Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.
Corporate portals & Frontier
Author: erik Posted: 9/9/1999; 3:07:43 PM Topic: Corporate portals & Frontier Msg #: 10835 Prev/Next: 10834 / 10836
There are many facets to a corporate portal that enables employees to work more effectively on an intranet. From what I can tell, some of the important facets include
Of course performance is a critical aspect of a portal. People who grew up with the frenzied pace of post-modern life will not wait more than a few seconds for a web page to display before pressing cancel and going somewhere else. The key portal capabilities needs to be displayed at Yahoo-type speeds. Do I need a farm of Pentium IIIs to achieve fast dynamically-built content with F6?
- Personalization / role-based profiling. Some personalization can easily be done with F6's my.userland kit and the membership capabilities. There is a lot of discussion about portals and role-based profiling amongst the analyst community, and providing different views of all the available information based on one's role surely would save a lot of time for many people. Have you thought about tailoring the my.userland setup based on the user's profile? You could have "interests" popup menu which then would trigger an automatic set of channels to be selected for the new user. As it stands I have to bring up many of the channels at my.userland because the channel names are in many cases completely inadequate or even misleading for communicating what they are about (which is not your fault). In general, it would be nice if someone other than the Frontier administrator could add new membership groups, etc.
- Universal Data Access / Application integration. One of the big attractions of portals is providing one-stop shopping for all the informational resources available on the intranet/internet. While anyone can now create a newsfeed using Frontier, these days newsfeeds are a dime a dozen. I need to be able to integrate both structured and unstructured data into my one-stop shopping web page. How can I get Outlook or SAP to be just another module on the F6-served web page? Eventually, portals' direction might even include a portal-based page becoming the desktop. Furthermore, a really intelligent portal should go out and locate new information sources--maybe by crawling the intranet? I'm not sure how Frontier helps me to do this.
- Security / permissioning. If one is to make a multitude of info sources and applications available in "one-stop shopping" portal, then the portal has to understand multiple security domains and meld them into an overarching structure. How can Frontier help me address this? Does it have any awareness of network security domains (in my company, it's a mix of NT and IP security domains, plus innumerable application usernames/passwords)? If one wants to use Frontier in this way, surely a better way of storing user's passwords in the membership system is needed? But that last question's only one water molecule of the security iceberg.
- Dictionaries / Taxonomy. It's all too easy to have the same document categorized one way in the US, another way in Europe. The answer it seems is to have a taxonomy scheme. That way not only can synonyms be chosen at document submission time, but they can be used to make searching work much more effectively. However a taxonomy it seems doesn't work well when imposed from on high, but instead grows from contributions of many different kinds of workers. Another thing to build from scratch in Frontier? What I would love to see is a web page that enables you to do DMOZ style categorization of objects being managed by F6. How many person-months would you guess this would take to build?
- Directory / Search. Two different and useful approaches to finding documents: AltaVista style search and a Yahoo-style directory. I don't see Frontier OOTB as providing AltaVista quality search capabilities, but clearly you could write something in Frontier which could address both modes. Whether it would be a good use of time is an open question.
While I spent some cycles building a demo of a personalized corporate portal using Frontier, some of the above areas do not seem to be easily addressed using Frontier out of the box. Yes, with enough coding and *time* you could do anything, but I'm more interested in starting with a fair amount of functionality and spending my cycles customizing to my environment, not creating the basic functionality. There's no need to reinvent AltaVista's NI-based index search or web crawler for instance, it should be built in or easily added on with a plugin.
So my point is, are you positioning Frontier these days as more of a editorial / weblog / news oriented toolbox, and less of a portal-building toolset? The focus recently seems to be more to the former.
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