Leveraging Liferay's Multi-site Capabilities

As stated in the Building a site with Liferay Web Content section, a site is a set of pages that can be used to publish content or applications. Sites can be independent or they can be associated with an organization and serve as the website for that organization. With Liferay, you can create as many different sites as you like within the context of a single portal.

You can use sites in Liferay to build many different kinds of websites. Whether you’re building a large corporate website, a company intranet, or a small site designed to facilitate collaboration among team members, Liferay’s framework provides all the tools you need. To support different kinds of collaboration and social scenarios, Liferay’s sites provide three membership types:

  • Open: Users can become members of the site at any time. Users can join sites from the My Sites portlet.

  • Restricted: Users can request site membership but site administrators must approve requests in order for users to become members. Requests can be made from the My Sites portlet.

  • Private: Users are not allowed to join the site or request site membership. Private sites don’t appear in the My Sites portlet. Site administrators can still manually select users and assign them as site members.

In addition to these memberships, when a site is associated with an organization, all the users of that organization are automatically considered members of the site.

Members of a site can be given additional privileges within the site by using Liferay’s permission settings. It is also possible to assign different roles within the site to different members. This can be done through site roles which are defined equally for all sites or teams which are unique for each site.

As of Liferay 6.2, sites can be organized hierarchically, just like organizations. The difference between sites and organizations, of course, is that sites are used to organize pages, content, application data, and users (via site memberships) whereas organizations are only used to group users. Content sharing is available for sites within the same hierarchy. For instance, if a parent site has a document called Lunar Goals and Objectives and would like for all its subsites to have a copy, the parent site’s administrator can enable content sharing to automatically share the document with its subsites, instead of having to send each site the document individually. Also, content sharing privileges can be set to let every site administrator share content across sites they manage.

Please refer to the Sites Admin Portlet section of Liferay’s portal.properties file for a list of relevant configurable properties. For example, the sites.content.sharing.with.children.enabled property allows you to disable content sharing between sites and subsites, disable it by default while allowing site administrators to enable it per site, or to enable it by default while allowing administrators to disable it per site.

The Sites Directory portlet is a configurable portlet that can allow users to view a hierarchy of sites and subsites. It enables users to navigate to any of the displayed sites. To use this portlet to display site hierarchies, add it to a page, open its Configuration window, and under Display Style, select List Hierarchy. The Site Map portlet is another configurable portlet that’s intended to help users navigate among pages within a site. When configuring this portlet, a site administrator can select a root page and a display depth. Just as sites can be organized hierarchically, so can the pages within a site. The display depth of the Site Map portlet determines how many levels of nested pages to display.

Figure 2.3: The Site Directory portlet can allow users to navigate between sites organized hierarchically. The Site Map portlet can allow users to navigate among pages of site organized hierarchically.

Figure 2.3: The Site Directory portlet can allow users to navigate between sites organized hierarchically. The Site Map portlet can allow users to navigate among pages of site organized hierarchically.

Liferay’s sites have two categories of pages called page sets. There are two kinds of page sets: public pages and private pages. A site can have only public pages, only private pages or both. Private pages can only be accessed by site members. Public pages can be accessed by anyone, including users who haven’t logged in. It’s possible to restrict access to pages at the page set level or at the level of individual pages through the permission system. Public pages and private pages have different URLs and can have different content, applications, themes, and layouts.

Building a corporate intranet is a typical use case for Liferay sites. A corporate intranet could have sites for all the organizations in the company: Sales, Marketing, Information Technology, Human Resources and so on. But what about the corporate health and fitness center? That’s something everybody in the company, regardless of organization, may want to join. This makes it a good candidate for an open and independent site. Similarly, the home page for a corporate intranet should probably be placed in an open independent site so any member of the portal can access it.

For other kinds of web sites, you may want to use independent sites to bring users together who share a common interest. If you were building a photo sharing web site, you might have independent sites based on the types of photos people want to share. For example, those who enjoy taking pictures of landscapes could join a Landscapes site and those who enjoy taking pictures of sunsets could join a Sunsets site.

Liferay always provides one default site, which is also known as the main site of the portal. This site does not have its own name but rather takes the name of the portal. By default the portal name is liferay.com but this value can be changed through the simple configuration of the setup wizard. The portal name can also be changed at any time through the Control Panel within Portal Settings.

Creating and Managing Sites

Sites can be created through the Control Panel by a portal administrator. Liferay’s Control Panel provides an administrative interface for managing your portal. There are four main sections of the Liferay’s Control Panel: Users, Sites, Apps, and Configuration. In this section, we’ll learn how to use the Control Panel to manage sites. In the next section, we’ll learn about using the Control Panel to manage site templates and page templates. For information about the Apps, Users, and Configuration sections of the Control Panel, please see the Leveraging the Liferay Marketplace, User Management, and Using the Control Panel sections, respectively.

