Friday, February 13, 2009

Pointing to a specific Activity using the Portal Bookmark portlet

Today we tried to create a landing page for a Portal with integrated Connections. The landing page should contain a link to give feedback. Since it is a PoC we'd like to use an Activity for collecting feedback to demonstrate the various usage possibilites for Lotus Connections. The link to the feedback activity should have been provided in the Bookmark portlet of WebSphere Portal. However, we encountered a minor issue for which we found a solution.

The problem was, that the URL to the Activity contained a comma character respectively the octet encoding of it (%2C). Although this format is conforming with URL RFC 1738 (paragraph 2.2.) the Bookmark portlet refused to accept this URL stating the URL was not valid.

However, we found a workaround for that. We created a Portal URL page pointing to the feedback activity and put this URL page underneath the Activities URL page in the portal page structure so that it remains invisble. We assigned a uniquename to this URL page pointing to the Feedback Activity and created a bookmark in the bookmark portlet that pointed to the Portal URL page for the Feedback Activity. Thats it. The uniquename is required, otherwise this URL page would not be selectable as portal internal page in the Bookmark portlet.

By the way, I like the approach of collecting feedback using an Activity. The users can comment on existing feedback, agree, disagree. The feedback can be given in a structured way, like technical feedback, opinions, enhancement requests, and the users could even post files. The receivers of the feedback can give answers directly to the posts and users could easily subscribe to updates to stay informed about what's going on. And the best of all: it's usable out-of-the-box, we did not need to create a custom feedback form :)

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