uPortal FAQ

Questions about uPortal Features

What does uPortal use for authentication?

Out of the box, uPortal supports authenticating via internal user accounts, CAS, and LDAP. uPortal includes an API for other authentication integrations. Support for CAS (and the inclusion by default of a CAS server) implies support for all the authentication methods CAS supports, including Active Directory, JAAS, JDBC, Container, LDAP, RADIUS, SPNEGO, and X.509 certificates. CAS provides APIs and an extensible framework for tailoring the user authentication experience.

Does uPortal integrate with LDAP?

Yes, uPortal can perform authentication against LDAP, can read person attributes from an LDAP server, and can also be configured to rely on LDAP for user groups.

What databases does uPortal support?

uPortal and most of its portlets use Hibernate, so most popular databases are supported. Known production deployment database include Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft SQL Server.

Are there more portlets available than what I see in my quickstart installation?

Yes! uPortal portlets are listed and documented in the wiki.

Is uPortal accessible?

uPortal developers strive to follow accessibility best practices, such as providing alt attributes and avoiding table-based layouts. Many uPortal interfaces, including the AJAX-powered drag and drop layout reordering, support keyboard bindings which may be used instead of a mouse. 

Does uPortal support drag-and-drop layout reordering?

Yes! You can easily rearrange the portlets on a tab by simply dragging them to new positions. uPortal's reordering implementation includes alternate keyboard interactions and is tested for accessibility.

Does uPortal support mobile devices?

Yes! uPortal ships with a responsive theme that works well on a wide variety of devices. These skins may be customized for your institution.

Is uPortal highly scalable?

Yes! Many schools with over 50,000 users use uPortal and see millions of logins a month. One commercial organization even has a user base of over 8 million! Since uPortal is free and open source Software, there are no license fees to pay for uPortal and you are free to run uPortal on as powerful and as many servers as you like with no change to your zero dollar uPortal license fee.

Does uPortal support clustering?

uPortal supports session replication of navigational state data.  Session replication for portlets is completely dependent on the implementation of the portlets. Portlets are independent web-applications that each need to implement and support Serializable data in their session. Also, since uPortal uses Ehcache for the majority of its data caches since uPortal 3.0 data consistency can be achieved by enabling invalidation based replication as supported by Ehcache.

Can one uPortal installation host virtual portals?

Yes! You can host multiple portals on the same installation. Each portal can have its own domain name, look-and-feel, authentication mechanism and user attribute source.


Questions about uPortal's community

Does uPortal have an active user community with whom I can engage?

Yes! Everyone is welcome to join our mailing lists, log into the IRC channel, attend our community calls, look at past presentations and attend our conferences. With the exception of the the conferences, most of this is available at no fee. And even the conferences lead to freely available content in the Apereo wiki.

Are there trainings and conferences for uPortal?

Yes! The annual conference offers four days of presentations and pre-/post-conference seminars. This conference is shockingly inexpensive for what it is and regularly offers quality focused technical content and seminars. An annual UnConference offers networking/discussion opportunities in a less structured format. Commercial partners periodically and on-demand offer uPortal training and are able to deliver custom training classes, mentoring experiences, co-development, technical support, assistance, examples, outsourced development, custom documentation, and basically any other professional service you could possibly be willing to pay for.

Can I buy technical support for uPortal?

Yes! The uPortal Solutions Providers offer technical support for uPortal. Look for the uPortal tag in the list of commercial affiliates. There are self-support options for uPortal as well, in the form of active email lists, a giant email list archive, the wiki, and other resources.

Where can I get help?

There is an email list that might be particularly of help: uportal-user. If you're interested in purchasing support or consulting services, please visit Apereo list of commercial partners.

Can I contribute to uPortal?

Yes! You can also become a uPortal developer and contribute back to the project. Many of the features of uPortal were developed by local institutions, contributed back and now are part of the core product.

What kind of influence can I have in the the features and future direction of uPortal?

You can enter feature requests in uPortal's Jira tracking system and participate in community discussions. You can even run for election to the uPortal Steering Committee and to the Apereo Board of Directors. You can also contribute to the project and help implement your desired features. Via an Apache-style meritocracy, you can be recognized by your fellow uPortal project participants as a core contributor with "committer" status and direct access to change the uPortal source code as it is developed towards release. You can have as much influence over uPortal and its community as you can achieve through the respect and trust of your peers. You can have as much direct participation in the process that produces uPortal releases as you care to offer and as uPortal's community and committers care to accept in recognizing the worthiness of your contributions.

Wait, does this "participatory meritocracy" thing actually work?

Yes. It works really well. Some would say surprisingly well. Apereo didn't invent it -- Apache probably didn't invent this either but certainly has proven out the model.


Questions about Customizing and Developing for uPortal

What JavaScript toolkits does uPortal support?

uPortal bundles jQuery, jQuery UI, and Fluid Infusion in the default theme. The quickstart includes a portlet named "Javascript Demos" that you may use to demo the built-in JavaScript libraries. However, uPortal also carefully namespaces its libraries and code in case you choose to use another framework in your custom development.