To add a site, click on Sites under the Sites section of the Control Panel and then click Add. If there is at least one site template available, a dropdown menu appears. Site templates provide a preconfigured set of pages, portlet applications, and content that can be used as the basis of a site’s public or private page set. To create a site from scratch, select Blank Site. Otherwise, select the name of the site template you’d like to use. If you opt to create a site from a site template, you have to choose whether to copy the site template’s pages as your new site’s public or private page set. If other site templates are created, they will appear in the Add menu as they become available. The following figure shows the form that needs to be filled when creating a Blank Site.

Figure 2.4: The New Site window aids in your new site development.

Figure 2.4: The New Site window aids in your new site development.

Name: is the name of the site you wish to create.

Description: describes the site’s intended function.

Active: determines whether a site is active or inactive. Inactive sites are inaccessible but can be activated whenever a site administrator wishes.

Membership Type: can be open, restricted or private. An open site appears in the My Sites portlet and users can join and leave the site whenever they want. A restricted site is the same except users must request membership. A site administrator must then explicitly grant or deny users’ requests to join. A private site does not appear in the My Sites portlet and users must be added to it manually by a site administrator.

Allow Manual Membership Management: determines whether to allow or disallow users to be manually added or removed from the site. By default, manual site membership management is enabled. This allows administrators to manually assign users to the site. It also allows users to join open sites or request membership from restricted sites using the My Sites portlet. For organization sites, manual site membership management is disabled, by default. This causes organization members to be automatically assigned membership following the organization’s membership policy. Also, because manual membership management is disabled for organization sites, by default, the Users section of Site Administration is unavailable. To activate the Users functionality for your organization site, you’ll need to check Allow Manual Membership Management after creating the organization site by navigating to its Site Settings menu.

Directory Indexing Enabled: allows site administrators to browse the site’s documents and media files and folders. For example, a site administrator of a site called Lunar Resort can browse documents at http://localhost:8080/documents/lunar-resort if this option is enabled.

Parent Site: lets you select a parent site for the site that’s being created. As of Liferay 6.2, sites can be organized hierarchically. Using hierarchical sites provides a simplified way to manage site memberships and site content sharing. For organizations that have attached sites, the organization hierarchy should match the site hierarchy. When you select a parent site, an additional option appears: Limit membership to members of the parent site. If this option is enabled, the site’s membership policy performs a check so that you can only assign members to the current site if they’re already members of the parent site.

Once you’ve created a site, it appears in the Sites page of the Control Panel. Once the site has been created you can specify more details about the site using three categories: Basic Information, Search Engine Optimization, Advanced, and Miscellaneous. We’ll go into more detail for your site’s settings in the Site Settings section later in the chapter.

When creating a site from a site template, the initial form provides a new option that lets you decide if you want to copy the pages from the template as public pages or as private pages. By default, the site is linked to the site template and changes to the site template propagate to any site based on it. A checkbox appears that allows users to unlink the site template if the user has permission to do so.

Now that our new site is created, lets learn how to create and manage its pages.

Creating and Managing Pages

You have a few options for accessing and configuring your site’s page editing interface. There are three interfaces to be aware of: Site Pages, Page, and Edit Page. These interfaces all deal with your site’s pages, however, each interface is configurable in a different place and completes different objectives.

From the Site Administration page, your site pages can be accessed and configured. If you’re already on your desired site, you can reach the Site Administration page by navigating to the Admin tab in the Dockbar and selecting Site Administration. If you’re not currently on the site you’d like to edit, go to My Sites in the Dockbar and select your desired site. Once you’re on the Site Administration page, select Site Pages (if necessary) under the Pages tab from the left panel. You can also use the Pages shortcut which is also listed under the Admin tab.

Figure 2.5: The Site Pages interface allows you to edit your site pages as a whole.

Figure 2.5: The *Site Pages* interface allows you to edit your site pages as a whole.

To add new pages to your site, click the Add icon from the left palette and select the Page tab. This is the Page interface, which offers a plethora of options for your new page including name, site layout, and site template.

To manage the specific page of the site you’ve navigated to, click the Edit icon from the left palette. This will only edit the specific page you’re currently on.

Figure 2.6: The Edit Page interface allows you to edit the current page youre on.

Figure 2.6: The *Edit Page* interface allows you to edit the current page you're on.

Site Pages is an interface to view existing pages, create new pages, view pages and export or import pages using Liferay Archive (LAR) files. Note that you can switch between managing a set of pages and managing a single page using the left-hand side navigation menu. Click on Public Pages or Private Pages to manage the group or click on an individual page to manage just that one. Switching views like this changes the list of available tabs to the right. By default, liferay.com, which we renamed to lunar-resort.com, contains a single public page called Welcome.

