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Best Practices from Oracle Development's A‑Team

An alternate approach to integrating WebCenter Sites with WebCenter Portal

Michael Sullivan
Principal Cloud Solutions Architect

Over the years there have been many attempts at integrating WebCenter Sites with WebCenter Portal (and vice versa). None of these attempts were without significant issues and none have met with wide acceptance in the field.

This blog post suggests a very simple pattern that would provide a lot of value for many clients. The primary goal here is not to attempt to propose an "all encompassing" integration that does everything. Instead, it does one thing very well and uses both products for what they are good at.

A few data points:

  1. 1.) WebCenter Portal integrates nicely with WebCenter Content and is a well-understood pattern
  2. 2.) While WebCenter Sites is "known" for its dynamic behaviors, clients still need and use WebCenter Sites for managing and delivering lots of aggregated static content e.g. White Papers, Press Releases, Events, Articles, Images, etc.
  3. 3.) Such aggregated static content is straightforward to export for ingestion into other systems (e.g. WCC)

It should be obvious where I'm going with this: one of the primary use cases for WebCenter Sites is to provide aggregated static content for re-use by WebCenter Portal. Yet most integrations to date have focused on either getting dynamic WCS content to be rendered within the Portal or to get dynamic portlets to be somehow be made reusable on other rendering frameworks. Given that the technical hurdles on integrating the two products at the dynamic/stateful level are significant, the rest of this blog will deal with the less-sexy but just as viable "Static WCS-managed content repurposed on WebCenter Portal" pattern.

Background

This blog is in reality just another extension of the "Three Patterns for Integrating WebCenter Sites with Oracle Commerce" technical white paper published in August 2014 here on the A-Team Chronicles blog. You should study this document as the details described within that document pertain directly to what is being proposed here in this blog post. The details are not duplicated here in this blog post. Link here: Three Patterns for integrating Webcenter Sites with Oracle Commerce

In the aforementioned document, if one were to globally replace "Oracle Commerce" with "WebCenter Portal" and "Oracle Commerce Guided Search" (i.e. Endeca) with "WebCenter Content", you would then have the gist of the patterns/use cases needed to support either:

  • Pattern 1: WebCenter Sites as a backend CMS for WebCenter Portal, or
  • Side-by-side: WebCenter Sites serving its own pages and WebCenter Portal serving its own pages in a side-by-side manner

The core pattern leveraged in this integration is simple:

WebCenter Sites publishes aggregated content and its metadata to WebCenter Content. Once the content is in WCC then the "normal" WCC + WCP integrations described in other Oracle documents, blogs, and white papers are implemented.

Note: the specific integrations between WCC and WCP are not redundantly documented here.

The following diagram shows how the the core CommerceExport DeliveryType mechanism as detailed in the "Three Patterns..." White paper is repurposed to enable a flexible WebCenter Sites integration with WebCenter Portal without the usual downsides.

sites-+-portal-integration

What is exported to WCC?

If we are only talking about the need to support Pattern 1, then each Sites-populated WCC record should contain the following:

  • metadata about the content
  • security group(s) (we recommend a mapping between each WCS "site" that an asset belongs to and a corresponding WCC security group)
  • the actual aggregated content via a renderer as per the Pattern1 diagram in the white paper. Note: any embedded links must be either to a Portal page or an external page since there are no WCS-rendered visitor pages in Pattern 1

If we are talking about the more complex side-by-side deployment where links embedded in the rendered content shown on a Portal page take you to a Sites webpage, the the WCC record should contain the following:

  • metadata about the content
  • security group(s) (we recommend a mapping between each WCS "site" that an asset belongs to and a corresponding WCC security group)
  • the actual aggregated content via a renderer as per the Pattern 2 diagram in the white paper. Note: we assume that any embedded links would generally take a Portal visitor back to the WCS-rendered website.

Given that the proposed solution leverages and builds upon the concept of renditions as described in detail in the "Three Patterns for Integrating WebCenter Sites and Oracle Commerce" white paper, we can envision all sorts of "renditions" that might be of use to WebCenter Portal including but not limited to the following:

  • Individual Articles and their related content
  • Individual Videos and their related content
  • Individual Documents and their related content
  • Individual Images in various sizes
  • Various lists of the above assets, optionally on a per segment basis (where segment = Portal user's ACL)
  • Various aggregations of content such as:
  • Global Header
  • Global Footer
  • Global Navigation

Note that in the case of lists and other aggregates, it might be required that the list, hierarchy, or navigation should be provided as a JSON or XML data structure for a particular portlet to do the actual rendering (perhaps adding to or removing items per visitor ACL). This is straightforward as the concepts of renditions do not preclude the rendering of plain text, html, xml, json, or whatever.

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