Web services portal standard approved

The OASIS standards consortium has approved a standard that members say will make it easier and cheaper to publish data on Web portals.

Last Thursday, OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, announced that its members have approved Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) version 1.0 as a standard to connect sources of content including real-time news, stock quotes and weather information, to portals using Web services.

WSRP eliminates the need for content aggregators to choose between having to host a content source at the location of the portal server or having writing different code for each remote content source, according to OASIS. Instead, WSRP would allow developers to write portal applications, called portlets, in the environment they like, without having to write new code for every proprietary portal.

"It takes enormous cost out of the equation," said Rich Thompson, chairman of the OASIS WSRP Technical Committee. "You also have the ability to get (content) out to a much larger audience very quickly."

WSRP allows remote portlet Web services to be created in several ways, such as using Java/J2EE or Microsoft's .NET platform.

Web portals can include consumer-oriented Web sites, such as Yahoo.com, as well as corporate internal information sites.

Support for WSRP is already available in a corporate portal product offered by Plumtree Software of San Francisco, Thompson noted, and other vendors are looking at offering WSRP-compatible portal software. There is also some interest from the Apache open source community, he added.

Twenty-five OASIS member companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Novell, and Vignette, helped work on the WSRP standard.

Several OASIS members praised the release of the WSRP standard."By providing a 'plug-n-play' standard that enables developers to capture portal content from compliant sources and make that content available to users in readily accessible portlets, WSRP unleashes the full potential power of Web services," Dmitri Tcherevik, vice president and director of Web services at Computer Associates International Inc., said in a statement.

Laura Ramos, a portal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., called the standard a "good first step in producing standards in the portal marketplace."

The standard should be welcomed by developers creating applications for portals as a way to write once, deploy everywhere, Ramos said. "This helps them create one portlet that works in many portals," she added.

But the WSRP standard is just one of many standards portal developers need, Ramos said. OASIS is also working on JSR (Java Specification Request) 168, created for standard portlet APIs (application programming interfaces) but cross-portal interoperability still needs standards for such functions as informational retrieval, content management, and user management, she said.

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