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    Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development, enterprise architecture and policy

Geospatial Portals

Posted by Dave Smith On 12/23/2005 08:52:00 AM 3 comments

With apologies to Gilda Radner's "Emily Litella" character from the classic SNL, "What's all this fuss about Geospatial Portals"?

Of late, left and right I have been running into portals and folks talking about portals. Problem is, everyone seems to be talking about something different from the next person.

In most instances the GIS analyst community is talking about portals in terms of a gateway to geospatial data and services, ala the Geospatial One Stop (GOS) portal, whereas some GIS developers are instead talking about portlet-based geospatial applications, and some are talking about varying combinations of the two, drawing on the portlet-based implementation of the GOS2 version versus the ESRI GIS Portal Toolkit (GPT)...

Even when we are talking about portlets, the discussion varies, with competing platforms like IBM Websphere and Oracle IAS even running side-by-side within the same enterprise, though with different applications. Sure, people suggest that Java-based portals and the JSR-168 standard for portlet-to-portlet communications make things interoperable, but the realities are still far from concrete. At risk of incurring the wrath of the Open-Source J2EE community, I have to say that even these have their not-insubstantial issues when it comes to platform, infrastructure and interoperability. Thank the Gods for XML and Web Services.

Certainly tools like the Oracle Portal Developer Kit (PDK) claim to offer quick portlet-enabling of legacy applications, via web clipping- where this is nice for some applications, however the reality is there are no guarantees and as a bare minimum, the JavaScript typically needs to be reworked. For nice GIS UI features, like rubber-band zooms, the hope is that the JavaScript can be saved to some extent and re-applied in the portlet implementation. Additionally, if going to a "sexy" new portlet-based look and feel, this presents the opportunity to look at AJAX and web services...

So in the meanwhile, portlet-based implementations of slick or robust GIS applications may not yet be there.

I think portals and portlet development have come a long way, but I think a true fusion of GIS, AJAX and SOA is still to come from intrepid developers.

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3 Response for the " Geospatial Portals "

  1. You should really check out Liferay Enterprise Portal...

  2. Thanks for the comments, James... and I did look at Liferay portal- Looks good, but I think a really valuable endeavor to leverage Open Source in portal applications development would be true portlet interoperability...

    At present, I'm still tied to vendor-specific platforms as enterprise legacy.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Should also check out Compusult's Web Enterprise Suite -X