JBoss Inc. released the latest version of its open-source, Java-based portal product. The new JBoss Portal 2.0 embraces the Java portlet API specification (JSR-168) and provides an extensible portal framework designed to integrate dynamic Web pages and applications within standardized reusable portlets.

JP2 is a core component of the JBoss Enterprise Middleware System. The JEMS platform includes the JBoss app server, the Hibernate object-relational mapping software, the Tomcat JSP and Servlet Web container, the jBPM workflow engine, the JBoss Cache caching technology, the JGroups multicast communications toolkit and the Eclipse IDE.

"JBoss is moving up the stack," says Pierre Fricke, the company's newly appointed director of product management. "And we're on our way to rounding out a complete middleware platform."

With JP2, JBoss is looking to attract potential portal users put off by the cost of commercial enterprise-class portal offerings, Fricke tells AppTrends.

"The portal market has been relatively small and constrained because of the high price points," he says. "We believe that there are a lot of unserved customers out there, and we see a mass market for portals with the right price point. We expect to expand the portal market significantly."

JP2 is a major upgrade of its predecessor. It comes with several new features and some improvements on some old ones. Among them:

  • Certified JSR-168 portlet container
  • Single sign-on support across portal and portlets
  • Ability to run multiple portal instances inside one portal container
  • Ability to deploy portal instances in a clustered environment
  • Portlets can be implemented using JavaServer Faces, MyFaces, and Spring MVC
  • Data access and persistence provided by Hibernate, JBoss’ award-winning object/relational mapping technology
  • Portlets can have their own internationalization resource files
  • Web-based administration of portal security (users, groups, roles) and functionality
  • Includes basic content management features
  • Forum/Message Board portlet for community-based collaboration

JBoss reports some impressive pre-released downloads stats—12,000 in April climbed to 27,000 in May—which the company claims make JP2 the fastest download of any open-source Java portal technology.

The new portal also bears the first fruits of JBoss' expanded relationship with Novell, which disclosed in March its intention to discontinue further development of its own exteNd application server and point its customers to the JBoss portal product.

"We've been a key player in the open-source world for some time, and we saw the water rising on commoditization and open source," says Novell's Robin Cohan, senior product manager for the exteNd product line. "We finally had to ask ourselves, should we continue spending our resources on something that is proprietary when there’s some great open-source stuff out there that we could make more successful?"

"So we looked at the JBoss portal," she adds, "and we realized that, with the momentum of the JBoss community behind it, it was going to become an important force in the market. We wanted to help make it enterprise-class and bring some of the capabilities that Novell has into that picture, ultimately so that we could make it useful to our own customers."

Novell's contributions to this version of the JBoss portal were significant, but not huge; the project was already under way when the two companies upped the ante on their partnership. Novell is contributing some key automation features and substantial code to the portal's theme APIs for layouts, skins, look and feel, and branding.

In the next version, however, expect to see big hunks of Novell technology enriching the JBoss portal offering, Cohan says. Among other things, Novell will kick in its Web Services for Remote Portlets standard-based portlet container, and portlets from its extensive library. “WSRP and the portlets we see as two very important contributions that we want to get to JBoss as soon as we can,” Cohan says.

The open-source, Java-based JBoss application server was first released in 1999. Two years later, JBoss Group was founded to provide technical support services for the software. Marc Fleury, who wrote the first version of JBoss, founded the for-profit, Atlanta-based JBoss Inc. in 2004, to provide “resources, technology direction and core development” for the technology evolving around JBoss.

For more information on JBoss Portal 2.0, go to: http://jboss.com/products/jbossportal.

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