Creating Custom Item Selector Views

Item Selector’s default selection views may provide everything you need for your app. Custom selection views are required, however, for certain situations. For example, if you want your users to be able to select images from an external image provider, then you must create a custom selection view. You can create a custom selection view by following the steps in this tutorial. Before getting started, you’ll learn a bit more about selection views.

Note that the view the Item Selector presents is determined by the type of entity the user is selecting. The Item Selector can also render multiple views for the same entity type. For example, several selection views are available when a user selects an image. Each selection view is a tab in the UI that corresponds to the image’s location.

Figure 1: An entity type can have multiple selection views.

Figure 1: An entity type can have multiple selection views.

Each selection view is represented by an *ItemSelectorCriterion class. The tabs in figure 1 are represented by the following *ItemSelectorCriterion:

You’ll create a custom selection view by following these steps:

  1. Configure your selection view’s OSGi module.
  2. Implement the selection view’s class.
  3. Write your selection view’s markup.

Configuring Your Selection View’s OSGi Module

Follow these steps to configure your selection view’s module:

  1. Add these dependencies to your module’s build.gradle:

    dependencies {
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay", name: "com.liferay.item.selector.api", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay", name: "com.liferay.item.selector.criteria.api", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay.portal", name: "com.liferay.portal.impl", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay.portal", name: "com.liferay.portal.kernel", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay.portal", name: "com.liferay.util.taglib", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "javax.portlet", name: "portlet-api", version: "2.0"
            compileOnly group: "javax.servlet", name: "javax.servlet-api", version: "3.0.1"
            compileOnly group: "org.osgi", name: "org.osgi.service.component.annotations", version: "1.3.0"
  2. Add your module’s information to the bnd.bnd file. For example, this configuration adds the information for a module called My Custom View:

    Bundle-Name: My Custom View
    Bundle-Version: 1.0.0
  3. Add a Web-ContextPath to your bnd.bnd to point to your module’s resources:

    Web-ContextPath: /my-custom-view

    If you don’t have a Web-ContextPath, your module won’t know where your resources are. The Include-Resource header points to the relative path for the module’s resources.

Now that your module is configured, you can create the selection view’s class.

Implementing Your Selection View’s Class

To create a new selection view, you must first know what kind of entities you want it to present (images, videos, users, etc.). This determines the specific ItemSelectorCriterion you need to use. For example, a selection view for images must use ImageItemSelectorCriterion.

You must also know the entity’s return type (the information type you expect from entities when users select them). For example, if a selected entity returns its URL, you would use URLItemSelectorReturnType for the return type.

For a full list of the criterion and returns types available in Liferay DXP’s apps, see the reference document Item Selector Criterion and Return Types.

Once you’ve determined these things, follow these steps to create your selection view’s class:

  1. Create an ItemSelectorView component class that implements the ItemSelectorView interface. Use the criterion the view requires as a type argument to this interface. In the @Component annotation, set the item.selector.view.order property to the order you want it to appear in when displayed alongside other selector views of the same criterion. The lower this value is, the higher the view’s priority is and the sooner it appears in the order.

    For example, this example selector view class is for images, so it implements ItemSelectorView with the ImageItemSelectorCriterion class as a type argument. The @Component annotation sets the item.selector.view.order property to 200 and registers the class as an ItemSelectorView service:

        property = {"item.selector.view.order:Integer=200"},
        service = ItemSelectorView.class
    public class SampleItemSelectorView
        implements ItemSelectorView<ImageItemSelectorCriterion> {...

    Note that the criteria order can also be specified in the app’s getItemSelectorURL method.

  2. Create getter methods for the criterion class, servlet context, and return types. You’ll use these in the steps that follow:

    public Class<ImageItemSelectorCriterion> getItemSelectorCriterionClass() 
        return ImageItemSelectorCriterion.class;
    public ServletContext getServletContext() {
        return _servletContext;
    public List<ItemSelectorReturnType> getSupportedItemSelectorReturnTypes() {
        return _supportedItemSelectorReturnTypes;

    Note that the getSupportedItemSelectorReturnTypes method returns a list of ItemSelectorReturnTypes. You’ll populate this list in a later step to specify the return types that the selection view supports.

  3. Configure the title, search options, and visibility settings for the selection view. You’ll do this via these methods:

    • getTitle: returns the localized title of the tab to display in the Item Selector dialog.

