Open Source Portals Comparison

In an earlier posting, I had written some observations about Liferay and Jetspeed. After that, I’ve spent some more time playing around with Liferay and recently launched Jboss.

Like my previous post, I will try and keep this also a *living* post i.e., I will keep updating it as and when possible.

JBoss is written with JSR 168 in mind. However, it can only be installed on Jboss application server. With an open source product, I would have thought vendor-lockin to be the least of all issues!! There are a few out-of-box portlets like User and Role portlet, CMS and AdminCMS Portlets, Permissions portlet and a Forums portlet. The CMS features are very minimal. I am not even sure why they call it a CMS portlet because all that one can do is create html pages using a rich text editor and do some file manipulation activities (create directory, move and copy files and so on). My feeling is that instead of a sophisticated portal server, JBoss aims to provide a robust JSR 168 portlet container that takes advantage of possibly the best known open source application server. Nothing wrong with that approach though.

Liferay on the other hand can run on any servlet container, starting from Tomcat to full application servers like BEA and JBoss. It is JSR 168 compliant and has a large number of sample portlets. The CMS portlet is more feature rich than that of JBoss in the sense that one can create custom content types and own templates. This helps separate content form its presentation. It is also very easy to create new pages and add them automatically to the navigation bar.

Updated July 27, 2005

Liferay announced release of version 3.5. There is a review here. There are some new themes and cool features. The one i liked are the navigation portlet and the fact that there can be multiple instances of same portlet. The navigation portlet is very useful for us because it helps me create a multi-level navigation menu very *easily*.

Updated Aug 01, 2005
There is an excellent review of Liferay 3.5 here

Updated Aug 19, 2005
Liferay has released version 3.6. It has a cool drag and drop using which one can position portlets into different areas of the layout.

10 thoughts on “Open Source Portals Comparison”

  1. Hello
    Would you mind considering magnolia as well in your comparison. i think jsr-170 and magnolia are import for now and the future.

    founder and head of magnolia organization

  2. Despite the fact that liferay is best “free” java based tool out there with plenty of applications, there is no documentation available. The website itself has some explination of given portlets but thats it.

    I have seen people asking “how to remove the minimize button” without anyone answering.

    Wish they write a book on this and make it little easy to work with the tool instead of digging through the code to find how to do something simple….

    Also the forums are waist, everyone has a questions but rare answers…


  3. Hi,

    I am planning to use an Open Source Portal Product and after going through all the Reviews it looks like the ones we can consider are

    Jet Speed2

    I would like to know info reg the following for each of the abve listed Products..

    1) How up to date is the Documentation ? Or is the Documentation posted on the Sites is usable at all ??
    2) Ease of Use or How Steep is the Learning Curve
    3) Few guys complained abt the Architecture on which the LifeRay was built. Could u eloberate on this ..
    4) Scalability ..Looks like LifeRay got an Adnvatage then others as many Applications (with huge users) are developed which are live..

    Are there any Drawbacks with GridSphere..?


  4. To Sateesh: I’ve been using liferay and what Javed said is spot on. It is an impressive product from a user perspective, and easy to set up out of the box, but if you want to customize it is very hard to track things down, and the forum community is almost non-existent. I think they want you to purchase support … can’t blame them, but I’m moving on, likely to eXo.

  5. Hi there,

    I would like to know any live project you guys have done using Liferay. If yes, what is the learning curve required? Did you had to take consultancy from liferay itself or how did you figure out customization issues?

    It would be interesting to know all these points before we conclude the products support to JSR-168 and 170.



  6. I think liferay is very impressive portal we are planning to building portlets using advantages of it’s extension environment.
    its documentation is very useful for setting up development environment on multiple web containers such as Tomcat ,JBoss etc.
    but examples are very trivial , it’s more useful if they try to explain their demo portlets implementation ,in this case I’m sure they will won a wide acceptance so developers can learn its powerful features ..
    one note for Mr rjcarr: they mustn’t worry too much about support they will have it when developers choose their product, and well documentation is the key isn’t true?

  7. hi all

    can any one tell me how can i craete a simple portalet in gridsphere in which data retrived from database and it disply in gridsphere


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