Liferay’s page groups are always associated with sites. Even users’ personal pages are part of their personal sites. All pages belong to one of two types of page sets: public pages and private pages. By default, public pages are accessible to anyone, even non-logged in users (guests). Private pages are accessible only to users who are members of the site which owns the pages. This means the private pages of an organization’s site would only be viewable by site members and members of the organization.

Regardless of whether the pages are public or private, Liferay uses the same interface to manage them. Let’s look at this interface more closely.

More Page Management Tools

From the Site Pages interface in Site Administration, you can add a page to the site by clicking the Add Page button. Because Public Pages is selected on the left, clicking Add Page here adds a top level page next to the Welcome page. You can, however, nest pages as deeply as you like. To create a sub-page under the Welcome page, select the Welcome page first and then create your page. If you later decide you don’t like the order of your pages, you can drag and drop them in the list to put them in whatever order you want. Let’s go ahead and add another top level page and name it Community. We’ll use this page for the Recent Bloggers and Wiki portlets.

Figure 2.7: You can add a page to your site by giving it a name, page template, and page type.

Figure 2.7: You can add a page to your site by giving it a name, page template, and page type.

When you create a new page, you can create either a blank page or a page prepopulated with portlets from a page template. When you’re entering the name of the page, you can select from a list of page templates that are currently available. To view the pages once you add them, click the View Pages button. This is how you’d populate your pages with content and applications. This is covered in succeeding chapters. Page types include Layout, Panel, Embedded, Link to URL, and Link to a Page of This Site. By default, all pages are created as portlet pages but in some situations you might want to use one of the other options.

Layout: the pages we’re usually talking about. They have a layout which you can drag and drop portlets into. Most of the pages you create will be layout pages.

Panel: can have any number of portlets on them, as selected by an administrator, but only one will be displayed at a time. Users select which portlet they want to use from a menu on the left side of the page and the selected portlet takes up the entire page.

Embedded: display content from another website inside of your portal. An administrator can set a URL from in the page management interface and that page will appear in the context and within the navigation of your Liferay portal. To embed an external website, you must provide the protocol in the URL (e.g. https://www.liferay.com/).

Link to URL: are just redirects to any URL specified by an administrator. You can use URL pages to create links to pages belonging to other sites of your portal or to pages of an external site. Use URL pages cautiously since blind redirects create a poor user experience.

Link to a Page of This Site: creates a portal page which functions as an immediate redirect to another page within the same site. You can select which page to link to from a dropdown in the page management interface. You could use a Link to a Page of This Site to place a deeply nested page in the primary navigation menu of your site, for example.

To use the Edit Page interface to modify an existing page, navigate to the left palette and select the Edit icon. Notice that it’s not possible to add a new page. This is because you’re only managing the current page.

Once you’ve created pages and populated them with content, Liferay provides a way for you to back them up to separate files. Let’s see how that works.

Backing up and Restoring Pages

Next to the Add Page button on the Site Pages screen, there are two buttons labeled Export and Import. The Export button allows you to export the your site’s data as a single file, called a LAR (Liferay Archive) file. When importing data into a site, it’s best to use a newly created site to avoid potential conflicts between the existing site data and the data about to be imported. When exporting site data, you can specify exactly what data should be included in the LAR:

  • Site pages (you can select exactly which ones)
  • Page settings
  • Theme
  • Theme settings
  • Logo
  • Application configurations
  • Application content
  • Archived setups
  • User preferences

Once you’ve created a LAR file, you can import it into a site on another Liferay server. The data included in the LAR file, including all the site pages, will be imported into the site. Exporting and importing LARs is a great way to take content from a site in one environment (say, a development or QA environment) and move it all in one shot to a site on another server. You can use LARs to import data onto production servers, but you should not make this a regular occurrence. If you want to regularly move pages from one server to another, you should use Liferay’s staging environment, which we discuss in the Advanced Web Content Management chapter.

LARs can be a good way to back up your site’s content. You can export them to a specific location on your server which is backed up. If you ever have to restore your site, all you need to do is import the latest LAR file. However, please be careful! If there’s any content that exists both in the LAR and in the site that’s importing the data, there may be a conflict, and data could be corrupted. If you’d like to restore a Liferay site using a LAR file, it’s best to delete the site entirely, create a new site with the same name as the old one (i.e., re-create the site), and then import the LAR file into the new site. This way, there’s no chance for there to be a data conflict.

