Getting Started with WebSphere Portal

This tutorial shows you how to get started with a fully installed WebSphere Portal 7 installation, and shows you how to configure portlets on the portal.

Understanding the Portal



Getting started with Portal may seem a daunting challenge.  When I first began, I felt overwhelmed by how much there was to learn.  Themes, Portlets, WCM, WSRP, etc.  It wasn’t until I understood the basics of WebSphere Portal that my fears started to subside.  So let’s start fresh.

Whenever I face any new challenge, I’m compelled to break the problem down into its simplest elements.  I feel it’s the only way I can understand.  If I can’t understand something then I can’t teach others about it.  So in this article I’ll start with the basics and we’ll work our way up from there.  


In this article I plan to answer the following questions:

•         What is WebSphere Portal?

•         What makes WebSphere Portal special?

•         How do I get started?

•         What am I looking at?

•         How do I create a page?

•         How do I remove a page?

•         How do I add a Portlet to a page?

•         How do I remove a Portlet from a page?

•         What’s next?

As I step through each of my tasks I’ll be sure to address any Issues Encountered, Benefits and Enhancements over previous versions, and new features with Best practice advice.  Let’s get started.

What is WebSphere Portal?

WebSphere Portal is quite simply a Java Enterprise Application.  It runs inside a Java EE application server and its job is to aggregate and deliver web content to any authorized users who access the system.  Once you understand that WebSphere Portal is just a fancy web application, akin to Facebook, Yahoo, or EBay, you can easily build off of that foundation.





WebSphere Portal Application


WebSphere Portal Page = Web Content





[Author’s Note: We have to be very cognizant of the fact that although WebSphere Portal is a Java EE product, its tightly coupled to WebSphere Application Server and its extensions and cannot be ported to any other Java EE application server.]

What makes WebSphere Portal special?

As mentioned, WebSphere Portal is a glorified web application.  It serves content to users but I find the true power of the Portal is placed in the hands of the developers.


I like to think of Portal as an empty office building.   Initially, all that’s available is the core infrastructure (plumbing, lighting, phone jacks, T1 line, etc.)  There’s a security desk just inside the front door, but it’s manned by Tom.  Tom lets anyone past who smiles at him.  For now that’s fine, because once you’re past the security desk,  there isn’t much to look at.  Just one empty floor after another.  But this is exactly what we need.



Initially, WebSphere Portal is very much like our empty facility.  It’s built upon industry standards that fosters reusability and componentization.  It’s a platform upon which we customize to the meet the needs of our business.  So our next step is to build, decorate, and furnish Portal.

We’re ready to unleash our team of in-house developers, contractors and designers.  We’ll gather our business requirements and build a truly opulent solution.  Alternatively, we could use of the box components or purchase 3rd party Portlets that meet our needs.  Whatever works!

Oh, and we mustn’t forget Smiling Tom the Security Guard.  We’ll have to put him to pasture before opening Portal to the public and replace for something a little more substantial.  Perhaps a biometric and facial recognition system… or we could just as readily hook it up to our existing LDAP.

How do I get started?

We’ll begin by starting WebSphere Portal 7 Beta.  I’m going to assume that Portal isn’t started but that it is installed. 


1.       Open a Command prompt and navigate to the following directory:



2.       Execute the following command:

startServer.bat WebSphere_Portal





3.       Wait between 5-10 minutes display (depending on your hardware) for the Server WebSphere_Portal open for e-business message to display



4.       Open a browser and navigate to the following URL:



5.       Log in with the following user ID and password:

User ID:        wasadmin

Password:   wasadmin






It may not seem like much yet, and there’s only one Portlet on the Page, but as we investigate further, I’ll demonstrate the key features, and showcase what Portal has to offer.  For now, it doesn’t appear to be much more than a simple web page.

[Author’s Note: There’s a common misconception that you’re stuck using the out-of-the-box Portal functionality.  From experience I can tell you that’s not the case.  If you’re not afraid to muck around with the internal workings of the product, you can achieve anything, I repeat ANYTHING, your client desires.  It may take time, effort, and considerable funding, but if I can do it, so can you.]

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