Properly done web page design could be very important for the success of a given web application project. There were a couple of alternatives here which includes different compromises between portability, user satisfaction as well as performance issues. One possible way of implementing user web interface was using a new java specification for building web portals, called portlets. After very basic examination of this technology I decided not to use it for a couple of reason:
1) A request to the server is post every time a user wants to minimize, maximize or do something with the appearance of a particular portlet. This makes the overall performance of the web site to appear not very satisfactory. As an example I could give the new Loyola web based system – LOCUS. I don’t know if the provider, PeopleSoft, had used portlets but the site responding in such a way. Even for very simple operation as expanding of a tree structured menu, which doesn’t need any processing by the server, a request to the server is made and the whole page should be loaded again. This makes their web site looks very slow and a user experience is not very satisfactory, especially if the user uses dial up internet access. Since, I want a user to fill the web site very alive and responsive this was a major issue against using portlets. However, I suspect that later in the project I could encounter some transactional and other issues related to a web portal to be achieved in not so elegant way as if I decided on using portlets on first place. I have to come back to this particular choice later in the project in order more fully to estimate the benefits of using or not using portlets as web interface framework.
2) Another side of using portlet is that as a new technology, there are many different implementations and portable issues related with that.