Portal Quiz: What is WSRP?

February 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Fun, portals, Standards | 4 Comments

OK, it’s time for a portal quiz: What is WSRP?

Possible answers:

A. A Spanish-language AM radio station in Jacksonville, North Carolina

B. The Republican party state branch covering Microsoft headquarters

C. Web Services for Remote Portlets

D. A research project related to the biblical times of West Semitic peoples

It’s a trick question of course – they’re all true.  If you don’t believe me, see here, here, here, and here (for a fascinating treasure map from biblical times called the “Copper Scroll”!).

Well, now that I lay it out that way, my chosen topic for today – the Web Services for Remote Portlets standard – seems pretty boring.  But I’ll try to carry on.  A rating category called “standards support” has found its way into most portal evaluations I’ve ever helped with.  And WSRP support is usually on there.  Things get murkier when I ask what they really plan on doing with it:  “Well, we’re very into standards here … architectural guidance to use web services … there are a few different portal products in house that we may need to talk together …”

Unfortunately, WSRP shouldn’t just be a quick checkbox item on evaluations. WSRP can be useful, but in a limited set of use cases where it applies. And even if one of those use cases applies, you’ll also need guidance on how security, trust, UI frameworks, and optional services should be used. Usually if you’re just trying to solve portal proliferation problems, developing RESTful services for applications (or RSS/Atom for content) and then writing “last mile” portlets for each portal works better.

So what are those use cases where WSRP makes sense?  I did some digging and found three that hold water:

1. Syndicating a Branded Portlet to Users on Platforms Outside The Syndicator’s Control: This is where it’s not enough to just make the information easily usable in multiple portals, but the branding with it (the exact style, layout, colors, etc) is important too. But keep in mind that there are other choices (like Flash) if branding or formatting integrity—not the formalism associated with a portlet—is all you need.

2. Developing a “Portal of Portals”: If you want to create a new portal from portlets of existing portals, you could use WSRP wrappers to do this.

3. Exposing Portlets from Another Platform the Development Team Doesn’t Know: Are you Java based and your .NET programmers won’t talk to you?  Have them give you WSRP portlets instead of Web Parts and you’ll get along much better.

Now that I’m done with WSRP, you can get on to finding that ancient treasure. Let’s see … “In the Second Enclosure, in the underground passage that looks east…”

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