What portlet development frameworks does uPortal support?

Since uPortal provides full support for JSR 168 and JSR 286, you can develop portlets in a framework of your choice. Some adopters have also chosen to build content in a non-Java environment and display it using the included Web Proxy portlet.


Questions about uPortal Licensing

I just want to try uPortal out and see if I like it. Can I do that?

Yes! Each uPortal distribution includes a quickstart. You can download the latest from the download page.

Can I access all the uPortal source code, including the latest features and patches?

Yes! uPortal is 100% free and open source. There is only one repository hosting all of the uPortal code. All uPortal releases are completely free and publicly available.

Can I use uPortal on any server I like for any purpose?

Yes! uPortal is 100% free and open source. You are free to deploy uPortal anywhere you like, redistribute uPortal to anyone you like, and to use uPortal for any purpose whatsoever.

Can I redistribute uPortal and my modifications to it to others?

Yes! And the uPortal developers hope you will! uPortal is also a direct-participation community-based open source project, so the way you redistribute your modifications might be to become directly involved in developing uPortal and making your changes part of the next release. (And there are many ways to participate short of that level of commitment, not least of which is the publicly available issue tracker which welcomes with arms wide open your patches.) uPortal is 100% free and open source software. You are free to redistribute it as distributed by Apereo or as modified in any way you like to anyone you like in any way you like.

Can I customize uPortal?

Many implementers choose to write their own skin and to develop custom portlets. uPortal's framework also includes well-designed APIs for adding authentication, user attributes, and performing other integrations. This means that it is practical to customize uPortal and there are many well-defined, supported-by-designed-APIs ways to do this. uPortal is free and open source Software. You are free to customize uPortal in any way you like and to do anything you like with your customized uPortal, including redistributing it to others. The uPortal developers hope you'll speak up if you have a need to customize uPortal in a way that wasn't envisioned so that this can be designed into a next release of the software. The uPortal developers also hope you'll share your customizations. You're under no obligation whatsoever to do either of these things.

Do I have to tell anyone I'm using uPortal?

No. uPortal is free and open source Software. You are free to use uPortal for any purpose and to tell anyone you like, or no one at all, that you are doing so. However, the uPortal developers and community would appreciate hearing from you and hope you'll be comfortable listing your site or having your site listed on the uPortal website so that others can understand the value uPortal is providing.

Can I use uPortal in an open source stack and pay no license fees?

Yes. You can use uPortal in a free and open source software stack, including a free operating system such as Linux, a free servlet container such as Tomcat or GlassFish, and using a free database such as PostgreSQL. You'll probably struggle to use any JDK other than Sun's, which is free-of-charge but isn't always free-as-in-freedom, but you're welcome to try to use a free software JDK instead. Certainly you can run uPortal in a software stack that requires no license fees to be paid to anyone.

Can I use uPortal in a proprietary software stack and pay license fees for software I use with uPortal?

Yes. You can use uPortal in a proprietary software stack, including a proprietary operating system such as Windows Server, a proprietary servlet container, and a proprietary RDBMS such as Oracle. You can choose to pay as much license fees to other vendors for proprietary software to implement those other pieces of the stack as you like. You won't be able to pay Apereo license fees, since Apereo's uPortal software is free and open source software, but you're welcome to use as much proprietary software with uPortal as you like.

Do I have to pay for uPortal?

No. All versions of uPortal are 100% free and open source. New releases are under the Apache 2 license. Prior releases have been under other, similarly permissive open source licenses. You are free to adopt and use uPortal without paying anyone a cent and without contributing to the project and community in any way whatsoever. However, the uPortal developers highly encourage your organization to become a Apereo member and help support the continued growth and improvement of uPortal, to become directly involved in submitting patches and contributing to the development of uPortal, to build fantastic portlets and share them as open source software, to answer others' questions about uPortal in the way you'd like your questions to be answered, and to engage with "enlightened self interest" in continuing to develop and maintain free and open source software for the benefit of the entire uPortal community.

Seriously, how much is the license fee?

Zero dollars. uPortal is free and open source Software. You can download uPortal and all its source code, at no charge, from Apereo's website. This is the latest, greatest, and best version of uPortal available. uPortal's license allows others to redistribute uPortal in any way they like under any terms they like, including as part of proprietary software. So you might purchase a license for proprietary software (from someone other than Apereo, since Apereo has no proprietary software and sells no licenses) that includes uPortal. This is possible because uPortal is free and open source software under an open source license that allows anyone to do anything they like with the software, including sell licenses to it (or modified versions of it) to anyone who chooses to buy them. You will never pay any license fee for uPortal itself as distributed by its source, Apereo, and you can always get the latest uPortal as released by Apereo from www.apereo.org and from Apereo's source control servers at no fee whatsoever. uPortal as developed and released by Apereo is free and open source software.