IBM announced last week the next version of its WebSphere Portal software, which has more useful features built directly into the product.
WebSphere Portal 4.2, expected to be available at the end of next month, provides better compatibility with IBM and non-IBM databases and directories, as well as improved people awareness for better collaboration.
This latest iteration is geared toward helping portal users become better aware of colleagues who are online by making it possible to detect co-workers or partners who are simultaneously viewing the same portlet interface or working with identical portlets, according to IBM officials, in Armonk, N.Y. A new productivity tool in the portal also makes it possible for non-knowledge workers—those employees on the factory floor, for instance—to manipulate the portal.
A Click-to-Action feature, which had been available separately as a downloadable feature, is included in Version 4.2. Click-to-Action enables portlets from multiple vendors to communicate with one another about a given topic.
With Version 4.2, IBM is integrating its Content Manager with WebSphere Portal content publishing, which will enable portal users to find, create, store, reuse and publish a bevy of media content from a single enterprise content management repository to public or private portals.
Version 5.0 of WebSphere Portal, expected in the middle of next year, will come with free components that developers can embed in the portal application to create, view and edit rich text, spreadsheets and presentations.
IBM also announced last week a beta program that will begin in January and will test selected embedded components that will be incorporated in a future version of WebSphere Portal. The reusable components are part of IBMs recently announced On Demand computing initiative, whereby companies will have the ability to respond to any customer demand, market opportunity or threat.
The components will operate across all WebSphere Portal platforms and support Linux and Windows clients.
"The most interesting feature is not in the 4.2 product; it will be in the 5.0 release," said Amy Wohl, president of Wohl Associates Inc., a research company in Narberth, Pa. "Those are a set of tools that includes a rich-text editor, a lightweight spreadsheet and a presentation tool that allows developers to build those as elements into the portal."