Creating Action Buttons

Your final task is to create the user interface elements that give users access to the functions you just created in both your controller and your service layer. A common way to do this in Liferay, which makes your application operate like the other ones that ship with Liferay, is to create action buttons.

Figure 1: A common Liferay user interface element is the action button.

Figure 1: A common Liferay user interface element is the action button.

Because action buttons are implemented using a tag, they’re very easy to create. You’ll use the building blocks you’ve already used to test for permissions to perform the tasks and to create portlet URLs, and then you’ll use a new tag to create the buttons themselves.

Ready to get started?

Using A Separate JSP for Actions

The first thing you’ll do is update init.jsp to contain the imports and declarations you’ll need. During regular development, you’d have this file open next to the JSP you’re working on, and you’d add the declarations there as you need them. Since this is a learning path, we already know the declarations you’ll need, so we can supply them to you ahead of time.

  1. Open init.jsp. In the taglib declarations at the top of the file, add the following new declaration:

    <%@ taglib uri="" prefix="liferay-security" %>
  2. To the imports section, add the following new imports:

    <%@ page import="" %>
    <%@ page import="" %>
    <%@ page import="" %>
    <%@ page import="" %>
    <%@ page import="" %>
  3. Save the file.

You’ve just added a new tag library declaration for the Liferay security tags. This lets you use the permissions tag that forms the basis for one of your action buttons. The others are required by a scriptlet you’re about to write.

The best practice is to use a separate JSP for your action buttons. This puts all the code in one place and is easy to use in Search Container, where you can just include the same JSP over and over with different parameters.

  1. In docroot/html/guestbook, create a new JSP called guestbook_actions.jsp.

  2. Place the following code in the file:

    <%@include file="/html/init.jsp"%>
    String mvcPath = ParamUtil.getString(request, "mvcPath");
    ResultRow row = (ResultRow)request.getAttribute(WebKeys.SEARCH_CONTAINER_RESULT_ROW);
    Entry entry = (Entry)row.getObject(); 

    First, you include init.jsp, and then you have a small scriptlet. The first line retrieves the path of the current JSP. The second retrieves the result from the current search container row. The third casts that row object into an Entry object. Notice the call to WebKeys? The constant you’re using here is inherited from the parent class.

  3. Next, you’ll add the first entry, Edit, in your action button:

            test="<%= EntryPermission.contains(permissionChecker, entry.getEntryId(), ActionKeys.UPDATE) %>">
            <portlet:renderURL var="editURL">
                <portlet:param name="entryId"
                    value="<%= String.valueOf(entry.getEntryId()) %>" />
                <portlet:param name="mvcPath" value="/html/guestbook/edit_entry.jsp" />
            <liferay-ui:icon image="edit" message="Edit"
                url="<% =editURL.toString() %>" />

    The first tag creates the action button. Next is a permissions check just like the ones you used in the last learning path. The button only shows if the current user has permission to update the current entity. Next, you create a portlet URL. Since this is the edit button, this is a render URL that sends the user to the edit_entry.jsp. It includes a parameter for the entryId so the entity can be retrieved and then edited on that page. Finally, another tag is used to create the actual action button link using the URL you just created.

  4. Next, add the entry for the permissions button:

        test="<%=EntryPermission.contains(permissionChecker, entry.getEntryId(), ActionKeys.PERMISSIONS) %>">
            modelResource="<%= Entry.class.getName() %>"
            modelResourceDescription="<%= entry.getMessage() %>"
            resourcePrimKey="<%= String.valueOf(entry.getEntryId()) %>"
            var="permissionsURL" />
        <liferay-ui:icon image="permissions" url="<%= permissionsURL %>" />

    Again, you see the button is wrapped in a permissions check. This time, you’re checking for the permission to change permissions. If the user has this permission, you can show this action. The tag library declaration you added to init.jsp enables you to create this action. This tag shows Liferay’s permissions user interface, allowing your users to modify the permissions on specific guestbook entries.

    After this is another <liferay-ui:icon /> tag that creates the actual link.

