Liferay 4.4.0 open-source portal released
Liferay, Inc. is a professional open-source company that provides free documentation and paid professional service to users of its software. Mainly focused on enterprise portal technology, the company was founded in 2000 by Brian Chan and currently has its headquarters in Los Angeles, CA.
Liferay was created in 2000 by Chief Software Architect Brian Chan to provide a enterprise portal solution for non-profit organizations. In 2006, the company was incorporated under the name Liferay, Inc., formalized its Germany subsidiary Liferay GmbH and named as its new CEO Bryan Cheung, the company’s former Director of Business Development. In 2007, the company opened a new Asian headquarters in Dalian, China.
Liferay 4.4.0 has been released. Liferay is an open source portal in wide use, and this release offers many new features on top of the already-robust feature set, such as an improved user system, better content management, developer improvements, and usability improvements.
Bundled with multiple application servers (Geronimo, Glassfish, JBoss, Jetty, Tomcat, Resin, JOnAS, and Pramati), Liferay follows the normal installation procedure for the application server chosen. For example, the Glassfish bundle ran the normal Glassfish installer (without the normal memory setting requirements, oddly enough) and simply included the Liferay application as part of the installation. The installation was entirely normal, even requiring Glassfish’ normal “ant -f setup.xml” after basic installation.
It’s hard to get much simpler than using the normal installation procedure of the bundled application server.
The application takes a while to start up, but that’s not unusual for portals; once initialization is done, you have a copy of the liferay portal from http://liferay.com. (This is part of the default embedded database, and isn’t meant for production use. As mentioned later, switching to another datasource installs a different theme.)
Logging in with firstname.lastname@example.org/test, one finds the display a little spartan – but going to add applications under the user menu shows you where Liferay shines. You can drag and drop one of the provided portlets to a desired location on the current page, and voila! You now have a displayed portlet. The provided portlet set is quite large, ranging from journal entries (which, in fact, make up the normal display) to a wiki, to a calendar, message boards, polls, weather display, page rankings, all kinds of things.
Liferay was really horribly slow on first installation. That’s because it’s using the default HSQL database, which is great for development but gets absolutely hammered by Liferay. (It should be noted that the installation documentation for Liferay tells you that HSQL isn’t the right long-term choice for a portal.) Switching to a JavaDB (i.e., Apache Derby) database connection pool sped things up dramatically – and also provided a new portal configuration to work with, which is actually a little nicer to play around with than the Liferay.com site template.
It’s very nice to work with, once you switch away from HSQL – the portal is far more responsive and the default template is quite nice – and the administration page allows you to install themes that range from desktop-like to a zen theme. The supplied portlets are very useful as well, even including a WSRP portlet for remote hosting of portlet content.
One thing should be noted, though: the portal is very verbose. Watching the server logs under Glassfish, Liferay shows warning after warning, and information line after information line. While some of the information is likely to be very useful, after a while, the messages lose meaning; there are simply too many of them to be useful, by default. It’s easy to turn them off, by changing the log level for javax.enterprise.system.stream.out to something other than WARN (other application servers will have their own configurations!) but it’s still annoying – and using System.out for such messages makes configuration a bit of an all-or-nothing affair.
Liferay has done an excellent job with this release; it’s cleanly installed, very easy to use, and quite full-featured. While a quick run-through simply can’t show off every feature a portal offers – for example, no custom portlets were written and deployed – the capabilities displayed should fit most organizations’ needs immediately, outside of specific custom portlet requirements. The WSRP portlet should make even custom portlets easy to work with.
Altogether, this is an excellent update.