Beyond using Liferay as a development platform for new applications, Liferay Portal has also been designed to be extended and modified. As an open source project, its source code is available, but Liferay Portal’s developers have designed the product to make it easy to build whatever you want out of it.
The first (and easiest) way of customizing parts of Liferay Portal is with Application Display templates. These let you change the way built-in applications look. For example, if you don’t like the Documents and Media Library’s file manager view with large icons, you can create an Application Display template that shows documents in a list view. If you don’t like the layout of the Blogs portlet, you can change it so that it has the look you want.
Liferay Portal goes far beyond this, though. Special software components called hook and ext plugins enable developers to change any aspect of Liferay’s interface and behavior–without having to modify any of Liferay Portal’s source code. This provides you all the benefits of building your site from scratch, but without all the effort to actually build from scratch. If you want to make a change to the user registration screens, add support for a proprietary single sign-on mechanism that you’ve written, add a feature to the message boards application, or anything else, you can make those customizations. And if you’re a developer, we’re sure you know that it’s a whole lot easier to customize something that almost does things exactly the way you want than it is to write that feature from scratch. With Liferay Portal, you can have your cake and eat it too.