Administering Liferay Sync

Liferay Sync is an add-on product for Liferay DXP that synchronizes files between your Liferay DXP server and users’ desktop and mobile environments. With Liferay Sync, users can publish and access shared documents and files from their native environments without using a browser. Clients for Windows and Mac OS desktops and Android and iOS mobile platforms are supported. As users add and collaborate on documents and files, Liferay Sync automatically synchronizes them across all configured Sync clients and in your Liferay DXP installation. Liferay Sync integrates completely with Liferay DXP so that features such as authentication and versioning function in the supported environments. The Liferay Sync desktop client stores files locally so they’re always available, even when users are offline, and when they go back online, it automatically synchronizes files upon client reconnection. The Liferay Sync mobile client saves storage space on users’ devices by downloading only the files they choose.

This guide walks you through setting up Sync for your Liferay DXP installation and its sites. In addition to basic configuration, important topics such as security and accidental data loss are covered. Note, you must be an administrator to set up your Liferay DXP installation for Sync. If you’re not an instance or site administrator, you can skip this guide and move on to installing and using the Sync desktop client.

To prepare your Liferay DXP installation for Sync, you must first install Sync’s prerequisite apps.

Installing Sync’s Prerequisites

Liferay Sync requires that your Liferay DXP installation contains the most recent versions of the following Liferay Marketplace apps:

  • Liferay IP Geocoder: Uses geographic IP lookup to get the approximate location of devices that register with Sync. This is a security measure that lets you see where the devices are that connect to your Liferay DXP installation via Sync.

  • Liferay OAuth Provider: Enables OAuth in your Liferay DXP installation. OAuth is required to use Sync with SSO (single sign-on). The next section details additional steps that are required to use Sync with SSO.

  • Liferay Sync Connector: Lets you enable and configure Sync in your Liferay DXP installation. For example, you can disable Sync across the instance or on a site-by-site basis. Note that Sync is enabled by default for all your Liferay DXP installation’s sites.

These apps are preinstalled in the latest Liferay DXP releases. To verify that you have them, navigate to Control PanelAppsApp Manager. You can search for them in the Search field at the upper right. If your Liferay DXP installation doesn’t contain these apps, install them from Liferay Marketplace. Click here for instructions on installing apps from Liferay Marketplace.

Note that older Sync 1.x clients can’t connect to the latest Sync Connector app.

If you want to use Sync Connector’s default settings and are fine with Sync being enabled for all your Liferay DXP installation’s sites, you can skip the next section. Before directing your users to install and configure the Sync desktop and mobile clients, however, Make sure to read this guide’s sections on preventing accidental file deletion and ensuring Sync security. You should also warn your users about the potential for accidental data loss.

Next, you’ll learn how to configure Sync for SSO. You can skip this section if your Liferay DXP installation doesn’t use an SSO server.

Configuring Sync to Use SSO

If your Liferay DXP installation uses an SSO (single sign-on) server, you must ensure that Sync can access the following URLs without being redirected to your SSO server. Sync can’t work without direct access to these URLs. You must therefore whitelist these URLs:

http(s)://<portal-address>/c/portal/oauth/*
http(s)://<portal-address>/api/jsonws/sync-web.*
http(s)://<portal-address>/sync-web/*

For example, if your Liferay DXP installation’s address is https://www.joesblog.com, then you must whitelist the following URLs:

https://www.joesblog.com/c/portal/oauth/*
https://www.joesblog.com/api/jsonws/sync-web.*
https://www.joesblog.com/sync-web/*

Sync uses the paths specified in the first URL for communication via OAuth, and the paths specified in the remaining URLs for normal communication with your Liferay DXP installation.

You must also enable OAuth in the Sync Connector app. The next section covers this, as well as other information on how to configure Sync.

Configuring Liferay Sync

Sync Connector lets you manage how or if clients connect to your Liferay DXP installation. You can also configure default file permissions on a per-site basis and manage the devices that connect to your Liferay DXP installation. To access Sync Connector, select Control PanelConfigurationSync Connector Admin.

Sync Connector Admin has three tabs:

  1. Settings: Control Sync’s general behavior. These settings apply globally to Sync.

    Figure 1: The Control Panels Configuration section contains Sync Connector Admin.

    Figure 1: The Control Panel's Configuration section contains Sync Connector Admin.

    • Allow the use of Sync?: Whether Sync is enabled.

    • Allow users to sync their personal sites?: Whether users can sync data with their personal sites.

    • OAuth Enabled: Whether clients use OAuth and any configured SSO autologin filters for authentication.

