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Oracle WebCenter Quick Start for the Uninitiated Java Developer

A quick start guide to get WebCenter up and running in JDeveloper for portal developers more familiar with other environments like Eclipse.


While all of the current commercial portal leaders have acquired competitors over the years, Oracle appears to have acquired more of the leading Java EE-based portals than anyone else, not to mention a large number of small portal application vendors. The goal behind this dominance in portal architecture is to migrate portal customers to the Oracle WebCenter suite, a relatively recent (in comparison with other products Oracle has acquired) entrant to the portal space. For us Java developers who have been developing portals this means that there is a high likelihood that we will soon be developing on WebCenter.

The goal of this article is to show Java developers how to get a working "local development environment" that will provide them with the capability to perform the tutorials provided by Oracle and/or to migrate their old applications to WebCenter. Local development environment in this context is defined as the machine where you actually write your code.

Note that this article assumes you are developing on a Wintel environment (regardless of where you deploy to). If you aren't, you can skip the first section and replace [whatever].bat with [whatever].sh in the following section. It also assumes a 64-bit OS because developing on a 32-bit environment is not very productive.

The article will not explain the low-level details of why some people struggle with creating a Local Development Environment while others do not, nor will it give you everything you need to become as proficient with WebCenter development as you are with whatever portal product you currently use.

The Documented WebCenter Approach

The steps required to set up for the Tutorial for Oracle WebCenter Developers, can be condensed to the following:

  1. Download the latest WebCenter-compatible version of JDeveloper (Oracle JDeveloper at the time of this writing).
  2. Run the installer.
  3. Start JDeveloper, run Help\Check for Updates, and select the WebCenter extension.
  4. Set User Home.

All very simple steps, after which you start the tutorial. When I tried this approach myself I could do everything up to deploying the initial application. It just would not work. Many discussion forums suggested exiting JDeveloper, deleting C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\JDeveloper\system11.\DefaultDomain, and then trying again. This may work for you, but I suggest you first bookmark this article in case that solution proves inadequate (as was my case).

The No Manual Manual Approach

I assumed my issues were a result of the many other portal applications -- and their various versions -- that I had on my local development environment. Or maybe I had installed earlier versions of JDeveloper using the Windows installer and something was clashing. Removing everything and trying again didn't help, but it is not uncommon for an uninstaller to leave something crucial behind that you wish it didn't. There were many files and folders left behind, but even deleting those didn't help.

However, I had recently set up a deployment environment on Linux with no problems at all, so I decided to take a similar approach on my Windows local development environment. It worked! To help all of the other folks like me who have been working with a portal product that will be replaced by WebCenter, here is what I did to get things up and running.

Getting Ready for the WebCenter Installation

As a reminder, the goal here is to get things working more than it is to figure out why they aren't working (as useful as that may be later). It is fairly safe to assume that previous installations prevent the completion of a usable local development environment because the steps outlined in The Documented WebCenter Approach section seem to work consistently for people who have never done any portal development. Rather than spending days doing individual tests of what is causing the conflict we will simply remove the potential conflicting items, which are (in order):

  1. All versions of JDeveloper
  2. All versions of any portal application that deploys on WebLogic Server
  3. All versions of WebLogic Server

The order is important because the first two may include bundled installations of the last two. After all of these are uninstalled, remove the installation directories they left behind.

Next, download the following (links are from version; update accordingly depending on when you are reading this and what version you are working with):

You also should add an Oracle database if you don't have one handy. If you do, plan on doing it afterwards.

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