Updating Your Controller to Use Services

Now that you’ve created your service and persistence layers, it’s time to update your controller so that it uses them to store and retrieve guestbooks and their entries for your users.

You have a concept in your new, service-driven version of the application that you didn’t have before. In the previous, preferences-based Guestbook application, you had only one guestbook. Now that you’ve added a Guestbook entity, the one application can store many guestbooks, and each guestbook can have wholly separate sets of entries. For this reason, you’ll need to add a new action and a new JSP to handle adding guestbooks.

Actions go in the controller (your portlet class) so you’ll implement that first.

  1. Open your GuestbookPortlet.java class.

  2. Add the following method to the class:

     public void addGuestbook(ActionRequest request, ActionResponse response)
             throws PortalException, SystemException {
         ServiceContext serviceContext = ServiceContextFactory.getInstance(
             Guestbook.class.getName(), request);
         String name = ParamUtil.getString(request, "name");
         try {
                     name, serviceContext);
             SessionMessages.add(request, "guestbookAdded");
         } catch (Exception e) {
             SessionErrors.add(request, e.getClass().getName());

You can already see differences in this action from the other one you have in the class. First, you obtain a ServiceContext object so that you can use some of the information, such as the ID of the current user, in your call to your service layer. Then you get the value of the name field from the form (which you haven’t implemented yet). Once you have all the information you need, you can call your service layer, which happens inside a try/catch block.

Remember those validate() methods you created in your service layer? This is how they come into play in the controller layer. If the user didn’t type anything in the name field, your validate() method throws an exception. This exception is caught here, and error messages can be added to Liferay’s SessionErrors object, which is then used by your view layer to display those messages to your users. In this case, users are directed back to the edit_guestbook.jsp that you’ll create, so they can correct the error. Otherwise, your guestbook is added correctly, and a message is added to Liferay’s SessionMessages object. For now, these are simple messages, but it’s easy to create a Language.properties file later to contain all the messages for your application.

The next thing you have to do is replace your addEntry method with a service-enabled version:

public void addEntry(ActionRequest request, ActionResponse response)
        throws PortalException, SystemException {

    ServiceContext serviceContext = ServiceContextFactory.getInstance(
            Entry.class.getName(), request);

    String userName = ParamUtil.getString(request, "name");
    String email = ParamUtil.getString(request, "email");
    String message = ParamUtil.getString(request, "message");
    long guestbookId = ParamUtil.getLong(request, "guestbookId");

    try {
                guestbookId, userName, email, message, serviceContext);

        SessionMessages.add(request, "entryAdded");


    } catch (Exception e) {
        SessionErrors.add(request, e.getClass().getName());

        PortalUtil.copyRequestParameters(request, response);



As you can see, apart from having a few more fields to process, this method is much the same.

Next, you’ll replace the render() method with the service-enabled version.

  1. Remove the parseEntries() method. You now have no use for it.

  2. Replace the render() method with one that makes use of your services:

     public void render(RenderRequest renderRequest,
             RenderResponse renderResponse) throws PortletException, IOException {
         try {
             ServiceContext serviceContext = ServiceContextFactory.getInstance(
                     Guestbook.class.getName(), renderRequest);
             long groupId = serviceContext.getScopeGroupId();
             long guestbookId = ParamUtil.getLong(renderRequest, "guestbookId");
             List<Guestbook> guestbooks = GuestbookLocalServiceUtil
             if (guestbooks.size() == 0) {
                 Guestbook guestbook = GuestbookLocalServiceUtil.addGuestbook(
                         serviceContext.getUserId(), "Main", serviceContext);
                 guestbookId = guestbook.getGuestbookId();
             if (!(guestbookId > 0)) {
                 guestbookId = guestbooks.get(0).getGuestbookId();
             renderRequest.setAttribute("guestbookId", guestbookId);
         } catch (Exception e) {
             throw new PortletException(e);
         super.render(renderRequest, renderResponse);

There’s some logic going on here, but it’s pretty straightforward. The main question you want to ask yourself when determining rendering logic is, What do I need to provide to the view layer so it can display data to the user? In this case, you need at least one Guestbook entity in the database so that you can display its entities. When this portlet is first placed on the page, there aren’t any Guestbook entities in the database. It’s easy to think of at least two ways to handle this. One way to do it is if there is no Guestbook in the database, you could show a page that contains only a button that allows users to add Guestbooks. Another way to do it is to generate a Guestbook automatically, and then show the resulting empty entries list, ready to use. Since Liferay’s Wiki portlet has a similar construct (you can add many wiki nodes, each of which is a wiki by itself), this is the way the Guestbook portlet works.

After getting a ServiceContext and the current groupId, the portlet attempts to retrieve a guestbookId from the request. If one is there, then a particular guestbook has been selected at some point by the user. If there is no guestbookId in the request, then the default guestbook should be displayed. Next, a list of Guestbook entities is retrieved from the database, and the total number of entities available is checked. If there are no guestbooks in the database, then this is the first time this portlet is being used, and the default guestbook needs to be created. This is done by calling the addGuestbook method from the service layer and setting the guestbookId to the value of the newly added Guestbook entity.

If Guestbook entities were found in the database, but no guestbookId was found in the request, then this portlet has been used before, but it’s now being used by this particular user for the first time in this browsing session. For that reason, the default guestbook should be shown, so the guestbookId is set to the value of the first guestbook in the list of Guestbook entities. This is then placed in the request, so it can be used by the view layer of the application to display that guestbook’s entries.

This logic makes the Guestbook portlet work exactly like Liferay’s Wiki portlet: by default, if no guestbook has been chosen to view by the user, the default guestbook is shown. If that default guestbook doesn’t exist already, it is created.

Great! You’ve now written every component of your guestbook application except for the view layer. That’s your next task.

« Integrating Your Persistence Framework into Your ApplicationImplementing a UI with Liferay Taglibs »
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