Liferay can handle some kinds of naming collisions when importing a LAR file into a site. For example, suppose you’re importing a LAR file into a site and the LAR file has a page with a certain friendly URL. If an existing page in the site has the same friendly URL there will be a collision. Liferay resolves the collision by adding a number to the end of the friendly URL and incrementing until there’s no collision. This behavior takes place for friendly URL translations as well. Similarly, if importing a LAR into a site causes a category name collision, Liferay renames the imported categories.

Let’s be good administrators and export a LAR file for backup purposes. Click on the Export button and then name the file lunarresortv1.lar. Use the check boxes to determine what you’d like to export. For this initial export, select everything. Note that if you select one of the Choose radio selectors or Change links, you’re given checkboxes for options to choose. The applications’ content can also be selected for export, including the Documents and Media Library, Message Boards, and Web Content assets. You can even export the theme you’re using!

Once you click Export, your browser prompts you to save the file. Once you have the file, you can copy it to a backup location for safekeeping or import it into another installation of Liferay Portal. If you must rebuild or wish to revert back to this version of your site, you can import this file by clicking the Import button from the Site Pages dialog box, browsing to it and selecting it.

Next, we’ll look at the options on the right side menu, starting with Look and Feel.

Customizing the Look and Feel of Site Pages

When you open Site Pages from within Site Administration, it defaults to the Look and Feel tab. On this tab, you’re presented with an interface that allows you to choose a theme for the current site. Themes can transform the entire look of the portal. They are created by developers and are easily installed using the Liferay Marketplace. Since we don’t have any themes beyond the default one installed yet, we’ll use the default theme for our pages.

Figure 2.8: The Look and Feel interface allows you to choose a theme for the current site.

Figure 2.8: The Look and Feel interface allows you to choose a theme for the current site.

Many themes include more than one color scheme. This allows you to keep the existing look and feel while giving your site a different flavor. Change the color scheme from blue to green by selecting Dark under Color Schemes. If you now go back to the site (by clicking the left arrow in the top left corner of the Dockbar), you’ll see some parts of the page are now tinged with a darker hue.

If you apply a color scheme to a set of public or private pages, it is, by default, applied to each page in the set. If, however, you click the Edit Page button from the left palette of a specific page, you can select Define a specific look and feel for this page from the Look and Feel tab to make the color scheme apply to this page only. You can use this feature to choose a different color scheme for a particular page than the one defined for the set of public or private pages to which it belongs.

There are a few more configurable settings for your theme. You can switch the bullet style between dots and arrows and you can choose whether or not to show portlet borders by default.

Starting in Liferay 6.2, WAP related technologies have been deprecated. In particular, the ability to modify themes for regular browsers and mobile devices can now only be accomplished using Mobile Device Rules, which can be found in the right menu. You can learn more about using Mobile Device Rules in the Displaying Site Pages to Mobile Devices section. You can enable the WAP functionality for your portal’s Look and Feel section by opening/creating your portal-ext.properties file in your ${LIFERAY_HOME} directory and setting mobile.device.styling.wap.enabled=true. WAP functionality will be completely removed from Liferay in the next release.

The CSS section allows you to enter custom CSS that will also be served up by your theme. In this way, you can tweak a theme in real time by adding new styles or overriding existing ones.

The next option configures the logo that appears for your site.

Using a Custom Logo for a Site

By default, the Liferay logo is used for your site pages’ logo. If you want to use your own logo for a specific site, use the Logo tab. Adding a custom logo is easy: select the Logo tab from the Site Pages interface and browse to the location of your logo. Make sure your logo fits the space in the top left corner of the theme you’re using for your web site. If you don’t, you could wind up with a site that’s difficult to navigate, as other page elements are pushed aside to make way for the logo.

In the logo tab, you can also choose whether or not to display the site name on the site. If you check the box labeled Show Site Name the site name will appear next to the logo. This option is enabled by default and cannot be disabled if the Allow Site Administrators to set their own logo option is disabled in Portal Settings. Removing the site name is not available for the default site – only newly created sites and user pages have the option to have the name display.


If you click on JavaScript from the Site Pages interface for a page set (either Public Pages or Private Pages), you’ll find a window where you can enter JavaScript code the will be executed at the bottom of every page in the site. If your site’s theme uses JavaScript (as is usually the case), it’s best to add custom JavaScript code to the theme and not in this window. This way, all of your site’s JavaScript code remains in one place.

Using the JavaScript window of your site’s Site Pages interface may be useful if your site’s theme does not use JavaScript. In this case, the JavaScript window of your site’s Site Pages interface will contain all of your site’s JavaScript and you can add some dynamic features to your site’s pages.

Next, let’s look at an advanced feature of the Site Pages interface: merging the current site’s pages with the pages of the default site.


