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An Insider’s Guide to the SAP NetWeaver Portal

Recently, I noticed a lot of posts to the EP Content forum that asked questions on a variety of fairly straightforward topics — how to create an iView via code or how to use the new JSP tag libraries.

Most of the answers for these questions could be found in the Portal Developer Guide, which is what I write. But apparently, people did not know about the guide, or where to find it, or where to find the answer in it.

So more knowledgeable SDN’ers would answer these posts by simply referring novice portal developers to the Portal Developer Guide. In other words, SDN’ers were getting 10 points a shot for simply sending people to the documentation — which I wrote!! (I am going to recommend to SDN some sort of multi-level marketing scheme, where people automatically get points when others refer to their posts or documentation.)

In the meantime, I figured that at least we could start to reorganize the Portal page so people could find information more easily, as well as the documentation. The start of that effort is what you see on the re-organized SDN Portal page.

As part of that effort, I thought that we should provide more regular updates on what’s new in the portal (both new APIs and documentation) and advice on how to most easily develop for the portal.

As a result, I started this column — a series of weblogs of the SDN Portal page, updated about once a week — which provides detailed information about new portal APIs, new portal features, new plug-ins for the NetWeaver Developer Studio, and new NetWeaver features that affect the portal and portal development.

The column will also provide information on existing features that many developers are not aware of — such as how to conduct PCD searches, how to create portal semantic Java objects, how to program JSP in the portal and use the tag libraries, how the PRT request cycle works, and how to create editors and wizards of your own.

I’ll take advantage of my presence in the SAP lab in Israel, where much work on the portal is conducted, as well as my access to the developers who actually build the portal. It’s amazing to have the people who know the most about the portal right in your backyard, or even down the hall.

Quick Tip

For example, someone recently asked on the SDN Enterprise Portal how to get information from the manifest file — that’s the MANIFEST.MF property file that contains properties for the application title, vendor and version. The file is in the META-INF folder.

Here’s the secret: The answer to this particular question was something I did not know off the top of my head. So I sent an email to a fine developer, Yael, who helps design, create and update the Portal Runtime. Yael was gracious enough to provide the following code.

Quick Tip 2

For information on portal development, start with the Portal Developer Guide.

The guide contains basic information on how portal applications work (format of PARs, how the request cycle works, how to write JSPs, how to work with J2EE applications), how to use the portal APIs (client-side eventing, semantic objects and the PCD, page builder, navigation), and more.

What’s Ahead

There’s a lot to come.

We will continue to discuss the new features for SP15 and SP16, as well as those for 2004s and beyond.

We will discuss the new Support Platform, the portal features for implementing an external-facing portal, the PCD, creating administration wizards and editors, changes in the Generic Creator (XML Content and Actions), updated navigation API, new ways to control namespaces of portal objects, creating Web services for portal services via the J2EE, and much more.

I think it will be a good and productive year.

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