    • isShowSearch(): returns whether the Item Selector view should show the search field.

    • isVisible(): returns whether the Item Selector view is visible. In most cases, you’ll want to set this to true. You can use this method to add conditional logic to disable the view.

    Here’s an example configuration for the Sample Selector selection view:

    public String getTitle(Locale locale) {
        return "Sample Selector";
    public boolean isShowSearch() {
        return false;
    public boolean isVisible(ThemeDisplay themeDisplay) {
        return true;
  4. Use the renderHTML method to set the render settings for your view. In addition to the servlet request and response, this method takes the following arguments:

    • itemSelectorCriterion: the *ItemSelectorCriterion required to display the selection view.
    • portletURL: the portlet URL used to invoke the Item Selector.
    • itemSelectedEventName: the event name that the caller listens for. When an element is selected, the view fires a JavaScript event with this name.
    • search: a search boolean that specifies when the selection view should render search results. When the user performs a search, this boolean should be set to true.

    Here’s an example implementation of a renderHTML method that points to a JSP file (sample.jsp) to render the view. Note that the itemSelectedEventName is passed as a request attribute so it can be used in the view markup. The view markup is specified via the ServletContext method getRequestDispatcher. Although this example uses JSPs, you can use another language such as FreeMarker to render the markup:

    public void renderHTML(
        ServletRequest request, ServletResponse response,
        ImageItemSelectorCriterion itemSelectorCriterion,
        PortletURL portletURL, String itemSelectedEventName,
        boolean search
    throws IOException, ServletException {
        ServletContext servletContext = getServletContext();
        RequestDispatcher requestDispatcher =
        requestDispatcher.include(request, response);
  5. Use the @Reference annotation to reference your module’s class for the setServletContext method. In the annotation, use the target parameter to specify the available services for the servlet context. This example uses the osgi.web.symbolicname property to specify the com.liferay.selector.sample.web class as the default value. You should also use the unbind = _ parameter to specify that there’s no unbind method for this module. In the method body, simply set the servlet context variable:

        target =
        unbind = "-"
    public void setServletContext(ServletContext servletContext) {
        _servletContext = servletContext;
  6. Define the _supportedItemSelectorReturnTypes list that you referenced in step 2 with the return types that this view supports. This example adds the URLItemSelectorReturnType class and FileEntryItemSelectorReturnType class to the list of supported return types (you can use more return types if needed). More return types means that the view is more reusable. Also note that this example defines its servlet context variable at the bottom of the file:

    private static final List<ItemSelectorReturnType>
        _supportedItemSelectorReturnTypes =
                new ItemSelectorReturnType[] {
                    new FileEntryItemSelectorReturnType(),
                    new URLItemSelectorReturnType()
     private ServletContext _servletContext;

For a real-world example of a view class, see the SiteNavigationMenuItemItemSelectorView class.

Writing Your View Markup

Now that you’ve implemented your selection view’s class, you must write the markup that renders the view. The exact markup you write depends on your app’s needs. It also depends on your personal preferences, as you can write it with taglibs, AUI components, or even pure HTML and JavaScript. Therefore, there’s no standard or typical view markup, even for simple applications. Regardless, the markup must do two key things:

  • Render the entities for the user to select.
  • When an entity is selected, pass the information specified by the Item Selector return type via a JavaScript event.

For example, the example view class in the previous section passes the JavaScript event name as a request attribute in the renderHTML method. You can therefore use this event name in the markup:
        `<%= {ITEM_SELECTED_EVENT_NAME} %>',


For a complete, real-world example, see the layouts.jsp view markup for the com.liferay.layout.item.selector.web module. Even though this example is for the previous version of Liferay DXP, it still applies to Liferay DXP 7.1. Here’s a walkthrough of this layouts.jsp file:

  1. This layouts.jsp file first defines some variables. Note that LayoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext is an optional class that contains additional information about the criteria and view:

    LayoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext = 
    LayoutItemSelectorCriterion layoutItemSelectorCriterion = 
    Portlet portlet = PortletLocalServiceUtil.getPortletById(company.getCompanyId(), 
  2. This snippet imports a CSS file for styling and places it in the <head> of the page:

            <link href="<%= PortalUtil.getStaticResourceURL(
            request, application.getContextPath() + "/css/main.css", 
            %>" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />

    You can learn more about using the liferay-util taglibs in the tutorial Using the Liferay Util Taglib.

