Creating Sites

A site contains a set of pages that can be used to publish content or applications. By default, Liferay DXP starts with a single site that has a single page. You can build any website you wish out of this, complete with multi-nested page hierarchies. The site can stand independently or can be associated with an organization to serve as the website for that organization. Liferay’s framework provides all the site-building tools you need to manage a successful site.

Understanding Site Management

Whether you’re building a large corporate website or a small site designed to facilitate collaboration among team members, supporting different kinds of collaboration and social scenarios is a must. Liferay’s sites provide three membership types:

Open: Users can become members of the site at any time.

Restricted: Users can request site membership but site administrators must approve requests in order for users to become members.

Private: Users are not allowed to join the site or request site membership. 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.

You can view all the available open and restricted sites by adding the My Sites application to a page and accessing the Available Sites tab. You can request access to any of the sites you’re not already a member of by selecting the site’s Options button (Options) and clicking Join.

Members of a site can be given additional privileges within the site by using Liferay DXP’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. These concepts will be discussed later in the chapter.

Liferay DXP separates site-scoped information from the Control Panel by placing it in the Sites menu. From this menu, you can select the specific site to work on. The Site Administration panel is available for your site, which includes Pages, Content, Members, Configuration, and Publishing.

Figure 1: Your sites content resides in the Site Administration menu.

Figure 1: Your site's content resides in the Site Administration menu.

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

Sites can also 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. Some examples of content you can share across site include web content structures and templates, categories, application display templates, etc.

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 application is a configurable app 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 app to display site hierarchies, add it to a page, open its Configuration window, and under Display Style, select List Hierarchy. The My Sites Directory application is very similar to the Sites Directory application, except that it lists only the sites a user belongs to.

Each subsite in the hierarchy has its own administrator, and the Site Administrator role permissions do not flow down to child sites in the hierarchy. If a Site Administrator creates a subsite, he or she has the same permissions in that subsite. This is not, however, because of inheritance. It is only because creating a site makes you the Owner of that site. A Site Administrator or a parent site has no default role in any subsites created by other Site Administrators.

If you wanted a user to have administrative access to all sites in a site/subsite hierarchy, you must create a role based on the Site Administrator role that has the permission Manage Subsites.

The Site Map application is another configurable app that’s intended to help users navigate among pages within a site. When configuring this app, 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 application determines how many levels of nested pages to display.

Figure 2: The Sites Directory application lets users navigate between sites organized hierarchically. The Site Map application lets users navigate among pages of a site organized hierarchically.

Figure 2: The Sites Directory application lets users navigate between sites organized hierarchically. The Site Map application lets users navigate among pages of a site organized hierarchically.

Another useful administrative application is the Site Members application. This enables administrators to survey all the users, organizations, and user groups that reside in the site. Similarly, Liferay provides the Portal Directory application, which functions the same as the Site Members app, but globally scoped for all sites in the instance.

Liferay DXP’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 permissions 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 instance 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 website, 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 DXP always provides one default site, which is also known as the main site of the instance. This site does not have its own name but rather takes the name of the instance. By default the instance name is Liferay but this value can be changed through the simple configuration of the setup wizard. The instance name can also be changed at any time through the Control Panel within *Configuration → Instance Settings.

Adding Sites

Sites can be created through the Control Panel by a Liferay administrator. Liferay’s Control Panel provides an administrative interface for managing your Liferay instance. There are four main sections of the Liferay Control Panel: Users, Sites, Apps, and Configuration. In this section, you’ll learn how to use the Control Panel to manage sites. In a later section, you’ll learn about using the Control Panel to manage site templates. Site templates allow Liferay administrators to create multiple sites with the same default set of pages and content. For information about the Apps, Users, and Configuration sections of the Control Panel, see the Leveraging the Liferay Marketplace, User Management, and Using the Control Panel sections, respectively.