If you click on Advanced from the Site Pages interface for a public page set, you’ll find an option to merge the public pages of your portal’s default site with the public pages of the current site. If you enable this option, the pages of the default site appear in the current site’s navigation bar, along with the current site’s pages. Also, the pages of the current site appear in the navigation bar of the default site, along with the default site’s pages. This “merging” of pages only affects the list of pages in the default site’s and the current site’s navigation bars. This allows users to more easily navigate from the current site to the default site, and vice versa. This option can be enabled for the public pages of both personal sites and regular sites.

Note that this “merging” of pages is not a “hard merge”. For example, suppose that the site administrators of twenty different sites on your portal all enabled the Merge default site’s public pages option. Would the pages of all these different sites be merged into each site’s navigation bar? No, that would make a mess! Instead, the portal keeps track of the current scopeGroupId (the ID of the current site) and the previous scopeGroupId (the ID of the previously visited site). If the Merge default site’s public pages option is enabled for either the current site or the previous site, the pages of the default site are merged in the pages of the other site.

For example, suppose that your portal has three sites: the default site, site A, and site B. All three sites have some public pages. Site A has the Merge default site’s public pages option enabled, site B does not. When a user first logs in, he’s directed to the default site. The scopeGroupId is that of the default site and there is no previous scopeGroupId, so no additional pages appear in the default site’s navigation bar. Then suppose the user navigates to site A. Site A has the Merge default site’s public pages option enabled, so the default site’s pages are added to site A’s navigation bar. Now if the user goes back to the default site, site A becomes the previous site so site A’s pages are added to the default site’s navigation bar. If the user navigates to site B, no additional pages appear in site B’s navigation bar because site B does not have the Merge default site’s public pages option enabled. And if the user navigates back to the default site, site B becomes the previous site, and, again, since site B does not have the Merge default site’s public pages option enabled, no additional pages are added to the default site’s navigation menu.

Next, let’s examine how to configure individual pages.

Changing Options for Individual Pages

When you use the Edit Page interface for a single page, some different options appear. Let’s look at what these do.

Details: lets you name the page for any localizations you need, set whether the page is hidden on the navigation menu, set an easy to remember, friendly URL for the page, and select the page type. Plus you can specify how portlets are arranged on a page. Choose from the available installed templates to modify the layout. It’s very easy for developers to define custom layouts and add them to the list. This is covered more thoroughly in both the Liferay Developer’s Guide and in Liferay in Action.

SEO: provides several means of optimizing the data the page provides to an indexer that’s crawling the page. You can set the various meta tags for description, keywords and robots. There’s also a separate Robots section that lets you tell indexing robots how frequently the page is updated and how it should be prioritized. If the page is localized, you can select a box to make Liferay generate canonical links by language. If you want to set some of these settings for the entire site, you can specify them from the Sitemaps and Robots tabs of the Manage Site Settings dialog box (see below).

Look and Feel: lets you set a page-specific theme.

JavaScript: gives you the ability to paste custom JavaScript code to be executed on this page.

Custom Fields: If custom fields have been defined for pages (which can be done from the Custom Fields page of the Control Panel), they appear here. These are metadata about the page and can be anything you like, such as author or creation date.

Advanced: contains several optional features. You can set a query string to provide parameters to the page. This can become useful to web content templates, which you’ll see in the next chapter. You can set a target for the page so that it either pops up in a particularly named window or appears in a frameset. And you can set an icon for the page that appears in the navigation menu.

Mobile Device Rules: allows you to apply rules for how this page should be rendered for various mobile devices. You can set these up in the Mobile Device Rules section of Site Administration.

Embedded Portlets: only appears if you have embedded one or more portlets on the page. To embed a portlet on a page, first look up its portlet name in Liferay’s WEB-INF/portlet-custom.xml file. Portlet names in portlet-custom.xml are sometimes referred to as portlet IDs. What we usually mean by “portlet names,” portlet-custom.xml refers to as “display names”. Next, add a web content display content to the page, create a new web content article, switch to source, and paste in the following:

<runtime-portlet name="" />

Then add the portlet name (ID) inside of the quotation marks, publish the web content article, and select the article in the web content display portlet. Once you’ve selected the new web content article, the embedded portlet appears on the page.

Customization Settings: lets you mark specific sections of the page you want users to be able to customize.

Next, we’ll run practice modifying page layouts!

Modifying Page Layouts

Page layouts allow you to arrange your pages so the content appears the way you want it to. Liferay comes with many layouts already defined. Developers can create more and they can be deployed to your portal for your use.

To prepare for the portlets we’ll soon be adding, let’s change the layout of the Collaboration page. To access layouts, select the Edit icon from the left palette and click the Details tab (if necessary).

