Choosing your development tools

The Java ecosystem is known for providing a variety of options for almost any type of software development. This is advantageous because you can find the tool that best fits your needs and the way you work. Naturally, when you get comfortable with a tool, you want to keep using it.

If you’re a newcomer, the wide variety of tools available can be overwhelming. Throughout this guide, we’ll give you the best of both worlds showing you how to develop plugins in two environments that use open source technologies 1) A command-line environment that integrates with a wide variety of tools. 2) An easy-to-use IDE that minimizes your learning curve while giving you powerful development features. Here are those two environments:

Apache Ant and the Plugins SDK: Liferay provides a development environment called the Plugins SDK that lets you develop plugins of all types by executing a set of predefined commands (known as targets, in Ant’s nomenclature). You can use the Plugins SDK directly from the command-line and use file editors like Emacs, Vim, EditPlus, or even Notepad. You can also integrate the Plugins SDK with your favorite IDE, since most IDEs provide support for Apache Ant. The next chapter describes how to use the Plugins SDK.

Eclipse and the Liferay IDE: Eclipse is the most popular and well known Java IDE and it provides a wide variety of features. Liferay IDE is a plugin for Eclipse that extends its functionality to facilitate developing all types of Liferay plugins. Liferay IDE uses the Plugins SDK underneath, but you don’t need to know the SDK unless you’re performing an advanced operation not directly supported by Liferay IDE. To develop applications for Liferay Portal Enterprise Edition (EE), use Liferay Developer Studio which extends Liferay IDE, providing additional integration plugins such as the Kaleo Designer for Java.

This guide shows you how to develop for Liferay using both the Plugins SDK and Liferay IDE, to benefit you and other developers even if you don’t like IDEs or don’t use Eclipse. If you use Eclipse, you may want to start reading about Liferay IDE in Chapter 10 first and then go back to reading about the Plugins SDK.

What about if I don’t like Apache Ant and I prefer to use Maven? Many developers prefer other command-line alternatives to Apache Ant. The most popular of these alternatives is Maven. To support developers that want to use Maven we have mavenized Liferay artifacts for referencing in your Maven projects. See Chapter 9 for an in-depth look at developing plugins in Maven.

What if I don’t like Eclipse and prefer to use NetBeans, IntelliJ IDEA or other another IDE? There are many IDEs available, and each one has its strengths. We built Liferay IDE on top of Eclipse because it’s the most popular open source option. We also want to make sure you can use the IDE of your choice. In fact, many core developers use NetBeans and IntelliJ IDEA. Both of these IDEs have support for integration with Apache Ant, so you can use the Plugins SDK with them. Additionally, there is an extension to NetBeans called the Portal Pack that is explicitly designed for develop plugins for Liferay. You can find more about the Portal Pack at

That’s it for the introduction. Let’s get started with real development work!

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