the end of 2012 deals with this very issue, looking at how the tooling surround the portal has evolved:

The evolution of portal based application development tools and technologies

As more customers adopt portal based technologies, staffing software development teams with professionals who possess the right skills is becoming more and more of a challenge. Fortunately, the JSR-286 portlet API builds heavily on the Servlet and JSP API, so Java professionals who are skilled at developing traditional web-based software will find it fairly easy to transition into the portlet space. How Java professionals can leverage their existing skills and become more attractive to potential employers is discussed in the following article, published in April of this year:   

Portlet development skills put Java pros in demand

Empowering the dev team with portal skills

And while a background in servlet and JSP development is a great foundation for learning portlet development, any software professional who is moderately adept at Java programming won't have a problem picking up the basic concepts, so long as they have a solid set of tutorials at the ready. There are many great books on portlet development on the market that can be recommended, but for those looking for a few great online tutorials on the topic, TheServerSide has published several that will get you started, including the following two which were recently published in May of 2013:

JSR-286 development tutorial: An introduction to portlet programming

JSR-286 development tutorial: Mastering request-response programming

Portal server technology is as hot as it has ever been, and smart enterprises are learning that application lifecycle management (ALM) becomes greatly simplified if a holistic technology like a portal server forms the basis for Agile application development and deployment. By using the learning resources listed above, an IT specialist can quickly learn the value a portal provides to an enterprise environment, while at the same time, learning just how easy it is to develop portlets and deploy portal based applications.

What is your experience like with portal server technology? Let us know what you think about the future of the Java-based portal.

Follow Cameron McKenzie on Twitter (@potemcam)

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