Features of Liferay's WCM

Liferay’s WCM offers a host of features that makes managing the content of your site easier:

  • WYSIWYG Editor: A complete HTML editor that allow you to modify fonts, add color, insert images and much more.

  • Structure Editor: Easily add and remove fields you want available to content creators and then dynamically move them around. This editor includes an entire suite of form controls you can drag and drop onto your structure.

  • Template Editor: Import template script files that inform the system how to display the content within the fields determined by the structure.

  • Web Content Display: A portlet that allows you to place web content on a page in your portal.

  • Asset Publisher: A portlet which can aggregate different types of content together in one view.

  • Scheduler: Lets you schedule when content is reviewed, displayed and removed.

  • Workflow Integration: Run your content through an approval or review process.

  • Staging: Use a separate staging server or stage your content locally so you can keep your changes separate from the live site.

Liferay’s Web Content Management is a powerful and robust tool for creating and organizing content on your web site. Let’s begin by examining some basic concepts involving sites and pages.

As you’ll see, Liferay’s WCM is a full-featured solution for managing your web site. We’ll start with an overview of what it has to offer and then we’ll dive down into its features. Note that web content is just one kind of asset on Liferay. Other types of content (blog posts, wiki articles, message board posts, etc.) are also considered assets. Liferay provides a general framework for handling assets that includes tags, categories, comments, ratings, and more. Please see the Displaying Content Dynamically section for more information on Liferay’s asset framework.

Creating (Basic) Content

As we’ve already discussed, content is the reason web sites exist. Liferay Portal has made it easier than ever to get content published to your site. Because Liferay Portal is so flexible, you can use basic authoring tools right away or take advantage of the more advanced features. It’s adaptable to your needs.

We’ll begin by creating some simple content using Liferay’s WYSIWYG editor. Then we’ll publish it to the home page of the Lunar Resort’s web site. This is a fast and straightforward process that demonstrates how easy it is to create and publish content on your Liferay Portal instance. Let’s learn about the Web Content section in Site Administration so we can create and publish our first pieces of content.

When you manage web content from the Site Administration page, you can select the location where the content resides. For instance, you can add content that’s available to a specific site or globally across the portal. If you’re on the site you wish to add content to, simply navigate to the Admin tab on the Dockbar and select Site Administration. Conversely, if you need to switch sites or would like to add content globally, navigate to the Control Panel and select Sites. From this window, you can change the scope of where you’d like to view, edit, or create content.

Figure 2.14: You can choose where to create content by navigating to the Control Panel and selecting Sites.

Figure 2.14: You can choose where to create content by navigating to the Control Panel and selecting *Sites*.

Once you have the Lunar Resort site selected, click on the Web Content link in Site Administration. You’ll see a folder structure containing all of the web content articles that exist in the currently selected scope (the Lunar Resort site). You can click AddFolder to create a new folder. For sites with lots of content and web content articles, it can be very useful to use folders to group certain kinds of web content articles together. Click AddBasic Web Content to create a new web content article.

Figure 2.15: Click Add → Basic Web Content to create a new simple web content article. To create a new web content article based on an existing web content structure, click Add and then click on the name of the structure youd like to use.

Figure 2.15: Click *Add* → *Basic Web Content* to create a new simple web content article. To create a new web content article based on an existing web content structure, click *Add* and then click on the name of the structure you'd like to use.

Existing web content structures also appear in the Add menu. This provides users with shortcuts for creating specific kinds of web content articles. For example, if a web content structure called FAQ has been created for Frequently Asked Question articles in your currently selected scope, you can create a new FAQ article by clicking AddFAQ.

Click ManageStructures to view a list of web content structures that have already been created in your chosen scope. You can add new web content structures here. Web Content templates are always associated with a particular web content structure, so you can click ActionsManage Templates to view the web content templates associated with a structure or add a new template to a structure. In the next chapter, we’ll cover advanced features such as structures, templates, and content scheduling in detail.

