eXo Platform “the first and only User Experience Platform for Java.”

eXo Platform 3.0 Interview

Jessica Thornsby

JAXenter speaks with Chief Executive Officer of eXo Platform, Benjamin Mestrallet on the recently-announced eXo Platform 3.0.

At JavaOne yesterday, eXo launched eXo Platform 3.0. In this interview, JAXenter speaks to Chief Executive Officer of the eXo Platform, Benjamin Mestrallet on how re-architecting the eXo Platform on GateIn has affected the product, and creating a new ‘social intranet’ with eXo Platform…..

JAXenter: What are the most important new features in eXo Platform 3.0?

Benjamin Mestrallet: To understand what these new features mean, it’s important to understand the breadth of eXo Platform 3.0. We’ve had applications for content, collaboration and knowledge for a number of years now, and this spring introduced one for social.

All have been updated for GateIn, the open source portal framework we co-develop with Red Hat. And we’ve also updated our enterprise content management tools, making significant improvements to UI for web content management, and adding support for CMIS.

In eXo Platform 3.0, all of these features are now available as extended, reusable services that take advantage of the enterprise portal foundation that GateIn provides.

We’ve added development tools, including a new web-based IDE, for building gadgets, mashups and applications. But what really sets eXo Platform 3.0 apart is its REST architecture. Any portal can present third-party application data as portlets, but eXo offers advanced integration using web services to actually communicate and interact with applications.

You can integrate third-party apps, whether they’re written in Java, .NET, PHP or any other language, with eXo Platform’s native APIs. But more importantly, you can create custom REST API’s on the fly, and deploy them directly from the platform. eXo Platform provides a standard way to develop these JAX-RS REST services, with development, testing and deployment all done online in a web-based IDE.

What these new features ultimately amount to is a very powerful development platform that can easily integrate content, collaboration, knowledge and social capabilities into your new or existing apps. You no longer need to turn to Rails or PHP to build rich web apps; Java can now stand as a first-class language for so-called web 2.0 applications.

We have a couple of videos, a short one that highlights the most interesting new features of eXo Platform, and a longer one that goes through a more in-depth look at its capabilities.

JAXenter: How has re-architecting the eXo Platform on GateIn affected the product?

Benjamin Mestrallet: This is our first major release in a couple of years, and refactoring the pieces of the platform for GateIn took time. In putting the platform together, one of the really cool things we created was a mechanism, which we call GateIn extensions, that allowed us to augment GateIn features without having to actually map those modifications back into GateIn itself. We just plugged our extensions into GateIn; even when there’s a new version, updating to it will be quite simple.

Developers will benefit hugely from these GateIn extensions as well, which make our platform modular and easier to develop with. In addition, GateIn provides significant improvements for eXo Platform in terms of enterprise-readiness – specifically better LDAP connectivity, and SSO and JMX support.

JAXenter: How does the eXo Platform 3.0 aim to leverage the new social capabilities of the web?

Benjamin Mestrallet: eXo Platform 3.0 includes enterprise social capabilities, which supports OpenSocial for gadgets and Social APIs for People and Activity. So, eXo Platform can almost instantly create an enterprise social network from an LDAP directory, auto-populating directory settings for roles, permissions and teams. This becomes the new ‘social intranet,’ complete with activity streams, work spaces for teams and user-specified profiles. Using the advanced web services integration I mentioned earlier, you can even pull data from enterprise applications such as a BI or CRM app and stream updates as they happen to the right people and teams. For example, when BI reports are generated (a video demo is available) or new leads enter the CRM system, activities can be created and published in a team’s collaboration space.

JAXenter: Why did you decide to stick to a portal framework for eXo Platform 3.0?

Benjamin Mestrallet: Let’s be clear. eXo Platform 3.0 goes well beyond an enterprise portal – it’s the first and only User Experience Platform for Java. We really see it as the application development platform that Java’s long needed and wanted for it to stay relevant against the dynamic languages that dominate the web.

Portals are a proven standard for building intranets and websites with simple application functionality exposed as portlets, while features like access control and single sign-on provide security. Fundamentally, portal capabilities are still critical for enterprise integration — it’s just that the business needs have outgrown what a traditional portal framework alone can offer.

Our roots are in portal technologies, and we’re extremely proud of the development work we’ve done with JBoss on the GateIn project. It’s rock-solid technology. And now we’re building on that to give Java developers a familiar, intuitive way to build on all these rich features that users want.

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