Selecting Entities Using the Item Selector

The Item Selector allows users to select entities, such as images, videos, documents, and sites.

Figure 1: The Item Selector makes selecting entities a breeze.

Figure 1: The Item Selector makes selecting entities a breeze.

Here’s what’s required to use an Item Selector:

  1. Determine Item Criteria

  2. Get an Item Selector for the Criteria

  3. Use an Item Selector Dialog

Determining Item Selector Criteria

The first step is determining entity types to select from the Item Selector and the data you expect from them. What kind of entity do you want to select? Do you want to select a user, an image, a video, or something else?

Once you know the entities you want, you need criterion classes to represent them in the Item Selector. Criterion classes must implement the ItemSelectorCriterion interface. The Item Selector Criterion and Return Types reference lists criterion classes Liferay’s apps and app suites provide.

If there’s no criterion class for your entity, you can create your own ItemSelectorCriterion class (tutorial coming soon).

Then determine the type of information (return type) you expect from the entities when users select them. Do you expect a URL? A Universally Unique Identifier (UUID)? A primary key? Each return type must be represented by an implementation of the ItemSelectorReturnType class. The Item Selector Criterion and Return Types reference also lists return type classes Liferay’s apps and app suites provide.

If there’s no return type class that meets your needs, you can implement your own ItemSelectorReturnType class (tutorial coming soon).

For example, if you want to allow users to select an image and want the image’s URL returned, you could use the ImageItemSelectorCriterion criterion class and the URLItemSelectorReturnType return type.

The criterion and return types are collectively referred to as the Item Selector’s criteria. The Item Selector uses it to decide which selection views (tabs of items) to show.

Once you’ve defined your criteria, you can get an Item Selector to use with it.

Getting an Item Selector for the Criteria

In order to use an Item Selector with your criteria, you must get an Item Selector URL based on the criteria. The URL is needed to open the Item Selector dialog in your UI. In Java, you build the criteria and pass it in a call to get the Item Selector’s URL.

First, get an Item Selector OSGi Service Component using Declarative Services.

import com.liferay.item.selector.ItemSelector;
import org.osgi.service.component.annotations.Reference;

private ItemSelector _itemSelector

The component annotations are available in the org.osgi.service.component.annotations module.

To get a URL to the Item Selector, you must call its getItemSelectorURL method using the following parameters:

  • RequestBackedPortletURLFactory: Factory that creates portlet URLs.
  • ItemSelectedEventName: Unique arbitrary JavaScript event name that is triggered by the Item Selector when the element is selected.
  • ItemSelectorCriterion: Criterion (or an array of criterion objects) that specifies the type of elements to make available in the Item Selector.

The following code demonstrates getting a URL to an Item Selector configured with criteria for images:

RequestBackedPortletURLFactory requestBackedPortletURLFactory =

List<ItemSelectorReturnType> desiredItemSelectorReturnTypes =
    new ArrayList<>();
desiredItemSelectorReturnTypes.add(new URLItemSelectorReturnType());

ImageItemSelectorCriterion imageItemSelectorCriterion =
    new ImageItemSelectorCriterion();


PortletURL itemSelectorURL = _itemSelector.getItemSelectorURL(
    requestBackedPortletURLFactory, "sampleTestSelectItem",

First it gets a factory to create the URL by invoking the RequestBackedPortletURLFactoryUtil.create method, passing it the current request object. The request can be an HttpServletRequest or PortletRequest.

Then it creates a list of return types expected for the image entity and a criterion for images. The return types list consists of a URL return type URLItemSelectorReturnType. The list is passed to the criterion’s setDesiredItemSelectorReturnTypes method.

Lastly the method getItemSelectorURL is called to return a URL based on the criteria. The method requires a URL factory, an arbitrary event name, and a series of criterion (one, in this case).

An Item Selector can be configured to use any number of criterion. The criterion can use any number of return types.