Rich, WYSIWYG Editing

Once you’ve clicked AddBasic Web Content, you’ll find a highly customizable form that by default has two fields: a title and a powerful WYSIWYG editor. We could customize this form to contain whatever fields our content needs but we’ll keep things simple for now. If web content structures have already been created in your currently selected scope, you can select one for your new web content article by clicking Select next to the Structure heading. We discuss web content structures and templates in detail in the next chapter.

Type the words Welcome to the Lunar Resort in the Name field. In the content field, add a short sentence announcing the web site is up and running. The content can be localized in whatever language you want. You’ll learn more about localizing your content later on, which can be done after you publish your web content.

Getting a new web site up and running is an exciting step for anyone, whether it is a large corporation or a small non-profit charity. To celebrate this momentous achievement at the Lunar Resort, let’s give our announcement some of the pomp and circumstance we think it deserves!

Using the editor, select all the text and then change the style to Heading 1 and the color to Navy. You could insert an image here or even more text with a different style, as demonstrated in the screenshot below. You can also add bullets, numbering, links to another site or custom images. You can even add an emoticon. Go ahead and add a smiley face to the end of your announcement.

Figure 2.16: View your content changes directly in the editor.

Figure 2.16: View your content changes directly in the editor.

The WYSIWYG editor is a flexible tool that gives you the ability to add text, images, tables, links and more. Additionally, you can modify the display to match the purpose of the content. Plus it’s integrated with the rest of Liferay Portal: for example, when you upload an image to be added to a page, that image can be viewed and manipulated in the Documents and Media portlet.

If you’re HTML savvy, Liferay WCM doesn’t leave you out in the cold. You can switch from the WYSIWYG view by clicking the Source button. From the Source view, you can view the HTML content of your web content. If you wish, can edit the HTML directly.

Figure 2.17: If youve installed and enabled Xuggler from the Server Administration → External Tools section of the Control Panel, you can add audio and video to your web content!

Figure 2.17: If you've installed and enabled Xuggler from the *Server Administration* → *External Tools* section of the Control Panel, you can add audio and video to your web content!

You can integrate Liferay with external services to enable additional functionality. For example, if you navigate to the Control Panel, click on Server Administration and then on External Services, you can install and enable Xuggler. Enabling Xuggler allows you to embed audio and video files in web content. Installing and enabling Xuggler is easy; you can do it right from the Control Panel. Please refer to the Server Administration article of this guide for more details.

Once Xuggler has been installed and enabled, embedding audio or video files in a web content is easy. From the Dockbar, navigate to Site ContentWeb Content and click AddBasic Web Content. Look for the buttons on the CKEditor toolbar with audio and video icons. Click on either the audio or video button and then click Browse Server to browse to the audio or video file’s location on your portal’s documents and media repository. When you find the appropriate file, click Choose. If you haven’t already uploaded the audio or video file to the portal, you can do so by clicking on the Upload button. Select the file and then check that the audio or video component appears in the web content. Excellent! When your web content is published, users can view or listen to the embedded multimedia!

You can also download the web content article in XML format by clicking the Download button. This button is available on the Edit Web Content screen, after you’ve created your web content article.

Figure 2.18: The Download button is only available for an article that has a structure and template.

Figure 2.18: The *Download* button is only available for an article that has a structure and template.

An XML version of an article is essential when creating content for themes using the Resources Importer. If you’d like to learn more about importing web content with a theme, visit its dedicated tutorial.

The right side of the New Web Content form provides options for customizing your web content.

Figure 2.19: New web content can be customized in various ways using the menu on the right.

Figure 2.19: New web content can be customized in various ways using the menu on the right.

Abstract: lets you create a brief summary of the web content. You can also pair the text with a small image.

Categorization: specifies the content type from a list of options. They are Announcements, Blogs, General, News, Press Release, and Test. You can also create tags to make the content easier to find in a search. Note that these categories are defined by a property in the properties file; see the journal.article.types property in the Properties Document for further information.

Schedule: customizes the date and time your content publishes and/or expires.

Display Page: lets you determine where the web contents are displayed when linked from other pages. The Canonical URL can be used here. The Canonical URL is unique for articles that redirect the visitor to the article’s default display page.