To add a site for the Lunar Resort instance, navigate to the Control Panel and select SitesSites. Then click the Add icon (Add Site) at the bottom right of the page. If there is at least one site template available, a dropdown menu appears. Site templates provide a preconfigured set of pages, 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 3: The New Site window aids in your new site development.

Figure 3: The New Site window aids in your new site development.

Name: names the site you wish to create. You also have the option to translate the name for many different languages. This can be done by selecting the language flag under the Name field, and inserting the name in the selected language. Liferay saves the name translation for each language and displays the translated site name when that specific language is selected for the instance. If a name translation is not provided, the default instance language’s name is displayed.

Description: describes the site’s intended function. The description can also be translated to other languages; see the Name description for more information on translating the site’s description.

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 app 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 app 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 app. 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 Sites 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.

Parent Site: lets you select a parent site for the site that’s being created. 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.

When creating a blank site or organization site, the site is not immediately viewable. This is because sites without a page are impossible to view. Therefore, before you can view your site, you must first create a page for it. To add a page for your temporarily invisible site, navigate to the Navigation option from Site Administration. Then add a public page. After adding your site’s first page, it renders and your site is viewable. For more information about adding pages, see the Creating and Managing Pages section.

You also have the option to categorize your site template using tags and categories by selecting the Categorization menu from the bottom of the page. To learn more about using tags and categories in Liferay, see the Organizing Content with Tags and Categories section. Lastly, you’ll notice at the top of the page an additional tab named Social. This tab lets you manage whether users of your site can mention other users. You’ll learn about mentioning users later in the Social Collaboration sections.

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 lets users unlink the site template if the user has permission to do so.

Once the site has been created, you’ll want to configure its settings to fit your needs. A site’s settings are broken into four categories: General, Social, Languages, and Advanced. You’ll learn more about your site’s settings in the next section.

Configuring Site Settings

You can access Site Settings by navigating to the Site Administation dropdown menu and selecting ConfigurationSite Settings.

Figure 4: The Site Settings window offers a plethora of options for your site.

Figure 4: The Site Settings window offers a plethora of options for your site.

You’ll find options to organize site content, manage site users, and improve your site’s overall intelligence. You’ll explore the Site Settings categories available, which are available from the General, Social, Languages, and Advanced tabs, and simulate configuring those settings for your sample Lunar Resort site.

Organizing Site Content

Organizing your site’s content drastically improves the usability of your site for users. The Site Settings menu offers some configuration options that aid in your organizational goals.

Categorization

You can explore ways to tag and categorize your site by clicking the Categorization tab under General. These tools help administrators organize the site and allows for users to easily find your site and its content through search and navigation. To take full advantage of tags and categories, you’ll need to add pages with content to your site. For more information on using tags and categories, visit the Organizing Content with Tags and Categories section.

Site Template

The last tab listed under the Basic Information category is Site Template. If you created your Lunar Resort site as a Blank Site, this option is not available in Site Settings. If you did, however, create your site using 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. To learn more about site templates and how to create your own, see the Building Sites from Templates section.

Content Sharing

If you select the Content Sharing tab from the Advanced tab, you can configure whether sub-sites can display content from this site. Administrators of this site’s sub-sites can use all structures, templates, categories, application display templates, etc. from this parent site. Even if you initially allowed content sharing between the parent site and its sub-sites, you’re able to disable this option and immediately revoke content sharing from all sub-sites.

Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin option under the Advanced tab provides the option to enable/disable the Recycle Bin for your site. You can also regulate the age (in minutes) 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 Restoring Deleted Assets section.

Custom Fields

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. The Custom Fields tab does not display in Site Settings unless you have existing custom fields. For more information on Custom Fields, see the Custom Fields section.

Documents and Media

The last option that relates to organizing your site’s content is Documents and Media, which is found under General. This lets you enable/disable Directory Indexing, which allows site administrators to browse your 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.

Now that you can organize your site’s content using Site Settings, move on to the next section to learn how to manage site users.