Now, select the 2 Columns (70/30) layout and click Save. Once saved, you’ll return to the page and it’ll seem as though nothing has happened. Once we start adding portlets, however, you’ll notice the page is now equally divided into two columns. You can stack portlets on top of each other in these columns. There are, of course, more complicated layouts available and you can play around with them to get the layout you want.

Sometimes a particular layout is almost what you want but not quite. In this case, use the Nested Portlets portlet to embed a layout inside another layout. This portlet is a container for other portlets. It lets you select from any of the layouts installed in Liferay, just like the layouts for a page. This gives you virtually unlimited options for laying out your pages.

The next option we’ll explore is page customizations.

Page Customizations

With page customizations, any user with the appropriate permissions can create personalized versions of any public page. Before users can create personalized versions of pages, customizations must first be enabled by an administrator. Administrators can activate or deactivate customizations for any row or column on any page. When users customize a page, they have the option to use either their version or the default version of a page. Users can’t see alternate versions of pages other than their own.

Figure 2.9: During page customization, individual columns change colors to indicate whether they are selected or not.

Figure 2.9: During page customization, individual columns change colors to indicate whether they are selected or not.

To activate page customizations, click the Edit Page button from the left palette and select the Customization Settings tab. Then select Show Customizable Sections to view and modify sections on your page.

When an administrator activates page customizations for a page, any portlets that are in a Customizable row or column can be moved around the page or removed from the page. Users can add new portlets of their own choosing to these columns of the page and can also customize portlet configurations. If at any time users determine they don’t like their customizations, they can click Reset My Customizations to revert their pages back to the default. For more information about page customizations, please refer to the Page Customizations section.

Now that you know how to enable page customizations, let’s look at the settings for the site as a whole.

Configuring Site Settings

As with Site Pages, you can access Site Settings by navigating to Site Administration and clicking Site Settings from the Configuration section on the left panel. You can also select the Site Administration sub-tab Configuration from the Admin drop-down.

Figure 2.10: The Site Settings window offers a plethora of options for your site.

Figure 2.10: The Site Settings window offers a plethora of options for your site.

You’ll find options to specify details and metadata about your site, set up friendly URLs and virtual hosts, configure search engine optimization settings, turn staging on or off and specify a Google Analytics ID. Let’s take a closer look.

Details: allows an administrator to change the description and membership type of a site and also to specify tags and categories for the site. The membership type can be set as open, restricted or private based on the privacy needs of the site. Users can join and leave an open site at will. To join a restricted site, a user has to be added by the site administrator. A user can also request to be added through the Sites section of the Control Panel. A private site is like a restricted site but doesn’t appear in the Sites section of the Control Panel for users who aren’t members.

Categorization: allows you to apply categories and tags to the site.

Site URL: Set a friendly URL and/or a virtual host for your site here. The Friendly URL option lets you manage the path to your site in the portal’s URL. Friendly URLs are used for both public and private pages. For public pages, the friendly URL is appended to http://localhost:8080/web. For private pages, the friendly URL is appended to http://localhost:8080/group. Each friendly URL needs to be a unique name, of course. Having a human-readable friendly URL assists indexing bots and is critical to good search engine optimization.

For example, suppose you were creating a portal for a bank called the Best Bank. If you set the friendly URL of your portal’s default site to /best-bank, the URL of your default site’s public home page would change to http://localhost:8080/web/best-bank/home. If your portal’s default site had private pages, the URL of the default private home page would change to http://localhost:8080/group/best-bank/home.

Note that if you’re adding a friendly URL for your portal’s home page, you should update your portal’s Home URL field so that page requests to http://localhost:8080 redirect properly. To do this, navigate to the Portal Settings page of the Control Panel and find the Home URL field in the Navigation section. For our bank example, we would enter /web/best-bank/home into the Home URL field. Once you’ve entered this setting, page requests to localhost:8080 will redirect to the friendly URL of your portal’s new homepage: http://localhost:8080/web/best-bank/home.

Virtual Hosts make web navigation much easier for your users by connecting a domain name to a site. This tab allows you to define a domain name (i.e., www.mycompany.com) for your site. This can be a full domain or a subdomain. This enables you to host a number of web sites as separate sites on one Liferay server.

For instance, if we set this up for the Lunar Resort’s development network, users in that site could use developers.lunar-resort.com to get to their site, provided that the Lunar Resort portal’s network administrators created the domain name and pointed it to the Liferay server.

To set this up, the DNS name developers.lunar-resort.com should point to your portal’s IP address first. Then enter http://developers.lunar-resort.com in the Virtual Host tab for the Developers site. This helps users quickly access their site without having to recall an extended URL.

Site Template: If you’ve created the site from a site template, this section displays information about the link between the site template and the site. Specifically, you can see which site template was used and whether or not it allows modifications to the pages inherited from it by site administrators. If you’re not using site templates for this site, you can safely ignore this section.