Imagine you have a newspaper with a sports section and a technology section. You add a Sports page and a Tech page to your site, each one with a specific banner and look and feel. You want the articles to appear in the appropriate pages, but you know in Liferay articles are not related to pages. You can add an article as often as you like in different web content display portlets or in configured Asset Publishers. But if you have a View in context link, where will you show your article? This is where you’d use a default display page. Articles that have a default display page defined are shown with other related articles in the same display page.

Imagine you have 100 sports articles and 100 tech articles. In previous versions of Liferay you’d need to create a page for each article to show it. Now with only one sports page and one tech page, you can show all articles in one place in a consistent fashion.

Creating a Display Page

There are two ways of creating a display page. You can use a Content Display Page template, which automatically creates everything you need, or you can create one manually. The Content Display Page template is found under Page Templates in the Sites section of the Control Panel.

To create a display page manually, add an Asset Publisher to a page. Then make it the Default Asset Publisher for the page. This defines this Asset Publisher as the one that displays the content if several Asset Publishers are on the same page. Set this up by clicking Configuration on your Asset Publisher. Under the Setup tab, navigate to Display Settings and check the checkbox labeled Set as the Default Asset Publisher for This Page.

Once you’ve given an article its default display page, links to the article redirect the user to its default display page. To see how this works, add an Asset Publisher to another page, like the Home page of the newspaper, and configure it to View in a Specific Portlet. This setting is found in the Asset Link Behavior menu under Display Settings. If you click on the link, you’ll be redirected to the Default Display Page of the article.

You now see that the link looks something like this:


This is an example of a canonical URL, and it’s a nice enhancement for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because the article’s URL becomes the page URL. To a search engine that’s crawling your site, this means that the location of your article never changes. And if you decide to use the content on another page in the future, the article is still available at this URL. This feature is used in search results, in related assets and in Asset Publishers. For more information on Liferay’s Display Pages, see the Content Display Pages article.

Related Assets: enables you to connect any number of assets within a site or across the portal, even if they don’t share any tags and aren’t in the same category. You can connect your content to a Blogs Entry, Message Boards Message, Web Content, Calendar Event, Bookmarks Entry, Documents and Media Document, and a Wiki Page.

Figure 2.20: This blog entry has links to three Related Assets: one web content and two message board entries.

Figure 2.20: This blog entry has links to three Related Assets: one web content and two message board entries.

You’ll learn how to publish links to related assets using the Related Assets portlet in the Defining Content Relationships section.

Permissions: customize who has access to the content. By default, content is viewable by Anyone (Guest Role). You can limit viewable permissions by selecting any Role from the drop-down or in the list. Additionally, Liferay Portal provides the ability to customize permissions in more detail. Select the More Options link next to the drop down button and you’ll find the different activities you can grant or deny to your web content.

While you can set permissions here, they will be ignored unless Web Content Article permissions are activated in your Portal Properties. To activate the permission check for Web Content Articles you need to set the journal.article.view.permission.check.enabled= to true in your portal-ext.properties file, and restart Liferay. Once it is activated, any permissions you set in the article’s configuration will be checked before displaying the article.

Custom fields: customize metadata about the web content. The fields can represent anything you like, such as the web content’s author or creation date. If custom fields have been defined for web content (which can be done from the Custom Fields page of the Control Panel), they appear here.

For more information on Custom Fields see the Custom Fields section.

For this piece of web content, we don’t need to change anything. After you’re finished with permissions, click Save as Draft. This saves the content in draft form. Once you’re satisfied with your changes, select Publish. This makes the content available for display, but we still have some work to do to enable users to see it. In Liferay WCM, all content resides in a container, which is one of two portlets: Web Content Display or Web Content List. By far the most frequently used is the Web Content Display portlet. Let’s look at how it works.

Publishing (Basic) Content

Now that we’ve created and published our first piece of web content for the Lunar Resort, it’s time to display it. First, add the Web Content Display portlet to our Welcome page by selecting the Add button from the left palette and selecting the Applications tab.

Figure 2.21: Adding the Web Content Display Portlet.

Figure 2.21: Adding the Web Content Display Portlet.

