Web Services and Portals

Diane Barbour, Rochester Institute of Technology
Mary Doyle, Washington State University
Lori Temple, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Community Source

  • “Community source development” is open source development with a defined set of users. The Campus EAI project delivers community source code created by a consortium of institutions and available for their use.


  • Depository to exchange, develop, distribute, and contribute.
  • Knowledge base of searchable articles by consortium and by members.
  • Forums for discussion by members.
  • Reduced development, testing, and training costs.
  • Depository of portlets.
  • Problem escalation assistance with Oracle.

Rochester Institute of Technology

Path to Oracle Portal

  • Had been using Prometheus (portal and courseware by GWU), now discontinued.
  • Discovered Campus EAI Oracle Grant.
  • Recognized advantages of consortium.

myRIT CampusEAI Deployment

  • Viewed as a campus-wide communications initiative, not just as an IT project.
  • Primarily oriented to prospective and current students.
  • Courseware, groups, public events calendar.
  • Challenges: ActiveDirectory (group management), discussion groups (not yet available in new environment), user interface. Dedicated people to project for migration.

Phase Two

  • The right information to the right people at the right time.
  • Role-based (by tab) with more services for other constituencies.
  • Integration of enterprise systems: SIS, Bursar, Registrar, Payroll.
  • Students want one-stop-shop.
  • Tabs: Home, myLife, myAcademics, myFinances, myHousing, myMessages
  • Modules.
    • myLife: calendar, music, blogs, clubs, jobs.
    • myAcademics: records, registration, courses.
    • myFinances: food/flex, financial aid, billing information.
    • myHousing: dorm events, services, room layout designer.
    • myMessages: central location for alerts and general announcements.

Lessons Learned

  • Include feedback link on every page … and listen.
  • Persistent log-in is required.
  • Students want more control.
  • Need gatekeeper for announcements.
  • Need dynamic content and new features.
  • Need champions and constituencies from throughout the institution.
  • Vendor viability and support issues.
  • Involve students a lot.
  • Seeing is believing: having a pilot made it easier to understand for non-technical staff.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Phases, Plans, Preparedness, Partnership, Paths, Pitfalls, Parables

Pre-portal Phases

  • 2001 – Started with Mascot.com, which  failed.
  • Early 2003 – IT meets with Student Life to reset expectations.
  • Mid 2003 UNLV applies for CampusEAI grant.

New Expectations

  • Provide a single graphical interface.
  • Support a single sign-on.
  • Provide a basic framework.
  • Provide communications services.
  • Provide “one-stop” access.
  • Enable user customization.
  • Retain full control of the portal.
  • Technology that is not proprietary.
  • Be free of commercialization.

Initial Steps

  • Set a primary focus (students).
  • Set a primary objective (communication).
  • Gather or secure resources.

Portal Preparedness/Current Context

  • Very old legacy systems.
  • Minimal but growing Oracle experience.
  • Repeated failures to deliver on expectations.

Partnership – Consortium

Go with strengths, find like-minded institutions.

  • Participate in steering committees.
  • Influence technology directions.
  • Guide depository development.
  • Develop for the depository (connector portlet for WebCT).

Parallel Paths – Cultivating the Culture

  • No plans to displace current Web efforts.
  • Portal project has big vision, but narrow initial scope.

Parallel Paths – Managing Expectations

  • Form commitment to tie identity management to portal development.
  • Mitigate frustration with interim communication mechanisms.


  • Managing expectations.
  • Lack of identity management infrastructure.
  • Capturing staff time (partial resources).
  • Hiring staff with needed skills.

Lessons Learned

  • Balance end goals with immediate needs.
  • Be mindful of campus culture.
  • Stay the course and be ready to augment the effort.
  • Go with strengths (Oracle, WebCT).
  • Share the load.

Washington State University

Current Status

  • Strong graphic identity program.
  • Existing Oracle expertise.

WSU Contributions

  • Notices portlet.
  • Classes portlet.
  • Planning committee leadership.
  • Technical committee leadership.
  • Shared technical vision.
  • Gather or secure resources.


  • Page group functionality.
  • Distributed portal group administration.
  • Vertical navigation.


  • myInfoCenter – Business transactions.
  • myInterests – Personal space.


  • What to do about content management.
  • Oracle versioning (9i to 10g).
  • University graphic identity.
  • Scalability.
  • Staff development.
  • Understanding CSS.