Feature uPortal 2.5.3 uPortal 3.0 Liferay

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7 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 7 μήνες)

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Evaluation of uPortal 2.5.3, uPortal 3.0, and Liferay Portals


Feature

uPortal 2.5.3

uPortal 3.0

Liferay

JSR
-
168 compatible

Yes

Yes

Yes

Future JSR
-
286
compatibility

No

Yes

Yes

Drag
-
and
-
drop
portlets

No

Yes

(in my local
environment I could
only drag and drop a
portlet once per a
refresh)

Yes

Ease of
Theming/Skinning

Difficult

Supposed to be easier

Supposed to be easier
,
many user made skins and
themes available as a
starting point for further
customization,

a lot of
customization available
through the GUI

CAS integration

Yes, through config files

Yes, through config
files

Yes, through the GUI

LDAP integration

Yes, through config files

Yes, through config
files

Yes, through the GUI

Portlet deployment

Manual, transfer files to
server, deploy through
cmd line, restart server

Manual, transfer files
to server, deploy
through cmd line,
restart server

Hot
-
deploy (deploy portlets
to the server from
anywhere and have them
work immediately, eases
testing)

Portlet Error
reporting

On the portlet itself

On the portlet itself

In the server log/console

Included portlets

Not many useful ones,
but we have ones we
have made for use with
our current
implementation

No really useful ones.

Built in Alert,
Announcements, Journal,
Calendar, polls, and mail (
mail might not work) may
be useful for our purposes.
Admin portlets have useful
features for managing
settings and
uploading/installing
portlets.

Tested to work with
my JSR
-
168 portlets

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tested to work with
LDAP

Yes

Didn’t try

Yes

Tested to work with
our CAS server

Yes

Yes

Yes



Ease of
development/demo
setup

Hard

Hard


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Documentation

Some

Very Little


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User involvement

Some

Some

A lot, many user have made
themes and portlets
available

Total educational
institutions that
have deployed this
Portal

Many

Some

Little

Future
development
support

No official SDK or
Extension environment
provided

No official SDK or
Extension environment
provided

SDK and Extension
environment provided,
using the

extension
environment for changes to
the Liferay code allows
developers to replace the
core Liferay implementation
with future versions easily

Manual portal
configuration

Change original config
files and redeploy

Change original config
files and redeploy

Make most changes in one
extension config file, easy to
see where our
implementation is different
from the original
implementation; portable


Key:

Green


Helpful feature


Red


Undesirable

Grey


neutral


uPortal 3.0

This version of uPortal changes a
lot of the insides of uPortal to better future proof the portal
(how things are rendered and overall structure). The overall user experience is basically the same as
uPortal 2.5.3. You can now have a side navigation bar along with the standard navigation

tabs. Portlets
are moveable by the user or by a layout manager in preparing a suitable layout for users. Portlets are
deployed in exactly the same way as in our version of uPortal. Our JSR
-
168 portlets work fine, but may
need small CSS layout changes.

The default themes are a little bit better looking than the old default themes, but overall they
look clunky and the entire portal will have to be re
-
skinned. New drop down menu per a tab displays all
the portlets on that tabbed page, and allows you to se
lect them to have them displayed in full screen
mode. This is more annoying than useful, but it can be disabled through a configuration file.

Local setup was difficult and time consuming, the quickstart download did not function correctly
by following t
he step by step guide. Getting the developer distribution working took some tweaking to
allow CAS validation through our CAS server (rather than the built in one). Finding support for issues
was very difficult for uPortal 3.0 and overall documentation was

lacking and incomplete. After a restart,
this portal no longer worked… luckily, testing was complete before restart. LDAP will work in a similar
fashion to a 2.5 implementation as it does with uPortal 3.0.


Liferay 5.1


Liferay looks and feels way “slee
ker” than either version of uPortal. The themes that it comes
with look very nice and there are many more user made themes that can be easily downloaded and
installed. Tabs and portlets can be moved around easily. In addition, an administrator in charg
e of a
page can change the look and feel of individual portlets as using an on screen GUI.

Liferay comes with many useful portlets built in. The announcements and alerts portlets behave
in a similar fashion to our current portlets by the same name (thoug
h they may be less buggy). The polls

portlet allows one to set up a daily poll (single question). The Journal portlet allows users to post journal
entries to their community which can be approved by people managing that community. The weather
portlet di
splays weather for the cities specified. The administration portlets allow for easy deployment
of portlets (useful for portlet testing), changing of themes across communities or pages, defining default
roles and communities for new users, and easy access
to the authentication options of LDAP and CAS.



The local setup was much easier than uPortal and worked on the first startup by following the
guide. In addition, Liferay provides an extension environment and SDK for further modifying Liferay to
our purpo
ses. The Liferay portal also supports many modern technologies and standards, such as
ICEfaces Ajax framework and JSR
-
286. The documentation and user support overall is MUCH better
than what I found for uPortal, and there is a pretty well written adminis
tration guide available.

We set up a local LDAP instance for testing and we were able to get the importing of person
information from LDAP working. In a separate test, we were able to get authentication through our CAS
server working correctly.


Additiona
l Research


We discussed portals with the Kuali Student team. Wil (the UI team lead) recommended Liferay
over uPortal from his own experiences with the two products (though officially his school ONLY supports
uPortal).


Garey (team member) said that he ha
s a friend who helped upgrade a 2.x build of uPortal to
uPortal 3.0. His friend said he would give some insight on this process and I have sent him an email. We
expect a response sometime later this week (hopefully).


The questions
we are still awaitin
g a response
:



Is there anything you can share about the overall experience?





What were the advantages of uPortal 3.0 over the version you were upgrading from?


What
made you want to upgrade?



Did the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of the issues with
/time it took to upgrade (e.g.
are you happy with your current implementation)?



Have you had any experience with single sign on through your portal?





What are the main uses of your portal for users?





Does your portal interact with any other systems?





Have you been involved in any custom portlet development, and did your old portlets transfer
over well (or at all)?





What do you think of Liferay as an alternative?



Ease of theme
-
ing and skinning compared to old system?



Ease of setting up the development
environment?



Do you use CAS and LDAP?


If so, how was that integration?



Anything else you can add?

My Recommendation


Having researched portal and portlet technologies for awhile now, I feel like Liferay is the better
choice of the two. The entire system
feels and looks more modern, and it supports more modern
technologies. The customization and built in portlets are very nice, and there are at least some that will
be helpful to us. However, creating a Liferay instance (or upgrading to uPortal 3.0) could

be time
consuming.

There is much that will have to be modified to get it working for our uses, though the overall
difficulty of this is a BIG unknown at this point. For example, we did not delve too deeply into default
layouts for different user groups
, so we still need to investigate how long this will take to modify to what
we need. In addition, it will be a time consuming process just to learn a new Portal technology and how
to use it (though luckily the documentation is a bit better than uPortal).

We may also need to make
changes to our LDAP to support the way users and groups are imported into Liferay. We will also have
to spend some time and effort creating a new theme. We will need to create new JSR
-
168 portlets that
provide the same functions

that some of our channels provide in our current portal. Remember, we
have a uPortal 2.5 running. A school which has no portal deployed will not have this same problem to
deal with.

We do not see any real reason to upgrade to uPortal 3.0 over our current
version, other than it
fixed a few bugs (portlet session dropping) and it follows JSR standards more closely. Though the email
response (described above) may shed some light on what exactly it offers that we did not see.

The other option is to use what we

have. Our current version of uPortal does have some known
bugs, and I am not entirely happy with how it is set up or how it is version controlled at the moment. I
also do not feel like this option is very future proof.