BEA releases upgrade to portal server

BEA Systems Inc. announced the availability this week of WebLogic Portal 7.0, the latest version of its software for building corporate Web sites that provide access to a variety of applications and services for employees, customers and partners.

The product was made available last month as part of BEA’s WebLogic Platform 7.0 release, a bundled offering that includes BEA’s portal server, application server and integration server, and its Workshop developer environment. This week marks the availability of the WebLogic Portal 7.0 as a standalone product.

It includes enhancements designed to speed up the process of building portals, including a portal wizard that can simplify the management of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) applications and make it easier for developers to work with portal templates, according to Robert Duffner, BEA director of product marketing.

The company also boosted the product’s Web services capabilities, making it easier for developers to include Web services as elements within a portal site, he said. “We’re basically making it easier to create and manage enterprise-wide portals,” Duffner said.

WebLogic Portal 7.0 also ships with new portlets for creating catalogs and shopping carts, building purchasing processes, and other commerce services. Portlets are reusable elements, such as a stock ticker or an e-mail application, that are assembled to make a portal. Other features aim to improve usability for end users, such as the ability to edit the names of tabs within a portal site, and collaborate on documents over the Web.

The product runs only on the latest version of BEA’s application server, version 7.0, and does not run on application servers from rivals such as IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., Duffner said.

“In a perfect world we’d love to see this run on everybody’s app server, but there’s a difference between a J2EE specification and the implementation of that specification,” he said. “The (Java Specification Request) for portlets has been proposed (to the Java Community Process) and we all support it. You have to solve that problem first, and that’s a huge first step.”

The proposed portlet specification, Java Specification Request 168, can be viewed at the Java Community Process Web site, at

The JSR, proposed by Sun and IBM and supported by BEA and others, is described on the JCP site as follows: “To enable interoperability between portlets and portals, this specification will define a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) for portal computing addressing the areas of aggregation, personalization, presentation and security.”

Pricing for WebLogic Portal 7.0 remains the same as the previous version, at US$57,000 per processor, Duffner said. The price includes a license for the enterprise edition of BEA’s application server, he said.

BEA this week also launched its BEA Portal Solution Center, an online resource where developers can access a catalog of portlets, prebuilt connections to third party applications and predesigned portal products from systems integrators. The site is at