    • Allow LAN Syncing?: Whether desktop clients attempt to download updates from other desktop clients on the same local network before downloading from the server. This can help reduce server load and increase data transfer speeds. Note that LAN syncing only works with clients that also enable it.

    • Max Connections: The maximum number of simultaneous connections each client is allowed per account. For example, if Max Connections is three, a client can simultaneously upload or download up to three files for each account. Note, this setting operates on a per client basis. If Max Connections is set to three and a user has two clients connected to an account (which is possible if Sync is installed on two different devices), then the user is effectively allowed six simultaneous connections. While increasing Max Connections can speed up file transfers it also places a heavier load on the server. Max Connections is set to one by default.

    • Poll Interval: The frequency in seconds that clients automatically check the server for updates. For example, if set to ten, connected clients check the server for updates every ten seconds. The default Poll Interval is five.

    • Max Download Rate: The maximum transfer rate, in bytes, at which clients can download. A value of 0 specifies no limit. This setting takes precedence over clients’ download rate setting.

    • Max Upload Rate: The maximum transfer rate, in bytes, at which clients can upload. A value of 0 specifies no limit. This setting takes precedence over clients’ upload rate setting.

    • Force Security Mode: Whether to force security mode on mobile clients. Security mode encrypts Sync files on the device and requires a passcode when accessing the Sync mobile app.

  2. Sites: Control Sync on a per-site basis.

    Figure 2: Sync Connector Admins Sites tab lets you manage Sync on a per-site basis.

    Figure 2: Sync Connector Admin's Sites tab lets you manage Sync on a per-site basis.

    For each site in the Liferay DXP installation, the Sites tab lists each site’s default file permissions (more on this in a moment) and whether Sync is enabled for that site. Sync is enabled by default for all sites. To disable Sync for a site, click the site’s Actions button (Actions) and select Disable Sync Site. To disable multiple sites at once, select their checkboxes and click the Disable Sync Sites link that appears above the table. Please use caution when disabling Sync for a site, as doing so deletes files for that site from the Sync clients. Disabling Sync for a site, however, doesn’t affect the site’s files in the Liferay DXP installation.

    You can enable Sync for a site by selecting Enable Sync Site from its Actions button. To enable Sync for multiple sites, select their checkboxes and click the Enable Sync Sites link that appears above the table.

    Make sure that each site for which Sync is enabled has a Documents and Media app on at least one of its pages. If a site doesn’t have the app on any of its pages and users click the Open Website link from their Sync menus, the error message The requested resource was not found appears.

    The Sites tab also lets you set default file permissions for files uploaded from Sync clients. The process for setting permissions is nearly the same as for enabling or disabling Sync for sites. To set the default file permissions for a single site, click its Actions button and select Default File Permissions. This opens a window that lets you select the default file permissions for that site. Click Choose for the permissions you want to use.

    Figure 3: Click Choose to select the default file permissions for a site in Sync.

    Figure 3: Click *Choose* to select the default file permissions for a site in Sync.

    To set the default file permissions for several sites, select the checkboxes for the sites, click the Default File Permissions link that appears above the table, and select the permissions you want to use. Default file permissions might behave differently than you’d expect. They control only the permissions for new files uploaded through the Sync clients; they don’t affect permissions for uploading or restrict document owners (the user who originally uploaded a document) in any way. For example, even if you set a site’s default file permissions to View Only, that site’s users can still upload new documents to the site. The file’s owner has edit permission; the rest of the site’s users have the View Only permission.

  3. Devices: View and manage the devices registered with Sync.

    Figure 4: Sync Connector Admins Devices tab lists all the devices Sync has registered for the Liferay DXP installation.

    Figure 4: Sync Connector Admin's Devices tab lists all the devices Sync has registered for the Liferay DXP installation.

    Each row in the Devices tab’s table represents a device. The Name column lists the user that registered the device. The remaining columns list each device’s location, client type, client build number, last connection date, and status. Each device’s Actions button (Actions) lets you manage that device. You can change a device’s status from Active to Inactive by selecting ActionsDisable Sync Device. Inactive devices can’t sync with the Liferay DXP installation. Inactive mobile devices also can’t access local Sync files. Once a device is Inactive, you can erase Sync files from it by selecting ActionsWipe Sync Device. This also signs the device out and removes the account from the client. If the device is offline, this happens when it tries to reconnect. The Actions menu also lets you enable or delete an Inactive device. Deleting a device only removes it from the list of registered devices; it can still reconnect and reregister.

