A Citrix NFuse Elite portal is an excellent way to enable remote access to your network. Like most Windows applications, you can install and configure your NFuse Elite portal with the help of a wizard that guides you through the process. However, if you don’t know what your options are or why the wizard is asking the questions it asks, you could just as easily be making extra work for yourself. I’ll show you how to configure your NFuse Elite portal, including how to customize it. I’ll also show you how to connect to your portal and test it prior to rolling it out to your remote users.
Portal power for remote users
Citrix NFuse Elite is a powerful portal solution for your network. You can use it to create a portal that will give your users remote access to applications and data on your network from anywhere in the world. For more information about NFuse Elite, see the Daily Drill Downs “Ease remote-user hassles with Citrix's NFuse Elite access portal” and “Setting up your first Citrix NFuse Elite portal server.”
The Portal Management Console
The Portal Management Console (PMC) is the tool that you’ll use to build, customize, and manage your portal. It’s the NFuse version of the familiar Microsoft Management Console (MMC).
To build a portal, launch the PMC by going to Start | Programs | Citrix | NFuse Elite | Portal Management Console. When the PMC window appears on the screen, right-click the server name that appears in the left-hand pane and then click New Portal. When the New Portal Wizard appears, the building process will begin. Your first task will be to give your new portal a name and to select a basic portal or a custom portal, as shown in Figure A.
|You must give your portal a name and select a basic or custom portal.|
Choose the Basic option if you’re an experienced user and you want to get your portal set up first and customize it later. This option builds the portal with the minimum requirements—just enough to get it up and running.
If you choose the Custom option, the wizard will guide you through every step in building and customizing your portal. You can use the finished portal right away.
I’ll focus on the Custom option for the purpose of this Daily Drill Down. Make your selection and click Next to proceed.
The wizard will prompt you to select the user authentication method. The options are either NT Domain or Active Directory. Make the appropriate selection based on your network. If you don’t want security on the portal and you want any anonymous user to be able to log on, you can simply uncheck the box that says Require Log-In Authentication. Again, for the purposes of this example, I’ll choose Active Directory. Make your selection and click Next.
This next screen allows you to display published applications from a Citrix Farm. Check the box that says Host MetaFrame Published Applications In Portal and enter either the MetaFrame server name or IP address. You’ll also need to know which port the XML service is running on in your MetaFrame server. By default, the port number is 80. Enter the proper information and click Next.
Personalize the portal
The wizard will now give you the opportunity to personalize your portal with a header image. The header image can be either a GIF or JPEG. The wizard gives you the ability to position your image in the center, left, or right of the screen. You can also instruct the wizard to pull the header from another HTML Web page if you choose. I’ve selected the Default header. Make your selection and click Next.
Next, the wizard will display a screen asking you where to place the footer. Here you have two options: You can either select No Footer, or you can point the wizard to grab the footer from another HTML Web page. Make your selection and click Next.
The Menu Style window shown in Figure B will appear. This window allows you to select the appearance of the menus displayed in the portal. Your options are either Menus Along Top or Tree View On Left Side. Depending on your artistic taste and how much information you’ll display in the portal, make the proper selection and click Next.
|You must decide how the menus will appear.|
Choosing your agents
Content Delivery Agents (CDAs) are the mechanism by which information is introduced into the portal. Therefore, you need to select the proper CDAs, based on the information you wish to display in your portal. This window has a menu of CDAs that come with Citrix NFuse Elite. Select the CDAs you wish to add to your portal and then click Next. A summary window will display all the configurations you’ve requested. Review your selections. When you’re ready, click Finish. The wizard will build your portal based on your customized settings.
Customize your portal
After the wizard builds the portal and configures its defaults, you must make any further customizations manually. Your new portal should show up in the PMC under the server name, just the way that regular Windows 2000 MMCs work. Expand your portal in the left pane of the PMC.
The first thing you’ll probably want to do is to add users and groups to the portal and customize what they’ll see when they log on. To specify users and groups, expand People under your portal name in the PMC and right-click Users And Groups. Click Add Users And Groups and then select the proper account from your domain. Add the group and click Next. You’ll then see the Roles window. Click Finish.
The second step is to create a personalized Web page for the group. Start off by right-clicking Pages And Folders under your portal name in the PMC and selecting New Folder. Enter a folder name (for the purposes of this Daily Drill Down, Marketing) and click OK. Now right-click the Marketing folder you just created and then click New Page.
Enter a page name, such as Marketing Home Page, and click Next. The Column Setup window appears, as shown in Figure C. Here you can choose to divide the Marketing page into one, two, or three columns. If you divide the screen into columns, you can assign CDAs to the different columns. For my example, I’ll divide the screen into three columns. Make your selection and then click Next.
|Select the column appearance here.|
Next, you can grant users rights to customize the page and to minimize and maximize the CDAs. There’s no hard-and-fast rule here; just give your users the control you think they need. You can also specify the number of CDAs that can be viewed inside each column. Click Next to go on.
Now you need to place your CDAs on your Web page. Earlier, I chose to divide my example Web page into three columns. Here is where you’ll select which CDA goes under which column. Once your CDAs are placed, you can manipulate them using the arrows to the right of the screen, as shown in Figure D.
|Add and configure CDAs to your Web page.|
If you need to configure a CDA, you can do so by clicking Configure. This allows you to do such things as linking the CDA to a SQL database. Once you’ve selected and configured your CDAs, click Finish.
The final step is to create roles. Roles are the same things as groups. They allow you to group users so that when users in a group log on to the portal, they’ll get predefined CDAs, predefined color schemes or themes, and so on.
To create a role, expand People under your portal name in the PMC, right-click Roles, and select New Role. A wizard will guide you through the process of creating a role. You’ll be prompted to give the role a name, such as Marketing Group. In the Description field, enter a short description of what this group does. You can also select a predefined color scheme or theme for the group. You can select the themes from a drop-down list. Click Next, and you’ll once more be offered a menu of CDAs that you should select from. Choose the CDAs you want this group to see when logging in to the portal and then click Next.
You can then assign the previously created Web page to this group and make it the group’s home page. As soon as any member of this group logs on, he or she will be redirected to the Marketing home page.
To assign a Web page to the group, expand Pages And Folders, expand Marketing, and then check the Marketing home page. To make this page the Marketing default home page, click the icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen and then click Next.
The last thing the wizard does is to allow you to associate the users and groups with the role you’ve created. Simply select the group you want and click Finish.
Testing the portal
Now that you’ve successfully built and configured your portal, you can take it for a test-drive. Open a Web browser on your administration workstation and type http://nameofyourserver/nameofyourportal, where nameofyourserver is the IP address or DNS name of the portal server and nameofyourportal is the portal name you created.
A logon screen appears, prompting you to enter a username, password, and a domain. Enter the proper information and log on. The portal should redirect you to your home page, which should look something like what you see in Figure E.
|Your portal awaits!|
Any portal in a storm
Now that your portal is up and running, you can add more users and more roles and create more personalized home pages for the different departments in your organization. You need to expose the portal to the Internet to make it easy for your users to access the portal and your network. NFuse Elite also comes with a great software development kit (SDK), so if there isn’t a CDA that fits your needs, you can create one.