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Understanding Service Portal

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Understanding Service Portal

The Service Portal is the engine that houses all of the references to content for your site. The portal record defines the URL extension for a site, as well as things like the knowledge base, catalog, and homepage. You can also use the portal record to define the header menu and the portal branding.

Figure 1. Service Portal layoutPage highlighting the different layouts on the page including page, container, row, column, and widget


Containers are markup artifacts that are put on a page to contain the layouts that house the widgets.

You can view containers and how they make up a page in the Service Portal Designer (Service Portal > Service Portal Configuration > Designer). Open a page in the Service Portal Designer, then click anything on the page. In the top left corner, breadcrumbs appear to show you which element on the page you have selected. Use the breadcrumbs to select a container, then click the edit icon (Edit icon from the top right of the Service Portal Designer).

Figure 2. Service Portal Designer breadcrumbs
Cool clocks widgets with a widget selected and the breadcrumbs at the top left of the page highlighted

You can also edit a container by navigating to the Page Editor and selecting the container node in the tree view. In this view, you can:

  • Change the layout of widgets on a page.
  • Determine the number of columns on a page.
  • Determine whether to scale with changes to the browser window.
  • Add a background color to a portion of a page.
  • Add an background image to a portion of a page.
  • View the current layout of the widgets within the page.

Basic concepts

You should have a basic understanding of all the following components that make up a portal:
  • Themes define the look and feel of the whole portal, but can be overridden by other style configurations.
  • Pages control where and how you store portal content. Pages do not have a defined relationship to portal records, they simply exist. Pages are made up of containers, columns, rows, widgets, and widget instances. You can use the CSS defined in theme and branding as global definitions for the portal or you can configure the CSS of each component. If you do not define CSS in theme or branding, Bootstrap defaults are used.
  • Components in Service Portal are called widgets.
    Note: You can use HTML templates, CSS, client scripts, server scripts, and any JavaScript dependencies to define what a widget does. From an AngularJS standpoint, widgets are essentially a superset of an Angular directive.
  • Most of the data in Service Portal is managed in different locations throughout the system. For example, if you are building a knowledge portal, the data exists in Service Portal, but the knowledge articles are authored and managed in the Knowledge application. Take time to understand which tables contain and control the data you are working with in Service Portal.

Who configures the Service Portal?

Several different kinds of users can configure a portal.
  • Limited coding: Service Portal was designed so that even users with limited coding ability or knowledge of the platform UI could set up a portal.
  • ServiceNow Experts: Users with an understanding of the ServiceNow platform can create portals, set up URL redirects, and view all the components of the portal in a table. Most portal configuration takes place in the Service Portal configuration page, but in specific circumstances, Service Portal administrators may need to do additional configuration directly within the platform.
  • Developers: Advanced customizations and new widget creation should be done by a developer or someone who understands AngularJS and Twitter bootstrap.
In all cases, the user configuring a portal must have the admin or sp_admin role.

Navigate to a portal or a page using the URL

https://<instance name>/<sp url suffix>?id=<page id>&<page parameters>
  • Base Instance URL: Unique, secure web address for each instance. The default format is: https://<instance name>
  • sp url suffix: Suffix established for the Service Portal
  • id: The id of the Page to navigate to within the portal frame
  • page parameters: Some pages require additional parameters to look up a record (table, sys_id)

For example, https://<instance name>

Additional resources

Service Portal is built using several well known technologies. Use the following websites as resources to help you understand and configure your portal: