Plumtree fortifies Corporate Portal

Plumtree Software Inc. on Monday rolled out three additions to its portal platform designed to empower business users and boost collaboration within the portal environment.

The Plumtree Studio Server is an application development engine that lets portal managers and users create portal applications, or gadgets, without the need for coding by the IT department. By giving more self-service capabilities to users, the Studio Server can decrease the time and cost required to deploy portal functionality, according to Jenny Michel, marketing manager at Plumtree in San Francisco.

"Even very simple and common gadgets are still difficult to build, requiring coding and development from IT," she said. "The idea is to reduce the amount of time IT needs to spend to build gadget Web services and let portal users have more control."

Studio Server Templates and Wizards automatically replicate the database, metadata, forms, and searches associated with a portal function. The pre-built templates include events calendar, work order requests, expense submissions, polls, and database searches.

One Studio Server beta user, United States Geological Survey, in Reston, Virginia, has tapped the product to shorten the development cycle of its portal and to reduce the burden for portal development on the IT department.

"We really have only a couple programmers, but some have a lot of other workers who can do basic database work. We think this product will take the burden off the programmers who are already overloaded," said Mike Frame, NBII research and technology director at the United States Geological Survey.

"Using [Studio Server] some of the basic database stuff, like forms, data entry and retrieval, we can do in a few hours, where it used to take a couple days to do," Frame said.

Additionally, Plumtree rolled out a new gadget that displays Microsoft Excel information within the portal without programming. The Excel gadget displays information such as graphs and tables, which can be combined with documents from other applications such as e-mail, calendar, and collaboration services.

Plumtree also unveiled its Collaboration Server, which allows the users to share documents, assign tasks, and participate in discussions within the portal. Building on collaboration gadgets already in the portal, the Collaboration Server can surface documents, deadlines, and conversation threads while providing a full view of a single project in the portal, Plumtree officials said. Moreover, tight integration with the company's Corporate Portal allows collaboration projects to span multiple portal deployments.

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