Managing Site Users

An always important job for site administrators is managing site users. There are configuration options in Site Settings that allow for easier user management.

Details

Details is the leading option under the General tab, which provides the same menu you filled out when first creating your Lunar Resort site. This allows an administrator to change the description and membership type of a 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.

You also have the ability to organize sites into hierarchies. At the bottom of the Details sub-section 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.

Default User Associations

Once you have the basic details of your site saved, you can begin assigning your users to roles and teams. Default User Associations, the leading option when opening the Advanced tab, 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.

Ratings

To allow your site’s users to rate content in your site, you can use the Ratings option to select what ratings type to use for applications like Documents and Media, Web Content, Comments, etc. Ratings types include Stars, Likes, and Thumbs. This is the leading option when opening the Social tab.

Mentions

The last configuration option in Site Settings related to managing users is Mentions. Mentions is found under the Social tab. This option allows you to enable/disable the Mentioning functionality, which is used to mention (notify and/or draw attention to) friends and colleagues by entering the “@” character followed by their user name. You can learn more about the mentioning feature by visiting the Mentioning Users article.

Now that you’re aware of your Site Settings abilities to improve User and Content management, you’ll learn how to improve your site’s overall intelligence using Site Settings.

Improving Site Intelligence

Site Settings offers several miscellaneous configuration options that improve your site’s usability, overall display, and data tracking. To make your Lunar Resort site smarter, explore and configure the options below.

Site URL

One of the most important aspects of your site is the simplicity of your site URLs. Long obscure site URLs are a hassle for users to deal with, and can negatively affect your site’s probability of being featured by search engines. Having a human-readable friendly URL assists indexing bots and is critical to good search engine optimization. For the Lunar Resort site, you can select the Site URL tab to set a friendly URL and/or a virtual host. The Friendly URL option lets you manage the path to your site in the instance’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.

For example, suppose you want to set a friendly URL for your Lunar Resort site. If you set the friendly URL of your instance’s default site to /lunar-resort, the URL of your default site’s public home page would change to http://localhost:8080/web/lunar-resort/home. If your instance’s default site had private pages, the URL of the default private home page would change to http://localhost:8080/group/lunar-resort/home.

Note that if you’re adding a friendly URL for your instance’s home page, you should update your instance’s Home URL field so that page requests to http://localhost:8080 redirect properly. To do this, navigate to the ConfigurationInstance Settings page of the Control Panel and find the Home URL field in the Navigation section. For the Lunar Resort example, you would enter /web/lunar-resort/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 Liferay instance’s new homepage: http://localhost:8080/web/lunar-resort/home.

The other setting you can configure under the Site URL tab is Virtual Hosts, which makes web navigation much easier for your users by connecting a domain name to a site. This allows you to define a domain name (i.e., www.lunar-resort.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 you 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 instance’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 instance’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. The Site URL option is listed under the General tab.

Analytics

Analyzing site traffic is another huge advantage for site administrators that want to monitor what content is most popular. Liferay DXP includes built-in support for Google Analytics, allowing administrators to make use of Google’s tool set for analyzing site traffic data. When you sign up for Google Analytics, a snippet of code is provided which needs to be added to your web pages to allow Google’s system to register the page hit. It can be a tedious process to add this code to every page on a site, especially if it’s a large site and there is a lot of user-generated content.

This problem can be solved in Liferay by putting Google’s code into a custom theme written specifically for the web site on which Liferay is running. Doing this, however, requires a theme developer to make specific changes to the theme and it prevents users from using the many themes that are freely available for Liferay DXP “out of the box.”

Because of this, support for Google Analytics has been built into Liferay DXP, and can be turned on through a simple user interface. This allows Liferay administrators to make use of Google Analytics on a site by site basis and turn it on and off when needed. You can sign up for Google Analytics at the Google Analytics site here:

http://www.google.com/analytics

To enable Google Analytics support, navigate to the Analytics tab in Site Settings, which loads a very simple form, pictured below.