Sitemap: lets you send a sitemap to some search engines so they can crawl your site. It uses the sitemap protocol, which is an industry standard. You can publish your site to Yahoo or Google and their web crawlers will use the sitemap to index your site. Liferay Portal makes this very simple for administrators by generating the sitemap XML for all public web sites.

By selecting one of the search engine links, the sitemap will be sent to them. It’s only necessary to do this once per site. The search engine crawler will periodically crawl the sitemap once you’ve made the initial request.

If you’re interested in seeing what is being sent to the search engines, select the Preview link to see the generated XML.

Robots: If you’re using virtual hosting for this site, you can configure robots.txt rules for the domain. The Robots page gives you the option to configure your robots.txt for both public and private pages on a site. If you don’t have Virtual Hosting set up, this tab is rather boring.

Default User Associations: lets you configure site roles and teams that newly assigned site members will have by default. If you’d like to learn more about creating roles and/or teams, visit the Roles and Permissions and Creating Teams for Advanced Site Membership Management sections, respectively.

Staging: enables you to edit and revise a page behind the scenes, then publish changes to your site once they have been completed and reviewed. For a full explanation of Staging, see the Staging Page Publication section.

Analytics: allows you to integrate your pages with Google Analytics. Liferay provides seamless integration with Google Analytics, allowing you to place your ID in one place, then it will get inserted on every page. This enables you to focus your efforts on building the page, rather than remembering to put the code everywhere. Google Analytics is a free service which lets you do all kinds of traffic analysis on your site so you can see who visits, where visitors are from and what pages they most often visit. This helps you tweak your site so you can provide the most relevant content to your users.

Content Sharing: lets you configure whether sub-sites can display content from this site. Even if you initially allowed content sharing between the parent site and its sub-sites, you’re able to deselect this option and immediately revoke content sharing from all sub-sites.

Recycle Bin: provides the option to enable/disable the Recycle Bin for your site. You can also regulate the age (in days) for which content is able to be stored in the Recycle Bin until it is permanently deleted. For a full explanation of the Recycle Bin, see the Recyling Assets with the Recycle Bin section.

Custom Fields: lets you edit the custom fields you already have configured for the Site resource. If you don’t have any custom fields configured for the Site resource, you can navigate to the Control Panel → Custom Fields located under the Configuration tab.

Display Settings: lets you configure the language options for your site. You have options to use the default language options or define a new default language.

Pages: From Site Settings, click on Public Pages or Private Pages to manage some basic features of the pages on a site. If no pages have been defined yet, you can set site templates for the public or private pages. If pages already exist, links are provided to view them. You can also change the site’s application adapter, which is a special type of hook plugin that customizes out of the box functionality for specific sites.

Site Hierarchy: New to Liferay 6.2 is the ability to organize sites into hierarchies. At the bottom of the Site Settings page is the Parent Site section. This feature allows you to select the parent site for the site you’re currently on. After selecting a parent site, you have a checkbox option to limit membership to members of the parent site. For more information on site hierarchies, navigate to the Leveraging Liferay’s Multi-site Capabilities section.

Now that you know how to configure sites, let’s look at page templates and site templates.

Page Templates and Site Templates

Page Templates and Site Templates are invaluable tools for building similar pages on larger portals. As you continue to add pages to sites in your portal, you’ll notice repeatable patterns in the designs of those pages. Page templates enable you to preconfigure a single page and then apply it to any new page you create. Site templates allow you to do the same thing but on the scale of a site–if you have multiple sites that use a similar structure of pages, you can create a single site template and use it to create as many sites as desired. For more information on page templates and site templates, see the Using Page Templates and Using Site Templates sections.

Site Content

Liferay 6.2 separates Web Content management from the Control Panel by placing it on the AdminSite Administration page. From Site Administration, you’ll notice the Content heading where all your portal’s content can be managed, including web content.

Figure 2.11: Your sites content resides on the Site Administration page.

Figure 2.11: Your site's content resides on the Site Administration page.

For details about Liferay’s social collaboration suite, see the Social Collaboration section.

Next, let’s learn more details about creating pages.

Creating Pages

There are a lot of other things you can do beyond placing portlets on a page. So let’s start working on the Lunar Resort site. You can do this by going up to the Dockbar and clicking My SitesLunar Resort.

We’ll use the Community page you created earlier in the chapter. Navigate to the Community page and select the Add button from the left palette and then the Page tab.

This screen’s options should look familiar to you from previous sections, but let’s briefly go through how to create a new page:

The Page interface allows you to:

  • Give the name of the page
  • Hide the page from the theme navigation
  • Choose the page template
  • Link to another website
  • Link to another page in the current site
  • Copy an existing page

When you select Add Page at the bottom of the menu, your new page will appear on the navigation menu of your site. You can drag the page names to their correct order as you see fit.

