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eXo Add Social Features to Version 3 of their Portal Platform

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The eXo Platform, which started as a portal product in 2002, has grown into a Java-based enterprise content management, collaboration, social and portal tool. Their first customer was the US Department of Defense, and the public sector remains an important market for the company. Other key market segments include financial services, insurance firms, and telecoms companies.

The product comprises four services:

  • eXo Core Services- a set of REST-based services for web application development and deployment.
  • eXo Social - a solution to implement a social network in the enterprise using Google Gadgets and OpenSocial.
  • eXo Collaboration - Collaboration software (blogs, instant messaging, message boards, etc.)
  • eXo Knowledge - Knowledge apps (FAQ, Forum, etc.)

These modules can be downloaded individually as open-source community projects that are licensed under the Affero General Public License version 3. The eXo Platform 3 product itself is a proprietary package that bundles those open source projects as components, and includes some other priority components such as IDE support.

eXo cite three areas as the key ones for version 3:

  • Social intranet features that present an activity stream, but around business activities such as uploading a new file to the document repository
  • A Java-based CMIS-compliant document repository shared by intranets, extranets and internets
  • Tools that allow you to build REST APIs on the fly and make them immediately available

The platform is now based on the GateIn portal framework which was formed by merging the eXo and JBoss Portal projects. Benjamin Mestrallet, CEO of eXo, told us

We work with Red Hat on developing GateIn, which underlies both Red Hat's JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform and our own eXo Platform 3.0. The GateIn team released GateIn 3.0 back in March - and that was the first major release after the merge of the projects.

GateIn 3.0 offers improved LDAP integration, single sign on and access control features, which we leverage in eXo Platform 3.0, and has a powerful extension mechanism to facilitate easy upgrades to future versions. And unlike most portal frameworks that tie apps to relational databases, GateIn is based on a scalable content repository model, which offers advanced capabilities for developers.

Mestrallet explained that both the decision to merge the two products, and the way the product has evolved were driven by customer demand.

[Customers were] asking for more than what a typical enterprise portal could offer - so much so that they invested R&D to help us build these capabilities: collaboration (email, calendar, chat), content (document management, web content management, workflow), knowledge management (forums, answers, FAQs) and social (activity streams, enhanced profiles, 4workspaces, social graph/network).

Merging our development efforts with JBoss to create GateIn allowed us to combine the best of both companies' portal projects. This new framework serves as the foundation for the extended capabilities that eXo provides. With GateIn, we can deliver a complete user experience platform, with the reliability and security of an enterprise portal.

[The decision to merge] has been a great success. On our end, the development is led by Julien Viet, who initially started the JBoss portal project, so he has a lot of ties to JBoss and strong connections. The scope of our partnership has also expanded, with Red Hat introducing at JBoss World in June a technology preview of JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform Site Publisher, a new web content management offering powered by eXo's modules for content, collaboration, knowledge and social.

This in turn reflects a growing trend amongst portal products to merge CMS and social features, with IBM, Liferay and eXo all announcing moves in this direction this year. According to Mestrallet

While portal capabilities are still critical for applications, the business needs have outgrown what a standalone portal framework offers. Last year, we were moving in this direction when we merged eXo portal with JBoss portal; today, I would argue that we are here.

eXo Platform builds on all the innovations of Java to provide a REST-based modern application development platform with a set of common services for rapid website development, content management, user management and modern gadget-based development and deployment. All of this is provided in the type of powerful, consistent, modular framework that Java developers are used to - and one that leverages portal capabilities offered by GateIn.

A 30 day trial subscription for eXo Platform 3.0 is available for download.

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