  5. Finally, add the entry for the delete button:

            test="<%=EntryPermission.contains(permissionChecker, entry.getEntryId(), ActionKeys.DELETE) %>">
            <portlet:actionURL name="deleteEntry" var="deleteURL">
                <portlet:param name="entryId"
                    value="<%= String.valueOf(entry.getEntryId()) %>" />
                <portlet:param name="guestbookId"
                    value="<%= String.valueOf(entry.getGuestbookId()) %>" />
            <liferay-ui:icon-delete url="<%=deleteURL.toString() %>" />

    The permission check that wraps this action is, of course the delete permission. The portlet URL you create here is an action URL that calls your new deleteEntry() method in your controller. You supply the entryId for the current entry, which is the one you want to delete. The guestbookId parameter is used so that the correct guestbook is displayed the portlet after the user has deleted an entry from a guestbook.

    The tag used to create the action link is the <liferay-ui:icon-delete /> tag. This tag differs from the regular <liferay-ui:icon /> tag in that when the user clicks it, a message pops up asking him or her to confirm the action. This helps ensure that entities aren’t deleted accidentally, by requiring confirmation first. Finally, you close the icon menu, completing the action button definition.

  6. Save the file.

  7. Add the action buttons to the Entry list in view.jsp: Bellow the column text for the name contributor in the Entry container row, add this tag:

    <liferay-ui:search-container-column-jsp path="/html/guestbook/guestbook_actions.jsp" align="right" />

You might think you’re finished, but you actually have one more JSP to modify: the edit_entry.jsp file. You need to retro-fit this JSP so it can handle editing entries as well as adding them.

Using the Same JSP for Editing and Adding

Because Liferay’s tag libraries are so robust, there are only a few changes you need to make to edit_entry.jsp to make it handle editing entries.

  1. Open edit_entry.jsp.

  2. Below the action URL definition, add the following scriptlet:

    long entryId = ParamUtil.getLong(renderRequest, "entryId");
    Entry entry = null;
    if (entryId > 0) {
        entry = EntryLocalServiceUtil.getEntry(entryId);
    long guestbookId = ParamUtil.getLong(renderRequest, "guestbookId");

    This scriptlet gets the entryId out of the request (remember, you just created the URL that calls this page from your action button, and you included the entryId as a parameter). It then checks its value: if it’s 0, which ParamUtil supplies if it doesn’t find a value for this parameter, nothing happens. If, however, it has a value, the corresponding entry is retrieved and placed into the entry variable. This scriplet also gets the guestbookId out of the request. If a new guestbook entry is being created, the guestbookId from the request is used. If a guestbook entry is being edited, the entry’s guestbookId is used instead.

  3. Add the following tag inside of the <aui:form> tag:

    <aui:model-context bean="<%= entry %>" model="<%= Entry.class %>" />

    This tag sets a particular bean (in this case our Entry bean) as the context for an AUI form. This causes the AUI tags that define the form fields to show the value from the bean.

  4. Finally, add one field to hold the entryId, so your update functionality knows which entry to update when the form is submitted:

    <aui:input name="entryId" type="hidden" />

    You keep the field hidden, of course, because users don’t need to know or worry about the primary key from the database, and it should definitely not be editable.

    Also add a hidden input field for the guestbookId parameter that we defined in the scriptlet:

    <aui:input name="guestbookId" type="hidden" value='<%= entry == null ? guestbookId : entry.getGuestbookId() %>'/>
  5. Save the file.

Congratulations! You’ve now implemented custom actions for your entities. Users can now manage their full cycle: adding, editing, modifying permissions, and if they so choose, deleting guestbook entries.

Next, you’ll want to consider integrating your application with the rest of Liferay’s services. For example, Liferay’s social networking API lets you publish guestbook entries as activities that can appear on users’ profile pages. Or you might want to add tags, categories, or even comments to guestbook entries. To make any of these features work, you must asset-enable your application. The next learning path covers that.

Next Steps

Adding a Portlet to the Control Panel

« Adding Actions to Your ControllerAdding a Portlet to the Control Panel »
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