You can also create new pages from the Site Pages interface. Navigate to Site Administration → Site Pages. If you navigate to Public Pages or Private Pages on your site hierarchy, you’ll notice the Add Page button, which we discussed earlier in the chapter. If you navigate to a specific site, you’ll notice the Add Child Page button.

The Add Child Page lets you create child pages underneath the page you’ve selected. You can nest pages as deep as you like but for every page below the top level hierarchy you must provide navigation to it via a Navigation or Breadcrumb portlet, at least with most themes (including the default). Developers can create themes which have cascading menu bars which show the full hierarchy. Some examples of that are in Liferay’s plugin repositories.

For now, click the back arrow. You should be able to define and manage pages in Liferay at this point so let’s look at what you’d put on a page.

Adding Portlets to a Page

As we discussed earlier, Liferay Portal pages are composed of portlets. All of your site’s functionality, from blogs to shopping, is composed of portlets. Even static web content can be displayed through Web Content Display portlets. To add a portlet to a page, just click the Add button from the left palette and select the Applications tab. You can either browse through the categories of available portlets until you find the one you’re looking for or you can search for portlets by name. Once you’ve found a portlet, click the Add button to add it the current page. Once it’s been added to the page, you can drag it to a new position. Alternatively, you can drag the portlet directly from the Applications menu to a specific location on the page. Let’s add some portlets to the Collaboration page of the Lunar Resort site.

  1. From the left palette, select AddApplications.
  2. In the menu that appears, expand the Collaboration category.
  3. Drag the Blogs Aggregator portlet off the Add Application window onto the right column of our page.
  4. Next, drag the Wiki portlet to the left column.

See how easy it is to add applications to your pages? We’ve added the Wiki portlet and Blogs Aggregator portlet to the Community page.

Figure 2.12: Yeah, were showoffs. But as you can see, your page layout options are virtually limitless.

Figure 2.12: Yeah, we're showoffs. But as you can see, your page layout options are virtually limitless.

It’s easy to make your pages look exactly the way you want them to. If the default layout options provided aren’t enough, you can even develop your own. To find more information about developing custom layout templates, please refer to the Creating a Layout Template Project in the Plugins SDK tutorial.

Page Permissions

By default, public pages are just that: public. They can be viewed by anybody, logged in or not logged in. And private pages are really only private from non-members of the site. If someone has joined your site or is a member of your organization, that person can see all the private pages. You can, however, modify the permissions on individual pages in either page group so only certain users can view them.

Let’s say we wanted to create a page only for administrators to see. We can do this with the following procedure:

  1. Go to the Dockbar and select AdminSite Administration.
  2. Click the Site Pages link (if necessary).
  3. Click the Private Pages tab to switch to the Private Pages. Remember, these pages by default are viewable only by members of the site.
  4. Create a page called Admin Tips.
  5. Click on the page in the tree on the left and then click Permissions.
  6. Uncheck the View and Add Discussion permissions next to the Site Member role.
  7. Click the Save button.

Figure 2.13: The Permissions offer a plethora of options for each role.

Figure 2.13: The Permissions offer a plethora of options for each role.

Congratulations! You’ve just changed the permissions for this page so only site administrators can view it. Any users you add to this role can now see the page. Other users, even members of this site, won’t have permission to see it.

Pages in Liferay are as flexible as pages you’d create manually without a portal. Using a point and click interface, you can define your site any way you want. You can create and remove pages, export and import them, set their layouts, define how they are indexed by search engines and more. You’ve also been introduced to Liferay’s concept of sites. Again, using a point and click interface, you can create multiple web sites and define how users can access them, whether they are linked to a domain name and create all of their pages.

You now understand how to manage pages in Liferay Portal. It’s time to move on to adding content to those pages. Liferay’s Web Content Management (WCM) is a highly powerful, yet flexible, set of tools that enables you to successfully manage your web site.

You’ll soon discover that Liferay’s WCM is easy to learn and highly configurable. If you already have experience with WCM, you’ll see some new features and improvements to old ones. If you’re new to Liferay’s WCM, then you’ll be surprised at how fast you will be adding, editing and scheduling content on your site. Once you’re familiar with portlets such as Web Content Display and Asset Publisher, your ability to manage an immense site with a large amount of content will simply amaze you.

We’ll be using Liferay’s WCM to publish simple pieces of content, develop templates to define how content is to be displayed, set up a workflow for content to be approved, schedule when content is to be published and much, much more.

« Setting up the Lunar Resort Example PortalFeatures of Liferay's WCM »
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