On Wednesday BEA Systems Inc. will announce general availability of WebLogic Portal 9.2, which includes support for Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) as well as a new emphasis on Ajax. The portal product is being released with upgrades of WebLogic Server 9.2 and BEA Workshop for WebLogic 9.2.
While a dot-two release doesn't sound like much more than bug fixes, in BEA's naming convention the previous versions were 8.1, so the company insists it's a major release. Guy Churchward, general manager of the Java Runtime Products Group for BEA Systems, said the WSRP upgrade to the portal product represents major research and development. He said the team behind WebLogic Portal 9.2 believe they are three years ahead of the competition in the implementation of WSRP.
"It would be nice if we called it WebLogic Portal Fifty Trillion," he said of the 9.2 designation, "but it is what it is."
Whatever the naming convention, Churchward is touting the new WebLogic Portal 9.2 for simplifying production and management of service-oriented portals with rich user interfaces made possible by added Ajax features. BEA held meetings with 200 customers to get feedback on what they wanted from a portal and the requirements coming out of that were used in developing the WSRP and Ajax features, he said.
According to Churchward, what the customers asked for from the WSRP implementation was more speed in aggregating content so end users could receive the information they wanted quickly. He said that BEA agreed that WSRP, an OASIS standard, was promising, but found existing implementations were not up to the requirements of enterprise applications. To enhance the performance, BEA upgraded the caching and streaming capabilities.
"From our previous version to 9.2, the speed of WSRP (functionality) increased by about 270 percent," Churchward said. "Overall, we've really done a monster boost on performance with WSRP."
The upgraded portal also integrates with BEA AquaLogic Registry to register services the user finds helpful, so they can quickly access them in the future using the federation and WSRP capabilities, he said.
As is true with many other vendors, BEA is just beginning to implement Ajax in products starting with this release of the portal.
"We've Ajaxified," said Chruchward. "We've started to play with Ajax in a big way. We have Ajax portlets. That means you don't have to refresh a whole screen, which was slightly irritating."
Based on the same requirements coming out of customer meetings, he said the development team that worked on the portal upgrade focused on making sure the performance was up to supporting the desktop-like functionality of a rich UI.
All three of the new products are now based on the Eclipse platform, Churchward said.
"Portal's the first product we've got inside the suite to fully embrace the Eclipse model," he said.
The new BEA Workshop for WebLogic now includes Eclipse 3.1 tools for developing SOA components, he said.
The new 9.2 products are available for download and there are wizards to help coders upgrade from the 8.1 workshop domain to the new one.