Sunday, August 1, 1999

Using Domino to build a corporate portal

HOW WE DID IT

By Kevin Terry

It's hard to open an IT magazine today and not find an article on "corporate portals". They are hot news. Numerous portal products are available which classify, publish, and search your documents -- managing the entire process.

But if you already use Domino at your company, there's no need to purchase a separate product. Domino can do all that, and give you the flexibility to design your own portal exactly as you want, with the added plus of the power of workflow.

We build such a portal for our company, Sterling Software. In this article, I'll give you an overview of our Application Development Division portal, tell you how it was built using Domino, and give you some tips along the way.

Overview

Sterling Software's Application Development Division portal Web site is called "COOL Inside". The main purpose of the site is to provide access to information of interest to all employees and especially to the employees in the field: sales, and consulting.

The site started as a knowledge-sharing site using Notes 4.51 in 1996 in the Texas Instruments Software business. The site became COOL Inside after the July 1997 acquisition by Sterling Software. The product family name is COOL, COOL:Biz, COOL:Gen, COOL:Jex, and so on, just so the site name makes some sense. It now includes sections with information on Products, Sales Tools, Marketing, Employee Resource, Labs, Finance & Administration, and an expanded Knowledge Sharing area with a discussion.

Architecture and tools

COOL Inside runs on a Windows NT 4.0 266 MHz dual processor machine with 256 MB of memory. Two Web servers are utilized, an IIS (Internet Information Server) 4.0 Web server running on port 80 and the Notes 4.62 server running the Domino Web Server on port 8080. FrontPage 98 is used to publish documents to the IIS server. The Domino SMTP server is used to forward mail to our internal Exchange mail servers.

Templates

Using a Notes template database is key to having a consistent look and feel throughout the site. It also makes it very easy to make changes. A template database is used to build and update all databases on the site. It contains the following:

  • Sub-forms for form header and footer;
  • Sub-forms for view header and footer;
  • Sub-forms for area home page, which contains the form header sub-form, a title sub-form, links sub-form, embedded news view, and the form footer sub-form;
  • Default view template which uses the view header and footer sub-forms.

IIS, FrontPage and Domino integration

FrontPage is used for all main front-end pages such as the home pages, search page, contact page, and the JavaScript collapsible link menu pages. The HTML pages link to Domino databases with the included :8080 port.