If you go to the open-source development site sourceforge.net and search on the term “portal,” you’ll get hundreds of hits. In fact, you could reasonably argue that, when it comes to open-source enterprise applications, portals have been the biggest success story.
In addition to being highly effective and capable on their own, open-source portals have served to demonstrate the effectiveness of other open-source technologies, especially the MySQL database and the PHP scripting language. This is clearly illustrated in probably the most popular open-source portal application, PHP-Nuke (www.phpnuke.org), which is easily customized and includes pretty much any feature you would want from a portal, including content and document management, forums, chat, and blogging. PHP-Nuke has spawned additional open-source portals, including PostNuke (www.postnuke.com).
Portals of comparable quality based on other platforms are fewer and farther between, but you won’t have to look too hard.
Many very good open-source portals are based on JavaServer technology, including Liferay LLC’s Liferay Portal (www.liferay.com), Magnolia (www.magnolia.info) and The Exo Platform SARL’s Exo Platform 1.0. Perhaps surprisingly, there are also many good open-source portals based on Microsoft Corp.’s .Net platform. One excellent example is DotNetNuke (www.dotnetnuke.com). Even the venerable Perl language has portal applications, such as the code that runs the popular Slashdot site.
Click here to read Labs’ review of Exo Platform 1.0.
And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the best open-source portal options available, a product that has garnered eWEEK Labs Analyst’s Choice recognition: Plone (www.plone.org), which is based on the Python language and Zope Corp.’s Zope application server.
The list could go on and on, with many excellent portal applications working on almost any platform and on any language. And many of these aren’t simply proof-of-concept but can be found running many business sites and on large company intranets. A quick search through the user lists of many open-source portal applications reveals government agencies, nonprofit organizations and very large businesses using open-source portals for core activities and sites.
In addition, while some of these open-source portals are on the small, individual developer side of the open-source movement, many have a company backing the application and have multiple professional consultants and integrators trained on deploying and supporting the open-source portal platform.
Companies no longer have to fear going it alone with an open-source application; instead, they can get the type of support and reliability they have come to expect from commercial vendors.