The new version of WebSphere Portal will be released at the end of the month, IBM says, and will feature updates intended to make it easier for users, including non-technical types, to develop and integrate Web portal technologies.
WebSphere Portal 5.02 will have many of the capabilities found in Lotus Workplace Web Content Management that allow users to create, publish, manage and archive Web-based content in Internet and corporate intranet environments.
Portals provide a single point of access to information. They allow businesses to operate faster and more efficiently by letting people access information and communicate across different systems in real time via a Web browser.
Last week, IBM announced the release of four products in its Workplace line, the company's open-standards platform. Lotus Workplace 1.1 now features components for e-mail, collaboration, content management and learning.
IBM Lotus Workplace Web Content Management 1.1 lets non-technical users publish material within the Workplace environment, on a portal or on an application server. The application is the result of this summer's acquisitions of Australian content-management provider Aptrix.
In addition, IBM has added features that give users the ability to import and export Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word files, as well as IBM Lotus 1-2-3 and Lotus Freelance files.
"This is a very much-improved interface," said Tim Thatcher, program director of portal products at IBM.
Additional updates include enhanced support for Oracle applications via the WebSphere Portal Application Integrator tool. The product extends customers' ability to access enterprise applications. For example, because the tool extends access to Oracle's human resources, finance and manufacturing applications, a business can bring Oracle access to its employees in a centralized and integrated environment.
This is a tool for the HR manager who understands the HR process very well, but not HTML programming, Thatcher said: "We've created a tool to help that HR manager build portlets. There's no programming involved."
IBM is also improving upon WebSphere Portal's productivity tools, which allow users to view, create, convert and edit basic text files, spreadsheets and presentations without having to leave the portal environment.
In addition, IBM has said that its WebSphere Portal Catalog now has over 1,200 solutions and services that allow users to build and deploy portlets that provide easier access to corporate applications such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management.
Software companies offering services for WebSphere Portal will now be able to make them available worldwide via the WebSphere Portal Catalog. By being able to access services via the catalog, IBM's customers will have access to technology expertise, such as consulting, designing, developing and integrating portal solutions.
IBM said that more than 200 software companies are developing portlets for WebSphere Portal, including 38 software companies that have recently agreed to create portlets to more tightly link their software applications to WebSphere Portal technology for a broad range of industries.
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