Figure 5: Setting up Google Analytics for your site is very easy: sign up for Google Analytics, receive an ID, and then enter it into the Google Analytics ID field.

Figure 5: Setting up Google Analytics for your site is very easy: sign up for Google Analytics, receive an ID, and then enter it into the Google Analytics ID field.

Enter your Google Analytics ID (which should have been provided to you when you signed up for the service) in the field and click Save. All the pages in the site you selected will now have the Google Analytics code in them and will be tracked.

To enable a different analytics service, navigate to Configuration in the Control Panel, and then go to Instance SettingsMiscellaneous. You can enter the name of any additional service you want to add in the Analytics field provided. Once you have entered the name, go to the Site SettingsAdvancedAnalytics page for the site where you wish to add analytics. Copy the JavaScript tracking code provided by your analytics platform into corresponding field for your service. Now all pages on the selected site contain the tracking script and will send analytics data to your analytics platform.

This is a fairly simple procedure, and it gives you the ability to take advantage of some great tools to help you visualize who’s coming to your site and from where. The Analytics option is listed under the Advanced tab.

Maps

The Maps options lets you configure the maps API provider used by your Liferay instance when displaying geolocalized assets. Geolocalized assets can be displayed for documents, web content articles, DDL records, etc. Maps is available under the Advanced tab.

Languages

The Languages option lets you configure the language options for your site. This is the leading option when opening the Languages tab. You have options to use the default language options or define a custom default language.

Now that you know how to configure sites, you’ll learn how to customize your personal sites.

Customizing Personal Sites

By default, newly created users in Liferay DXP are each granted a personal site. Each user functions as the site administrator of his or her personal site. Personal sites are fully customizable but cannot have more than one member. The public pages of personal sites provide a space for users to add content and applications that they’d like to make accessible to anyone, including guests. User blogs are often placed on public personal site pages. Content and applications that users would like to reserve for personal use are often placed on the private pages of personal sites. For example, each user can add a Documents and Media application to his or her private pages and use it as an online private file repository.

If you’d like to disable personal sites for your Liferay instance, just add the following properties to your portal-ext.properties file:

layout.user.public.layouts.enabled=false
layout.user.private.layouts.enabled=false

What if you initially had user personal sites enabled for your instance but then disabled them? Each existing user’s personal site remains on your Liferay instance until the next time they log in, at which point it’s removed.

You can allow users to create personal sites but not have them automatically created for new users. To do this, first make sure that layout.user.public.layouts.enabled and layout.user.private.layouts.enabled are not set to false. You don’t need to explicitly set them to truetrue is the default. Then add the following properties to your portal-ext.properties file:

layout.user.public.layouts.auto.create=false
layout.user.private.layouts.auto.create=false

If the properties layout.user.public.layouts.enabled, layout.user.private.layouts.enabled, layout.user.public.layouts.auto.create, and layout.user.private.layouts.auto.create are all set to true, which is the default, then users will have personal sites and public and private pages will be automatically created for new users. There are a number of portal properties you can use to customize the automatically created pages. You can customize the names of the default pages, the applications that appear on the pages, the themes and layout templates of the default pages, and more. Please refer to the Default User Public Layouts and Default User Private Layouts sections of the portal.properties file for details.

Historically (prior to Liferay 5.1), only power users received personal sites. Back then, they were called personal communities. If you’d like only power users to receive personal sites, add the following properties to your portal-ext.properties file:

layout.user.public.layouts.power.user.required=true
layout.user.private.layouts.power.user.required=true

Personal sites are a dynamic feature of Liferay DXP. They allow users to manage and customize their own pages and content on your Liferay instance.

You’ve officially been introduced to Liferay’s concept of sites. 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 can learn more about creating site pages in the next section.

« Starting Site DevelopmentCreating and Managing Pages »
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