The Item Selector’s criterion order determines the selection view order. For example, if you pass the item selector criteria in this order: ImageItemSelectorCriterion, VideoItemSelectorCriterion, the Item Selector displays the image selection views first and then the ones for videos. If you reverse the order, it shows the video selection views first and the image selection views second.

Return type order is also significant. A view uses the first return type it supports from each criterion’s return type list.

Now that you’ve got a URL to the Item Selector you’ve configured, you can start using the Item Selector in your UI.

Using the Item Selector Dialog

To open the Item Selector in your UI, you must use the LiferayItemSelectorDialog JavaScript component from AlloyUI’s liferay-item-selector-dialog module. The component listens for the item selected event that you specified for the Item Selector URL. The event returns the selected element’s information according to its return type.

Here are the steps for using the Item Selector dialog in a JSP:

  1. Declare the AUI tag library.

    <%@ taglib prefix="aui" uri="" %>
  2. Add the <aui:script> tag and configure it to use the liferay-item-selector-dialog module:

    <aui:script use="liferay-item-selector-dialog">
  3. Attach an event handler to the UI element you want to use to open the Item Selector dialog.

    For example, the configuration below creates a Choose button with the ID chooseImage with a click event and function attached.

    <aui:button name="chooseImage" value="Choose" />
    <aui:script use="liferay-item-selector-dialog">
        $('#<portlet:namespace />chooseImage').on(
          function(event) {
            <!-- function logic goes here -->
  4. Inside the function, you must create a new instance of the LiferayItemSelectorDialog AlloyUI Component and configure it to use the Item Selector. Here’s what you need to do in the function:

    • Set the function’s eventName attribute to the item selected event name you specified in your Java code (the code that gets the Item Selector URL).
    • For the on attribute, implement a function that operates on the selected item change. The example code below demonstrates this.
    • Set the function’s title attribute. This becomes the dialog’s title.
    • Set the function’s url attribute to the Item Selector URL you obtained earlier.
    • Call the dialog’s open method.

The example code below and steps that follow show how to configure an Item Selector dialog to work with selected items.

<aui:button name="chooseImage" value="Choose" />

String itemSelectorURL = GetterUtil.getString(request.getAttribute("itemSelectorURL"));

<aui:script use="liferay-item-selector-dialog">

    $('#<portlet:namespace />chooseImage').on(
        function(event) {
            var itemSelectorDialog = new A.LiferayItemSelectorDialog(  
                    eventName: 'ItemSelectedEventName',
                    on: {
                            selectedItemChange: function(event) {
                                var selectedItem = event.newVal;

                                if (selectedItem) {
                                    var itemValue = JSON.parse(
                                    itemSrc = itemValue.url;

                                    <!-- use item as needed -->
                    title: '<liferay-ui:message key="select-image" />',
                    url: '<%= itemSelectorURL.toString() %>'

Here’s what the code does:

  1. This line creates a new instance of the Liferay Item Selector dialog:

    var itemSelectorDialog = new A.LiferayItemSelectorDialog(...)
  2. The constructor sets the eventName attribute. This makes the dialog listen for the item selected event. The event name is the same as the one specified for the Item Selector URL generated earlier in the Java code.

  3. When the user selects a new item, the selectedItemChange function fires, setting its variables for the newly selected item. The information available to parse depends on the return type(s) that were set.

  4. As the comment indicates, the developer adds logic for using the selected element here.

  5. The LiferayItemSelectorDialog’s title attribute sets the dialog’s title.

  6. The Item Selector URL retrieved previously in the Java code becomes the url attribute’s value.

  7. The open method opens the Item Selector dialog.

When the user clicks the Choose button, a new dialog opens, rendering the Item Selector with the views that support the criterion and return type(s) that were set.

Adding an Item Selector to your app is as easy as what’s been demonstrated! It involves specifying criteria for the selectable items, applying them to an Item Selector, and configuring an Item Selector dialog to operate on the selected item. Using Item Selector API, you can give app users the power of choice!

Creating Custom Item Selector Views

Creating Custom Item Selector Entities

Front-End Taglibs

« Introduction to Item SelectorCreating Custom Item Selector Entities »
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