myUMBC redesign coming along

What’s this… a rare work-related entry on a weekend??

Well, it is the weekend, but I’m hacking on the portal anyhow, to get ready for our relaunch this August. It’s coming along marvelously, thanks mainly to Collier, but I’ve been busy with it too. The relaunch will include:

  • A complete redesign of the front end (users will think we did something 😉
  • Framework upgrade from uPortal 2.4.3 to uPortal 2.5.2
  • Switch layout managers from Aggregated Layouts (ALM) to Distributed Layout Manager (DLM)
  • A flexible development environment (built around CVS) that accommodates multiple developers and makes it easy to deploy from scratch

It’s an ambitious undertaking given the time frame, but it’s really coming together amazingly well. The new portal instance is up and running on our test server. Today, I got our “Local Connection Context,” (which provides connectivity to the legacy myUMBC perl codebase via web proxy channels) working. There were a couple “gotchas” with doing this. First off, I made the executive decision to point the test-instance web proxy channels at the production SIS data. Yeah, we do have a development SIS instance, but it’s a little too rough-around-the-edges to use for this purpose. For example, there’s no (reliable) FastCGI version running, and using the standard CGI stuff would absolutely kill the performance. And, we’re not really concerned with testing the SIS stuff on the test portal instance — we’re really more concerned with ensuring that the SIS stuff renders properly. To that end, it makes more sense to point to the stable, production SIS code, to get the closest approximation to what would be running in prod anyhow.

Doing this raises a problem, though — the portal is connected to the DEVL Oracle instance, but to render production content, I also need a connection to the PROD instance. In production, I only need one database connection; in devl/test, I’m going to need two. I handled this by adding an additional JNDI data source for the prod database, and adding code to the connection context to read the data source info out of a properties file. I called the data source ProdPortalDb (it’s defined in /properties/uPortal55.xml), and the properties file is /properties/myumbc.properties.

Stay tuned for more.

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