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Getting started with the WebSphere Portal Toolkit

Learn how to accomplish the challenging task of setting up the WebSphere Studio and Portal Toolkit for creating, testing and interactively debugging portlets for WebSphere Portal.

In last month's tip, you learned about the various features and functions of WebSphere Portal. This month, the focus turns to the challenging task of setting up the WebSphere Studio and Portal Toolkit for creating, testing and interactively debugging portlets for WebSphere Portal.

Setting up Studio and Portal Toolkit involves a number of steps that most people don't even realize they need to do -- until they attempt to actually use their "installed" Toolkit. That's when they find out they've missed some things. Here's one clue as to whether you've done it right or not: It should take close to four hours to get the Studio installed and the Toolkit downloaded and configured. That's because while the Studio preparation itself is only about 20 minutes, getting the Toolkit ready to use (downloading and applying a plethora of FixPacks and eFixes) takes more than three hours. If your installation process took only an hour or so, odds are you're missing some critical files in your Toolkit installation.

Think we're crazy, or maybe just overly picky about some unnecessary details? Well, let's go through the steps and we'll show you.

Step 1: Get the software

The WebSphere Studio Site Developer (WSSD), the preferred development tool for WebSphere Portal, ships with WebSphere Portal. The Portal Toolkit, which is essentially an extension to WebSphere Studio, provides wizards, tools and editors for designing, debugging and deploying portlets. It ships on the WebSphere Portal CD and can also be downloaded here. Make sure to use the version of Studio that is supported by the version of the Toolkit that you are using. For this particular column, we'll be referring to Portal Toolkit 5.0.2.2 and WSSD 5.1.2. You can see a list of which versions of the Portal Toolkit are supported for use with which versions of WSSD at the above link. Selecting the right versions up front will save you a lot of heartache later.

Step 2: Prepare Studio

If you have the Studio CD, you don't need to download any other files. If you don't have the CD, then you need to download three key files, WSEXTRACT.exe for creating the install image, C57HNML.BIN, with the core installation files, and C57HQML.BIN, with the WebSphere Application Server Test Environment. Run the WSEXTRACT.exe program to prepare an install image for Studio.

Step 3: Install Studio

If you have everything on CD, insert Disk 1. If you've downloaded the files, open the "disk1" directory. Then double-click on "launchpad.exe" to begin the installation process. To launch the installer, click on the "Install IBM WebSphere Studio Site Developer" icon, accept the licensing terms and specify the directory for installation. Then deselectt the additional components you're prompted to install (the "WebSphere Test Environment" and "Additional Features") as you'll install those later with the Portal Toolkit. Click "Next" for the Install Summary screen and then again to start the installation, which takes about 20 minutes. Afterwards, double-click on the "Site Developer 5.1.2" desktop icon, enter a directory name for your Java projects, and WebSphere Studio will launch. In preparation for installing the Portal Toolkit, close WebSphere Studio.

Step 4: Prepare the Portal Toolkit

Now comes the fun part. First, you must download the Portal Toolkit Installer, which comes in three files -- ReadmeWin, pk5022win and RequiredWin -- to create a base install image. After you've downloaded them, run the pk5022win program, which launches an Install Image creator. Select the directory name, verify that the "Core installation files" is selected, and the wizard will copy the files to the installation directory. Note that at this point the base install image does NOT contain any of the required FixPacks and eFixes. Under the base install directory you'll find a subdirectory called WTE_setup which contains the WTE_setup.html file (WTE stands for WebSphere Test Environment). This file contains detailed instructions on what must be downloaded to which directory, how those files should be unpacked, and how to verify the contents of the directory. This whole process will take about two hours.

If you don't do these additional downloads, the Toolkit can be installed and will appear to work, but your portlets may or may not test and debug correctly. Without the FixPacks and eFixes the development environment does not accurately reproduce the production environment. If you're lucky, your portlets will run just fine. If you're unlucky, your portlets could work just fine in the development environment but not on the production server. Worst case, you could spend hours trying to debug a portlet due to a product issue that is solved by a FixPack or eFix. Here's the upside; once you've downloaded and applied the FixPacks and eFixes, you have what's called a prepared install image that you can use to install the Portal Toolkit as many times as you want.

Bottom line: Bite the bullet. Do this once and save the files so that you can perform additional installations with the prepared install image.

Step 5: Install the Portal Toolkit

Congratulations -- you made it to the final installation phase! This last step is an easy one. First, double-click on the Setup program in the installation directory. After accepting the terms of the license agreement, you'll then be prompted to select the components you want to install. For Portal V5, select "Portal Toolkit V5.0.2.2" and "WebSphere Portal V5.0 for Test Environment." The Installer will show the location of the WebSphere Studio directory, into which is will install the files, and you just click "Next" to start the install, which will take from 90 to 120 minutes. The reason that it takes a long time to install is because the installer not only has to copy the files, but also has to apply the FixPacks and eFixes, which is a very CPU-intensive process. When it's finished, double-click on the Site Developer 5.1.2 icon on your desktop. Studio will then ask you to confirm the installation of the Toolkit, and you simply click "Finish" to accept the changes and "Yes" to restart WebSphere Studio.

Voila: You're done. It's not a quick, or easy, process, but the bright side is that, once you're done, you've got a working WebSphere Studio and Portal Toolkit, which provide the best tools for building, testing and debugging portlet applications. Using Studio and Toolkit will enable you to produce portlets that follow industry standards and best practices in coding. They also provide you with key productivity tools at your fingertips which will speed your portlet application development time dramatically compared to using a third-party Java development environment.

About the authors:

Tony Higham is the chief solutions officer at FatWire Software and an expert on Lotus, WebSphere and Java technologies. He can be reached at tony.higham@fatwire.com.

Sue Hildreth is a contributing writer and editor based in Waltham, Mass. She can be reached at sue.hildreth@comcast.net.

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