Writing Your First Liferay DXP Application

Developing Your First Portlet
Step 1 of 8

It’s easy to get started developing your first Liferay DXP application. Here, you’ll learn step-by-step how to create your project and deploy your application to Liferay DXP. Before you know it, you’ll have your application deployed alongside those that come with Liferay DXP.

Your first application is simple: you’ll build a guestbook application that looks like this:

Figure 1: Youll create this simple application.

Figure 1: You'll create this simple application.

By default, it shows guestbook messages that various users leave on your website. To add a message, you click the Add Entry button to show a form that lets you enter and save a message.

Ready to write your first Liferay DXP application?

Creating Your First Liferay DXP Application

Your first step is to create a Liferay Module Project. Modules are the core building blocks of Liferay DXP applications. Every application is made from one or more modules. Each module encapsulates a functional piece of an application, and then multiple modules form a complete application. There’s good reason for this: modules let you swap out code implementations more or less at will. This makes your applications easy to maintain and upgrade.

These modules are OSGi modules. The OSGi container in Liferay DXP can run any OSGi module. Each module is packaged as a JAR file that contains a manifest file. The manifest is needed for the container to recognize the module. Technically, a module that contains only a manifest is still valid. Of course, such a module wouldn’t be very interesting.

Now you’ll create your first module. For the purpose of this Learning Path, you’ll create your modules inside your Liferay Workspace. Follow these instructions to create your first Liferay Module Project:

  1. In the Project Explorer in Liferay Developer Studio, right click on your Liferay Workspace and select NewLiferay Module Project.

  2. Complete the first screen of the wizard with the following information:

    • Enter guestbook-web for the Project name.
    • Use the Gradle Build type.
    • Select mvc-portlet for the Project Template.

    Click Next.

  3. On the second screen of the wizard, enter Guestbook for the component class name, and com.liferay.docs.guestbook.portlet for the package name. Click Finish.

Note that it may take a while for Developer Studio to create your project, because Gradle downloads your project’s dependencies for you during project creation. Once this is done, you have a module project named guestbook-web. The mvc-portlet template configured the project with the proper dependencies and generated all the files you need to get started:

  • The portlet class (in the package you specified)
  • JSP files (in /src/main/resources)
  • Language properties (also in /src/main/resources)

Figure 2: Your new module project appears in your Liferay Workspaces modules folder.

Figure 2: Your new module project appears in your Liferay Workspace's `modules` folder.

Your new module project is a portlet application. Next, you’ll learn exactly what a portlet is.

What is a Portlet?

When you access a web site, you interact with an application. That application could be simple: it might only show you one piece of information, such as an article. The application might be complex: you could be doing your taxes, entering lots of data into an application that calculates whether you owe or are due a refund. These applications run on a platform that provides application developers the building blocks they need to make applications.

Figure 3: Many Liferay applications can run at the same time on the same page.

Figure 3: Many Liferay applications can run at the same time on the same page.

Liferay DXP provides a platform that contains common features needed by today’s applications, including user management, security, user interfaces, services, and more. Portlets are one of those basic building blocks. Often a web application takes up the entire page. If you want, you can do this with applications in Liferay DXP as well. Portlets, however, allow Liferay DXP to serve many applications on the same page at the same time. Liferay DXP’s framework takes this into account at every step. For example, features like platform-generated URLs exist to support Liferay’s ability to serve multiple applications on the same page.

What is a Component?

Portlets created in Liferay Module Projects are generated as Components. If the module (sometimes also called a bundle) encapsulates pieces of your application, the component is the object that contains the core functionality. A Component is an object that is managed by a component framework or container. Components are deployed inside modules, and they’re created, started, stopped, and destroyed as needed by the container. What a perfect model for a web application! It can be made available only when needed, and when it’s not, the container can make sure it doesn’t use any resources needed by other components.

In this case, you created a Declarative Services (DS) component. With Declarative Services, you declare that an object is a component, and you define some data about the component so the container knows how to manage it. A default configuration was created for you; you’ll examine it later.

Deploying the Application

Even though all you’ve done is generate it, the guestbook-web project is ready to be built and deployed to Liferay DXP. Make sure that your server is running, and if it isn’t, select it in Developer Studio’s Servers pane and click the start button. After it starts, drag and drop the guestbook-web project from the Project Explorer to the server. If this is your first time starting Liferay DXP, you’ll go through a short wizard to set up your server. In this wizard, make sure you use the default database (Hypersonic). Although this database isn’t intended for production use, it works fine for development and testing.

Next, check that your application is available in Liferay DXP. Open a browser, navigate to your portal (http://localhost:8080 by default), and add your application to a page. To add an application to a page, click the Add button in the upper right hand corner (it looks like a plus sign), and then select Applications. In the Applications list, your application should appear in the Sample category. Its name should be guestbook-web-module Portlet.

Figure 4: This is the default Liferay homepage. It contains several portlets, including the initial version of the Guestbook application that you created.

Figure 4: This is the default Liferay homepage. It contains several portlets, including the initial version of the Guestbook application that you created.

Now you’re ready to jump in and start developing your Guestbook portlet.

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