  3. This snippet creates the UI to display the layout entities. It uses the liferay-layout:layouts-tree taglib along with the Lexicon design language to create cards:

    <div class="container-fluid-1280 layouts-selector">
        <div class="card-horizontal main-content-card">
                <div class="card-row card-row-padded">
                                checkContentDisplayPage="<%= layoutItemSelectorCriterion.isCheckDisplayPage() %>"
                                draggableTree="<%= false %>"
                                expandFirstNode="<%= true %>"
                                groupId="<%= scopeGroupId %>"
                                portletURL="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getEditLayoutURL() %>"
                                privateLayout="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.isPrivateLayout() %>"
                                rootNodeName="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getRootNodeName() %>"
                                saveState="<%= false %>"
                                selectedLayoutIds="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getSelectedLayoutIds() %>"
                                selPlid="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getSelPlid() %>"

    This renders the following UI:

    Figure 2: The Layouts Item Selector view uses Lexicon and Liferay Layout taglibs to create the UI.

    Figure 2: The Layouts Item Selector view uses Lexicon and Liferay Layout taglibs to create the UI.

  4. This portion of the aui:script returns the path for the page:

    <aui:script use="aui-base">
        var LString = A.Lang.String;
        var getChosenPagePath = function(node) {
                var buffer = [];
                if (A.instanceOf(node, A.TreeNode)) {
                        var labelText = LString.escapeHTML(node.get('labelEl').text());
                                function(treeNode) {
                                        var labelEl = treeNode.get('labelEl');
                                        if (labelEl) {
                                                labelText = LString.escapeHTML(labelEl.text());
                return buffer.join(' > ');
  5. The following snippet passes the return type data when the layout (entity) is selected. Note the url and uuid variables retrieve the URL or UUID for the layout:

        var setSelectedPage = function(event) {
                var disabled = true;
                var messageText = '<%= UnicodeLanguageUtil.get(request, "there-is-no-selected-page") %>';
                var lastSelectedNode = event.newVal;
                var labelEl = lastSelectedNode.get('labelEl');
                var link ='a');
                var url = link.attr('data-url');
                var uuid = link.attr('data-uuid');
                var data = {};
                if (link && url) {
                        disabled = false;
                        data.layoutpath = getChosenPagePath(lastSelectedNode);
  6. This checks if the return type information is a URL or a UUID. It then sets the value for the JSON object’s data attribute accordingly. The last line adds the CKEditorFuncNum for the editor to the JSON object’s data attribute:

                                <c:when test="<%= Objects.equals(layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getItemSelectorReturnTypeName(), URLItemSelectorReturnType.class.getName()) %>">
                                        data.value = url;
                                <c:when test="<%= Objects.equals(layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getItemSelectorReturnTypeName(), UUIDItemSelectorReturnType.class.getName()) %>">
                                        data.value = uuid;
                <c:if test="<%= Validator.isNotNull(layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getCkEditorFuncNum()) %>">
                        data.ckeditorfuncnum: <%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getCkEditorFuncNum() %>;

    The data-url and data-uuid attributes are in the HTML markup for the Layouts Item Selector. The HTML markup for an instance of the Layouts Item Selector is shown here:

    Figure 3: The URL and UUID can be seen in the data-url and data-uuid attributes of the Layout Item Selectors HTML markup.

    Figure 3: The URL and UUID can be seen in the `data-url` and `data-uuid` attributes of the Layout Item Selector's HTML markup.

  7. The JavaScript trigger event specified in the Item Selector return type is fired, passing the data JSON object with the required return type information:

                        '<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getItemSelectedEventName() %>',
                                data: data
  8. Finally, the layout is set to the selected page:

        var container ='#<portlet:namespace />treeContainerOutput');
        if (container) {
                container.swallowEvent('click', true);
                var tree = container.getData('tree-view');
                tree.after('lastSelectedChange', setSelectedPage);

Your new selection view is automatically rendered by the Item Selector in every portlet that uses the criterion and return types you defined, without modifying anything in those portlets.

Great! Now you know how to create custom views for the Item Selector.

Understanding the Item Selector API’s Components

Selecting Entities Using the Item Selector

Creating Custom Item Selector Entities

« Creating Custom Item Selector EntitiesDocuments and Media API »
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