Tuesday, January 23, 2007

WebLogic Portal Propagation Tool Field Guide

The WebLogic Portal product offers rich capabilities for propagating Portal applications from one environment to another, often from Staging to Production. Because Portals may be changing in both environments at the same time, a reconciliation step is required to update the target environment. The WebLogic Portal Propagation Tool offers this capability. This blog introduces the Propagation Tool Field Guide, which is now available to discuss best practices and known limitations with the tool.

NOTE: this blog entry was originally posted January 24th, 2007 on my previous blogging system (dev2dev.bea.com).

What is the Propagation Tool?

The Propagation Tool's primary purpose in life is to provision WebLogic Portal environments with configuration data. The provisioning can be done for a new WLP environment, or as a promotion of updates on top of an existing environment. A propagation is typically immediately preceded by the promotion of a new EAR file, which contains updates to the code artifacts of the application.

To support this primary mission, the Propagation Tool in WLP 9.2 supports these features:

  • Exports database and LDAP configuration artifacts as XML files, all packaged into a single zip file (called an inventory file)
  • Advanced reconciliation UI allows an operator to visually choose exactly how to reconcile the two environments
  • Promotes the new configuration using the inventory file that came from the visual tool
  • All operations can also be done using Ant tasks, as an alternative to the visual tool

For more information on the many features of the Propagation Tool in 9.2, please visit the official documentation. The docs take you through the primary use case of the Propagation Tool - moving WLP applications from one environment to another.

Click here for a more detailed diagram.

Release 9.2 is a Major Milestone

The Propagation Tool in WebLogic Portal 9.2 received major updates from the version offered with WebLogic Portal 8.1 SP5. Most significant were these improvements:
  • Eclipse User Interface - provides a visual, tree based view reconciling the configuration artifacts of your Portal environments
  • Ant tasks - a rich set of Ant tasks have been provided
  • Offline story - the Eclipse UI and Ant tasks combine to provide the ability to do most of the propagation work offline from the running servers
  • Content Propagation - ability to move Content Repository artifacts, specifically Content Nodes and Types

Introducing the Field Guide

In support of the major launch, I have been working with customers that are implementing the Propagation Tool in their WLP 9.2 projects. From this experience, I have been assembling a Field Guide that provides:
  • Best Practices - how best to employ the new toolsets and be successful with Propagation
  • Known Issues - a list of known issues and common pitfalls that have arisen with customers using the tools
This Field Guide is being updated on a regular basis (about once a week at this point) as new customers and new issues arise. You may find the guide linked from this site:
Click here to view the Propagation Tool Field Guide

Encouraging Feedback

Good or bad, we actively seek out feedback from the use of the Propagation Tool. There are multiple channels to do this:
  • Support Cases - open a Support case at the eSupport site (see a stack trace, open a case!!!)
  • Portal Newsgroup - ask a question on the WLP dev2dev newsgroup
  • Professional Services - we are in close contact with the BEA Professional Services team
  • Blog about it - like this customer did, Anders Mathisen
We like to hear about positive experiences, and when that isn't possible, constructive criticism and questions about problems with the tool.
  • Official Documentation - BEA edocs
  • Propagation Tool Field Guide - linked from wlp.bea.com
  • My Blog - I will blog about Propagation from time to time, like this entry that demonstrates non-standard uses of the Propagation Tool.
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1 comment:

Sara Reid said...

I am trying to install WebLogic portal server (ver. 8.1) as a Windows Service
using the installService.cmd that comes with the domain created. Though it is
being added as a service, there is a problem while starting it as it is not able to find some classes.