Once the portlet appears, drag it to the position on the page where you want your content to appear. You can have as many Web Content Display portlets on a page as you need, which gives you the power to lay out your content exactly the way you want it.

To add existing web content, click the Select Web Content button on the lower left of the portlet. You will see the message Please select a web content from the list below. You have several options here.

Naturally, if your content appears in the list, you can simply select it. If there is lots of published content available, you could search for the content by name, ID, type, version, content and site (click the Advanced gear to see all the options). You can also show the available locales for your content. If you’re working on the page for a particular language, you can select the translation of your content that goes with your locale. To learn more about translating your content, visit the Localization section.

Figure 2.22: Publishing web content is a snap. At a minimum, you only have to select the content you wish to publish. You can also enable lots of optional features to let your users interact with your content.

Figure 2.22: Publishing web content is a snap. At a minimum, you only have to select the content you wish to publish. You can also enable lots of optional features to let your users interact with your content.

If you have enabled OpenOffice.org integration with your portal, you can also enable document conversion for your content. This gives your users the ability to download your content in their format of choice. This is especially handy if you are running a research or academically oriented site; users can very quickly download PDFs of your content for their research projects.

Note that you also have other options, such as enabling a Print button, enabling ratings so users can rate the content, enabling comments and enabling ratings on comments.

The Print button pops the content up in a separate browser window that contains just the content, without any of the web site navigation. This is handy for printing the content. Enabling ratings shows one of two ratings interfaces Liferay has: five stars or thumbs up and thumbs down. This can be set globally in the portal-ext.properties file. See the Properties Document for further information for more details about this.

Enabling comments creates a discussion forum attached to your content which users can use to discuss your content. Enabling ratings on comments gives your users the ability to rate the comments. You may decide you want one, some or none of these features, which is why they’re all implemented as simple check boxes to be enabled or disabled at need.

If you click the Supported Clients tab, you’ll see you can choose the type of client to which you want to expose content. This lets you target the large screens of users’ computers for expansive graphics and lots of special effects or target the small screens of mobile devices with pertinent information and a lightweight page. For now, leave both checked and click the Save button. You can now close the configuration window.

To publish new content, select the Add button on the lower left of the portlet. This launches the same full-featured editor you’ve already seen in the Control Panel, which lets you add and edit content in place as you are working on your page.

This is another example of the flexibility that Liferay Portal offers. At times, you may want to add content directly into the Web Content Display portlet of the page you’re managing, especially if you are in the process of building the page. At other times, you may want to navigate to Site Administration to create content, because at that moment you’re more concerned with the creation of the content and not where the content will later be displayed. Liferay WCM supports both processes.

Editing content that’s already been published is just as easy as creating new content is. You’ll use the same exact tools.

Editing Content

Once the content is displayed–whether you’ve selected content or created it in the Web Content Display portlet–you can edit the content directly from the Web Content Display portlet or from the Control Panel. To edit it from the Web Content Display portlet, select the Edit button to the lower left of the portlet. This launches the WYSIWYG editor and from there you can make any necessary changes.

Figure 2.23: The Edit, Select Web Content, and Add buttons appear when hovering over their icons.

Figure 2.23: The *Edit*, *Select Web Content*, and *Add* buttons appear when hovering over their icons.

When you publish updates to a web content that’s already being displayed somewhere on your portal (e.g., in a Web Content Display portlet or an Asset Publisher portlet), the content is immediately updated (unless, of course, you have a workflow enabled, which we’ll discuss below). It makes no difference whether you edit it from a Web Content Display portlet, from the Asset Publisher, or from the Site Administration interface.

Note: if you want to view your page the way your users will see it (i.e., without all those portlet controls and icons), go up to the left palette and select the Edit Controls icon. This makes all those extra controls you see as a portal administrator disappear. You’ll also notice the green “eye” transforms into an orange “eye”. If you need to use those controls again, just select Edit Controls to return to the original format.

That’s pretty much all there is to simple content creation. Whole sites have been created this way. But if you want to take advantage of the full power of Liferay’s WCM, you’ll want to use structures and templates found in the Advanced Web Content Management chapter. Next, let’s see how you can manage your content with an approval process called workflow.

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