Deploying WCI API applications without the portal installed

Many of you have developed WebCenter Interaction portlets (and ALUI before that, and Plumtree before that), and you likely know the difference between the WebCenter Interaction Development Kit (IDK) and the Portal Server API. The difference is pretty straightforward: the IDK provides a relatively simple way to get started and provides Portal Remote Calls (PRC) to manipulate various objects. But it’s not all that powerful, and there are a LOT of things you simply can’t do with the PRC. That’s where the Server API comes in: it can pretty much do anything the portal itself can, but it is significantly more involved to setup. This has to do with how they both work:

  • The IDK / PRC makes remote SOAP calls to the WS API server in the portal stack. The WS API server (and, in some cases, Collaboration Server or Publisher Server) are the services that actually do the heavy lifting, like manipulating the database.
  • The API, on the other hand, is essentially a fully working portal loaded using either .jars (Java) or .DLLs (.NET), so it has full access to do anything the portal can, but also needs all the portal configuration files and secondary libraries (such as for the search server) installed on the machine.

The easiest way to use the API on a remote server is to install a portal component such as the portal itself, or Automation Server. But in some cases, this isn’t desirable; you just want your application running on the remote tier without actually installing the portal. In this case, you will need to do a pseudo-install by copying all the correct files to your portlet server, updating the configuration properly, and setting various environment variables so the portal code can find the files it needs. I should also point out that there is no harm in using Java files on the remote tier even if you’re using a .NET portal; the code is the same, and fundamentally serves the same purpose – handling updates to the database.

So, here’s a quick guide on how to set up a portlet on a remote server that doesn’t have the portal installed:

  1. Make sure your application has the same .jar files (or .dlls, if it’s a .NET app) as the portal is using in your environment: you want to make sure that your remote libraries are exactly the same as the portal libraries so they do the same thing when run.
  2. Copy the ptportal, settings, and common directories from %PT_HOME% on one of your portal servers┬áto a folder on your remote server – in my case, I’m using C:\integryst\, so you should have the following subfolders:
    1. c:\integryst\ptportal
    2. c:\integryst\settings
    3. c:\integryst\common
  3. Update c:\integryst\settings\configuration.xml: replace all instances of c:\bea\alui\ptportal\10.3.0\webapp with c:\integryst (or whatever source/destination folders you’re using). Also, replace the original machine name with the remote server’s machine name.
  4. Set the following environment variables:
    1. ICU_PATH=C:\integryst\common\icu\2.6\bin\native
    2. INXIGHT_PATH=C:\integryst\common\inxight\3.7.7\bin\native
    3. OUTSIDEIN_PATH=C:\integryst\common\outsidein\8.1.9\bin\native
    4. PORTALLIB_PATH=C:\integryst\ptportal\10.3.0\bin\native
    5. PORTAL_HOME=C:\integryst\ptportal\10.3.0
    6. PTHREADS_PATH=C:\integryst\common\pthreads\2002.11.04\bin\native
    7. PT_HOME=C:\integryst
    8. PATH= C:\integryst\ptportal\10.3.0\bin\native; C:\integryst\common\pthreads\2002.11.04\bin\native; C:\integryst\common\outsidein\8.1.9\bin\native; C:\integryst\common\inxight\3.7.7\bin\native; C:\integryst\common\icu\2.6\bin\native;

… and that should do it! Now, when you run your application, if you have PTSpy installed (or even if you don’t), you should see messages in there when the app starts up that look just like the portal startup messages, because that’s essentially what you’re doing in your code – loading the entire portal and leveraging any APIs that are available to the portal itself!

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