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New SharePoint Web Parts allow access between multiple vendors’ systems

The new toolkits, which can be downloaded at no cost from allow system integrators to connect systems from multiple vendors using XML Web services standards. Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 was released last year, and is the company’s enterprise portal product that allows customers to build enterprise information portals, and it has the ability to allow customers to integrate their portals with a variety of business applications, including SAP.

“SharePoint Portal Server, specifically related to the Web, uses a construct calls the Web Part, which is the basic building block of a page. You can think of it as a component,” said Sanjay Manchanda, group product manager for portals at Microsoft. “These are meant to be reuseable components.” For instance, a Web Part could be designed to display the contents of an Excel spreadsheet within a SharePoint Portal Server page.

With the Web Parts being the basic construct that allow developers to build reuseable components, one of the new Web Part toolkits allows customers to more easily connect to the SAP enterprise portal functionality (also known as iViews).

“What this Web Part lets you do is more easily access and view and embed those iView screens within a SharePoint Portal Server page,” Manchanda said.

A lot of SharePoint Portal Server customers deploy a portal as a way to access not just the content that’s created using the portal but also to access back- end applications, Manchanda said. With this new Web Part, it makes it easier for customers to point at SAP iViews and have access to them within the SharePoint Portal.

“And you can do that with a variety of different SAP iViews,” he said. He said it could be used by system integrators that are helping their customers deploy portals that need to be able to access other applications.

Microsoft has always released a toolkit and Web Part for Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP). WSRP is a specification created by the Organization of Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), and it allows developers to create Web Services-compatible components for portlets.

“This Web Part allows customers, as well as partners, to be able to embed or consume existing WSRP-compatible portlets within a SharePoint Portal Server,” Manchanda said. “The idea being if you’ve got existing application functionality or content that’s being exposed using a WSRP portlet, it becomes very easy for a partner or an in-house developer to use this Web Part and the toolkit within a SharePoint Portal Server.”

Previously, developers would have had to build the Web Part from scratch. According to Manchanda, it really cuts down on development time, reduces the testing burden and reduces the development complexity by taking advantage of existing code.

Microsoft’s SharePoint Portal Server strategy revolves around creating interoperability between heterogeneous systems, which in the end makes it easier for customers to connect to a variety of applications, Manchanda said. Additionally, the company has been expanding its library of available Web Parts at the SharePoint Web site.

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