Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: "Oracle WebCenter 11g PS3 Administration Cookbook"

There are three major components in the WebCenter product stack:
  1. WebCenter Framework
    • Allows you to embed portlets, ADF Taskflows, content, and customizable components to create your WebCenter Portal application
    • All Framework pieces are integrated into the Oracle JDeveloper IDE, providing access to these resources as you build your applications
  2. WebCenter Services
    • Are a set of independently deployable collaboration services
    • Incorporates Web 2.0 components such as content, collaboration, discussion, announcement and communication services
  3. WebCenter Spaces
    • Is an out-of-the-box WebCenter Portal application for team collaboration and enterprise social networking
    • Is built using the WebCenter Framework, WebCenter services, and Oracle Composer
As the strategic portal product of Oracle, WebCenter Framework plays in the Enterprise portal space, and WebCenter Services/Spaces plays in the Collaboration Workspace space.

What's Portal Application?


A portal can be thought of as an aggregator of content and applications or a single point of entry to a user's set of tools and applications. It is a web-based application that is customizable by the end-user both in the look and feel of the portal and in the available content and applications which the portal contains.

The key elements of portals include:
  • Page hierarchy
  • Navigation
  • Delegated administration and other security features
  • Runtime customization and personalization.

To design a successful enterprise web portal is hard, but getting easier and more practical with Oracle WebCenter which is built on top of Oracle ADF technology. As an enterprise portal, security is extremely important. Unauthorized people should never get access, and different groups may have different permissions. Customers, partners and employees should be able to use a single login to access all relevant information and applications.

The Book


To design, test, deploy, and maintain a successful web portal is nontrivial to say the least. Therefore, a cookbook like Oracle WebCenter 11g PS3 Administration Cookbook is needed. In fourteen chapters, it provides over a hundred step-by-step recipes that help the reader through a wide variety of tasks ranging from portal and portlet creation to securing, supporting, managing, and administering Oracle WebCenter.

In the book, it covers many new features introduced by the 11g R1 Patch Set 3 version of the Oracle WebCenter product. It also touches upon all three components: WebCenter Framework, WebCenter Services, and WebCenter Spaces and roughly in that order. Besides important topics such as customization and security , it also discuss the analytics aspect of the product (i.e., Activity Graph).

Resource Catalog

Using resource catalog as an example, in this book, you'll learn that:
  • How to create a resource catalog either at design time or runtime
  • How to specify a catalog filter or a catalog selector
  • How to add a link to the resource catalog
  • How to add an existing resource catalog to the catalog
  • How to add custom components to a resource catalog
  • How to add custom folder to the resource catalog
At each step, you'll learn how it works and why. For example, when you add a resource catalog at runtime, an XML file will also be created, but it will be stored in the MDS (Metadata Service Repository) which is a repository used by WebCenter to store metadata.

Trade-offs


After the introduction of different approaches, the author also discusses the trade-offs of each approach. For example, with WebCenter Spaces, it allows you to build collaborative intranets without needing to develop a lot. The problem you will be having with WebCenter Spaces is that it is not as easily customizable as a regular WebCenter Portal application. Therefore, you can combine the best of both worlds. When you need a high level of customization or you need to extend the site with your custom functionality, then you should create a WebCenter Portal application. When you need a collaborative environment where customization or added functionality is not as important as the collaborative services, then go for WebCenter Spaces.

References
  1. Oracle WebCenter 11g PS3 Administration Cookbook
  2. Creating a Successful Web Portal
  3. Oralce WebCenter (Wikipedia)
  4. Oracle ADF Task Flow in a Nutshell
  5. Book Review: Web 2.0 Solutions with Oracle WebCenter 11g
  6. Oracle® Fusion Middleware Enterprise Deployment Guide for Oracle WebCenter Content 11g Release 1 (11.1.1)

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