Oracle WebCenter Quick Start for the Uninitiated Java Developer

Oracle WebCenter Quick Start for the Uninitiated Java Developer

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 HelpCheck 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]AppDataRoamingJDevelopersystem11., 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.

WebCenter Installation Step 1: Install the JDK

In theory you can get by with any compatible JDK, but in practice your life will be easier with JRockit for a WebCenter application. The installation process is simple; just run the executable and remember where you installed it. I installed it under C:OracleMiddlewarejrockit-jdk1.6.0_29-R28.2.0-4.1.0 (which is the path shown in the Step 3 and 4 examples).

WebCenter Installation Step 2: Run RCU

First, log into your Oracle database and set the WebCenter perquisite values:

  • Processes=500
  • Sessions=500
  • Open_cursors=500

More is better for deployment environments though the above should be sufficient for any local development.

Next, open a command window, navigate to [where you unzipped it to]
and run rcu.bat. It is a very simple installer. If you are going to be running WebCenter Content for the tutorial on the same database, you can save some time by selecting both the Enterprise Content Management components and the WebCenter Suite components. If you are not sure, select both anyway; it really doesn’t impact the performance on your local development environment.

WebCenter Installation Steps 3 and 4: Install WebLogic Server and JDeveloper

These are lumped together because the installation processes for WebLogic Server and JDeveloper are identical. Simply CD to where you have the JARs (very convenient to have them in the same place) and run the following commands (assuming you installed JRockit where I did in step 1; otherwise change the path to suit your environment):

C:OracleMiddlewarejrockit-jdk1.6.0_29-R28.2.0-4.1.0injava -Xmx1024m -jar C:Users[USER_NAME]Desktop empDeleteSoonwls1035_generic.jar

Follow the prompts, nothing special here.

C:OracleMiddlewarejrockit-jdk1.6.0_29-R28.2.0-4.1.0injava -Xmx1024m -jar C:Users[USER_NAME]Desktop empDeleteSoonjdevstudio11115install.jar

Follow the prompts, nothing special here, either.

WebCenter Installation Step 5: Add WebCenter

To add WebCenter, follow these steps:

  1. Start JDeveloper with [where-ever-you-installed-it] jdeveloper.exe (you can create a link to this where it is handy for you, too).
  2. Go to HelpCheck for Updates.
  3. Hit the next button and select the WebCenter Extension (If you use a supported source control application, you can save time by selecting that module at this time as well)
  4. Follow the prompts. JDeveloper will prompt you to restart.

WebCenter Installation Step 6: Stir

After the restart, exit JDeveloper, navigate to C:Users[USERNAME]AppDataRoamingJDeveloper and delete system11., and then start JDeveloper again.

WebCenter Installation Step 7: Serve Warm

If you are going to do the Oracle tutorial, go to Step 1: Create a Custom WebCenter Portal Application and follow the steps through to the point where you start your application. Once satisfied that you can, you can go back to the start of the tutorial and skip what you have done here.

If you are jumping in on your own or have other plans for getting started, simple click New Application, and select WebCenter Portal Application. Fill in values that make sense for you until you get to the “Configure WebCenter Settings” screen. At that point you can click Finish, then right click on the Portal project and select Run. Wait for a while and then the application will launch in a browser.

A Lesson Learned

The first time out I installed WebCenter I did it manually as well. I ended up with two sets of WebCenter configurations added to the WebLogic Domain Wizard. What is installed by adding the WebCenter option through JDeveloper is all you need to do development on your local development environment. You may also want to install WebCenter Content (formerly known as UCM) on your local development environment, but only do so if you do not have a separate environment to connect to. Note that running WebCenter, JDeveloper and UCM on a local development machine can use up a lot of system resources and may not leave enough CPU capacity to finish reading this article.


If you are an experienced portal developer but new to JDeveloper, you are probably used to Eclipse. The first time I tried working in JDeveloper after a decade of using Eclipse I was reminded of a time when I overheard someone trying to provide a very long and unusual surname over a bad phone connection. After several attempts at spelling the name and not being understood he finally said, “It’s spelled just like elephant, except all the letters are different.”

JDeveloper looks enough like Eclipse to give one the impression that it works the same too. In reality, a few things are the same (such as starting and stopping servers) but many things are very different. Hopefully, clearing this first hurdle will accelerate your learning of the WebCenter environment, which is being rapidly adopted in enterprises across the globe.

Next Steps

I found the following sites useful in making use of the environment created in this article.

If you have particular needs for using WebCenter and you can’t find helpful documentation, please email me at [email protected] and I will either respond with the short answer or write another article to address it.


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