Oracle’s portlets trim intranets

If your corporate intranet is growing out of control and users are getting lost in a thicket of information, Oracle Corp. wants to sell you the equivalent of a weed-whacker.

Unveiled this week, the Oracle Portal Framework is designed to let IT groups reduce the clutter on their corporate nets. The Framework includes a set of Java components, known as classes, which Web developers can use to create a single view of all information on their intranets and selected information from the public Internet.

Oracle calls the reusable classes portlets because they’re used to create a corporate portal–a primary Web page that users log on to in order to find a range of Web-based information and services. When users click on a portal icon, they connect to a server-based portlet, which serves up a particular sales report, order status, product promotion or similar information.

The Framework includes a software-development kit, as well as some server code that creates a set of services used by the portlets, such as connecting to a directory service or to a preformatted database query. The Framework will be incorporated into the upcoming Oracle WebDB 3.0, a tool set for creating active HTML pages–those that can access a back-end database, run a query and return the results as a Web document.

The Framework also includes tools that let developers tailor the view for each user or group of users. The portal simplifies users’ access, and the tailoring helps them grab the information they need most. For example, salesmen and production line workers will both see a company-wide press release, but only the salesmen will see the latest sales data.

Oracle will use the Framework to build a set of ready-to-run portlets for its Oracle Applications suite of business software, says Jeremy Burton, an Oracle vice-president. Web developers can simply add portlets to their portal sites to give users access to customer data, order status and the like. Other portlets will let users access data on other vendors’ applications. Finally, Oracle will rework tools such as Oracle Reports and Oracle Discover so these, too, will create a report or an analysis as a portlet.

WebDB 3.0 will start beta testing in November. Pricing has not been decided.

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