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One thing that seems to come up time and time again within the realm of Enterprise Portal is the need to replace intranet and internet sites with the Portal. And one of the major stumbling blocks to this shift is that users see the portal as being a fairly dull and uninspiring environment to work in. As one of my clients recently put it “Portal Ain’t Flashy!” This statement really made an impact on me and got me thinking… why ain’t the Portal Flashy? I mean is there a good reason? Isn’t it built on industry standards like HTML, JavaScript, JSP, J2EE and even supports Adobe Flash and Flex now. So what gives? Why is it seemingly so hard to make the portal look and act more like a cutting edge website?  Some of you may think that this is fairly shallow and that the portal is more then just about looking good and I agree. However, you only had to attend some of the Adobe Flex sessions at one of the recent Tech Ed’s to realise how easily people are wooed by things that look and feel good. I mean the OOOOHHHHSSS! and AAAAHHHHSS! that echoed forth from these sessions were ridiculous. Anytime one of the presenters hovered over a chart that resulted in the animation of another element, grown men and women seemed to lose all inhibition and vocalized their amazement like 10 year olds! 😉  This blog is really an attempt to get people thinking, a catalyst for people who may have already done something “flashy” in the portal to talk about it and if possible show others what they have achieved. So please post your comments here and let’s try to work on making the portal more flashy or at least discuss the reasons why we can’t.
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  1. Michael Nicholls
    Hi Simon

    Can you please show an example of a “flashy” web site – the type to makes you go weak at the knees? I’d be surprised if you couldn’t achieve the same look and feel with the SAP portal…

    ps: Anything that requires higher bandwidth or something that doesn’t work with most browsers is out of contention!

    Cheers

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    1. Simon Kemp Post author
      Hi Michael,

      I agree with you that was the challenge I would like to see also. To be honest it takes a lot for me to go “weak at the knees” esp. over a website! 😉 I would just love to have more ammo under my belt when clients want to see what the portal can do.

      BRgds,
      Simon

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  2. Manish Chaitanya
    Hi Simon,

    I would agree with Mike as I myself have been involved in a few implementations where looking at the site it’s hard to imagine it has been built on SAP Enterprise Portal.

    As you have said yourself, it is based on the industry standards like HTML, JavaScript, JSP, J2EE. So anything that you can achieve with JSP should be achivable here too.

    Thanks,
    Manish

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  3. David Halitsky
    You’re absolutely correct.

    But I would take your observation one step further.

    IT doesn’t need good I/O, scheduler, or swap routines. 

    IT needs “flashy” I/O, scheduler, and swap routines.

    Just like our cars need “flashy” timing-chains, differentials, and brake cylinders.

    I mean – IT isn’t something practical to get something practical accomplished.

    So let’s bling it up as much as possible.

    Right?

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    1. Mike Rutter
      For your edification:

      Attractive things work better:
      http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/CH01.pdf

      Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things
      http://www.jnd.org/books.html#E&Dbook_notes

      Good design can lead to more efficient use. Efficiency is a good thing in business, eh? Very practical.

      But, more often than not, “flashy” is indicative of poor design. Good design that is also attractive or appealing is worth pursuing.

      Information design can help people understand data. Understanding is also a good thing in busines, eh? Very practical.
      http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=hans_rosling

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      1. David Halitsky
        then I promise to read all of your references.

        One of the many points JKG makes in this book is how advertising is critical to car manufacturers because it costs them so much to ramp-up and retool a line for a new vehicle that they MUST have some guarantee of a mass-market ready to buy the new vehicle.

        So you might want to consider how JKG’s point relates to the way in which software companies now choose to divvy up their development resources between “bling” and “ding” (I’m punning here on the Kantian expression “ding an sich” = “thing in and of itself”.)

        Also related to this matter is how proud Ford was that their new Taurus (back in the last century) included a coffee-cup holder, because their focus-group studies indicated that this would be really important and help to sell the car.

        And yup – Ford is doing just fine now, ain’t it ?

        Best regards
        djh

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