Awesome! Now that you know how to configure Sync in your Liferay DXP installation, it’s time to look closer at a use case that warrants special attention for administrators: accidental file deletion.

Protecting Against Accidental File Deletion

Liferay Sync’s power rests in its ability to propagate between the server and connected Sync clients. When a user deletes a file from a connected client, Sync also deletes the file on the server and in any other connected clients. Likewise, if a user deletes a file on the server, Sync also deletes the file in all connected clients. In other words, anywhere a user deletes a file, Sync deletes it everywhere. You’re probably thinking, “This is a disaster waiting to happen!” Don’t fret! Liferay DXP’s Recycle Bin is enabled by default and lets you recover deleted files. You can access the Recycle Bin from each site’s Site Administration menu.

Liferay DXP instance and site administrators can, of course, disable the Recycle Bin. Disabling the Recycle Bin in a site, however, leaves the site vulnerable to accidental file deletions that propagate through Sync.

Ensuring Sync Security

As an administrator, you’re undoubtedly concerned about the security of all connections to and from your Liferay DXP installation. As long as your server is configured to use HTTPS, Sync clients communicate securely with your instance with user-supplied credentials. Users can only access the documents and sites they’re permitted to access. To support Security Mode in the Sync mobile client and securely transmit files, your Liferay DXP server must also use SSL. The next section demonstrates how Sync’s permissions work with your Liferay DXP installation’s permissions.

Liferay Sync Permissions Demonstration

Sync uses Liferay DXP’s default permissions to determine files and folders to sync with the user’s devices. It can only sync files a user can access in the Liferay DXP instance. After installing the desktop Sync client, you can follow the steps below to test this functionality.

First, enter the text classified information into a new text file and save it on your desktop as secret.txt. Then use your browser to sign into your Liferay DXP installation and create a new user with the user name secretagent and the email address secretagent@example.com. Give this user a password and then create a new private site called Secret Site. Create a page on the site and add the Documents and Media app to it. Then add the secretagent user to the Secret Site and grant the Site Administrator role to the user. Log in as secretagent and navigate to the Secret Site. Then upload the secret.txt document to the Documents and Media app. Make sure you also have a user that isn’t a member of the Secret Site and therefore doesn’t have access to any of its documents through Sync. If you don’t have such a user, create one now.

Next, configure your Liferay Sync client to sign in with the secretagent user’s credentials and sync with the Secret Site. Open the Liferay Sync menu from the system tray and select Preferences. In the Accounts tab, click the plus icon at the window’s bottom left to add an account. Provide the secretagent user’s credentials and uncheck all Liferay DXP sites except the Secret Site. Now confirm that Sync downloaded the secret.txt file to your new Sync folder. Open it and check that it contains the text classified information. Next, use Sync to connect to your Liferay DXP installation with the user that doesn’t belong to the Secret Site. The file doesn’t sync because this user isn’t a site member.

Now go to Sync Connector Admin and set the Secret Site’s default file permissions to View Only. Create a new user, add it to the Secret Site, and add its account in your Liferay Sync client. As with the secretagent user, Sync downloads the secret.txt file to this user’s local Sync folder because the user is a member of the Secret Site. Now edit and save this file. Even though you can edit and save it locally, the edits aren’t synced because the site’s default file permissions are View Only. After attempting the sync, a red x appears next to the file in the local Sync folder. Right click the file to see the error. It confirms the user doesn’t have the required permissions.

Figure 5: The upload error occurs because the user only has permission to view files.

Figure 5: The upload error occurs because the user only has permission to view files.

To confirm that the error didn’t propagate through Sync, open the file in the secretagent user’s local Sync folder. It still contains the original text. Likewise, the original file remains in the site’s Documents and Media portlet. To get rid of the error in the other user’s local Sync folder, return there and then right click the file and select Download From Server. This replaces the file with the latest file in the Liferay DXP installation.

Now edit secret.txt in the secretagent user’s local Sync folder. When you check the file in the other user’s local Sync folder and on the server, notice that Sync propagated the edits. The changes were propagated because the secretagent user owns the file in the instance. Owners can do anything with their files, even when the site’s default file permissions are set to View Only.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully set up a Liferay Sync folder that can only be accessed by site members and administrators. You’ve also seen how Sync’s default file permissions work. By using Liferay DXP’s permissions alongside Sync Admin’s default file permissions, Sync gives administrators two levels of control over files in their sites.

Great! Now you know how to enable and configure Liferay Sync in your Liferay DXP instance. The next article explains how end users can install and configure the Sync desktop client.

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