Microsoft releases toolkit for reusing SharePoint portlets

By Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service |  Software, Microsoft

Microsoft has released a tool that allows developers to reuse data and mini-applications from SharePoint-based portals on rival portal software that otherwise would not be natively interoperable with SharePoint, the company said.

The WSRP (Web Services for Remote Portlets) Toolkit for SharePoint provides sample code for producing WSRP-conformant data from SharePoint lists and libraries, according to a blog post on the Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog.

SharePoint is Microsoft's software for building collaboration portals and Intranet sites. WSRP is a standard overseen by the OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) consortium for letting developers reuse portlets from one portal to another remotely. Portlets are visual mini-applications that expose one or more functionalities on a portal, such as a list of contacts, or allow a portal to perform more complex tasks, such as retrieving invoices or connecting to a reservation system.

Java-based portals such as BEA Aqualogic, IBM WebSphere and SAP NetWeaver include the ability to consume WSRP code. By using the new tool, developers can now produce SharePoint data and portlets natively on portals from these vendors, Microsoft said. This makes it quicker and easier for developers to build portal applications across heterogeneous software infrastructure, the company said.

SharePoint already ships with a WSRP consumer that lets developers consume WSRP code from other portals for use on SharePoint portals, Microsoft said. However, customers also asked the company for a tool to produce WSRP code from SharePoint portals for use on rival software. Releasing the WSRP Toolkit for SharePoint shows Microsoft responding to customer demand for interoperability between its products and competing software, the company said.

Indeed, Microsoft in the past several years and in 2008 in particular has increasingly supported industry-supported open standards to ensure that its software plays well with others in the proverbial IT sandbox. Many believe a stiff fine from the European Union imposed earlier this year for failing to comply with an ongoing antitrust agreement and new industry business models that make it impossible for Microsoft to expect customers to use only its software in their IT environments have a lot to do with the company's new attitude.

The new SharePoint toolkit is available online for download now from the Microsoft Developer Network site.

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